Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 21! I Made It!

Tonight is the last night of my 21 Day Challenge to do something every day for my blog and hoped for new photo stationary business. Some days I did more than others, but each day I did something toward my challenge- and I learned a lot- about myself, my software, my goals, and my at home working habits.

I have now cleaned up my office after getting my first stationary order in the mail and have spent time making notes about what I learned during my challenge. There is still a little more to process so I'll share my notes soon. One thing I can tell you is I need to continue to set a schedule of work and to honor it.

 Although some days I probably could have done a little more for my challenge, I am very happy with the progress I have made and my challenge met it's goal of developing a working habit at home. Next, is to fine tune that habit to better fit with the rest of my life.

Over the next five days I will be taking a break from blogging while I spend time with family. I am on vacation from both the 9-5 and from blog and business. So until then, ...stay tuned.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 17 & 18

My time on Day 17 was spent taking a few photos for marketing and trying to figure out what to charge for the stationary I just finished. There is SO much involved with trying to account for supplies, timing, equipment, etc.  AND, we have the flu in our house so the mom in me was doing mom things. So much for Day 17.

Day 18:  I just got back from shipping out my very first stationary order! YEA! 
The rest of today will be spent cleaning up the house from the fall out of me being absorbed with getting the order done.  AND  of course, with doing something each day for my 21 Day Challenge.  I sort of plan to take a computer break for the next day or two though, so if my check-ins are short, or absent, I am here to tell you that I am working on my challenge. I need to read, write down some post-order notes, and generally regroup.

I feel really good about this challenge right now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 16- is over...finally.

Does anybody else have a love/hate relationship
with technology? 

Tonight has been one of those nights. I thought I was going to be done with my stationary order on time last night. That didn't happen....and I don't even remember why.

And tonight all I had to do was one set of 20 notecards; 5 each of 4 photo designs. But nooooooooooooooo,
my computer graphics program had to disappear. Yes, that's right, GONE!

It took a lot of searching around through computer files, a couple visits to Serif.com for a patch and a few times of restarting my computer and TWO HOURS later, I was back in business again.  UGH!

I love what computers can do, when they work. I hate the time they eat up and the frustration when they don't work. I must say, I was afraid I was going to have to take it in for repairs or that all of my past two weeks work was also lost. So overall, I am pleased it is all back safe and sound. And I am really pleased that I figured it out myself!  :0)               I'd say that is progress.

And yes, I am now officially finished with my order! YEA! The only thing left to do is take a few photos for my files and marketing, tie it up in pretty bows and box it up for shipping to be taken on Saturday morning. 

Now, to put a different focus on
days 17-21 of my challenge.

I hope you enjoyed the colorful post tonight. I had to do something to get out of this computer techno "why does it have to happen now" funk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 14 & 15

Phew! Last night I was crusing along making notecards and didn't post.  I really had fun with the artistic editing of the photos I was working with.  I am very pleased with how things turned out and once I "regroup" I will post a few photos of the completed sets.

And although the artistic creating took a little longer than the simple touches I was making on the notepads, the whole process was much easier! Well, once I got the layout and print figured out correctly.  There is a lot less cutting with the notecards than notepads. 

I am happy, very happy, to say that I will complete my order on schedule by the end of this evening. I have 1 1/2 sets of notecards to finish up-and then....Done!  The only thing that will be left is a few finishing touches of few ribbons to tie the sets together and get them in the mail.  YEA!

This has been an awesome learning experience in time management, efficient work flow, and use of my software and I hope to take a little time tomorrow night and recap those lessons a litte for myself. When I have given that a proper thought, I'll share what I learned.  Then, it's back to focusing on blogs and other things for the final days of my challenge.  Although, I have been looking into different website design things....it hasn't been all stationary making over the last couple weeks.

For now, it's off to the 9-5.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 13

There are stacks of stationery piling up in my office. Someone might think I am in business. This is also my first ever mobile post. I turned off my laptop before I posted. I might even try to download my calender. Oops. There is no picture icon, oh well.
Major success as i finally figured out note cards on this software. Well, long day today and this post is less than creative....I'm off to sleep! (posting by testing is awkward!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 12

It seems sort of silly to write that I am not going to write tonight.  This is just a check in post for my 21 Day Challenge to do something everyday for blog and hoped for new business. 
I have spent a lot of time focusing on getting a stationary order ready.  Tonight is no different.  There is also some reading in Problogger in my future tonight.
Then, to be honest- it is time for a little popcorn, something refreshing to go with it, and a little TV.
Back to the 9-5 tomorrow and
tonight I get a little time off.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11

No calendar, no post.  Busy, busy, busy. And yes, it's all challenge related, well mostly.

You just gotta love livin'
a full, happy life.
I have to wonder though,
what do you do when you have
36 hours worth of things to do
in a 24 hour day?!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 10

Here I am at the half way point. There are still so many things I hope to accomplish with the blogging aspect of this.

