Friday, May 29, 2015

Morning Rituals

I always think of myself as more of a creative person rather than an analytical one, and I always liked the idea of creativity being free flowing and just kind of this gem in the midst of disorder.  But you know what, creativity is really hard work.  And disorder does not encourage it; in fact, I'd say it inhibits it.  Just from personal experience, I know I don't like sewing when my office is full of stacks of clutter and half finished projects are laying all over the place. 

I had a light bulb moment, after listening to a podcast from Todd Henry's Accidental Creative about the importance of structure to your mornings with morning rituals, and I decided I should really try it out.  So one of my goals for the month of May was to start having a morning ritual.  Todd gets up the same time every day, and spends the first hour in his morning ritual,  reading for about half an hour, clearing his mind and gearing up for his day for about fifteen minutes or so, then writing for about ten minutes, and finally five minutes to plan his day.

So basically, a morning ritual gives you a firm foundation to start your day on.  It lets you kind of reflect on what you need to do, and helps get your day off to a good start.  Here's how my morning ritual goes.

1. Reading- I read out of two daily books: one is Sarah Ban Breathnach's Daybook of Comfort and Joy, which I've talked about several times before and is a book I love, and the second is a devotional called A Godward Life, which is only about two pages long.  Then I read a chapter in a book.  I've already read a couple.  Currently it's a book called You are Talented!  Which is pretty interesting.

2. I free write a page in my large Moleskine notebook.  It's just kind of whatever is on my mind and whatever comes into my head. 

3.  I pray and write my prayer requests out, so I can keep track of where my mind is, who I've been thinking of and I write down what I'm grateful for, for that day.

And that's about it, but it's really helped get my days off to a good start and get my mind in the right place for the day.  I'm still tweaking it.  Today I did a little Yoga afterwards.  Some days if I'm pushed for time, I don't write, and I'm still working on getting up at the same time every day, but I just love getting up and easing into my day with a cup of coffee, no internet, and just reading thinking, and focusing on things.

If you're feeling frazzled and overwhelmed (and who doesn't) I really recommend you try having a morning ritual and see if it helps your day get off to a smoother start.  And let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time for Growth

So I haven't been around much this past week, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything.  You may have (or maybe not) noticed that I refreshed the header for Chair in the Shade.  I'm not sure if it'll stay forever or not, but I thought it was time for a change.  I added pages so it's easy to find related posts about music, crafting, cooking, etc.  I also added LinkedWithin, so at the end of every post, you'll see a couple recommendations for other posts you may be interested in.

In my personal time, I've been reading more, listening to podcasts and striving to live a more organized, intentional life.  I'll be sharing more about it in future posts.   I have all sorts of blog news and personal plans to share very soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Podcasts are Awesome... and Some Recommendations

I never really got into podcasts.  I don't have any Apple products so I don't even have an account with iTunes.  And I always thought following podcasts through blogs seemed cumbersome.  Plus, I have a horrible time listening to audio books.  I have a tendency to wander out of the room for something quick and come back later to realize that my book was reading itself to no one.  So, I kind of just wrote them off as nice but not for me.

I listened to Serial online and really enjoyed it, and then, a few months later one of my friends was telling me about the podcast, Stuff You Missed in History Class.  It sounded geeky, and interesting at the same time and I decided to check it out.  Not knowing where to begin, I searched "podcasts" in the Android App Store  and found "Podcast Addict".  I downloaded it, and so began my podcast adventures.  I know there's other apps out there, but I've loved this one and have had no problems with it, so I can't really recommend anything else.

Basically, I just added a few podcasts that sounded interesting and got to listening.  And now I listen all the time.  I download episodes and listen in my car.  I listen while I sew, I listen while I scrub floors, I listen while I get ready for work.  And since it's all coming from my phone, I can just carry it with me throughout the house while I do chores.

If you aren't listening to podcasts yet, here are three basic ones I recommend:

Stuff You Missed In History Class- This one is full of interesting historical stories that you probably weren't even aware of.  Want to learn about the Dyatlov Pass Incident?  The Hope Diamond?  Who was Tokyo Rose?  This is the podcast for you.  My favorite episode so far: How Vincent van Gogh Worked

NPR: TED Radio Hour- These area always pretty interesting, and on a variety of topics.  And each podcast includes snippets from several TEDTalks as well as interviews with the speakers.  It's a nice little mashup.  My favorite episode so far: Just a Little Nicer

Accidental Creative from author Todd Henry is full of great ideas to inspire you to be a more creative person and who doesn't want to be more creative.  It's geared towards creative professionals and freelancers, but he gives lots of great tips and the episodes are all pretty short. My favorite so far: The Power of a Morning Ritual

Note: All these links are to the individual websites, but if you really want to get into podcast listening, I highly recommend using a player like, Podcast Addict.  It's free to install, keeps all your podcasts in one place, checks off episodes you've already listened to, always you to download episodes, favorite episodes, and is easy to update with new episodes.

