Sea of Change

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

It’s been a while since I actually posted something other than a mandala here. Things have been changing in my life and it’s been hard to keep up with everything. Maybe that’s my own fault for trying to change too much at once, but I needed to make some changes and I had to ‘seize the day’ as they say!

I still plan to keep on drawing mandalas, so the Monday Mandalas will still be happening. However, the YouTube mandala channel isn’t working, for a variety of reasons, so I’m dropping it for now. I won’t be taking anything down, but I won’t be posting much, if anything, either.

I keep meaning to finish up the last sets of minis I have, but I just don’t have the motivation to paint right now. I am going to try and complete them this summer, once school is finally out and I have some breathing room again. That will finish up all my minis, and I haven’t bought any more, so my paints may get shuttered again after that.

I’ve written before about trying Noom, and I’m still doing it. I’m two months in and down 20 lbs. So I can definitely see progress, even if logging every single thing I eat is incredibly annoying. I tried jumping in whole hog and doing all the things at the beginning, but honestly, for the last 10 lbs, I haven’t really been exercising. Just watching my calories and staying in my calorie budget. I’m hoping to add in more exercise once school is out and I have extra time. (No idea if I will actually achieve that – all this extra time I won’t be working is being spent in about 20 different ways, so who knows?!) 😛

My focus right now, besides work, has been my new diamond painting obsession. I have just absolutely fallen in love with this hobby and that’s how I’ve been spending most of my free time lately. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I’ve had to cut back the time I spend doing other things to make room. Hence the decision to hit pause on the Mandala YouTube for now.

I need to make a decision about my Etsy shop as well. It hasn’t really gone anywhere, and that’s my own fault, so I need to decide whether I’m going to just let it sit (like it’s been doing), close it, or take it in a different direction. I’m seriously considering going a different route and opening an online shop via Shopify, but I haven’t made a final decision yet.

On the financial front, our journey towards being debt-free continues. We made a good dent in our last remaining debt – my husband’s car loan. Now it will be a matter of balancing paying off that last debt and putting money in our emergency fund. Looking back, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. It seems like just a few months ago our calendar was full of bill due dates, and now it isn’t. There’s room to breathe and to dream!

Now that we are in a better financial position, we have been talking about our dreams and what we want our future to look like. We are hoping to make some pretty big changes at the end of this year, but we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my oldest graduating college this year – another milestone!

Lots of Projects

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

It’s been a busy and cold week here at the Hermit Hut. I haven’t seen temperatures this cold in decades where I live. And it’s slated to be even colder next week.

Brrrrrrr.

I’m not looking forward to the cold, but at least I get to be inside. My poor husband works outside, although he’s used to colder weather, being Canadian.

I’m dreaming of being sitting in front of the fireplace or wood stove, drinking hot cocoa, reading a book, and snuggled under a cozy blanket.

Alas, it will remain a dream for a while longer. Next week will be a short week at work since it’s President’s Day, so that will be nice. And as I’ve been planning lessons, I realized that it’s only about a month until Spring Break. Which is kind of hard to believe – where have January and February gone?

It will be nice to get some hopefully warmer weather, if only so the kids in my class can go outside and run off some of their energy. Having to be cooped up indoors all the time is hard on the little wiggle worms, and even 5 minutes outside can make a huge difference.

Besides work, I’m staying busy with various projects. I finished several diamond paintings, including a mystery painting, which was fun to do. With a mystery painting, you don’t know what the picture will be until you get done with it. It was fun to do, but it ended up being a picture of a cat – something I have zero interest in. So it went into my portfolio with all the other finished paintings I don’t know what to do with.

I had to buy a larger portfolio (big enough to fit a TV in) to fit some of the larger diamond paintings I plan to do. I’ve also completed a couple of smaller paintings – the mystery cat, a butterfly journal, and I’m currently working on a cute little elephant.

I’ve purchased another mystery painting, but I think I’m going to start one of my bigger projects before I open that, because I know I’ll want to do it first – I have no patience. 😛

I’m also still working on mandalas and my fledgling YouTube channel. I think I’ve found a decent setup for filming, so I can start drawing and filming a little more often than I was able to before. I hope, anyway. Once I get a decent backlog of mandalas on the channel, I may bundle them and put them up for sale on my Etsy shop.

I’m debating whether some of my mandalas (colored ones) would make good custom diamond paintings. I may try ordering one and see how it turns out. I don’t know how much something like that costs, so it might end up being prohibitively expensive. We’ll see.

I also have a couple of sewing projects that I need to get completed – a t-shirt quilt/lap blanket, and a quilt made from squares that my mom embroidered before she passed. My eyes aren’t that great for sewing anymore, but I’m having no luck finding someone who could finish them for me locally.

The last project on my to-do list is a blanket from the last bit of yarn I have left. I started to make an afghan for someone, but ended up undoing it all. Now the ball of yarn just sits there, taunting me. Not sure what kind of afghan I will end up making, but it would be nice to have a warm blanket over my lap while I sit and crochet of an evening during these cold winter nights.

