Well, I made it all of two days. But at least I’m still blogging today, right? Right??
Today was just long and not terribly productive and if I’m being completely honest, I legit just forgot to watch and blog until I’d already left my workspace for the day (I’m writing this on my phone). I had thought about it- and even done the initial setup for todays post! Then I got busy and just plain forgot about it. Planning to jump right back on the horse tomorrow, though – see you then!
Listen, I know I keep posting that I’m going to post and then not posting, so I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to post when I post. Okay? Okay.
That said, I’m going to try a thing this month. I got a great deal on a Skillshare membership, and though I’ve tried them out a few times in the past and really found the courses inspiring and useful, I’ve had trouble making time to, you know, actually do the courses. As you know, I’ve also had trouble making time to blog. SO. This month, my goal is to do a Skillshare* course (or part of a course) every day, and blog about it (live-blog style, it turns out).
There may not be pictures (but there might be). I will let you know which courses I try, what I like about them, and whether I’d recommend them to a friend (that’s you. You’re the friend in this scenario.). If I really bounce hard off something in the first lesson, I’m going to choose something else to do and you’ll never hear about it – this isn’t about being negative or hating on courses. There are definitely some courses that I’ve found more useful than others – you’re going to hear about the useful ones. I’m likely going to be doing mostly productivity/lifehacks and art courses, just because that’s my jam right now. But I’m also planning to mix it up a bit with some gardening and baking, too.
Okay. This is basically a breakdown of the principles from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Merten is very upfront about this. I’m not learning a ton of new stuff, but these are definitely good tips on how to actually Do The Things.
I knew this going in but it’s really being reinforced by this course (in a good way!): productivity and habit-building are like healthy eating, in that lots of different things that actually work if you are good at implementing them and stick to them, but you gotta actually do it. There’s no magic pill that will make me more productive.
Ah, the Rewards step. My favorite part. I need to find something that’s not food or shopping to reward myself with, though. Fun story: last time I was job hunting, I used to reward myself with buying a little something for my Future Office whenever I sent off a bunch of applications or had an interview. So I had this whole bag of things like a new mug, a fun tape dispenser, unicorn paperclips, cool sticky notes (yeah, I said cool! Don’t @ me!), a hedgehog planter, etc. Then I got an amazing remote position, so I get to work from my home office, which is already fully stocked with things I love.
Anywho, this was a decent class. I didn’t really learn anything new, but it did reinforce the things I already knew about habit-building, so that’s nice. Kind of a refresher. I didn’t feel like it really tied in the productivity angle effectively, but if you’re looking for some habit-building tips, this is a decent place to start.
That’s one down, y’all!
*”Skillshare is an online learning community with thousands of classes for creative and curious people, on topics including illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more.” They’ve got classes in everything from art to baking to productivity to gardening to trumpet (I will not subject you to my efforts to relearn the trumpet). Classes range from 20m to a few hours, but even the longer ones are broken into bite-sized chunks. It’s pretty cool.
Which is my way of saying that despite my best intentions, and despite making and baking like a mofo these past few weeks, I haven’t been blogging. Obviously. I’m not even sure why not? For instance, the bean soup recipe I promised has been drafted and nearly ready to post since mid-April. So, what’s the hold up?
No idea. For now, I think I’m just going to accept that it’s just not going to happen right now. BUT. I do have like 30 recipe tabs open on my phone right now, and I’d love to close them down, so look for a bunch of recipes – probably without either pics or commentary – to be added in the next couple of weeks. I’m also exploring the idea of upping my Instagram presence, so keep an eye on that. (And maybe I’ll do a weekly roundup of those posts? We’ll see.)
It would be a tremendous understatement to say that a lot has happened since the last time I posted here. The tl;dr version is: finally found a fantastic new job, worked real hard at it, company got slammed by virus fallout*, and here I am with time on my hands.
I’ve done more baking and crafting the past couple of months than I did in probably the previous two years, between hard-core job hunting and then ramping up into the new job in a new field (construction and renovation!), and I’d been starting to think about getting back to blogging. Now it’s time to stop thinking about it and start doing it.
One of the first questions Kit (that’s my amazing husband, in case I haven’t mentioned him by name before) asked me when I delivered the sad news about being on the dole was, “when does the therapeutic baking start?” The answer is tomorrow, but with a twist: I’m going to (mostly) be making things I’ve never made before.
