Like Molasses

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Credit: Pixabay

Time is relative, and boy has it been running slow lately.  Which is kind of odd, because I’ve been staying busy even though I’m not working.  My youngest, with about 5 weeks to go until graduation, has only been home for 2 weeks – and one of those was Spring Break.  When I asked how he was doing, he said he felt like he’d been home for months already.

Other than staying home from work, my regular day-to-day hasn’t changed that much.  I am still paying bills, balancing the checkbook, cleaning the bathrooms, cooking dinner, buying groceries, doing laundry, etc.  On the other hand, since my children are home, they are starting to see just how much I do around the house that they usually take for granted.

This weekend my husband and I spent an afternoon washing and vacuuming the cars and cleaning off the front porch. Monday my youngest and I, after our morning workout (which he has to do for his weights class), worked outside pruning trees and cleaning up the yard.  Then I paid bills, ran errands, and did laundry.

I’ve been much busier than I usually am, actually.  And yet, the last two days feel like they have lasted two weeks.  Maybe it’s because my kids are home all day, every day.  I’m not sure, but I am definitely ready for April.

Last night, my husband and I looked at prices for plane tickets, because we are hopeful that we may be able to travel back to Canada and see his family, since our visit in March was cut short.  No idea if we’ll really be able to go, but on the up side, tickets that are normally between $600-$800 each are now more like $200 each.  😀

I’ve put my plans to open up an online store on hold for a bit, given the current situation.  Instead, I’m going to focus on building a bigger base, so that when I do open officially, I’ve got ready-made customers.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Activity Ideas

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Credit: Pixabay

As we enter week 2 of our sudden and abrupt departure from ‘normal life,’ I find myself hunting for things to occupy my time.  It feels kind of like being forced into retirement – only without the income. :/

I’m trying to stay on something of a schedule, if just to force myself to get up, shower, and get dressed every day.  Otherwise it’s too easy to just sit around in my pajamas all day.  My husband is still working, thankfully, so it does add some structure to the day.

But even my introverted hermit self is struggling to find things to occupy both my hands and mind.  So I sat down and made a list of things I can do to keep busy.  I thought I would share it with you guys in case you were having the same issue.

I can:

  • Blog – which I am doing, or you wouldn’t be reading this. 😀
  • Read – I am currently participating in the 2020 GoodReads challenge – I’ve set a goal of 500 books read this year, and I’m already at 203.
  • Write lesson plans – rumor has it there will be a curriculum director position open at my job next year – assuming school starts as normal in August – and I would love to have it, so I’m trying to be extra prepared.
  • Take online classes – There are lots of different places to take online classes, including Coursera, Skillshare, Lynda.com, and CreativeLive, just to name a few.  I am taking CE classes required for my job – even though I’m not working.  I have no idea if I will still be required to meet the criteria this year, but I figured why not? I have the time and the information will still be useful later.
  • Draw Mandalas – I may even finally make some videos of doing this!
  • Exercise – I can still go out for walks, but even if I couldn’t, I have several pieces of exercise equipment in my home that I can use.
  • Paint miniatures – I have a whole pile of miniatures that I keep meaning to get to – now I have time, so I hope to take advantage of that.
  • Photography – I take photos both IRL and in a virtual digital world, and a lot of that was put on hold because other things were taking up my time.  Now I can do both of those – assuming my data cap doesn’t put a cramp in that!
  • Crochet – I have lots of yarn laying around that I planned to make into blankets for people.  Something to keep my hands busy while I’m watching the dumpster fire that is the news these days.
  • Puzzles/Games – I have a lot of puzzles and board games that I can pull out, as well as playing games on the various consoles in the house.  I’m currently playing Divinity on the PS4 – it’s already downloaded and it’s not an online game, so I don’t use any data when I play it.
  • Coloring – I have several adult coloring books that have been gifted to me that I can pull out and just zen out for a while and color.  I even found one that is full of curse words that feels like the right thing to color right now. 😛
  • Outreach – I’m trying to reach out to family members and friends on a regular basis to check up on everyone.  My sister has been sick, so I haven’t seen her in over a week.  We have an elderly aunt that I need to check on, and just keeping in touch with people helps with my own sanity.

