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She’s down for a nap. It’s an exciting moment, when I creep out of the nursery having completed a succesful ‘5 minute check’. Still asleep, still swaddled, pacifier still in place. I could have anywhere from 25 to 90 minutes of blissful silence, even freedom.

Nap time presents me with a decision-making dilemma several times per day. The moment she falls asleep, the chaos of baby gear that has overwhelmed my home becomes more obvious to me. The empty cups and coffee mugs, water bottles, receiving blankets, and exciting colorful baby toys are all asking for their permanent homes. The same moment is often the most tired moment of my day, where I hear many wise voices in my head saying “Sleep when your baby sleeps…”

My dilemmas (aka internal to-do list):

  • Make the bed? Change the sheets? Leave it for my helpful assistant to take care of this afternoon?
  • Look in the fridge to see what I could make for dinner? Is my hubby going to be home in time for dinner? If I make dinner I’ll have to clean up the mess, maybe we should just order pizza?
  • Make another cup of coffee? How much water have I had today? I’ll settle on both. (be right back!)
  • Coffee time makes me want to check Facebook and BabyCenter for updates. And my personal email.
  • Checking email was a bad idea. Jones Design Co posted a list of her favorite blogs. I could seriously get lost!! There goes my weekend!! Do I need more inspiration? Or do I need to finish some of the million things I have already started?
  • I’ve sworn off Pinterest until I get my life schedule back under control! My favorite way to lose time EVER.
  • I’m using one of my fave-o coffee mugs from my sis: Do Something Creative Every Day. I should do something creative today.  Make wipee cases for my girlfriends? Finish my friend’s birthday present? When am I going to finish my maternity album? When will I start Chloe’s scrapbook? Before scrapping, I need to clean off my scrap table. Maybe I should do that. If I’m going to clean a desk, shouldn’t I do the kitchen desk with the bills before I clean my creative space?
  • Speaking of albums, I need to redo the Shutterfly album that was lost when my internet cut out during the save process. (grrrrr) Maybe I’ll do that again tonight after she goes to bed? She’s 2 months old, I should have her newborn album finished and ordered by now!
  • I wonder when the last time was that I wrote down her milestones. I should check that. Where did I put that notebook?
  • I should also have my wedding album ordered. That’s 2 years overdue. I wonder if I’ll ever get that done.

Back to reality. Chloe is way off her schedule today. She napped at 8:30 and 11:30 instead of her usual 9:30 and 1:00. Will she sleep longer than the usual 30 to 45 minutes? I’d love to have some extra time to think about all of this. I can do a lot of things while she’s awake, but one thing I have difficulty doing is thinking. It seems that the moment I get on a good thought process, she needs or wants something, or worse is happy but is silent and I freak out and run to see what she’s doing. First time mommyhood is a trip. Ok what was I thinking about? Thoughts about prioritizing items on my to-do list.

There is too much stuff in my house. If I just pick one thing, like one single kitchen drawer, and spend the next 15 minutes cleaning it out, I will make progress toward my ultimate goal of a neat, tidy, organized, clutter-free, well-decorated, warm and welcoming home. I get stuck choosing the first thing, like a writer on the first line of a book. I want an outline for how I’m going to get the whole house done. And better, how I’m going to get my whole life done. Part of me believes that once I get my house tidy, the rest of my life will become tidy. I have the same issue with my closet: I want it to be neat, tidy, organized, free of clothes that don’t fit or look bad on me, and filled with clothes that are easy for me to put on and feel like I’m representing myself.

…and she’s up! More thoughts on another day.

 

I was on the verge of an identity crisis this morning. Standing in my bathroom, about to apply my not-really-matching foundation, looking at my 9 weeks postpartum body in the mirror and wondering what I should wear today, I started to panic. I am losing myself. I used to wear lipstick. I used to care about my clothes, and I used to wear heels. I even used to dry my hair, every day; I wouldn’t leave the house with wet hair (Seriously? Who would do that?).  I put on a purple t-shirt and ponytail, deciding it would be fine for today, until I noticed the shorts and tennis shoes on the floor behind me from yesterday’s ‘fine for today’ outfit, and I said to myself “This is not who I am…” But I answered myself: this is who I am, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. My outfit for today, yesterday, and the past few weeks may not represent who I want to be, but it certainly represents who I am, at least at this moment.

