In with the new!

Wow! we’re a little more than half way through the first month of 2017! I didn’t see that coming.

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I have tons of plans for 2017! I usually have to think about them for a while before getting going on them, and talking about them beforehand really doesn’t help me.

However, I’m going to be daring… and make a sort of resolution.

It’s not an actual resolution, because that makes it sound boring. Anyway…

I’m talking about it here – first of all, because I’d love to share it a little with you – also, hopefully it will help me keep to it if more people know about it.

It’s recently come to my attention that I really enjoy playing music. I always had trouble figuring out how I wanted to play with music, but I miss it, so I really hope to get back into it during 2017.

img_2348I’m sure it’s been mentioned at some point that I play the violin, guitar and piano. I have less experience and knowledge with the piano and guitar, but they’re both very understandable instruments and I love all three of them.

So… I’ll be pulling out the guitar and violin to tune them! I’m especially interested in working on hymns, because I know several pretty well and enjoy them, and we’ll see where I go with that!

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Technically, this might not be the best time to be picking up another, time consuming thing. I can juggle a few things, like Etsy, eating, sleeping and thinking. But not much more.

However, I feel ready to try something new (or old). Plus, music is a wonderful, essential language. So, I am looking forward to this year, and praying that I can incorporate music comfortably into my life.

I’d love to hear what everyone has planned for the new year! Do you have anything that you’ve been wanting to get back to or a new adventure you’re thinking of trying?

Welcome to 2017 everyone! It’s still a new year, and I’m praying it’s a great one for everyone!

Sarah

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Cogs & Gears: Play

I was going to name this post “All Work and No Play,” but on consideration decided that that might conjure images of a really crazy Jack Nicholson, which would be regrettable.

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Not this crazy Jack Nicholson (though – yikes!)

 

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This one! (Haven’t actually seen this movie, but you get the idea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And anyway, I think I’d rather examine the idea of play all by itself.

It’s my Ladybug Week again! As Sarah was saying recently – a planned time to step away from all Etsy stuff before it totally overwhelms me, to step back and get some other stuff done, to relax and not worry about things like business: Sort of an every-seven-weeks vacation.

Now, I’ve always had trouble with the idea of play and recreation – an occupational hazard for someone whose work is what they love: I like crafting – but should I stop making stuff this week? I love writing – but having just finished July’s CampNaNoWriMo with a lot of hardcore writing time, should I take the week off? What do I do instead?

I came up with a very depressing list of things To Do every day this week:

  • Yard work for 2 hours – weeding, digging, bug control, etc. – even if its 90 degrees outside.
  • Attack the mending pile.
  • Clean and declutter an increasingly chaotic house, for 2 hours.
  • Study really hard for 2 hours, to get back into regular schooling.

This excellent program is probably something I actually should do some week, to kick-start several projects that need doing. But, while it would be different work from Etsy-listing and novel-editing, it would be anything but relaxing and restful.

What makes this Ladybug Week harder is that, 1) I feel like I didn’t get that much Etsy-work done in the last few weeks, and 2) CampNaNo gave a lot of momentum to my writing that I don’t want to lose. However, 1) I did manage to establish a routine of listing a new item on my shop every day almost – and that’s quite the accomplishment, if you think about it! And, 2) I generally find writing very recreational.

I was telling my helpful sisters about all of this, and that helped me realize that I should make this time off into a restful thing and not fill it up with extra stressers and hard labor. I do need this, to put myself back together or keep from falling apart, to get some perspective, to refocus on where I’m going rather than floundering about, and to enjoy some random things!

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So, here’s an actual list of the fun things I want to do this week:

  • Put some music on my phone (which is smart! yay!)
  • Create some art, which I began last year. It’s time to bring it together!
  • Sew a purse for myself out of some very fun Parisian fabric (again, I’ve had this project hanging around for a while, and it’s a little daunting – so it’s the perfect time to take it on!)
  • Figure out and blog my goals for the month
  • And blog about what our theme this month will be (spoiler: it’s gonna be fun!)
  • Watch some “Daredevil” (probably while sewing)
  • Continue writing – this chapter is exciting!
  • Play some Taptiles and other games

There you go! It still looks busy – but it should be fun rather than arduous work! Bonus: the New Mexican monsoon season has begun, so it looks like it’ll be gloriously stormy for the next few days.

What are your plans? Do you have any fun-and-frolicsome ideas that might spice up my relaxation?

-Abigail-

Cogs & Gears: It’s the Little Things…

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I love these earrings! They were a bit problematic to photograph, though…

Here we are, working hard at our different projects! I’ve been trying to focus and get a lot of work done, and to that end I mapped out some specific goals for my time last week. Using my handy (and, alas, often neglected) day-planner, I set 1) Daily Goals, 2) Aims for the Week, and 3) Dreams of Things That Could Get Done. How did this work out? Well…

 

  • One of my daily goals was to get a new listing up on Etsy every day (which is fairly easy, since I have a back-log of items to list). This went pretty well – until I discovered that I hadn’t taken pictures of the backs of four pairs of earrings. So I took the extra pictures, went back to finish the listing I had started, and – My computer ate all the pictures on my camera (except for some of English Muffins). This was very sad, since I had taken some shots of
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    Sourdough English Muffins. Yes, a recipe is coming soon!