We are still waiting on more information about when my youngest will start the remote classes to finish out this school year.  One of the ISP’s in our area (not the big one, but the small rural one) is setting up wi-fi nodes so that kids who don’t have internet access at home can travel to one of the nodes and use the wi-fi for free.  The latest email also mentioned they will be letting the kids know when they can return to pick up personal items.  I bet the locker rooms smell AMAZING after this long. :/

Slow Slide

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Credit: Pixabay

This week has been hard.  The sudden disruption in our routines is about to drive us all batty.  My husband is doing fine, since thankfully he is still working – for now.

The rest of us are at home, trying to figure out our ‘new normal.’  Yesterday, my youngest tried to sleep all day, because he’s finally bored of playing video games and watching Netflix.  😛

I think my oldest has handled it the best – she’s gone on two different outings with a couple of friends – out to a park (that was pretty much deserted), and over to their house to play board games.

I find myself sleeping more than normal and I know that’s a sign depression is creeping up on me.  I know I need to be more active, but without the routine of work, I’m finding that a challenge.  The person I would usually spend time with is my sister, but she is currently sick, so that’s out until she recovers (just a cold, nothing to worry about).

Also, we received a notification last night that we’ve used 85% of our data this month from our ISP.  We typically use about 400G of our 1TB – right now we are at over 800G – and my youngest (the biggest data hog) has only been home for a week.  Yikes!  We have 5 days to go, so I think we’ll be okay this month, but I’m definitely going to have to do something to limit how much we are using, as we cannot afford overages right now.  Those of you who don’t have data caps – count yourself lucky!

Yesterday I made a list of activities I could do to keep myself busy (including things that don’t require internet).  I have lots of craft projects I could be working on, so hopefully I will get some of those done.  I have lots of miniatures to paint, so that’s on my list as well.

I’m going to have to figure out something for my youngest – he’s so used to being physically active and I think he’s only left the house once in the last week.  We have some equipment – a treadmill and an elliptical, but that’s not that same as weightlifting, something he did every day.  A weight set is not in the budget right now, so we’ll have to get creative.

What activities are you doing while practicing ‘social distancing’?

Unanswered Questions

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Credit: Pixabay

Life feels very surreal right now.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I were planning our trip to Canada to visit his family.  A week ago, we were in Canada, visiting his family.  The day after we arrived, the virus hit the province, and we were advised to return home immediately.  We did.  Our planned week of vacation turned into two days of actually seeing family, and four days of traveling back and forth.  It was exhausting.

We were glad to be home, but still uncertain about what would happen, as the virus was now causing chaos in the US.  We arrived home and decided to get groceries the next day, on our usual shopping day.

The stores were busy, but not chaotic.  Purchases of certain items were being limited, but we were able to buy everything we needed without an issue.  I was hopeful that perhaps the impact of the pandemic would be less where we are.

In my house, 3 of the 4 people in it either go to school, work at a school, or both.  We are on Spring Break this week, but were waiting to hear whether we would be returning next week.

All of the universities in my state have sent the majority of students home from the dorms and will be doing online/remote classes for the rest of the school year.  I thought, okay, with the exception of one class, all the university classes my two are taking are already online, so the impact would be minimal for us.

Yesterday, the governor closed all public schools in the state for the rest of the school year.  While I’m grateful that I now know that, it leaves me with so many unanswered questions.

My oldest works full-time at a public school at an hourly position.  She will now likely be without a paycheck for the next 4-5 months.  Will she be able to get unemployment?

She is in a university program to get her teaching certificate.  Part of the program is working in a school – what effects will the closure of the public schools have on her program? Will it delay her graduation date?

(Side note – most of the universities have also cancelled commencement ceremonies.)

My youngest is a senior in high school this year.  We don’t know yet how he will do classes online – how do you do a weightlifting class online?  How do you do a carpentry/woodworking class online?  He is also taking a public speaking course – how do you do that online?

He is very active in sports and was planning to participate in track this year.  Last year he went to state in two events and was hoping to compete again this year, with an eye to a possible track scholarship.  That possibility is now gone.

Other school events have now disappeared as well – prom, recognition ceremonies, scholarship award ceremonies – we are not even sure if they will have a graduation ceremony.  Our district is small, but still would certainly be over the current “no meetings of more than 10 people” recommendations.

(Side note – I just thought about whether I would be able to get a refund on the graduation regalia I’ve already purchased.  Probably – but the company we purchased them from will likely either go bankrupt or be severely injured by this, as they supply most of the states and many states have canceled school.)