Today I’m going to be running errands in Austin’s 100+ degree weather, carrying a 13 pound baby girl who is guaranteed to spit up on both of us at least twice, and somehow I will probably get baby poop on myself.  How can I look cute? Honestly, how can I be bothered to look cute? And how can I look put together without wearing my go-to staple of long dark jeans, which would be ridiculously too hot for the weather, and require heels which are borderline ridiculous for errands with a baby in tow. Oh, and a shirt with nursing access, so cute dresses are not an option yet. My closet is full of maternity shirts that are too big, three nursing shirts that have been seriously over worn in the past 9 weeks, and maternity jeans and skirts that fit but I am pressuring myself to wear real clothes with buttons instead of panel waists. My fancy pre-maternity work clothes are neatly boxed in the garage. I feel too guilty to go shopping for new clothes without first checking what is in those bins.

What’s a girl to wear? No longer working, but still caring about looking put together. Not comfortable with my jiggling areas in skimpy summer clothes, and feeling too frumpy in Bermuda shorts and tennis shoes. Too hot for jeans, too embarrassed to wear denim maternity pencil skirt one more time (yet eternally thankful for the thick concealing and controlling fabric of thick denim with lycra!).  Not willing to go shopping for clothes that fit the transitional body, preferring to invest in transitional workout clothes to help the transitional body speed along its transition.

I took off the purple t-shirt and hung it back up, choosing a teal, blue and white fringy scarf and a white t instead. I put it on with a teal skirt and gold flat sandals. The t requires an undershirt to conceal my bra, back fat, and jiggly belly. I realize that it’s probably just as silly to wear an undershirt and scarf in 100 degrees as it is to wear jeans, but I will pretend. I look sort of cute, but I look better in jeans.

Should I forgo errands and spend the afternoon getting my closet under control? Bring up boxes one at a time and start getting the maternity wear out of my closet? Would getting my closet under control help my life feel more under control? Is that more important than groceries, diapers, making returns, going through the stack of mail on the counter, doing baby laundry, ordering baby announcements, and finishing a birthday gift for the party we’re attending tomorrow afternoon?  Fortunately, my baby girl just woke up from her nap, saving me from self-absorption. I will have the same closet crisis tomorrow. And I still have wet hair. But now it’s time for much more important things. It’s time to change her stinky pants!

New Year's Eve cake with pink champagne icing. I'll post this recipe and source later in the week, but I must confess...John took this photo!

Hello! Welcome to 2011!

This is my year. My life is mine to make something of. I feel like I just landed my dream job and it starts today. A fresh, clean slate for me to write my new life story upon. An unformed lump of clay. This is going to be a very big year for me.  No more metaphors… this is what is really going on!

Most importantly, I’m expecting my first child. I’m 18 1/2  weeks along and we’ll be finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl at our first ultrasound, in just 9 days!  I’ll be 33 when the baby is born, on or around May 31 this year.  I count my blessings, as pregnancy has been relatively easy for me, with mild nausea and nasal congestion being my biggest complaints, exhaustion and “baby brain” coming in second place. So far the biggest surprise about pregnancy is that I don’t walk around in a constant state of blissful anticipation. Life pretty much goes on as it always has, I’m just a little bigger and a little more out of breath. 

Except, life as I have known if for the past 6 years is about to change dramatically. Yesterday, Dec 31, 2010, was my last day of work. For good. I have “retired”, so to speak. Over the next few months, I will be changing my daily life so significantly, that I’ll wonder how I made it so long as a worker bee. I am determined to do and be the things that are important to me, and to fulfill the ideals I have held close to my heart though far out of practice for a very long time. 

The next few days will include posts with my lists, plans, and resolutions for my new life. I have big plans for myself, and I am setting out to take my new job very seriously. I am the architect of my own life, and I must take responsibility for crafting into the masterpiece it is destined to become!

It’s been one heck of a year. My life has changed dramatically and I am loving every minute of it. I’m working on my plans for 2011 as time keeps moving forward like a freight train. I feel exhiliarated, looking back at this whilrwind of a year, but more importantly, looking ahead to next year, and what I am considering my new brand new life.