And, if you have any recommendations for podcasts I should be listening to, please feel free to leave me a comment below!

Monday, May 18, 2015

What's Your Favorite Color?

For years I never really had a favorite color.  I mean, there were colors I didn't like, and colors I liked, but no stand out as a favorite.  When I started blogging, I stumbled across Chaotic Goddess Swaps and I believe the second swap I participated in, was the Favorite Color swap.  I didn't really have a favorite, so I just chose eggplant.  It's a color I like.  The next year, I spent more time thinking about it and chose yellow.  Not fluorescent yellow, just bright yellow.  And now that the Favorite Color swap is rolling up again, I think I've finally decided on my favorite.  Yellow.  I want to be all "Kaylee loves yellow.  Yellow, yellow, yellow!" But anyways...

And if you aren't convinced yellow is awesome, just take a look at Van Gogh's use of yellow.

So what's the swap entail?  You get assigned a swap partner, and then make them a little goodie package of items in their favorite color.  You send at least five items, and the spending limit is $20-$30.

And... if you want to join in the swap, hurry because sign ups close today.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May Goals and Recap of April's

First, here's how April went: 

Read four books. Only managed to read three books. 
Sew 10 things.  I sewed quite a few things, but didn't get ten done. 
Write fiction.  Haven't even started.  Time to change my approach.
 Make wall art.  Well... I started my wall art, and my husband decided he wanted to take it to work and hang it in his office.  It was not at all great.  He's just sentimental.  It did get me in gear to start a second piece. 
Clean my office.  Done!  I got rid of quite a few things, and reorganized a lot of things. 
Make PJ pants!  I got my fabric out and realized the print was not ideal for what I had in mind.  It was kind of a ombre that ran across the width of the fabric and it wasn't going to work.  But... I did make a shirt that I had cut out over a year ago, that I found in my closet when I was cleaning.  I didn't love the finished shirt, but at least I know some things about the pattern and I know that I don't want to make another shirt out of it without making some tweaks. 
Open pop up Etsy shop to sell of some of fabric scraps.  I ended up giving away a bunch of five inch squares for Sew Mama Sew's giveaway day, and bunch of scraps went in gallon zip lock bags for the thrift shop.  I was able to downsize one whole bin of scraps.  I don't feel like I need to open my Etsy shop up to sell scraps now.

May Goals

So for May, I only have two goals, but they are big ones. Before I list them, just a bit of background- I've been listening to a ton of podcasts lately about productivity, creativity, and simplicity.  I'm still reading Simple Abundance, and all this is spurring me on to be more creative, more simplistic, more positive, and more productive.    So, that's why these goals are important to me.

1.  Declutter my house!  I started this project with my office, and have gone through my clothing, and some of my dishes so far.  I've gotten rid of four boxes of stuff and it feels great.  How much stuff do I have that I keep for "just in case" it fits again, or I suddenly like that color, or I want to make mini pies?  Being unable to fit all my clothes in my dresser, find things under the sink, or get the kitchen utensil drawer open because it is too full is super annoying, wastes time, and wastes money when I buy something almost like something I already have because I couldn't find the original item.  I can know fit all my clothes in my dresser, I've downsized my closet, and my china hutch is less crowded.  It feels great and I want to be able to feel that way about every room.  Our church is having a garage sale in early June and I'm purging my house of things to donate.

2.  Create a morning ritual.  One the podcasts I was listening to was talking about how a morning ritual is necessary for most people to be constantly creative.  Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about it in Simple Abundance and Julia Cameron talks about it in The Artists Way.  It's time to quit spending my mornings mindlessly surfing the web, and instead spend it reading, meditating, journalling, and or exercising.  So, that's my goal for May- to make some morning rituals to get my days off to a good start.

Monthly Goals

If you want to see what everyone else is aiming for this month, check out The Monthly Goals Link-Up.
Read four books. Pretty much on my list for every month. Sew 10 things. Still tons of fabric in my stash to get through! Write fiction. (Attempt #2) Make wall art. (Attempt #2) Clean my office. It looks like I'm auditioning for Hoarders! Make PJ pants! (Attempt #2)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Objects vs. Experiences for Mother's Day

I recently listened to a Stuff You Should Know podcast about whether objects or experiences make us happier. It was pretty conclusive that experiences win almost all the time.

So, with Mother's Day just around a day away, if you haven't found a gift for your mama yet, don't fret.  Craftsy is having a mondo sale this weekend.  Why don't you buy a new experience for you mom instead of another scented candle.

Craftsy has a wide variety of classes that you can take at your own pace.  Once you purchase a class, you have access to it forever so you never have to worry about it expiring or getting locked out.