Feeling Like a Failure

I promised myself that I would spend time this week working on various things related to my (supposed) online business. I want to 1) add things to my Etsy store, 2) create products that I can sell on TeachersPayTeachers, 2) research how to increase my sales on Etsy (keywords, SEO, etc.), 3) research whether a Shopify store would be worth the time/effort/money, 4) set up my YouTube channel, and 5) upload videos to said channel.

Except after about 10 minutes of sitting here on the computer, I feel almost paralyzed. I have no idea what I’m doing. I know what I want, but there are so many things I need to learn I don’t know where to start. Do you ever get that? Overwhelmed because there are SO MANY choices?

It can’t be that hard. People start and run online businesses every day. And I’m not looking to become a millionaire overnight. I just want to have an online source of income so that I can be mobile and still be able to work.

I’ve been blogging here for over a year and have launched my Etsy business. I have a ton of ideas for products, many of which I’ve already created. I just can’t seem to buckle down and get anything done. I can’t seem to force myself into gear to be productive.

It’s easier for me to work with external deadlines, even if there are no real consequences for missing them. My own deadlines, however, I can ignore with apparent ease, even though I feel horribly guilty for doing so.

Sometimes there’s just no way but through, right? So I am going to force myself to get SOMETHING done today, even if it isn’t everything. I’ve already had my workout, done my cleaning, have laundry going, and I’m writing this blog. So SOMETHING has been done, even if it wasn’t what I intended. That’s better than nothing. It’s not even noon yet, so I have time to work.

How do you hold yourself accountable? Force yourself to be productive on those days when you’re overwhelmed?

Dot Mandalas in Procreate

I’ve been busy this week working at my job. Everything has to be pulled out, cleaned, and sanitized so that if/when school resumes this fall, all the toys are ready for the children. It’s a huge job, but the satisfaction of making progress on it has done wonders for my mood this week.

Even though I’ve spent nearly every day working, I’ve still managed to find time to explore more mandala art. I’m still drawing new ones for the Monday Mandala series, and I’m working on additional ones for my Etsy store (shameless plug). My diamond painting mandalas finally arrived and I’ve now finished all of those. I’ve been avidly watching YouTube videos on making dot mandalas. Using simple tools like a pencil, a Qtip, and a toothpick, I’ve seen people create some amazing art.

A few days ago, one of the planning YouTubers I follow demonstrated her newfound obsession with dot mandalas and she created one in Procreate. And I thought, Duh! Why haven’t I tried that? So I did. 😀

My first attempt was so awful I didn’t even save it. However, the next attempt was good enough to encourage me to keep going. I’ve mentioned before that I am not good at picking color palettes, so I used some palettes I had stored from previous projects.

I like the color palette and I’m happy with how it all came out. It did take some fussing with settings in Procreate to get the effect I wanted with the dots, but it worked.

The next attempt I got a little carried away. I didn’t realize until I was about halfway through the mandala that I had zoomed in WAY too much at the beginning, so the final mandala is too busy in the middle. But I’m learning from my mistakes.

The last attempt is my absolute favorite of the three, and a lot of that is because I love the color scheme of the design. It has a retro/vintage feel to it that I love. I’m going to keep experimenting with these and perhaps even put some of them up for sale in my Etsy shop as printable art downloads.

I’m debating whether to keep the backgrounds or offer just the mandalas themselves, so people can print them on whatever background they wish. In any case, I’m having a ton of fun drawing them and I can’t wait to make more.

Hitting Publish

Credit: Pixabay

I did it! I finally listed some of my coloring mandalas on Etsy. After attempting to add things here and becoming frustrated, I finally decided to just go ahead and list the mandalas on Etsy.

They are similar to my Monday Mandalas, but they are more detailed, since I drew them specifically for people to color. It was (unsurprisingly) easy to list the items on Etsy, and adding the files for download was simple. I spent more time creating the images for the listings than I did the actual listings themselves.

I’ve listed 5 mandalas to start, and I plan to add to them this week. If you’d like to check them out, you can find them in my Etsy store here. It’s all kind of an experiment at this point, since I haven’t really done any social media or marketing – mostly because I decided on the spur of the moment to just do it. 😛

It should be an interesting week for me – I’ve opened my Etsy shop finally, I bought more contrast paints to experiment with painting minis, and I bought the iOrnament app for more drawing options. iOrnament reminds me of iColorama – lots and lots of options, but it’s a bit overwhelming at first. I’ve been watching some tutorials to make some sense of it. Lots of good information, but I have a feeling I may still stick with Procreate for the majority of my drawing. I haven’t found anything that has that same line smoothing ability as Procreate.

Lots of changes heading my way – new stuff to learn, a new shop to run, and now WordPress is moving everyone over to the new block editor. I’m using it to create this post – so far, so good, except I miss seeing my word count at the bottom of the post. After some Google-fu, you have to click the information button at the top of your post in the block editor to see how many words you’ve written. Not the end of the world, but an annoying additional click.

Le sigh.

