Mandala Monday 6

Mandala_6So far, this is one of my favorite mandalas that I’ve created.  The lines, the shapes, the symmetry of it, all turned out much better than I anticipated.  I feel like I found a good balance in all of the layers, as well as making it detailed enough to be a good design for coloring.

Speaking of coloring, perhaps I should print some of these out and color them and see how well they actually work. Maybe you could help me out and do the same – and then send me photos of your work to share? 😀

Off to the printer I go. 🙂

Doing It Backwards

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Source Credit: Pixabay

I’ve talked before about how I’m a person who needs routines.  The stability of routines is a comfort to me, but I often find it hard to follow a routine.  It was easier when I had a full-time job, because the job itself required routines – you had to show up on time, lunch was a scheduled time, you went home at a scheduled time.  Since most of my day was scheduled for me, life was somewhat easier.

For many years I was a stay-at-home mom, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity.  I only work part-time now, and I’m finding it more difficult, especially as my kids get older, to find a routine that works for me.

When my kids were younger, their days consisted of routines (mostly because of school), so it was easier to stay on track, especially when I was also working full-time.  Once I wasn’t, and they were older and able to take more responsibilities themselves, I found myself with time on my hands and no idea what to do with it.

Well, that’s not strictly true.  I had things I wanted to do, I just couldn’t seem to make myself do them.  I mean, I wasn’t working, I wasn’t tied to a job routine, so my day could be whatever I wanted.  Unfortunately, that usually meant my day was either spent mindlessly in front of the TV or reading.  Now, I don’t consider the time spent reading a waste, but I certainly wasn’t getting anything else done – cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  You know – all those things that make your household run smoothly.

For the past few years, I’ve had a part-time job and that has helped.  The days that I work I am forced into a routine.  However, that still leaves me with much of the week unscheduled and unstructured, and usually me bored out of my mind.  Boredom is bad for me for many reasons – I eat when I’m bored, I get overwhelmed with all the things I think I should be accomplishing, and that kind of thinking sends me a downward spiral.

Finally, I hit that wall.  You know the one – where you finally decide enough is enough and you have to get off your lazy bum and get something done.  Determined to find a way to force myself into a routine, I tried a variety of things.  I tried the Fly-Lady method – which is great, but just doesn’t work for me.  I tried making lists (I’m a list-maker from way back).  I tried Bullet Journaling.  I couldn’t stick with any of them.

I have a ton of empty journals – because I love analog writing.  You remember that, right?  With an actual pencil or pen and paper?  But I never seemed to stick with writing in journals either.  I decided to try something different.  Instead of a never-ending to-do list that only ever seemed to get longer, no matter how much I did, I decided to do it backwards.

I would keep track of things I’d done, but only after I’d done them.  Which sounds kinda crazy, now that I’m writing it down.  But so far, it’s working! At the end of the day, instead of focusing on all the things I didn’t get to, I can see all the things I did.  I’m still not accomplishing as much as I want to with this method, but I’m certainly accomplishing more than I used to, which is the goal, so I’m going to call this one a win!

Mandala Monday 5

Mandala_5I have been playing around with different shapes of mandalas and wanted to try one that wasn’t completely circular.  I like the snowflake-like shape of this one, but I’m not sure I put enough detail into the outer layers.

I have been searching the interwebs for inspiration for design elements, but I find many of them too similar.  So I have also tried incorporating some elements from zentangles to fill in details.

Regardless, the process of drawing the mandalas themselves has been fun for me.  So it shall continue!

Missed Deadlines and Sales Tax

img_0087-1Okay, so they are only self-imposed deadlines, but I think that makes it feel worse when you miss them, because you are disappointing yourself.

Sigh.

Sadly, my goal of opening an Etsy business still hasn’t happened.  Part of it is fear, part of it is procrastination, and part of it is just pure avoidance.

I’ve been waffling back and forth about whether I want to sell physical products (which would require me to deal with collecting sales tax) or whether I want to limit my sales (at first, at least) to digital downloads – which would not require me to collect sales tax in my state of residence.  (Etsy collects sales tax and handles all of the reporting/payments for states that require it even on digital products; for now, anyway.)

Part of my avoidance is that, in general, sales tax on the internet is becoming a huge pile of red tape.  For a long time, internet sales were exempt from sales tax because the internet didn’t exist when most of the laws were written.