The next 21 Day Challenge is already identifying itself and will hopefully begin after the new year. It has definitely helped to have this public accountability to do something every day.

Tonight marks the anniversary of the first date with the man who was to become my husband. This past year was our 25th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed dinner out tonight and now he is out raking snow off the roof and I am here, blogging, but not for long. It was nice to have a break, no matter how brief.

I have already done some general printer and cutter maintenance and some notepad cutting.  I have worked my promised hour and I am keeping it at that tonight. 

I am really enjoying the fish, too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just For Fun!

Click on the fish bowl to feed the fish!
They will follow your curser.

Day 9

No calendar tonight, just a quick check in. I made good progress on stationary order last night and should finish up the notepads tonight, at least designs and printing.  I still have to cut everything.

Although I am considering checking in with my friendly local print shop to see what they would charge for cutting. Although,....if I am to truly call these handmade stationary, can I take them into a print shop to be cut? There is one shop that might have cutters available for public use.  It might be a huge time saver in the long run. Oh, there is also a scrap booking place that has a public workshop space. I can call them, too. 

My next step for the notepads is getting binder glue on them. Then I am on to the note cards.  I already have some ideas for these.This has been a long but fun process. And really, it was only long because I spent a lot of time "playing" with designs. Lesson learned here is I need to get to know my software possibilities inside and out. Maybe if I keep saying it enough, it will sink in.  :0)

I'm off to my printer and rotary cutter station!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8

Here I am again, getting a late start. After work I had some shopping to do and then dinner to make, plus making a dish to pass for a holiday party at work tomorrow. Oh, and then all the dishes from dinner and holiday party food prep.

That's ok. This will help me limit my time to one hour. I am having a hard time with that and going over my time. Then I feel like "work" is all I do. Oh, I know....boo hoo!

I am writing tonight before I actually work, well it is also part of this challenge.  As soon as I am finished here I will finalize a couple more notepad designs for my order and get them printed out.  Last night was very productive, even though I was watching TV while I played with my software.

I am learning all the time. I opened one photo file and tried just about every filter on it that my Serif software offers. There are some pretty awesome effects that are possible and I am sure I haven't found all the creative combinations yet. When I am done with this order, I will do the same thing with one picture. I think I will set the page up to do six pictures/page and then apply a different type filter/effect to each of the six and print it all out to have a visual comparison on file.

I am anxious to move this process along and get some things printed tonight. Progress feels good.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7

The computer is better today. I have been able to download some new photos for my order and do some other work, too. I am not sure if this counts, but I do the simple downloading while watching some tv. I am having a hard time coming from work and going to work when I get home. So watching a little tv while doing the downloading seems to be a little more relaxing.  Truthfully, I am watching as I type this post, too.

Today I have been trying to decide what information I should track for my orders and in what level of detail.  Sooner or later I would like to set up an access and/or excel file.  But for now paper files will work. Any suggestion or ideas would be appreciated.

My priority right now is to make the 21 Day Challenge a success and to complete the order I have with good quality and in good time. There is the basic success of actually doing something each day and ultimately the success will be when I continue to do something each day, even after the challenge is completed.

I had planned to get something into Zazzle and/or Cafepress sometime during this challenge. I will still try as long as I get the order done. 

I sure hope one day I look back on all these posts and laugh at how much time I spent planning what to do instead of just doing it. But this is my way. Life is a process, so is learning a new business.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 6

Aaaaahhhhhh!!!  My computer is failing me tonight. Can't open my software, having troubles online....just checking in quickly to say Day 6 is causing me frustration, but I'm still working on keepin' on.

I have been trying to download my software and explore some of its possibilities and my computer keeps freezing. I am getting off the computer before it fails for good.  Time to read a little, I guess.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 5

Yes! Not only am I developing some sort of working pattern and rhythm with my photo stationary, I am learning more about my Serif Plus X4program.

Learning my Software
For instance, I used to set up my 3x3 notepads like I did on Publisher, using the layout to set up multiple squares on one page...being careful that each square was exactly the same size......

Now, with Serif I set the custom size to 3x3, create my first pad page, then if I want to have mulitple page designs per pad, I just keep adding pages and design each pad page independent of the others. When I want to print a test page, I can tell my printer to print one page, and it will print one 8.5x11" piece of paper with up to six different 3x3 pad pages on it.

If I like the way things turned out, I can continue printing them out that way, or if I want, I can tell it to print out...say, page four (or whatever) and it will print out an 8.5x11" piece of paper with six 3x3 images of page four.

This might not be news for some people who have used more than Publisher for desktop publishing, but I have not and it is wonderful news for me. And I love it!

I am also learning that while I love my rotary cutter, sooner or later I will need to get a bigger, better one. For small tasks, what I have is fine. For larger orders, well, it takes a bit of time.

The Business of Business
The other thing that seems to be working itself out is how to record each part of the order I am working on. There are benefits to tracking the details of each notepad, etc.  In addtion to tracking my output in terms of money and time which I will need to know when I set up an e-store; tracking the settings of each notepad is helping me in two other ways. One, it will be easier to recreate a design. Two, it is helping me learn the differences between settings and how things look. I have set up a file with one copy of each thing I have created along with the notes about each design and order.