This year went nothing like I thought it would, and yet, it was so much more than I could have imagined. While it’s a bit ironic that my last post here was in January and was looking ahead to the busy year I had planned, I’m still excited to do the same for next year.

Here are some of the amazing and exciting things that have happened in my life this year.  Part of my plans for 2011 include the scrapbooking for all of the great things that have happened in 2010, so plenty more details will be shared about these in the near future!

  • Celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary
  • Ran a half marathon – without stopping!
  • Traveled to see my neice on the day she was born ~ missed the birth by just a few hours
  • Competed in a sprint triathlon, and beat my time for last year by over 30 minutes
  • Got pregnant! We’re expecting our first little one in early June 2011
  • Starting permantent maternity leave at at the end of this year, to become a stay at home mom

So many more amazing things happened this year, but I am not ready to spend the evening looking backward at them. I am busy looking forward to January 1, when I get to begin my new life, a great big empty slate just waiting for me to design it into the life I love. 

At the beginning of 2010, I had just compeleted a course on Big Picture Scrapbooking by Karen Grunberg. I loved the class, but found myself even more inspired by Karen’s blog, where she laid out her plans for 2010 so clearly and openly. Her list was daunting yet inspiring. I couldn’t imagine getting all of those things done, and she works full time (for Google, I might add!), and has 2 sons – the younger is just now 15 months old. I looked at her list and thought: wow.  And that was pretty much all I thought, becuase I couldn’t think anything else. I read her list(s) again: wow. Daily photo. Daily journal. Weekly gratitude journal. 52 new and inspiring things. Personal challenges like adding videos to her blog and reading a book a week! She seems like superwoman to me. 

I am not the type of person to look at her life and be jealous, discouraged, or overwhelmed. Instead, I am inspired. I can look at my growing list of things I want to do/learn/be, and I can look at Karen’s list and see her actually doing/learning/becoming the things on her lists. I don’t know how she fits it all in, but I am moved by her posts to look at my own life, and find where I can fit the things I want and remove the things I don’t need. 

In progress now: my list(s) for 2011.

Some things are not going as planned!  Work exploded with a big launch deadline – we worked a big day on Monday and then did over 13 hours on Tuesday, getting home around 10:30 PM to eat fast food in front of Biggest Loser season premiere. So, here’s my update:

  • Monday – Yoga class, 7:30 PM   worked until 8, did not attend
  • Tuesday – Swim, 7:30 AM, target 1/2 mile  did not get up and go to gym in the morning
  • Wednesday – Spin, 7:00 AM  after work run, target 2.5 miles did not get to spin class today, but I DID manage to run 2.5 miles on the treadmill. YES! We’re heading to dinner with the inlaws now, so I don’t think I’ll be working out again tonight.
  • Thursday – Swim, 7:30 AM, target 1/2 mile – we’ll see what time we wake up tomorrow
  • Friday – Rest (who needs rest – I haven’t worked out!) – I will be on a plane in the evening, but could work out in the morning
  • Saturday – Run, target 3 miles – I can still do this
  • Sunday – Beginners bike ride, 8:30 AM – will be traveling; taking workout clothes, probably change this to a run or swim

Not great! I will see what I can fit in the rest of the week. To summarize, so far this week I have run 2.5 miles.  One workout at a time!

While I don’t think the planner cover I did showcases any unique techniques, I did try out a few things I had not done before, and am pretty pleased with how they came out. I thought I’d show the process I followed while altering this cover.

I started with the cover already on the book. I was impatient. Also, I wasn’t aiming for perfection. I just wanted to cover up the existing title and give the book a ‘planner’ feel by adding some time elements.

First I painted white acrylic over the title and author areas. Then I added some turquoise paint (both MM). I remembered something about gel medium, and had never tried it before, so I just squirted a blob of it next to the teal paint blob, mixed them with the brush, and spread it out across the book. Then I grabbed my postmark stamp and inked it in black, and stamped it right in the semi-dry paint. I didn’t know what it would do, but the stamped image peeled the paint right off the cover, letting the original cover colors show through. Pretty cool!

