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. 😀

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. 🙂

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!

Sea of Change

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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!

Still Obsessed

I’ve posted before about my newfound obsession with diamond painting.

After 6-7 months, I feel like I’ve settled into the hobby and, at the same time, still feel in many ways like a complete newbie. As with every hobby, especially a crafting one, there are tons of groups to join, companies to try, and hordes of accessories that every ‘serious’ diamond painter needs. 😛

I started off slow, promising myself that I wouldn’t jump in with both feet until I was sure it was something I liked.

I’m sure. 😀

I’ve completed over 16 projects, and I’m still just as enamored with it now as I was when I started. Of course, I now have added all kinds of accessories, including this beauty:

After hogging the dining room table for months, I finally decided to break down and get a drafting table. It’s so much easier on my back and neck, with the added bonus of not having to worry about dragging projects around or putting them away every night.

Now, whatever I’m working on can live on the drafting table until it’s done. Some of my projects are still going to be too large for the surface, but that’s okay. I now have a dedicated space for them. 🙂

I’ve even done several projects for others, including this wacky giraffe:

One of the most fun things I’ve discovered while doing this hobby is mystery diamond paintings. You get a kit with the canvas and diamonds, but there is no picture or colors printed on it, just the symbols in black and white. So you don’t know what the picture is of until you complete it. I’ve done two already and have a third waiting to be completed. The most recent mystery one I did was claimed by my oldest after she saw it finished:

I love how it turned out and it is now framed and waiting for her to decide where to hang it. 😀

Someday I’ll get around to finally painting some of those D&D minis I’ve got laying around, but right now I’d rather be diamond painting – just like these awesome stickers my husband made me say:

Have you picked up any new hobbies due to the pandemic?

Feeling Good

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It’s been a good couple of weeks for me. I’ve been trying to make some pretty big changes in my life, including trying to be more fit and healthy. Of course, that goal also involves losing weight, but I’m trying (and learning) to not make it all about the number on the scale.

I signed up for Noom about a month ago, and it’s going okay. I’m not over the moon about the program, but I have seen results from the effort I’m putting in. My disappointment is that the effort from others, particularly the ‘support coach’ they have assigned me, is pretty lacking. The ‘cohort group’ they put me in doesn’t appear to have been made with any thought other than our date of sign up.

After I voiced my concerns to my coach, she asked how she could help – and then promptly went on vacation for 2 weeks. :/ So it’s been a bit disheartening to not have all the support that was promised when I signed up. However, I am going to see the program through (and not just because they’ve already hit my bank account for the fee). I do genuinely want to make changes in my lifestyle so that I can get where I want to be.

So far I’m exercising more, eating less, and feeling more energetic. Which is good, because I have a lot of plates spinning in the air right now. I have this blog, my Etsy shop, my YouTube channel, as well as my ‘real life’ tasks, like work and taking care of my home and family. I’ve also launched a second YouTube channel for my diamond painting addiction, and I am knee-deep in everything diamond painting whenever I have a spare moment. 😀

The school year is almost over, which means that hopefully I can devote more time to my other projects, including the last batch of miniatures I have left to paint. I’m looking forward to the summer and hopefully a move north sometime in the near future!

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. 😛

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! 😀

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. 🙂

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!

Diamond Painting WIP

At some point, my obsession with diamond painting will wane.

Not today, though. 😛

I’ve started a huge project, and even though the sheer size of the canvas is a little daunting, I am excited to get it done. With diamond painting, the bigger the canvas, the better the finished painting looks, because the more detail it has.

I think of the diamond drills like pixels. The smaller canvases have less pixels, so they don’t look as good as the ones with a large number of drills. So bigger is definitely better in the diamond painting world. The downside of this is that the larger the canvas, the longer it takes to finish.

The peacock diamond painting I did took me about 34-35 hours to complete. It was 45x75cm. The painting I am working on currently is called Grandios Greece and is a kit I had forgotten I ordered before Black Friday. It is a Diamond Art Club kit and it is 98x70cm. At the rate I’m going, I figure it will take me about 120+ hours to finish.

Doing a canvas this big has already changed how I diamond paint, even though I only have about 20 hours of work done so far. For one thing, in a canvas this large, there are large sections of one color, so I have learned to make the multi-placer tool my friend. I didn’t use them on any of my previous paintings, because I couldn’t figure them out.

I have now. 😀

The multi-placer tools let me place multiple drills at once, speeding up large one color sections. I have ordered a few more tools to help with placement, including a wheel multi-placer and two straighteners. The straighteners help keep the rows of drills straight and so far are fairly easy to use. The wheeled multi-placers haven’t arrived yet, so I will see how they work when I get them.

I did also order some Blue-Tac to see if it worked better than the wax provided to place the drills. It was a bit fiddly at first, but it definitely lasts longer than the wax. I’ve got about 7 hours of working with it and I haven’t had to refill the drill pen yet.

I’ve found some like minded diamond painters on Twitch to follow and I am having fun diamond painting and chatting with others who are as obsessed as I am. 🙂

Diamond Painting Overload

I think I’ve mentioned before my current obsession with diamond painting.

For Christmas, my sister got me some diamond paintings. So I now have, at last count, 8 paintings currently waiting to be done, and 3 more on the way.

I might have a small problem. 😀

I’ve also been watching other DPers on YouTube and now I want to try all the things. There are new companies popping up all the time and it all looks like so much fun!

Many of these YouTubers have a lot of ‘unboxing’ videos and I love watching them. However, I’ve begun to notice that not many of them actually show themselves diamond painting. What’s the point of having a million kits to do if you never have time to do any of them because you’re always filming the unboxing of the latest thing?

