Enjoying Life

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It’s been quite a little while since I felt like I had something to say here. Life is busy with other projects and – well, you know how it goes. πŸ˜€

While I’ve been working hard on other things, it’s been too easy to let this space slide into the background. I don’t know if that will continue or not. I am keeping up with the Monday Mandalas, so at least that’s something!

Life is good – I’m making progress on many of the projects I am currently working on, and it feels good. There have been some frustrations and setbacks, sure, but I am working on things I WANT to do, so even setbacks don’t seem as daunting as they once did.

Things are great at home – everyone is enjoying their summer vacation and trying to avoid thinking about the work that will be in front of us in just a few short months as we return to school. Except for my poor hubby, who works outside all day in this ferocious heat. But we are planning and saving for a family vacation, so he doesn’t mind too much. πŸ™‚

Speaking of saving, we are still working on our journey to being debt-free. We are down to just our mortgage and one car loan, and we are paying extra on both of those every month. I hope to have the car loan paid off well before the end of the year, so fingers crossed! Even though we are paying extra on the remaining debts, we are still managing to ‘pay ourselves first‘ and put some money away in savings every month. Some is earmarked for specific things – like college tuition and vacation – but the rest is going into a rainy day/emergency fund. Just in case, because you never know.

On the miniature front, I haven’t painted anything lately. I’ve been busy with my newest project, which is my diamond painting YouTube channel. Though I jokingly call it my ‘obsession,’ the truth is that discovering this hobby/form of therapy has saved my sanity in a lot of ways.

For the first time in a long while, I am happy where I am. I have plans for the future, of course, but the present is good, and I’m remembering to BE present and enjoy it. I hope you’re doing the same!

Learning and Drawing

Find mandalas like this one on my YouTube channel

Things have continued to be busy at the Hermit Hut. I am still working, though Spring Break can’t get here fast enough! I am still drawing and still trying to grow my fledgling YouTube channel.

It’s always fascinating to me how much I don’t know when I start a new project. I mean, I jumped into starting this YouTube channel, and in just a few weeks, have discovered how much I don’t know about how YouTube works.

I thought blogging experience, SEO knowledge, and things like that would carry over. Turns out, not so much. :/ I mean, I understand more of the jargon than some people (I hope, anyway), so I think I have a leg up there, but delving into tags, keywords, analytics, etc. – it’s enough to make my head spin.

While I continue to plug away creating content and learning as I go, I am trying to remind myself to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? I do, however, have days where I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark. Just finding other channels to follow – other artists, people who draw mandalas – has been hard. My YouTube search-fu is apparently lacking.

So, I am trying to be kinder to myself and remember all those clichΓ©s –

Everyone has to start somewhere.

It takes time to build something good.

Turkey is better than ham. (Maybe that’s just my stomach and not a clichΓ©. I can’t remember.)

In any event, I continue to draw, both here and over on YouTube. I’ve actually drawn a lot of mandalas, now that I stop to think about it. 20-some YouTube videos and over 80 mandalas here – so I am over that 100 mandala mark. πŸ˜€

I am getting faster at drawing (I hope that’s a good thing), which means I am drawing more mandalas in less time. I’m happy with the results – I hope you enjoy them, too. Head on over to YouTube, watch a couple of videos, and if you would be so kind, give me a thumbs up and subscribe if you like what you see. I’m off to draw some more!

Mandalas Everywhere

When I started my mandala YouTube channel, I wasn’t sure how it would work and how I would feel about it. Drawing is often one of those things where I do a lot all at once because I’m inspired, but then it might be several days or a week before I feel like drawing again.

Before I started the channel, I decided that I would begin with a fairly light publishing schedule – just twice a week, because more than that seemed daunting. And for the first few weeks, it seemed like a good choice, because it was taking me about 20-30 minutes to draw something. Normally, the time it takes me to draw something is mostly irrelevant, since I only posted here for the most part. Occasionally I’ll remember to add them to my Pinterest, but that’s not a given.