Next I tried my cuckoo clock stamp (from StudioCalico’s Orchestra kit) using Tim Holtz’s distress ink in broken china. I knew I wanted a more distinct version of the clock, so I stamped it in red chalk ink (VersaMagic dewdrop) on white cardstock and cut it out. After giving the paint some time to dry, I tried stamping the cuckoo clock in black Staz-On ink, but the paint peeled right off. I love the effect! At this point I gave up and dried the paint with my embossing gun. Gel medium definitely keeps the paint wet longer! I added one more cuckoo in black after the paint was dry, and then added the red one on top using popup dots.

Next I made a quick mist out of water and cranberry alcohol ink, using a Mini Mister bottle, and added a big clock using Tim Holtz idea-ology mask. There was one other big rectangle postcard stamp, but I used distress ink, so it mostly ran all over the place when I misted.  The mist was pretty wet so I dried it again with my embossing gun to keep the speckled look and prevent all the misting from running together. Once dry, I added another postmark stamp using black soot. It came out great – the color is a nice, deep black.

I also prepped some cute numbers for the year while the cover cooled down a bit.

To finish up, I mounted a few of Tim Holtz’s idea-ology spinners onto a Heidi Swapp ghost clock, and added it to the cover with popup dots. To prevent the year from falling off the cover, I sealed the numbers on using Paper Glaze. I also added a bit more red with two extra Postcard stamps, and three more Postmark stamps in black soot. The back cover is still in progress! I may continue adding a bit to the front cover. If I do, I’ll be sure to post new pics. Having my own custom planner is so fun!

One last fun thing – it turns out that Pantone named Turquoise the color of the year for 2010! 

I took a risk this year and decided to start my planner on Monday instead of Sunday. I’ve been working with an internationally based team of developers for a few years now, so I’ve gotten used to the Monday-start week, which seems to be common everywhere but here in the U.S. (much like the metric system). At work we’ve changed our budget reports and reporting time periods to run Mon-Sun, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to make the change in my personal life. The only anomaly will be my wall calendar, which already had the days of the week printed on it (in US format). That being said, I’m settling in tonight with a chocolate kefir smoothie and looking at my week ahead: the first FULL week of 2010. (!!!)

On Sunday nights, I’ll be sharing my plans for the week, which should always include training goals, as well as any other fun plans I’ve made, like a new recipe to try or which projects I’ll be working on. One of my goals this year is to do a triathlon, so my training schedule is really important to me, and I need to maintain it in order to be ready for the race when the time comes. Hopefully it will be much different from last year!

This week, my goal is to get started, maintain enough sleep, and get in the habit of working out. My paces will be slow and easy, just trying to get started and warm up!

Monday – Yoga class, 7:30 PM
Tuesday – Swim, 7:30 AM, target 1/2 mile
Wednesday – Spin, 7:00 AM; after work run, target 2.5 miles
Thursday – Swim, 7:30 AM, target 1/2 mile
Friday – Rest 🙂
Saturday – Run, target 3 miles 
Sunday – Beginners bike ride, 8:30 AM

In the world of creativity and paper crafting, I’ll be targeting these projects:

Artist Trading Card for P52
Circle Journey layout
Getting my Wedding Album format decided on and gathering all the parts – goal is to complete a page a week this year
Find a photo of myself that I like to finish my January calendar page
Choose a format for P12 and design the cover page
Make two cards (a friend is pregnant and my dad’s birthday is coming)
Continue taking a photo every day for P365

And for writing, I plan on continuing to post daily. That should keep me pretty busy. I have a feeling most of the fun stuff will wait until the weekend, with work and working out taking the priority during the week. Seems ambitious. But … She ignored those who said it couldn’t be done! (Kobi Yamada)

I woke up today and was still madly in love with this gorgeous planner! I may have to add just a bit more. Some say I don’t know when to stop… but occasionally I do make simple designs with more white space. My life is busy though, so I feel much more inspired by the busy and crazy feeling of this cover. Anyway! I wanted to share what the inside of my planner looks like, and share my inspiration and resources.

First and foremost….Lucky me, Mom got me a Bind-it-All for Christmas!! Woohooo!  I love this thing. I will be binding everything. I feel it’s aptly named! I created this still life arrangement to express how I feel about my new tool.