Ah well, if that’s the worst of the changes, I’m doing okay, right? I do appreciate that the new editor has lots of options the old one didn’t, change is just hard. Either that, or I’m just old. 😀

Planner Overload

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Credit: Pixabay

When I started this blog, it was with the intent to open a planner sticker business on Etsy.  I’m still not there yet, but that’s a post for another day.

I am working on it, creating stickers that I could sell.  I’ve concentrated on things I would use first, because if I never sell anything, at least I’ve created something I will use myself.

I’ve been a planner girl since forever.  When I was in school, it was a way to keep track of my homework.  As I got older, it became a way to keep track of my life.  And I’m still using them.

Them.

As in, plural.  Something I never have done before.  I’ve always just had one planner, and it was one with a monthly spread, because I never use the weekly ones.  I want to be able to glance at my month and see what’s going on that month.  Drilling down into weekdays and hours is just too much for me.  I get information overload.

However, since I dove into the world of planner stickers, I realized I had no idea how many people seem to use planners these days – and multiple ones, at that.

In the planner community, there are two big planner companies.  Each of those companies sells multiple types of planners – different layouts, different themes, different sizes, etc.  But they also sell planners for multiple purposes.  You can buy a fitness/workout planner, a budget planner, a faith planner, a life planner, a household planner, a kids’ planner, and more.

I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos of planner people who use these multiple planners and thought, sheesh, why would you need that many planners?

I’m now one of them.  :/

I have my original, cheap $5 2 year monthly planner.  I have my bill planner (it’s really just a small spiral notebook where I track my bills).  Now I also have a yearly planner from one of the two big companies – because I needed to know what it was like to use one before I could make/sell stickers for it, right?  And I bought a budget pack from that same company – again, because I need to know how people use it before I can make stuff for it, right?  And I’m currently trying to talk myself out of buying a planner from the other company for the same reasons.

Oh, I forgot, I have a Bullet Journal that I’ve been trying to use again.  The BuJo was appealing because it was functional and not focused on ‘pretty,’ but if you spend any time on YouTube, you’ll find tons of artists who show off their illustrated-to-the-nines BuJos.

So, that’s now 5 (5!) planners I’m using.  Which is ridiculous, I know.  Especially since some of these planners are $40 and up.  But I’m having a hard time paring them down.  I’m actually enjoying using the new yearly planner.  2 issues with it – one, it has lots of pages for weekdays that I will never use, so that’s a waste of trees and money, and 2, the monthly spread, while good, isn’t big enough.  Since I only use the monthly spread, that’s a whole month’s worth of stuff that has to get written down – bills, appointments, schedules, holidays – for 4 people, since I track everyone in my household.  I suppose I could size up to the bigger planner, but then that’s even more money (and pages I won’t use, because it also has pages for weekdays).

And even though I understand the whole ‘sunk cost fallacy,’ I find it hard to get rid of my original cheap $5 planner, because it’s good for another whole year!  And it’s bigger than my new planner, so I have more room to write stuff down.

I am planning to get rid of my little spiral bill planner, because I do like the new budget planner I’ve been using.  Recording things in both places is getting obnoxious, and the new one has much more space to write.  I guess it’s just resistance to change that’s keeping me using both.

I also could incorporate my new budget planner into my new yearly planner – the rings are designed so that you can add/remove/rework pages as necessary.  I just haven’t done it yet.  Doing those two things would at least get me down to 3 planners instead of 5, which is something.

I have also explored the idea of using digital planners for all these things, but honestly, I like using an analog planner.  I like writing with my pens, the feel of the paper, and the stickers.  Digital planning just wouldn’t be the same, plus I’d be worried about it all somehow getting hacked.  So for now, analog planning is the plan.

I’m still trying to figure out if the Bullet Journal is something I want to stick with.  I like that it’s functional, but I’m discovering I would also like it to be pretty.  Something that seems a lot easier with my yearly planner than the BuJo.  We shall see.

Family Business?

I’ve been working for the past several months on designs for my mandalas.  I have decided that I also want to make stickers to sell on Etsy.  That was my original plan, but then I got sidetracked by how much fun I was having with the mandalas.

I spent some time recently using my Silhouette cutting machine to make some craft kits for a preschool classroom.  It was so much fun, I may have to find other kits to make and sell!

Here’s the craft kit I made – they were doing a monster design for ‘M’ week, so I used my machine to cut out all the circles and horns for the monsters.  Enough for 40+ kids done in about 15 minutes.  It would have taken me all weekend to cut these by hand, not to mention they wouldn’t have been true circles.

Monster Craft Kit 2

My husband is getting in on the action, too.  He is working with vinyl rather than paper, and he’s been making vinyl decals for cars.  He made some for his car and his colleagues saw the decals and asked if he could make some designs for them.

He’s spent the last two weekends working on the computer, designing decals, and having a blast.  He told me yesterday that he really wants to invest some time into seeing if he can turn it into a viable small business.

Crossing my fingers that he can and we can turn this into a family business. 🙂  Now to get busy working on my own designs!