I’d already started doing this a little the past couple of weeks – I’ve been working remote with this new job since last June, but with nowhere to go it seemed like I had a lot more time on my hands. I also started a rewatch of GBBO – so relaxing! – which may have influenced me a tad. So I’ve already made a roll cake:
a couple of challah loaves
and some meringue cookies (not pictured – they were the right shape and consistency, but the bake went badly and they were just…off, in a bunch of different ways. I’m going to retry them at 200° instead of 225°, and a half batch instead of crowding the oven). Oh, also zucchini bread, not pictured – it came out fine, but was underspiced. Will definitely make again.
I have a pretty lengthy list of things I still want to try, including but not limited to:
carrot cake (maybe cupcakes)
Olive Garden style breadsticks
chocolate swiss roll cake
treacle tart (blame GBBO for this one)
lemon meringue pie
GF lemon cookies
pineapple upside down cake
cheesy garlic monkey bread
This is by no means an comprehensive list, but it’s a start. And that’s just the baking. Tomorrow, I’m planning to bake a big pan of brownies and that cheesy garlic monkey bread from the list. I’m also going to make some 3 Bean Taco Soup – that’s not a new dish, and I’ll snap some pics and get the recipe up for y’all next week.
Next week I’ll also talk some more about my non-kitchen oriented crafting plans, and we’ll get this blog thing rolling along again. It’s good to be back — I’ve missed being here!
Lola’s back, tell a friend…
*Sweeten is the company, and it is truly a group of wonderful people providing a service that really helps people through the construction and renovation process. If you’re planning to do any serious work on your home when things ramp back up, I encourage you to go ahead and list your project at Sweeten.com to get a head start. And if you’re a general contractor, let me say first that it is so cool that you’re here reading my blog, but also, go sign up to join Sweeten’s network – it’s free to join, and there’s no fee unless you’re successfully awarded a project.
Note: It is really hard to start blogging again when you’ve been on a hiatus, but I’m going to try. I’ve been meaning to post more for weeks now, but I keep getting stuck on what to post about. So I finally decided to just dive back in and post about whatever. That means at least the first few posts back will probably be all over the place, but I’m just going to go with it in the interest of getting back into the swing of adding content without getting bogged down in the details. ETA: Sigh. And then I forgot to give it a title
I realized the other day that I hadn’t actually finished anything in awhile. I don’t actually know how many projects I have in progress right now, but it’s a lot. Like, more than 10. Maybe more than 20. And that’s just the ones that I know where they are and occasionally pick them up and work on them. So, I knew I had this Protest is Patriotic shawl from Craftivist on the needles, and I decided to go ahead and finish it up for 4th of July because I only had a few rows left to go.
Except…I didn’t get it finished for the 4th, but that turned out to be okay because it was so stupid hot here that there’s no way I could have worn it, even though it is both tiny and cotton. I finished up the knitting a couple of days later, and then I left it on the couch to stare balefully at me until I wove the ends in. Which I finally did last night, and now I have an adorable shawlette, as seen above. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?!
(This was pretty much ready to be posted last night but then I decided to try the WordPress app again because I forgot why I’d quit using it…right. It completely breaks the blog for an hour. Oops.)
This is going to meander a bit, but I promise, I have a destination in mind. A couple of summers ago, I had the opportunity to attend an amazing knitting convention/retreat/gathering in Kent, CT. I got to spend two days taking classes from a couple of my design heroes (that would be Amy Herzog and Norah Gaughan, both of whom I learned a tremendous from, but this is not a blog about that — you can read about that here). It was wonderful, but it was also exhausting, because I am an introvert extraordinaire. You know those personality tests with the sliding scales? I am consistently 0% extrovert. Everything else varies depending on my mood when I take the test, but that is a constant.
So instead of attending what I am sure was a lovely dinner in town with the instructors and other students, I holed up in my hotel room. And I pulled out this book, Make It Mighty Ugly, that I’d picked up kind of on a whim, based on this Twitter account that I follow and really like. I did the first chapter, or maybe two, that night, and really, really enjoyed it. It’s a little workbook-y, so there’s some interactive stuff to do, exercises to kind of get into your head and figure out what makes you you and how to use that to overcome your self-doubt about your own amazing creativity. I was so excited about it that I tweeted about it (I almost never tweet, you may have noticed) (of course, lately I almost never blog, either, so maybe you haven’t noticed so much).