So, to recap Day 5,  I had a good day today.  I followed my discovery from Day 4 and set a priority, and stuck to it. I did not allow myself to get distracted and I was not overwhelmed by trying to do too much at once. 

Tomorrow I begin holiday shopping. Between that and my regular 9-5, I may only get one hour a night for my challenge. However, I believe that if I make that hour count and stick to my plan, it can be a productive hour.

So until tomorrow, good night for now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 4

 Oh, it is becoming rapidly clear that there are a few reasons I keep losing my focus and my momentum.

1. I stop doing things. I had been on a roll with my photo stationary back in August and September. Then I took time off in October when my dad passed. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Then I went on a 10 day excursion for a conference, including a couple days off for vacation. Also reasonable things to do.  The problem is, now I am trying to get back to where I was and I can't just pick up where I left off. My office was a mess, and without going into detail, there have been other issues, too. I never have this type of problem at my 9-5. But then again, I am at my 9-5 almost everyday and using my tools of the trade almost every day for that 9-5.  If I am ever to get where I am going, I need to do the same here.  Commitment! Just do it. Even when there is not an order to process, use the tools! Practice, craft, create.

2.  Once I get rolling again, I get inspired. Then I get excited and thoughts start coming in from every angle. My mind won't shut off and I begin to feel consumed. I want to try every new idea at once and I begin to feel derailed. Focus! Usually problems come because I don't want to forget something. I think I will use 3 x 5 cards to write down key ideas I want to try, later, and put them in an idea box. 

3. Doing too much is a problem, too. As much as I need to "just do it," I don't/shouldn't do everything all the time. I have said I would give this one to two hours a day for now, and I am spending considerably more than that. It is important to look at other blogs, read about blogging, do my class (I am really bad at doing this), write in my blog, work on my stationary, ...., YET the time spent on these things needs to be divided up better. I need to schedule my time and stick to it. I do it at work, I should be able to do it here. I have two hours a day at the most. Prioritize!  Decide each day what will get me where I need to be and stick to it.

Well, there you have if for today. Three things that will hopefully help me with the rest of my 21 Day Challenge, and with my future business.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 3

Just a short check in tonight to say I'm workin' on it.

Busy with shopping and stationary design tonight.  Lots of photos to download and gifts to make.

Busy, busy, busy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whooohoooo- Day 2

A Challenge Can Be Reassuring
Well, here I am again. There is something reassuring about knowing that I have set this time aside each day. It takes away some of the wonder about what I should do when I get home after work. Should I clean, should I watch tv, should I stop at the store on the way home? 
NO! I am going home to take care of the dogs, have a small, but healthy dinner and I am going to allow myself the pleasure of focusing on learning how to do "blog" things and to enjoy the creativity of working with my photography and publishing software.  And writing, I really do love writing. Then somewhere during the evening I will spend time with my husband and daughter.
Now, sooner or later, I will have to do some cleaning, laundry, holiday shopping, and all the other things that make my house a home. And I am ok with that. For now, I am grateful that somehow my evening is less chaotic with this blog and business time specfically set aside to focus on the 21 Day Challenge.

Less Reassuring
Earlier tonight I spent time on the online blog class. I confess I am still overwhelmed with the notion of setting up a self-hosted blog. I am not quite there, yet. I have to wonder if a hands on class is what I need. I have no real technical background to glean from.  Perserverence will have to be the word for this part of blogging.

Other Progress Today
I figured I would be working on my photography and stationary more over the next 21 days and now there is no doubt. A dear friend has just put in an order for some holiday gifts. I am so excited! I am thrilled to be able to create something for a friend and I am thankful that now I can't put it aside, which I might be inclined to do if there was no one waiting for it.

I spent time during the day looking at other blogs again. There are so many wonderfully creative people out there. I feel slightly intimidated and also hopeful. I know that I cannot be them, nor should I be. I see that there are so many different styles and I will find my own. (especially if I can figure out how to self-host and design blogs or at least find someone who can see my vision).

And Tomorrow
Tomorrow I begin to work on designing my friend's gifts, continue reading and/or class, and remain open to my next step.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

...Go! Day 1

Today is Day 1 of my
21 Day Challenge to do something every day for blog and business. It is also my husband's birthday. So my word and focus for today is committment, with a little bit of "presence" thrown in.

"Committment" because I choose to honor my committment to my challenge AND also to spend time with my husband to celebrate his birthday.
"Presence" because I am trying to "be present" and give my full attention to whatever I am doing. That is not always an easy thing to do when I have put so much on my agenda.

So a full day of work at my 9-5, an evening of pizza and birthday cookies with husband, daughter, and granddaughter, and now... my challenge.

My goal tonight is not to write an amazing post, although I wish I could. My goal is simply to be here and to write as a first step toward creating a habit of daily activity. And, I will read Chapter Four, Blog Writing, from Problogger before I go to bed.