Fast forward to the digital age, and everyone wants their cut of internet sales.  Instead of only having to worry about the laws in the state you physically reside in, it’s rapidly becoming that you have to worry about the laws in every state, regardless of where you live.  Which is a giant headache, and one that will likely drive a lot of people out of business, because the convoluted record-keeping required is just too time-consuming and expensive and eats up their time and/or profit.

For now, digital downloads seem to be the way I should go, if only for my own sanity.  Having finally decided that, I have begun working on designs for the coloring pages and stickers I hope to sell. Let’s hope the laws don’t change on me before my procrastinating butt finally kicks into gear!

Learning Curve

FailMy struggle to start my online business continues.  For whatever reason, my brain insists that before I start something, I must know ALL THE THINGS.  So I decided to see how other people were running their sticker businesses on Etsy.

My first goal was to order some stickers from other stores. I had a million questions.  What kind of paper do they use? How do they package their products? What do they charge? How much is postage?  Do they charge shipping?  What about sales tax?

So I purchased some stickers for my own use and I also purchased some stickers that I could download, print, and cut myself. I’m still deciding whether I want to mail out orders, which will add to the cost because of postage and packaging, or whether I want to just sell downloadable files.

So I purchased a couple of downloadable files that also included the cut files so I could use the Cameo and see how things work. Buy the files, download, open, print, cut – easy peasy, right?

Right.

After 30 minutes of work, I was ready to pull out my hair. I made ALL the rookie mistakes. I’d tried to read and research about how to use the software and the cutting machine, so I thought I was ready to go.

Nope.

First, I wanted to try out my new CMYK printer and see what the print quality was like. It was okay, though not as saturated as I thought it would be. The images I was printing were kind of washed out, so I’ll wait and see how I feel after printing more than 3 or 4 pages.

I printed two pages of the stickers I purchased and then got ready to cut them. Opened the cut files and loaded the cutting machine. And then realized, after the cut job failed, that I had just printed the pdf files of the stickers, which don’t include the registration marks that the cutting machine needs to cut.

Sigh.

So, I opened the cut files and printed the stickers again – this time making sure the registration marks printed. So far, so good. Next headache – my Cameo is connected to my PC via bluetooth because it sits too far away from the PC to connect with a cord. Then I got the cut job loaded and ready to go, but when I went to send it to the machine, the bluetooth was continually searching (and not finding) the Cameo.

Grrr.

Deep breath, and then I shut off the Cameo, counted to 5 and turned it back on. Finally, the bluetooth connected and I was able to get the cut job started. I did notice that the blade didn’t seem to have moved (my Cameo came with an auto blade), but I didn’t think much of it. I wanted to track how long it took to cut, so I was watching the clock.

As I said, rookie mistake. When the job finished, the machine had cut, but not deep enough to peel the stickers off easily. Some of them were quite small and they ripped as I tried to take them off, or I couldn’t get them separated at all. Clearly, my blade wasn’t cutting deep enough. Google, here I come.

After spending just a few minutes searching, I found the answer. Because my machine has an auto blade, the machine has to adjust the setting on the blade, rather than me doing it manually (which is how some other machines work). Apparently most newbies insert the blade incorrectly. Mine was actually inserted correctly, so that wasn’t the problem.

I went back to the cut file and realized that the cut file assumes that your machine has a ratchet blade (one that you adjust manually). So, that problem solved. I just change the blade selection to reflect that my machine has the auto blade.

Success! I load the paper to be cut, get the machine connected via bluetooth, and when the job starts, it adjusts the blade. Yay!! I wait another 4 minutes for the job to finish and then I go to remove the sticker paper from the cutting mat. As I pull, I realize that the blade, rather than kiss-cutting the stickers, has instead cut all the way through the paper. Which means when I try to peel the paper off the tacky cutting mat, it comes up in pieces, leaving the stickers stuck to the mat.

Arrrggghhh.

I spent 10 minutes peeling off all the stickers from the mat. Another piece of paper wasted. But – now I know what not to do. So, back to the drawing board. Print the stickers, make sure they have the registration marks, make sure the machine is connected to the PC, and adjust the blade settings so that it doesn’t cut all the way through the paper.

How did it go?