Then after the retreat/conference/whatever I got home and put the book on top of my book pile, which is quite astounding in size and constantly being added to. It did not stay on top of the pile for long…more books were added, some were shuffled around, and it crept closer and closer to the bottom of the pile. It’s the kind of book I feel like I need to have some real good alone, sitting-with-myself kind of time for. I want to immerse myself in it, to devour it with intensity and complete concentration. So I kept putting it off, waiting for The Perfect Moment to pick it back up again. TPM, of course, still has not come.
In the meantime, I have been continuing to follow the author, Kim Werker, and I still find her super inspirational (I’m pretty sure she’s the one who introduced me to bullet journaling, in fact). She has an art journal daily-ish mailing list thingie, and I’ve been wanting to do an art journal, so I subscribed. And in the intro email she said this:
“Actually, it doesn’t matter if you’re ready. The adventure is here! Time to embark upon it whether we’re ready or not.”
Now, she was talking about the art journaling thing, but holy crap did it hit me like a lightening bolt and make me determined to dig that book out and work all the way through it this time! The thing is, the way our various schedules are set up now, I really do have chunks of time that I can pretty easily carve out for spending some quality time with this. It had just been so long since it was on the top of my pile that it never occurred to me to grab it when those chunks of time are available. So. Back to the top of the pile it goes!
But also, art journaling starts tonight. I am taking Kim’s words to heart and embarking on my adventure NOW! The idea is to do some art journaling every day. I know. I know, I always say I’m going to do these every-day-for-a-month/year/week things, and then I peter out. And I might this time as well. But I have also decided that I am okay with that. Because the point, for me, isn’t as much to make it to the end of the month. It’s to try it and see if I like it, if it’s a thing that is meaningful to me such that I want to do it pretty much daily. So I am committing to trying it, and that’s all.
I’m hoping to Insta-blog some or all of these art journal-y things. Those will be short little posts, probably, with pictures of my journal pages (or parts of them), because this thing is supposed to be a community thing — there’s a hashtag (#dailyartjournal) and everything! — so I’m going to try to dip my little introvert toes out into the pool of sharing. Interested in coming along on this journey? Head on over to Kim’s blog and sign yerself on up!
For the past few months, I’d been habit tracking on a monthly basis, which was pretty, and made it easy to see a big picture of how I was doing at building particular habits. The only thing was, I’d forget to do it for a couple of days. Some months, I let it go completely for the last week or so of the month. Which made it much less useful as both a track and as a reminder. So when I decided I needed to jump back on the habit building wagon in order to make this blogging thing happen, I thought about ways to track weekly. This is my first attempt.
As you can see, it’s not pretty. I’ve already screwed up (guess I better eat some fruit tomorrow!) because it’s hard to tell where stuff goes. But, I do like that it’s immediately available. I think next week I’ll try adding it to my weekly plan page. In the meantime, I’m going to go make a dot for today on the “blog” row.
I mean, not really. Compared to, say, Bill O’Reilly I’m actually pretty awesome. But I just can’t seem to remember to write blog posts. Typically what has happened in the past is I have post ideas but technical issues. Or I don’t have any post ideas at all and I just stare at the screen and then post something short and silly…kind of the blog-post equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Which isn’t super great, but at least it’s something. I’m genuinely not sure what my issue right now is — I’m completely flaking out on posting at all.
Maybe because I stopped doing my habit tracker in my journal, which had a little square for me to color in every day when I blogged. On the days I remembered to fill out my habit tracker, that is. Although…I’ve switched to a different notebook system for my journal, one that allows me to move pages around. Maybe I’ll try habit tracking again and just move the tracker to “today” so it’s right there in front of me… It’s worth a shot, right?
Good grief! I finally fix my posting issues and then forget all about posting! I’m not gonna lie — I’m a little disappointed in myself. BUT, I am now re-committing to this 365 project. I’m not going to start over, I’m just going to move ahead from here. And I’m going to post my very favorite motivational poster here, just to remind myself that we all stumble sometimes. What matters is that we get back up and keep going.
I may have found a workaround so that I can upload pics from my phone, which has been the big killer on this whole blog-every-day thing I was trying to do. Basically, if I can’t upload directly (or mostly directly) from my phone, it means it’s something like a 5 step process just to get the photos. That’s not even including the writing part. So, here goes. :: holding breath::