I have an idea hatching about tomorrow night's post, but it is a little too philosophical for me tonight and I need to think it out. My plan for Day 2 is to make a blog post and to begin working on some photo stationary designs for a friend who is giving them as holiday gifts.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My 21 Day Challenge

Well, I was supposed to begin my 21 day challenge for blog and business a week ago when I returned from being out of town. I returned on Sunday, slept all day Monday, worked 10 hours each on Tuesday and Wednesday, then came Thanksgiving and the weekend. Which all brings me to today. I am not looking back and feeling bad about putting this off. I am just beginning on a different date.

My challenge will be December 1 through December 21--- 21 days. I have spent time thinking about how to define this challenge and think it will have to remain somewhat undefined. This is not meant to be evasive, it's just that there is so much that can be done. There are two things I can define though. One is that I have to blog each night about what has been done that day. The second is that I will spend at least one hour daily doing whatever I do.

Some options for activities during this challenge include, and are not limited to;
*writing a blog post, other than just a report of the daily activity
*working on my online blog class
*creating photo stationary
*creating a web page or some type of online store
*creating another blog
*finalizing my business name
*reading at least one other blog daily

So there you have it. My goal for this, my first 21 day challenge, is to develop a habit of doing something every day with the belief that even an hour a day will move me forward toward my real goal of a successful blog and business.

So stay tuned, and consider joining me in creating your own 21 day challenge. Is there something you would like to see more progress in? Tell me about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Part of composing a great picture in photography
is by focusing on your subject
eliminating the clutter in the scene.
It's not just what you get in the shot,
it's also what you keep out of it.
~ ~ ~
Part of composing a well lived life
is by focusing on what is important to you
eliminating the clutter.

It's not just what you keep in your life,
it's also what you keep out.
~ ~ ~
I am taking a little time to visit wild places.
To just "BE" and marvel at the wonder of life and nature.

Somehow, when I return from such places,
I am more whole, less cluttered.
better enabled to live well
focus on what is important
to create the picture of my life
that is consistant with my vision for it.

It's all part of my creative proces.
~ ~ ~
How do you focus on what is important?
How do you keep the clutter out-
or de-clutter if clutter has crept in?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blog School

This is just a quick "check in" post to track my efforts to do something every day for blog and business.  I have been looking at my pictures and taking some new ones when the moment and opportunity hit me.  In addition, I have been thinking up phrases I might use with the photos on stationary or a card.  That has been fun.

I have also been thinking about what/when I might begin my first real blog. Remember, this one is for practice and for tracking my progress for blog and business.  Problem is, I have become sort of stuck with this blog because it is more of a personal blog and not the kind I will likely begin and so there are things I have not tried here. There is more I would like to learn before I proceed.  I want to make the right impression the first time and do it right so I am stalled. So tonight I began going to online blog school.  No, really.  I have read some books, but I really like being able to hear and see someone explain how to do things,even if it is on video. Thanks ProBlogger.net, I am excited about this chance and hope it will help me to the next step.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm Expanding

Cup of the Day
 I am now a member of the Whole Living Daily Challenge Community at http://www.wholeliving.com/ and have added a few blog posts there.  I have also applied there to begin two new groups; In Between for those of us who are at the in-between stage of life where we care for and support those both younger and older in our family group, and 50+ and Counting for those of us who are 50 years young, and beyond, who want to stay active and enjoy life. Both groups are awaiting approval and I'll keep you posted.

Although I have not created a whole new blog and these do not directly fit into my business plan, I do feel this fits into my overall life goals. I will continue to add blog posts and if the groups are approved, I will spend some time with those as well. And in reality, since life is not, or should not be, compartmentalized, I guess this really does fit into my business plan. Not only am I writing more and expanding my reach, I am also seeking to find ways to stay balanced and healthy so that I can work my business and enjoy all aspects of my life. So it fits.

Hey, there is that 'balance' word again. No, I don't mean balanced as in all things being equal and even, but rather balanced as in giving attention, at some regular interval, to all things that are important. I still like the visual example of juggling where you are working with many different balls, and you focus on just one at a time.  To me it is like being in the moment. There are many aspects (juggling balls) to my life, and I can not pay attention to all of them at the same time and do any of them well. Remember the plate balancing acts? Well, I used to be the person who was struggling to keep all the plates balanced at the same time and running back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and .....well you get the idea. No more of that. It is exhausting, and for me, not a healthy way to live.

So I am doing something everyday, expanding my reach (adding another juggling ball), adding another blog post here; and today I will be reading other people's blogs, working on choosing my first photo gift/stationary designs, and doing other photography related things.

Momentum is a beautiful thing and I feel mine picking up again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Hatching a Plan

The say it takes 21 days to make a habit.  Well, I need to get back into the habit of doing something everyday for blogs and business. So I intend to give myself a 21 day challenge. 