On to the inside of the planner. I was inspired by the Flickr gallery for DIY Planner, where I saw amazing stuff:

All I Want for Christmas Is a Camera and a Moleskine: End of Year Planner Update. by True Redhead Notepad by 小卷子_organizer 5 by paperboatcaptain organizer 6 by paperboatcaptain

The last two photos are by paperboatcaptain who credited Amanda Hawkins for the page templates. Amanda has her own gallery of DIY organizers she has designed, as well as a colorful blog named Ahhh-Design and offers free downloads of her planners in different sizes.  I love her style and the edgy, messy way the pages are drawn. I was about to download the entire 4×6 size for 2010, when I saw a beautiful image in her sidebar:

The image took me to Erinzam’s blog.  I got lost in the great photos and tutorials on her blog for about half an hour before remembering I was looking for her planner.  I’ll be going back for more bookbinding inspiration. I did pick up a cool library pocket template (free download!) while I was there!  She made this planner as a gift (Lucky recipient!). After some poking around, I figured out Erin is selling the blank planner pages for only 10 bucks on her Etsy store. I was sold. The template arrived in my email in less than an hour!

I quickly got to work printing, chopping, and hole punching. 13 months, 52 weeks, and about 5 pages for notes. Then I started customizing. Using a really cool free download of Kingthings Typewriter font, I typed out a few important personalizations to my planner. I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of making my own planner if I was just going to use it as a daytimer. To keep all of my resolutions on track, I needed a weekly checklist to remind me of all my ‘assignments’, and I wanted it printed on every single week. I decided to print the checklist on the back of every week page, along with another page for notes and extras that I might want to document. I did the same for the months, to keep myself on task.

The stack ended up being much larger than my 3/4″ rings, and I didn’t have a cover yet. Here’s a size comparison. Finished book on left; 3/4″ rings on the right.

 

Enter an old book that I am no longer using, but had tossed into my ‘paper pile’ to tear out the ledger sheets for scrapbooking. It was perfect! I pried open the rings and saved the covers for altering. A recycled book, yay!

The book had 2 holes more than my planner, so I cut off the extra rings and centered the pages. I’ll tie ribbon or something fun in the extra holes.

Inside of the book, and my cover page. There is extra room on the right. I’ll be adding pen holders or some other fun things to fill the space.

 Month page by Erinzam. The printouts are in black and teal, and include the little bird, the parentheses, and the days of the week. I added the month, year, and dates for each month.

 

This is the weekly page by Erinzam. Again, the parentheses are included, and the black circle for the date with the day of the week. I added the month and dates, and at Erin’s recommendation, also filled in the phase of the moon. Her template provides a cute dotted circle to the left of each date to make it easy.

The remaining pages are my custom additions. This Thoughts page is printed on the back of each left-side week page, so I see it before I see the week.

 The Weekly Accomplishments page is printed on the back of each right-side week page, so I see it after the week is finished. I’ll use it as a checklist to make sure I’m doing all the things I need to get done each week. I use a similar list on the Monthly pages.

This special list is on the back of each right-side month page. I added events and specific goals here where applicable, and then added plenty of lines to fill in later. I also decorated these pages using the free circle months digital download from Karenika.

Finally, here are a few of my 2010 Resolutions. A full post on these will come next week.

Happy New Year!

I absolutely love the start of a new year. I get excited about it mid-December and start dreaming up all the wonderful things I’m going to do next year. I feel so motivated and inspired by the opportunity to start something new, to give myself a deadline, and to add new habits that I can *hopefully* say that I did for 365 days at the end of next year. I feel more motivated to think, create, exercise, experiment, investigate, reach out, and look inward than any other time of the year. This year I have set a big list of goals for myself, and while some call them ambitious or simply too much  (…ahem… MOM!), I don’t feel the least bit overwhelmed by them. At least not yet!