    Hannah and her papier-mâché project too. And that derailed the rest of the week. (Here is the Etsy listing)

  • It’s been really hot, which slows me down. But – No matter! I attacked promotion and blogging! Housework and cleaning got rather lost (it’s not easy to clean when you feel like you’re leaving a melted trail), but I got some other stuff done! Except for another Popcorn post. I keep forgetting about those.
  • Writing hard for CampNaNoWriMo! My goal is to get 75,000 total words done this month (have I mentioned that I tend to set impossible
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    I find this random and slightly nonsensical picture very inspiring for “Reflections,” which has lots of mirrors and mountains!

    goals?): 50,000 editing and typing “Reflections: A Fairy Tale” and about 25,000-words-worth of work on various other projects. Well, this week, I sorta got sidetracked when I thought of an interesting series of twists for a story I’m not even contemplating working on any time soon. It’s been exciting, and distracting!

  • A few other things got lost in the crazy shuffle of life. In fact, after the first day, I forgot to even look at my goals for the week! This is (ahem!) kind of a bad habit of mine.

Oh, well! Life is always busier than I anticipate it will be, and I tend to underestimate the time it will take to do stuff. It’s a pity, because I actually did get quite a lot finished last week, babysat some fun-to-watch kids, and got an energy boost in my writing world. Oh, and “Star Trek Beyond” was really a lot of fun!

So, now I refocus on what’s really important to accomplish, and this week set some new (and hopefully sensible) goals for myself. What are your plans looking like? Do you set impossible bars to reach?

-Abigail-

The Fourth Member

Well, Mother’s Day is just a couple days away – which is too soon, in my opinion! I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but it seems like Mother’s Day came up way too quickly!

Anyway, if I’d thought of it sooner, I would have done a blog post about a few of our Etsy items that might work for this holiday. I haven’t made anything specifically for Mother’s Day, since I couldn’t think of anything, but there are several things that would work well!

However, with the holiday in just a couple days, I thought I’d take a moment and consider our own Mom.

Mum's Roses, 1 of 4Her name is Wendy, but we have many names for her. Mommy is the classic one, or Mama. When I was younger I’d occasionally write Moomoo (hopefully she won’t mind me mentioning this) or something similar. I’d often change the spelling of some word, just to be sure I got all the possibilities covered.

More recently, we’ve come to call her Mummy or Mum or Mumminy. For some reason Mom just never sounded right.

Mummy is the fourth member of our Girl Team. The Girl Team is generally comprised of three members – the three of us – and we tend to even each other out. Basically. I couldn’t possibly say who fills what role, but really, there’s no doubt about who got us on the road.

Blue-ish ButterflyTo put it bluntly (and probably obviously) we can only do the things we do because of our wonderful mother.

Really, I wouldn’t be sewing and putting things on Etsy to sell if she hadn’t taught me how to sew in the first place.

Abigail recently did a blog post about sourdough bread, and she couldn’t have made that bread without the advice and directions from our mother.

Our love for music was inspired by her love for it. Our interesting taste in literature sprouted from her taste. We’re adventurous, and daring to try strange careers because she’s adventurous. We’re cautious (sometimes too cautious) because she’s careful. We blog because she was the first person to mention following blogs or starting blogs in our household.

Flowers for Summer

In case you’re wondering about the pictures featured here, there actually is a theme. The roses at the top were Mum’s rose, yellow because yellow’s one of her colors. I also had to feature a butterfly because butterflies love her- probably because she’s usually in light green or some bright color. I used the picture on the left because they’re yellow and the kind of flower she seems to like.

Finally, 5 (Strange/interesting) things you have to know about our Mum:

  1. She dislikes mushy vegetables (which is a bit of a problem when it comes to ratatouille. Hey, I spelt that right the first time!)
  2. Some of the stash is hers. Some of the fabric used for the things I make is from her stash, which she sweetly let me have.
  3. She plays piano (but not for a while)
  4. Hopefully she’ll be a guest blogger here some time
  5. She’s an Air Force Brat (Bonus thing: She’s a Desert Rat, which is something she added, so I had to put it in. Another bonus thing: her birthday is on the 14th, so Mother’s Day sometimes falls on her birthday! This year, we’ll have a week of Mummy-ness!)

So, there you go! We really don’t feature enough of our Fourth and best Member, but I think I’ve mentioned some pretty interesting stuff.

Hope everyone has a good weekend and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!