I am considering whether or not I need to have a specific focus or will be content with a splatter effect. I may just go for the splatter effect, just to get it started.  I do have one issue though, in 14 days I am going to be away from my computer for a week or so and it will interfere with my 21 day challenge. 

So, here is my plan; I begin my personal 21 day challenge on Monday, November 22. 
I will define my challenge then.

As for today, I joined an online blogging community at Whole Living. I am a member of the Whole Life Action Plan Group. Well I think I am.  I am waiting for an "approval" email. 

Now, if I can just get my computer to keep working. It froze up on me today and some very loud "alarm" went off.  I may be looking at a new computer. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catching Up-or Picking up the Pieces


It is a cold, blustery day here in the Midwest. I got a call early this morning that the offices where I work are out of power and I don't have to come in until 10:00am.  It was nice to get a little more sleep and to now sit with coffee in hand, watching the autumn colors blow outside my window.

It has been awhile since I have looked at, much less written, on my blog.  And although I won't write much right now, I just wanted to let my readers know I am still here. Since my father's passing earlier this month, I have been spent time with memories, getting caught up at home, at work and helping my mom catch up, too. With this brief, but most welcome gift of time,  I thought I would take a few minutes to do a little catch up inventory for blog and business. 

A few things fell by the wayside over the last month and hold some lessons learned. Even though most of these are directly connected to my dad's illness over the past year and the sad events of October, I believe that some of these hold lessons that would be true, regardless.  I take on too much too fast.  A recipe for disaster. And because a lesson learned is really not helpful unless there is a plan for applying the lesson, I will include my plan, too.  And I am stopping at three.

-I totally forgot about and "flunked" my two online courses for photography and online writing.  I flunked them only because I did not finish them by the deadline.  Two online courses were too much with everything else I was trying to do, not to mention working a fulltime job.
Lesson learned; don't be so eager that it becomes too much and nothing gets done.
So, I will take them again.  This time, I will just take one at a time.  My deadline; hmmm, not sure with holidays approaching, but will have signed up by year's end.

-All my plans to get designs into an online store stopped, as did creating more designs
Lesson learned; I don't need a full line of product to begin and to open an online presence. I just need to begin with a few good choices and get the account/store created.
Choose four designs, then open a Cafepress shop by year's end with photo gifts and stationary.

I stopped doing something everyday.  That's ok, the lesson here is sometimes there are more important things in life.
No regrets, I was where I needed to be. Begin again, today. Do Something Everyday!

Now, to be fair, I have done something over the past few weeks. I was very pleased and honored to have created my dad's memorial service program. I worked hard with my new software to get it just right and learned a lot about the Serif PlusX4. The heart that went into this project will be a good standard to hold the rest of my work to.

And so today begins a new day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Determination Pays Off, Thanks Dad!

If you have read the previous post, the title and picture make sense. I may not have perfected this yet, but I got it figured out.  Thanks again, dad, for the determination to do the best I can. I will keep working on it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Challenge and Grace

My father recently passed away. I took this picture from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan on my way home that day. Over the past week, I have learned a lot more about my father, about what kind of man he really was. Like most of us, he was somebody different to everyone. It sort of depended on how he knew them.  

As I have listened to stories from friends, family, coworkers, etc., one thing that has been consistent is his nature as a person.  There are many words people have used to describe dad; smiling, generous, quiet, outspoken, strength, determination, teacher, coach, handsome,...In general, most people have described him as a man of  character, someone they looked up to and were proud to have known him.  I couldn't agree more. He was the best father a girl could want and was always there for me and my brothers and sister. I could go on and maybe I will talk more about dad from time to time.

For now, the nature of dad that is at work here is his desire to see everyone do their best at whatever they have chosen to do. And once they have given it their all, to let go, and know you have done the best you can and be proud of that.

I chose to create his Memorial Service program on my new desktop publisher. I never thought this is what I would be working on when I purchased my new software a couple months ago. I have a vision of how the program should look. And I am proud of the work I have created so far. It is complete, save for the last page.

I am having a devil of a time trying to figure out the layering components of this software. After having revised that page multiple times, it was time to go to the printers. Time is a factor here. The printer will use what I have created so far, and make the last page work the way I would like.

We little knew that morning
God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly, 
In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you,
You are always by our side.
Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

I want the beach picture, with a small inset of the picture faded, and the final layer is a prayer/poem that was chosen by the family that will be placed inside that faded inset. It should have not been so complicated to figure it out, but for whatever reason, it was. Now it goes to the printer to finalize my vision and I let go of the process. I gave it my best shot and I am proud of the work I have done.

You can bet that I will persevere (and with a smile on my face because dad is watching over me, encouraging me) to learn how the layering aspect of my software works. Someday, that picture and prayer will be framed over my fireplace looking just like I want it to.

Thanks dad, for the encouragement, and the courage to try. You taught us well how to work hard, play hard, live hard, and love hard; and to create a live well lived.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hmmmm, Comfort Food

Coffee and chocolate!
Two of my favorite things.