As for me, I work part-time in a preschool, which will now also be closed, because we follow the local school district.  So, I am, in effect, unemployed from now until maybe August?  I don’t think I will be eligible for unemployment, but we shall see.

I have family that also work with me, and they are in the same predicament.  However, the loss of income will likely be much harder on them than on me.  For now, my husband’s job is relatively secure, but that could change too.  If we lose his income, I don’t know how we will survive.  None of us have jobs that we can do remotely.

(Side note – our ISP limits our data to 1TB a month.  Which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t, when you have people home all day long – gaming, watching YouTube, or working.  So I’m hoping a change in that limit will be forthcoming, given that many people are hopefully going to begin working from home.)

So much going on, and so many unanswered questions.  I find myself wishing that my grandmother were still around so I could ask her questions.  She grew up during the Depression, and I know she would have so many helpful suggestions about what to do right now.

She isn’t, so I will wait, watch, and hope that things get better.  In the meantime, I will try to keep myself and my children busy so that we don’t all get cabin fever.  We are doing everything we can to keep ourselves healthy, and I hope that you are all able to do the same.

Light, love, and blessings to all of you.

Am I An Artist?

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Credit: Pixabay

I love to do creative things – write, draw, paint, dance, sew, crochet, etc.  I may not be any good at some of them, but I love doing them.  The other day I was wondering where my creative need comes from, because I’ve never thought of myself as particularly artistic.

It suddenly hit me the other day that I come from a long line of creative people.  Something I knew, but never really considered until recently.  My paternal grandfather was an extremely good artist.  Unfortunately, a mental breakdown and electric shock treatment seemed to burn that creative spark out of him.  I treasure the few pieces I have of his.

My maternal grandmother was creative, too.  When I was small, she was always painting ceramics.  In the 70’s, she owned her own kiln and we would buy bisque ware, clean it, and then fire them in her kiln before we would paint them.  She was a poet.  She wrote poetry for herself, but also for other people.  She was often asked to write poems for birthdays, retirements, and obituaries. In her later years, she took up oil painting.  I still have some of her work.

My mother was also very creative.  We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so she sewed most of our clothes when we were little.  She could create a pattern for anything out of thin air.  She once helped me create (from scratch, no pattern) Star Trek uniforms for my brother and I to wear to a convention. (Yes, we’re those nerds.)

My mom taught me all kinds of creative skills.  She was a troop leader at one point for my sister, and they were always making something.  They had one project where they transferred designs from coloring pages onto wood, carved them out, and then painted them.

She taught me to knit, to crochet, and to latchhook. (Does anyone do latchhook anymore?)  I learned how to cross-stitch, crewel, and embroider with her.  We even did macramé at one point. (Jute plant holder, anyone?)

It’s funny how for all these years I’ve resisted labeling myself as artistic.  I was surrounded by all these creative people, which I recognized, but I never thought of myself the same way.

Over the past several years, I’ve come to realize that most people are artists – although in many different ways.  So, though I still often suffer from that dreaded imposter syndrome, these days I consider myself an artist.

Color Challenged

I love to create thing, but I’ll be the first to admit that my ability to choose colors is practically non-existent.  Finding pleasing color palettes has been a challenge as I’ve been working on products.

One day, while searching for something else, I came across the Coolors website.  Jackpot! Coolors is a site that will generate color palettes with a simple flick of your space bar.  The palettes are only 5 colors, but I’ve already found it to be an invaluable resource when I’m creating stickers.

For my monthly kits, I want the color palettes to be pleasing to the eye.  But I also want to offer a variety of choices, and I find it difficult to create color schemes, especially if I don’t care for the colors myself.

I’ve also used the site to create some of my colored mandalas.  I can save a palette and then use it to color my digital mandalas in Procreate.  I used one of them to create this colored mandala:

Mandala_19_ColoredPretty nifty! It’s certainly going to make my creating easier going forward, and that’s always a good thing.

Create a Font from Your Handwriting

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Calligraphr.com

I’ve been busily creating things over the last several weeks.  Some things have happened at work that have me even more sure that I want to get my business launched so I can work for myself rather than depending on an employer.

In addition to creating new stickers, covers, and the like for my sticker business, I remembered seeing a video about creating a font using your own handwriting.  So I went searching and found the website Calligraphr.

Basically, you print out a template and then write in the letters (capital and lowercase), numbers, and punctuation in your own handwriting.  You then scan and upload the template with your writing and the site will create a font for you from your handwriting.