However, I wanted my videos to be shorter than that, so I was spending a lot of time editing them down to make them around 10-15 minutes. Last week, I challenged myself to do some speed drawing. How fast could I draw some mandalas? Could I spend less time drawing so that I could then spend less time editing?

So I sat down and started filming. The first mandala took about the same amount of time as usual. However, I was using a reference photo and was getting frustrated when things weren’t going the way I wanted. I decided to ditch the reference photos and just draw.

It helped that I was home alone, so I could really focus on what I was doing, and not worry about being interrupted while I was filming. The next mandala took about 9 minutes, so a little better, but not great. I tried a few more and eventually got down to just 5 minutes. Now, I don’t want to draw that fast all the time, because I often want more details than I can get in that time, but it was nice to know that if I need to draw quickly, I can.

Plus, the quicker I can draw, the more videos I can put out – which seems to be how you succeed at the YouTubing – more content, more content, more content. πŸ˜€ So now that I know I can get more done, I am going to try and post a bit more often than twice a week on YouTube. I don’t think I’m ready for posting a video every day yet, but I might get there eventually.

Lots of Projects

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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. πŸ˜›

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.

Too Many Hobbies? Nah.

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I’m starting to think I have too many hobbies.

I have so many projects I want to do I don’t know where to start.

There’s my diamond painting obsession, of course. I’m currently working on a large canvas, though the end of it is now in sight. After three weeks of work, I think I’ll be done with it by the end of this week. Which means I can move on to other diamond painting projects, so yay! πŸ˜€

I’ve opened my last batch of unpainted miniatures – the ones from the Critical Role Kickstarter that I got probably over a year ago. After they are done, I will have no more unpainted minis. I’m anxious to see how well they turn out, both because they are 3D printed and because I’m impatient and probably primed them when it was too cold outside. So I’m not sure how well the primer will work – I’ll find out after I’m done painting them.

I want to reorganize my craft/office area. I currently have projects spread out all over the house, and I’d like to contain most of it to one area so that the rest of house isn’t quite so messy. I’ve been fighting with my cutting machine, so I want to move it so that it is wired directly to my PC rather than using Bluetooth. Moving things around will also hopefully let me set up my painting area in the office, so that I can leave it out rather than cleaning up all the time in between paint sessions.

I’d also like to have an area set up for filming for my YouTube videos. I did spring for a fancy light so that my videos will have better lighting than they do currently. I’ve figured out the filming equipment issues, but again, having a dedicated space that I don’t have to set up and tear down each time would be much easier. Speaking of, if you haven’t hopped over to YouTube to check out my mandala videos, could you take a minute and do it now? Follow the link here and if you like what you see, like and subscribe to the channel. πŸ™‚

My diamond painting will probably be done outside the craft area, simply because most of the paintings I have are too large for me to work on comfortably in a smaller area. I don’t like having to roll up my paintings while I’m working on them – I’d rather have them spread out so I can see what I’m doing. I do need better lighting for that as well, so I’m probably going to get a light pad for that. (My birthday is coming up, so I’m waiting to see if I get one as a gift before I purchase one.) The smaller diamond paintings I can do easily anywhere, and I like to diamond paint while my husband watches TV. He works a lot, so it’s nice to at least be in the same room for a small part of the day, even if we are doing different things.

I’ve set myself another reading goal for this year. For the past two years I’ve done this and I’ve managed to beat the goals each year by quite a bit. This year, even though I lowered my goal, I’m already behind, because my other hobbies have taken over a lot of my reading time. That’s okay, though, since I’m enjoying all of my projects, even if I don’t have as much time to read as I want.

We are also back to in-person mode at work, so that is taking up more of my time now than it used to. I have to admit, I prefer the remote option, even though it was less hours and less income. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to work, but with two kids in college, saving up for tuition is a priority. My oldest will graduate this year, so that will take a bit of the stress off.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on alternative sources of income, like my Etsy shop and now the YouTube channel. The listings on Etsy got a bit of a revamp to include a jpg and png in addition to the PDF. That way buyers can put the jpg or png into a coloring program like Procreate if they wish. The YouTube channel will likely be slow going, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of it. Now I just have to add ‘learn marketing’ to my to-do list!