Here is a little snapshot of the very rich and very sweet cake balls that my 7 year old granddaughter and I made the other night.

1 box cake mix- prepared and baked
1 can frosting- I used about 90%, which was too much for me. Next time I'll use less.
sprinkles, nuts, powdered sugar

Break the cake up while still warm, add frosting, chill, roll out into balls, and roll into yummy stuff!  Easy.  I guess you can also dip them in melted chocolate, etc.  We kept it simple. 

A great idea worth repeating.  Thanks Madi!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Midwest Autumn and Time for Soup

Autumn Soup Pot

No Business Today
Aahhh, the sumptuous aroma of homemade soup cooking on the stove. This post has nothing to do with business. It is all about the day to day of life. Life has it's ups and downs and twists and turns. One thing I know, is that doing something real, something normal and everyday, can help me get grounded when life has other ideas in mind.

Autumn Chill
I have been away from home a couple days visiting family. Today, I spent a few hours catching up and cleaning around the house.  The last few days have been quite lovely weather, but today is very chilly and the sunshine has given way to clouds. I just checked the temperature in the house and it is 61 degrees. I have been waiting for this time of year when the weather turns colder to do one of my favorite cold weather things, make a big pot of soup or stew. And today, was the perfect day for something real, something normal and everyday, like soup.

It's All About The Soup
I went with a basic chicken soup today and it smells heavenly.  First, I sauteed some garlic in olive oil and many herbs. I don't have amounts to share with you, just a shake here and a shake there of herbs; thyme, rosemary,basil, marjoram, sage, basil, and 1/2 a bay leaf-oh, and a little salt and pepper. Then I added in two chopped up chicken breasts. Once they were browned, I added a sliced onion. When the onion was cooked through, I added a couple cups of water. Continuing on with the non-recipe, I decided to add some corn and diced carrots. Then I added in a can of mushroom soup with a can of water. Oh, and I decided to add a splash, or two, of some chardonnay. Later, I will add some cooked long grain and wild rice. My husband is picking up some fresh  bread to go with the soup. 

My soups never turn out the same way twice.  And they have almost always turned out delicious. It is a creative process that I love in the autumn. There is something so reassuring and comforting about having a simple pot of soup or stew on the stove on a cold, dark, fall or winter day. Hmmmmm, yum.  I can feel the warmth and reassurance of it already.  Actually, I can smell it.

A Simple Supper
And For Dessert?
My granddaughter is staying overnight and she wants to make cake balls!  Never heard of them, but after a little surfing for a recipe, they look simple enough. I wonder what yummy, decadent combinations of cake, frosting, toppings we can come up with?!

Stay tuned, I'll let you know how the cake balls turned out.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I know the header is all caps. Please don't take offense, I am not shouting. Well maybe I am, but they are shouts of joy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Visitors and Statistics

Numbers and Places
I love stats!  Who knew?  I must say that I do not get very many comments on this blog so my site counter and the stats from my blog tell me not only how many people have stopped by for a visit, but what country they live in.  That is so exciting to me.  So far I have people from 9 countries who have visited my blog and I have topped over 500 visits. Although, I believe at least half of those might be mine from checking in daily and doing general blog maintenance.

A Confession
Now, I believe when I began this blog I said it was for me to journal my process of redesigning my career and beginning a new business from scratch, along with the day to day of life.  And it is. That doesn't mean I don't want and enjoy having visitors stop in.  Truthfully, if I was writing totally just for me, I would journal in a notebook. I have realized that I was hoping for more visitors and feedback. I do, after all, have a full coffee pot on, figuratively speaking.   I was hoping for company.

So, here it is.  Talk to me!  I know I am not the only person new to blogging or working on creating a new business-or who have ever been new to blogging or creating a new business.  I can't be the only 50something person in transition and trying to figure out what is next.  If you can relate to something I have said or have a suggestion for an idea or solution to a problem, I would love to hear from you. If you have had a similar situation/experience to something I might have written about, I would love to hear how you handled it.  I could really stand to hear some success stories....and even some struggle stories, especially if they ended successfully. 

Shameless Request
There you have it.  I really appreciate the comments that have been left.  I have wonderful friends.  I appreciate those I do not know who have stopped by and I am asking that those who do not know me, yet, also drop me a note to say "Hi" and tell me what you think about my blog, about something I have said, about something you would like me to talk about....   If you have a blog, let me know. I will stop by and say "Hi" to you.  I should really be visiting more blogs anyway to enrich and expand my knowledge of blogging. Come on! Let's support each other.

So until next time, talk with you later!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Yea!  Six hours later,
I got my software back!

And, I got my fridge cleaned out, my house straightened up, and several of my garden beds cut back for winter! I guess frustrated energy is good for something besides making me nuts.  