Well, partial success. I adjusted the blade setting, but I left everything else the same. Mistake. I considered adjusting the force/pressure of the blade as well, but I decided not to. After spending more time cutting the stickers, this time I think the blade depth is good, but it is still cutting too deep. Some stickers were fine, but others were still cutting through the backing of the paper. Not enough that I couldn’t pull it off the cutting mat in one piece, but enough to make it unworkable as a setting.

Back to the drawing (cutting?) board. 😛

Mandala Monday 4

Mandala_4I quite like the way this mandala turned out.  The repetition of the shapes turned out better than I thought it would.

I’ve been working on some larger mandalas, with an eye towards turning them into a coloring book.  Interestingly, as I’ve worked on them, I struggle with them more than the mandalas I was drawing just for my own enjoyment.

So maybe my own enjoyment of the process has an effect on the final product.  Something to keep in mind as I go forward.

Mandala Monday 3

Mandala 3I’ve been playing around in Procreate and creating these mandalas.  The symmetry and lines of mandalas are appealing to me – so much so that I’m hoping to create (and finish!) a project with them.

I love to color while I’m watching TV or feeling stressed, and intricate images like mandalas are a favorite of mine.  I’ve also been experimenting with adding zentangle tile patterns into some of the mandalas.

I did some internet searching last week and found all kinds of uses for mandalas – wall stencils, wall decals, car/phone/laptop stickers, coloring pages, and more.  Who knew?

Who Should I Follow?

img_0087-1Alternative Title: I Suck at Search

A few days ago, past me was be-bopping along, writing some posts (ahead of time, gasp!) and reading through the other blogs I follow.  And I thought, I need some new blogs to add to my reader feed.  So I’ll do a search and find some new and interesting and exciting blogs to follow.  Right?

Sigh.

Maybe it’s because my blog isn’t really a ‘niche’ blog.  Or maybe it’s because I’m interested in everything. (Except creepy crawlies – those can f*ck right off.)

I’m interested in photography, editing photographs, writing, blogging, creating, dungeons and dragons, painting miniatures, mandalas, stickers, self-publishing, running my own business, virtual reality – the list goes on and on.

But I have had no luck just doing searches on WordPress and trying to find other bloggers/writers to support and read.  I mean, I’ve found some that look interesting, but I feel like I must be missing a whole huge lot of them.

So – who do you follow?  Who’s funny? Who makes you think? Who posts pretty things?  I need AALLLLL the links!  Post them below – don’t forget to include your own blog so I can follow you too!

 

Music Fail

Keep Calm Hate Apple
Credit: keepcalmandposters.com

A few days ago I decided that I wanted to add some music to my smartphone.  I’m a music lover and I have a large collection of music files that I’ve compiled over the years – CD’s I owned that I ripped the music from, songs I’ve purchased at various places (including Amazon and iTunes), even some old cassettes and vinyl that I converted into digital files.

I have Amazon music on my phone, but it only lets me play songs I’ve purchased from Amazon.  You used to be able to upload other songs you owned, but I never did that.  You still can, but you are limited to 250 songs.  With something like 12,000 songs in my library, that didn’t seem feasible.

I do have an iPod, but rather than carry two items (my phone and iPod) around, I thought, “Why not put some of the music files on my phone?”  Easy, right?

I spent an hour or so pulling out some music and putting it in a file on my PC so that I could drag/drop it onto my phone.  Unfortunately, I forgot something.

I own an iPhone.  😦

So when I hooked up my iPhone, it wanted to sync with my iTunes account.  Which wouldn’t have worked, because I have two different apple IDs – one on my phone and one for iTunes.  And which I didn’t want anyway, because I didn’t want my entire iTunes library on my phone.

Now, I own the music in my library.  I also own the phone.  So why can I not just simply drag/drop files from my PC onto my phone?  Oh, right, because it’s Apple.  :/

I could go out and get a third party app/software that would let me transfer the music files.  But it would still put them in the iTunes library on my phone, which I also do not want.  My husband doesn’t understand my frustration.  Maybe you won’t either.

Regardless, I am incredibly frustrated.  After two hours and bunch of internet searches later, I am disgusted with the whole process.  All I wanted was to have my music (again, which I own) be portable so that I could take it with me.

Guess I’ll go dig out my Sony Walkman.  😛