In early December I came across a YouTuber who was doing a mystery Advent diamond painting. You can buy mystery diamond paintings – the canvas is white, with all the symbols in black. So you don’t know what the painting will be until you start working on it. She had divided her canvas into 24 sections and did a section every day. It was interesting to watch her work as well as see how the image developed as she completed the sections.

I have dreams of having my own DP YouTube channel someday – but I know that I don’t want it to simply be unboxing videos. I mean, I will probably have some of those, since I currently have 2 boxes of kits waiting to be opened. 😀 I get enjoyment out of opening the boxes, but I also enjoy the actual diamond painting.

I started on my huge ‘forgotten’ purchase a couple of days ago. It’s probably going to take me something like 120+ hours to complete, and I have no idea what I’ll do with it when I’m done, but that’s ok. My enjoyment is in the process of making the painting. If I could figure out how to get paid for doing other people’s paintings, that would be a dream job! 😛

In the meantime, I’ll work on the canvases I have and see what happens. I definitely want to complete the large seaside painting, but the two kits I got for Christmas are smaller and I could complete them faster. I’m debating working on two at once, just for variety, but I’m not sure if I have enough storage to have two paintings kitted up at once.

The smallest painting is an adorable elephant and then there is a medium sized 5 panel painting that my sister gave me. The elephant is smaller, but the grid is kind of hard to read, so it may take longer than I hope to finish. The love sign is pretty, but I’m not sure how to frame it. I don’t think it would look good to frame it as one piece, but there isn’t really enough space between each section to put each individual piece on a wooden frame. And given the weird sizes, I don’t think I could find regular frames for each pieces, I’d have to have them made, which will be cost prohibitive.

Maybe I’ll just do the paintings and then give them to other people, so I don’t have to worry about how to frame them. 😀 Or I’ll add them to the growing pile of finished paintings currently sitting in my portfolio. And once those three are done, then I can open the other kits that are still in boxes.

ToCare Peacock Diamond Painting Review

You may have read that I am currently obsessed with diamond painting. 😛

I hadn’t realized how much I missed cross-stitch until I started diamond painting. I gave up cross-stitch years ago, both because I didn’t have much time and because my carpal tunnel and bad eyesight made it too difficult to get any enjoyment out of it. I’m not quite sure why my diamond painting doesn’t bother my carpal tunnel like cross-stitching, but it doesn’t, so I’m calling it a win.

Because I’m me, once I discovered diamond painting, I had to try everything. All. The. Things. I’ve bought paintings from several different companies so I can compare them and find out which one I like the best. I posted about the first small canvas I bought to try here. It was a small “snack-size” painting, so I could do it quickly while waiting for other purchases to show.

I also bought a pretty peacock painting, although I didn’t realize at the time it was from the same company as the rainbow horse. This canvas was bigger and I wanted to see if the somewhat limited color palette would be something I liked or not. It had 36 different colors, which I thought would be challenging, though it wasn’t as many colors as the wolf painting I did for my eldest.

Peacock Legend
Peacock Canvas

The canvas itself was stiff, with some creases and curling from shipping that I’m still trying to get out. Just putting the drills on helped with some of that.

The drill field was clear and the labels were mostly good, though there were a few symbols that were similar enough it was hard to tell what symbol it was sometimes. Again, something I wanted to see for myself – it was a bit annoying sometimes, but nothing so bad that it kept me from finishing the piece.

The drills themselves were mostly good, with some cupping and some slag. It seemed like I had a lot of trash as I was working, but when I finished, the trash pile wasn’t huge, considering the size of the painting. I also had quite a few drills left after I finished, so I added those to my “extra drills” stash.

Drill Trash
Leftover Drills

I have quite the drill stash going right now, even after only completing 5 paintings. I have drills of all shapes and sizes, though they are mostly round and square leftovers from finished pieces. One of the YouTubers I watch said that there are some online social groups where you can donate your leftovers to people who need them – I may look into that, because it seems silly to keep so many when I likely will never use them for anything. If someone else can use them, that seems like a win-win to me. 😀

The wax from this kit seemed a little better (thicker) than the other kit. I only used about half of it doing the painting. So now I’m arguing with myself over whether or not I should keep it, or just throw the rest away. In fact, I am probably going to order some specialty wax on Etsy, so I should just throw it away. I’m gonna go do that right now.

There. Done. 😛

Halfway there
Finished!

It took me over 30 hours to complete the peacock, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with it now that it’s done. I don’t have a good way to make sure that the painting stays flat until I figure out what to do with it.

Although I liked both of the kits from ToCare and they were enjoyable, I don’t know that I will be purchasing anymore from them. Because I can’t find any information on the company, I have no idea how they handle licensing the artwork they use, or even if they do.

I like ordering through Amazon because I know the kits will get here quickly and I can get working. There are others companies on Amazon popping up all the time, so I will likely be trying other ones. I’ve found several new-to-me companies while watching YouTube, so I want to try some of them and see. Next I will be working on the large painting I got from Diamond Art Club. I’ve had to move my workspace because the painting is so big, so we’ll see how long it takes me to complete it.

I’ve already got 5 more paintings waiting for me to open, and 2 more still on the way. (Apparently one of the companies I ordered from on Black Friday is located in Australia, something I didn’t know until the currency exchange charges showed up on my bank account!) So, while I wait for them to arrive, I have plenty to keep me busy. I am debating whether I want to continue talking about diamond painting here, or whether I want to branch off into another blog or possibly a YouTube channel for it. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time off work, the holidays, and spend a big chunk of it diamond painting!