 

The beauty of my New Year’s goals list is that it’s MY list, and if MY life gets too busy, and my priorities change, then I get to change the list. Maybe some people get turned off by the idea of resolutions because they get so caught up in the pressure. I’m really used to pressure. My life is crazy and intense pretty much all the time. I constantly give myself permission to say no, to reduce obligations, and to cut my to-do list in half – or just tear it up – if my work life or personal life gets too heavy to accomodate it. The part I like so much about resolutions is that you get all dang year to figure out how to do them. So, let’s say I want to run a half marathon (because I do!), and the first one I picked is in late March. And let’s say I get a completely different and better opportunity that comes up (trip to Norway that weekend), or something not so great happens (sprain my ankle and can’t run), or something AWESOME happens (I get pregnant?)… am I going to mope around because I didn’t get to do that half marathon? Nope. I’m opportunistic. There are more races much later in the year, and if the baby thing happens … then there are races next year and the year after! Seriously – who would be upset that they couldn’t run because they were going to have a baby!!?

 

My list of goals is big and I am going to need a plan if I’m going to get it all accomplished. I felt excited to write everything down and start scheduling how I could get it all done… which means I needed a Planner! So this morning I woke up and decided, “I’m going to make a planner today.”  It has taken me all day, but I absolutely love it.  Do you ever finish a project, and when you step back to look at it, you just feel overwhelmed by how AWESOME it is?! That doesn’t happen to me often, but today it did. The back cover isn’t finished, but here is the front.
 
 
Tomorrow I’ll post the interior pics and the details of how this gorgeous work of art by my inner control freak came to fruition. I hope you are excited about the new year. Twenty Ten is going to be such a fabulous, exciting, unbelievable year. Plus…everyone I know is pregnant! That always means things are going to be wonderful! What could be more wonderful than babies.
 
 
 

I’m sitting at Starbucks while John is meeting with a client. I’m experiencing a wonderful deja vu from about 3 years ago. I was sitting at Starbucks at 6th and Congress, in downtown Austin. John and I had come to town for the day so he could meet a client who needed our help. The outcome of the meeting was going to determine whether we would be moving to Austin, changing our business model, and essentially taking a massive series of steps down a path that we were merely considering traveling down. There are so many details about that day, that I remember so clearly! But mostly I remember my nervous excitement. I wanted to be so supportive for John, preparing myself to give him the response he would need based on the outcome of the meeting. Would they balk at his hourly rate? Would they like him? Would he be too young? The meeting lasted forever, and I sat at Starbucks with his laptop, wondering what he was doing, but trying to occupy my thoughts. I realized that day, while waiting eagerly for the outcome, that my role was changing in John’s life, and that it didn’t matter so much what the outcome was, as long as I was supportive and positive. I had to be ready to be consoling but not patronizing if the news was bad, but I also had to be 100% committed to the wild ride ahead of us if the news was good. I had to put all of my faith in him, and his ability to make a decision for us and for our future, and to believe that if he felt this new venture was going to be a good fit for us, we were going to take it, together.

Our outcome that day was amazing. During the three or four hours I sat at Starbucks, our lives were changed. One week later we had found an apartment, packed our few essentials and transplanted ourselves to Austin. We signed a 6 month lease, not sure if we the new client would work out, not sure if we would stay in Austin. Looking back, it was an incredible leap of faith. He was only my boyfriend at the time, and we had only been together for 2 years. I didn’t meet the client before we made the move. I had to trust him and his judgement so much. And I am so glad that I did.

Today I find myself in a strangely similar situation. I feel a little nervous, very excited, and eager for John to come back to pick me up at Starbucks and tell me great news. I expect great things. I know the universe has great stuff in store for us. Today might not be the day, but I feel that it is. I feel the excitement of big changes underfoot. I feel the anticipation of the new life, the huge steps down the path we were only considering traveling on. We are at one of those crossroads again, where the right decision or relationship or opportunity can propel us into the future down any one of those paths.

I started to feel uneasy for a bit, wondering why I hadn’t heard from him yet, wondering how things were going at his big meeting. Then I looked down at my cup, and saw the message on the sleeve. And remembered my history of waiting, at Starbucks, for great big news to be delivered.  So fart it’s only been an hour and a half. I guess if the news was bad, it would take less time to reveal it. So I’m getting excited. The longer the wait…the bigger and better I am thinking the news will be. And lucky me! I have a 3 hour drive back to Austin to hear all the details. Just like three years ago, when we had the drive back to Houston to talk about every nuance of the conversations that changed our lives.

Inspiration

She designed a life she loved! -Kobi Yamada

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Inspiration

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are probably right. -Henry Ford