Oh, the Saga of the Day
After trying twice to re-download (once it took so long it timed out, the second time my server disconnected) I gave it one last try. It had already been about four hours of waiting for the download process. They do say the third time is a charm. I am not sure, but I think the first few times I downloaded it I hit "run" rather than "save."  This time, I saw and read download instructions, and followed them.  It went much faster and it did recognize that I had it in the computer and did a repair.  I still have to wonder why I was able to use it for 10 days before it disappeared.  Oh well, I am just grateful to have it back. I am not a technical person so I was very happy to have a successful experience, even if it took awhile.

Determination and Perseverance
Once upon a time I might have seen all this, and some of the other things surrounding my life right now, as a "sign" to give up this idea of my business of the heart.  But not now. Not this time. Yes, I have tried many times over the years to write, or craft, or take pictures mostly for hobby but with intent of someday making a living at it.  The time is NOW and I am determined to ride the rough times and keep going. I cannot imagine a business, new or not, that does not have troubles now and then.  It is the belief in what they are doing, skill, and stubborn perseverance that brings people through to success.

Back on Track
Alright then, back on track. I did my research on trademarks and although there were none with the name I want, there were some sites with the same name online.  I am trying to think of another name, but I may just send the application and see what happens. In the meantime, I continue to play with my software (yea!) and create new designs.  A happy ending to a long day.

Set Backs for Business

It's definitely a day for wishing I was anywhere but here.

New Software "Disappears"
I guess set backs are part of the norm for businesses.  Somehow I have lost connection with my new desktop publishing software.  It looks like all the files are there and yet it won't open.  Instead it proceeds to download and then tell me it can't because it can't find the correct pathway.

The odd thing is that I was working with it just last night.  My granddaughter and I made an anniversary card for her mom and dad and it turned out great!  She chose the designs and I worked the computer. Madi is seven and I was not ready to give her full controls of this new program.  This morning we were going to make some pictures for her to make into 3D art as a present and the program would not open.  I have spent the last couple hours trying to figure it out. 

Computer-Server Disconnect
So, I decided to see if I could just re-download the program. All was looking good as it was downloading....until my computer/server connection was reset and the download stopped.  UGH! I will try again now that my connection is back.  I just needed to take a break from it.  Boy, some days are just like that I guess. And now while the download is going again-about 60 minutes-I have enough frustration energy to get mass amounts of housecleaning done. WhoooHoooo!

What's Next?
If the download doesn't work, I did leave a "work ticket" at the support center for the software and will follow up with them on Monday.  I am a little concerned about all the stationary designs I have worked on in the last week. At this point, I can't open them either and it would be a shame to lose them. Then again, better to lose several at the beginning than many further into this.

Wish Me Luck!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Creative Corner

Creating Space
My creative corner, formerly known as my daughter's bedroom, is beginning to take shape. Little by little I am setting up for the business I am working toward.  One of the first things I had to do was move my desk, books, and craft supplies into the room and get that all organized. I'm still working on the closets, but there is enough done to work with.

The Work of My Hands
Part of this business will be a photo gift and stationary e-shop.  In addition to playing with my new Serif desktop publishing software and designing various formats of notepads, I have been buying crafty supplies and trying out different supplies like glues.  For my sticky notepads I have tried Modge Podge and some dimensional silicone I had for paper tole as a binding glue. The Modge Podge worked ok and the silicone worked great, but took almost a week to dry.

The other day I bought a little portable paper cutter. It works ok, but not as well as I would like.  I was trying to keep with inexpensive things to begin with. I should know better.  That's ok, it will be fine for small straight cuts.  Then I bought a rotary cutter that has a few different blade attachments. It is not a major heavy duty cutter, but it is lightweight, portable and can nicely cut 10 pages at a time, which is great for now.  A friend of mine had asked that if I ever created bound journals that I make the pages with perforations because she hates tearing off pages and having the scraggly edges.  Well, Barb, my new rotary cutter has a perforating blade and it works great! It also has a 'wavey' blade that leaves a smooth, wavey edge.

So I continue working with my Serif software and enjoying the effects I am finding are possible and I will be trying out different types of paper to find those that provide the quality and look I want at affordable prices.

The Next Step
Now that I am closer to getting some stationary designs finished, I am back to needing to finalize a name for this business and creating a logo. That is my main focus for the week as I also continue to finalize designs and create templates. Slowly but surely, this part of the business is taking shape.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress Report on Blog and Business

Blog Progress
You can be assured that if I am not posting every day, I am doing something to learn about blogging. I have been reading my new copy of Problogger by Dareen Rowse and Chris Garrett, visiting www.problogger.net by Darren Rowse, or checking out other blogs. Today I checked out problogger.net and read an article from a guest blogger, Annabel Candy, and then checked out her blog.  Wow!  I'm hooked on www.getinthehotspot.com.

Photography Progress
If I am not doing or learning about blogging every day, then I am doing something for my hoped for 'business of the heart' that I am laying groundwork for. Recently, I have been playing with a trial program I downloaded last week from Serif.  As I write this, I am downloading the full version of Serif PagePlus X4.  I have really enjoyed working with it. I know I have only scratched the surface of what it can do and am very excited about it. 