You do have to create an account and provide an email address, but you get one font for free.  Delete your one free font (after you save the files and install the font on your computer) and you can then create another free font.  (You can only save one font file at a time with the free account.)  When I made mine, my hand was a bit shaky and some of the capital letters aren’t that neat.

I also noticed that when I tested out the font in a document, it was very small.  At 12 pt it looked like this:

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As you can see, it’s small and pretty hard to read.  I tried making it larger:

MyFont24pt

Much easier to read, but I’m curious if there’s a tweak I missed somewhere to increase the size before the font file is created.  I’ll check next time – I want to try creating one that’s more of a calligraphy style font, but still in my own hand.

When you generate the font, you can also choose from two file types – OTT or TrueType.  The OTT file lets you add fancy flourishes and such, but unless you’re a professional font designer, the TrueType font is usually sufficient.

Calligraphr states that your font files are yours to use whenever and wherever you see fit, including commercial uses.  You can also upgrade to a paid account, which lets you create multiple fonts with additional features not available with the free account.

It was cool to see my handwriting in use as I typed, and even though I can’t make fancy flourishes and such, having a font that looks my own handwriting will surely let me be kinder to my carpal tunnel.  It means I can type notes that look handwritten and personal, something I’m sure I can use with my sticker business.  I may try some digital journaling using this font and see how I like it.

New Year, New Goals

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Credit: Pixabay

I can’t believe it’s 2020.  I remember when I was younger, thinking that the year 2000 seemed eons away.  20 years past that, I am starting to realize that I am old.  Sigh.

As the new year approached, I found myself thinking about what goals I wanted to achieve in 2020.  I don’t like to make ‘resolutions,’ because it’s too easy to forget about those as soon as you make them.

Over the last few weeks, I was thinking about what I want to accomplish this year – both personally and professionally.  I don’t want to set too many goals and overwhelm myself.  I want concrete, achievable goals – ones I can break into smaller goals so that I can measure my progress.

Goals for 2020

Professional Goals:

  • Launch sticker business officially
  • Create at least 10 products to sell
  • Upgrade WordPress to Premium to take advantage of Simple Payments

Personal Goals:

  • Save $
  • Get fit
  • Be brave

For my professional goals, I want to officially launch my sticker business here on the website.  By upgrading to the Premium plan, I can take advantage of the simple payments options and offer the products for sale via PayPal.  There are other things I will need to do to make this happen, but this will give me more control over my products and sales than I would have on Etsy.

I may still open an Etsy store, but the goal is to eventually have enough traffic to my own site that I won’t need Etsy.  It also lets me avoid the mountain of paperwork that would be required with an Etsy shop.

Before I launch, I want to create at least 10 different products to sell.  The last 3-4 months I’ve been setting up files and products that I can easily adapt for different options to minimize my production time when the products officially launch.

For my personal life, I want to budget more carefully in addition to hopefully bringing in more income with the business launch.  My husband’s parents live in another country and we would love to be able to visit them more often.  We will also be paying college tuition for our children, which will be another large expense.

In 2020, I want to improve my health.  My husband and I would like to travel quite a bit after our kids are done with school, and I want to be healthy enough to do that.  I am making some small changes to start, but I am hopeful that I will be able to stick with them.

Lastly, I want to be braver this year.  I am my own worst critic and I want to try and, if not silence, at least lower the volume on those critical thoughts.  If I fail, at least I tried.  And then I know what doesn’t work.

Happy New Year to you all, and may your year be full of love, light, and blessings.  ♥♥

Top 10 Christmas Songs

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Credit: Pixabay

It’s Christmas Day!  If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you are spending quality time with your loved ones. 

In the spirit of the day, I thought I’d share a list of my top 10 favorite Christmas songs.  Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday and I can remember many years spent singing and dancing around in our living room to these songs.  Mom made a cassette tape of her favorites – I still have it, even though I no longer own a cassette player. 

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
  2. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
  3. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
  4. Merry Christmas Darling by The Carpenters
  5. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
  6. Go Tell It On the Mountain by Jim Nabors
  7. We Three Kings by Ella Fitzgerald
  8. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft
  9. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
  10. The Little Drummer Boy – tie between the Harry Simeone Chorale and the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet

There are lots of other songs I’m partial to, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without these 10 on rotation.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. 🙂