There's a ton of topics available too at various skill levels. Whether your mom wants to learn cake decorating, knitting, quilting, or maybe something totally different, there's a Craftsy class to help her learn.  And this weekend, select classes are $20.00 making many classes super affordable- $25 or less.

I've taken several classes from Craftsy in the past, and have always been very happy with the results, I'm sure you mom will be too.

I am a Craftsy Affiliate, but only recommend companies I believe have true value.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 2015 Reading List

Well, here's hoping that May is a more productive reading month than April.  But honestly, it's so nice out, and gardening season is getting under way, so we'll see.  I'm actually outside right now, typing up this post.

Here's what I'm planning to read for May.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- This book is coming with the highest recommendations of my book swap partner, Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me (who was kind enough to send it to me).  When I looked it up on Goodreads, I see that one of my friends also gave it five stars so, I'm interested in seeing if it stands up to the accolades.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan- I love a good foodie book and Michael Pollan is one of the best.  He writes in a clear cut way, that's easy to understand and holds your interest.

Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho-  I won this book in a giveaway Miss Angie of My So Called Chaos.  Sometimes I think I jumped into blogging without really knowing what I was getting myself into.  So, I kind of think of this book as Blogging101.

Tracks by Louise Erdrich - This book was recommended by my Women's Studies professor in college.  I have a very small amount of Native American in me, and there's a reservation for another tribe located about an hour from here, but I really know very little about Native American culture or beliefs other than what I see in movies or catch every so often on NPR's Native American News, so I'm looking forward to this book, even if it is fiction.

That's what's on my list for this month, what are you planning on reading?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 2015 Giveaway Day

It's SewMamaSew's official Giveaway Day!  This day only comes twice a year!  You can blog hop a ton of crafty blogs and enter to win great prizes.

 I'm still working on down sizing my sewing supplies so I made a fun little gift pack out of a bunch of my extras.  Here's a picture of what I'm offering up:

This includes:
  • 42 square charm pack with fabric from Amy Butler, Cloud 9, Anna Maria Horner, and a bunch of others- 3 squares of each deasign.
  • 6- 9" zippers in a variety of bright colors
  • Pack of 2 tea towels, brand new in the package.  Perfect for embroidering, or embellishing with fabric.
Looking for some ideas of what you can make with charm packs?  Check out Moda's Bake Shop.
You can also see my favorite way to spruce up tea towels right here!

So, if you want to enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below to do just that.  This giveaway is open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And don't forget to check out all the giveaways over at Sew Mama Sew!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April Book Recap

April was not as productive of a reading month as March, but I did make it through a couple books and managed not to add too many new books though as well.

What I Read:
Traveling Light by Max Lucado This book is a nonfiction commentary of sorts about the 23 Psalm.  It was interesting, but not my favorite book by Lucado.  Some of the humor was cheesy and it seemed obvious in some parts.  I thought Cure for the Common Life was much more thought provoking.
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz  Great for any Sherlock Holmes mystery lover.  The book was actually authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate.  It has a similar tone to Doyle's books and of course features Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  It does have a darker feel to it than I remember Doyle's books having though.  But, a good mystery all the same.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Not pictured because I had passed it on to my Books N Blogger swap partner after finishing it.)  I really enjoyed this one, but don't expect a warm and cozy ending.  I think the characters were drawn with a realness that made their decisions believable even if you didn't agree with some of their decisions.  None of the characters were good or bad, but just flawed.  I really liked it, even if I did cry through a lot of it.

What I Acquired:
The only new books I added were ones my swap partner, Stephanie from Wife, Mommy, Me sent me during the Books and Bloggers swap.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
You can read more about them in Books N Bloggers reveal post.

2015 Totals
Read: 14     Acquired: 21

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Guess Who's Going Back to School!

Little known fact: I nearly finished my associates of arts and science degree through the University of Wisconsin years ago.  But after working full time and trying to take three to four classes a semester for several years I got burned out.  The final semester I was in school, my husband had open heart surgery, my dad found out he had cancer, and I found out that I had miscounted my credits and was not going to graduate after all and had to go for one more semester.

Fast forward fiver years to the present.  I finally decided it's time to go back and finish.  Why after all this time?  Well, I'm pretty much tapped out at my job as I've mentioned before.  I can't really go any farther without a degree of some kind, and really I don't really want to stay in healthcare anyway.  So, I'm looking into options for adult accelerated learning programs but the first step is finishing the associates.

So how many more credits do I need?  How much longer will it be?  Answers- one credit.  One measly credit is all I need for my associates.  So, I need to take one class this fall, and then I'll have my associates.  By the end of the year, I can cross this off my to do list.

And, so, in honor of finally going back to school, I have a delightful little video clip for your all. :)