Keepin' it Brief
And because PagePlus is still downloading and I don't have the fastest laptop anymore, I am going to keep this post very short. So until next time...do someting you love every day!

P.S.   I was trying to change the page background color for this post.  This is what I got, just text background.  Back to the books!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oh The Times They are a Changin'

Cup of the Day
Beach Nostalgia
I didn't make it to the beach this summer.  Sand and surf are calling me, but I don't think I'll get there.  It may be the first time ever that a summer has not found me barefoot in the sand, listening to surf and seagull, and watching the waves roll in at least one day, somewhere.

New Season
Autumn is approaching here in the Midwest. Cooler weather has been teasing us for a few days now.  I absolutely love fall in the Midwest.  Actually, I like all the seasons. There is just something about the feel of autumn.  Forest, prairies, fields, and gardens will soon turn various shades of colors creating a beautiful outdoor tapestry. Savory soups will once again be simmering on the stove. Fresh picked apples, apple cider, apple butter, and more things apple, will tickle the taste buds with sweet and tart flavors. It feels good to leave a window open at night and to snuggle up in a warm blanket with a hint of chill in the night air. 

Life Changes
This is also a life changing time for many. I can remember the day my first child (and second and third) had their very first day of school. I remember preparing for each subsequent new school year with the school supply and clothing shopping rituals. I remember dropping two of my daughters off at college and driving away. These were/are times of mixed feelings a parent knows well.  There is the pride and joy of watching your children grow blended with the sadness of knowing they are moving on without you, away from you-which is as it should be.

Empty Nest-almost
This year was a little different.  Over the weekend we delivered our youngest to her first apartment, not connected with college, and once again drove away. It didn't occur to me, not really, until late last week that this was not like college and she would not be home for holidays and over the summer. I am ecstatic and happy for her. It is a wonderful, exciting time in her life. This is what we raise our kids to do, to leave home and be happy, strong, independent adults.  She is that. We do not have an empty nest yet, though.  So the full affect of fledgling children hasn't fully hit me yet. But we do have an empty bedroom.  I went in there when we returned from the move.  It was much more empty than it has been when she moved for the semester.

Letting go and Rearranging-rooms and life
The plan for the room is to move my 'office' into her bedroom. Of course, there will always be a bed in there, you know, just in case we are lucky enough to get a weekend visit now and then.  As I stood there in her room trying to figure out where I would put things, I realized I had to stop. It was too soon. I had to have a little time to give full value to the major life change that had just happened. So I waited until the next morning, letting the room sit relatively empty. I sat in there once or twice, trying to absorb her presence and revisit memories.  I needed to let go before I could take the next step. So the next morning I was ready. 

Moving On
It is not only our children who move forward without us, parents must also move forward without their children. And it is not really 'without' each other, nor will it ever be, it is just different. Our relationship changes and I have thoroughly enjoyed the changes in my relationships with my adult daughters. So, I move forward with an eye on the past, my heart in the present, and joyful anticipation of the future. All of my office furniture and most of my things are in the bedroom now.  The hardest part, physically and emotionally, is done-the first step taken. It is still a mess and I will take my time making the rest of this transition. The move itself took quite a long time, in part because I was trying to maintain a sense of my daughter when I arranged the room. I am ok with it now. I hope she will be, too, because no matter how much time passes, to me it will always be her room.

And tomorrow, well tomorrow I visit my parents and maybe I will borrow a car and head for the beach.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Motivating Factors

Today was a day for getting things done.  This is my working cup.

My Key Three Motivators
Before I relate the successes, and miseries, of today, I want to go back to my last post a little while.  That post about opportunities lost and taken made me think back to my original motivating factors for beginning this blog and the process of reshaping my career.  Now that I am into this process a little further, it was good to remind myself of why it began and to learn if it still holds true.  It does.

And I learned that I was able to define my motivating factors more clearly.

I came up with three things:


I have much more to say on this subject, however today is an action day so I will save that post for another time.  I actually have a 'future post' file. 

Following the "To Do" List
Lists have a duo edged affect. For now, I find them useful, both in keeping me on task and in keeping me off task. I have decided to follow a process I use successfully at work and keep a weekly to to list with a few notes for future projects. So today I made a list for the week. Here is what I have been able to check off my list today.
  • draft mission statement
  • draft strategic plan and goals
  • blog (goal is 3/week, 1 down)
  • get computer fixed- (long, frustrating story)
  • download new printer software
  • test printer and scanner (yea! they work)
  • researched stationary design software-undecided
  • researched using a print shop for stationary (awaiting estimates)
  • researched supplies for the 'do it yourself' option
I'll skip the miseries of the day as they are resolved now.

For the Future Post File
I will muddle through the strategic plan and goals on my own, it's ony fair.  However, I may look to you for some feedback on my mission statement and name choices. Once I get a few options drafted, I'll post them.

Keep Focus on Motivating Factors

Time to stop and smell the flowers, watch the backyard grow, and visit with the family.