P.S. Please, feel free to mention something awesome about your Mom in the comments below! I’d love to hear about it 😀

Sarah

On Fairy Tales

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Urban magic

I’ve always loved fairy tales. The genre is the defining one of my literary appreciation, which is curious since I had no more exposure to fairy tales than the average American child: Disney princess movies, the odd story book, and an ancient Atari computer game which Mad-Libbed “Little Red Riding Hood.” Oh, and “Chronicles of Narnia.” But I loved the style and adventurousness so much that I made up my own fairy tales, and eventually searched out classics.

 

But here’s the thing: I mean something a little different by “fairy tale” than the tropes – “once upon a time,” sparkly princesses, perky fairy godmothers, and “follow your heart.” This is because I’ve read a few books that stretch my understanding, like “Look to the Lady” by Marjory Allingham and “Father Brown” by G.K. Chesterton and a few interesting essays by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald. These argue that fairy tales can be found in unexpected places. Here are a few parameters – a fairy tale should:

  • A walk in the woods:
    Be bold, be bold – but not too bold!

    Start with a normal, everyday situation where ordinary people are just going about their business.

  • Something extraordinary happens.
  • Have a very great evil threatening which must be fought.
  • Involve some kind of unusual effort – often a journey. Anyway, adventure of some kind.
  • Have goodness, in an unexpected place – something worth fighting for
  • Involve growth and change in the main character; often, how to use their wits, or courage, or love, or rediscovery of something good that was lost.
  • Usually end in the main character doing something extraordinary to fight the evil and reestablish good.
From a book "At the back of the north wind" by Jessie Wilcox Smith:
At the Back of the North Wind

And I think that covers it! A fairy tale doesn’t need to have magic, fairies, “True Love” or even “happily ever after” (although it helps, of course). By these criteria, I have discovered beautiful and amazing fairy stories in places you wouldn’t expect, like “Wall-E,” some mysteries, the book of “Esther,” and “Doctor Who.” I love all of these, as well as the classics.

 

Why all this talk of fairy tales? Well, they’re sort of my theme this month and I thought I’d explain my odd reasoning about them so you know what I’m talking about!

Here are a few titles to check out, if you want to explore fairy stories by my definition:

  • “Lady in the Water”
  • “Brave”
  • “MirrorMask”
  • “Doctor Who: Series 5”
  • “Kung Fu Panda” (3 especially)
  • “The Chronicles of Narnia”
  • “That Hideous Strength” (A “fairy story for adults”)
  • “The Princess and the Goblins” and “The Princess and Curdie”
  • “The Magic City”
  • “The Crime at Black Dudley”
  • “The Secret of Chimneys”

Narnia.:

Also, check out our totally awesome “Fairy Stories” Pinterest board. All of the pictures in this post come from there, and it might give you a bit more of an idea of what I mean!

Fight the Dragon:

A final thought from G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

-Abigail-

Favorite Younger Sister – Sarah!

Well, today is a special day. Today is the day we celebrate our favorite younger sister, Sarah!

She’ll get annoyed at me posting pictures, but I can’t help it – I love her flower-like face, and her summery prettiness, so she’ll just have to skip over the pictures parts!

Sarah, having a Frappuccino
My lovely sister, drinking a Frappuccino almost as sweet as she is!

 

You have seen her photography, which is truly beautiful and amazingly talented. I’ll repost a few of her pictures, so you can see again some of her aptitude in this area. She is always dashing off a few more photos, constantly and quietly surprising us with her talented eye.

You also have seen her delightful bags – pictured below. And they are well worth looking into, since she puts a lot of thought and care into all of her projects.

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My Blue Pink Tote Bags, now on Etsy

But before she sewed bags (and placemats, and mug warmers, etc…) she sewed for herself lovely clothing! You might remember seeing detailing for this dress – she did hand embroidery as little sprigs of flowers all over the skirt. She is always sewing a new and awesome project! (Oh, and she sewed that adorable little bolero that she’s wearing in the first picture)CIMG3027.JPG

She also cooks and bakes! This year, Sarah made out favorite Blackstrap Molasses Cookies. And they tasted so good that they did not last very long!

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But she is so much more than her talents and abilities. She is one of the most dependable, patient people I know – she wouldn’t be able to put up with me if she wasn’t as patient as she is. She has a funny sense of humor, and a quality of light and laughter and bright beauty about her personality which is like summertime and spring beginnings – which are, not surprisingly, a couple of her favorite seasons. She is always there to be a ready listener for either Abigail or me. She is a dedicated worker, working at places where the rest of us are uninterested or too lazy.

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There are too many things to say about this wonderful, delightful, funny, sweet, quiet great young lady who I am proud and honored to call my sister. But for now, I will just say that the Lord has blessed me and my family greatly Sarah

Happy Birthday!

Hannah

Happy Ladybug Week!

DSCN7525A big, important part of running a business is to have it not take over every aspect of your life, invade your every dream and run you down with all the things you need to do.

I think that’s pretty much the most important rule of business.

Or, in other words. Life is crazy! I’m always running around! I never have a chance to stop and take a breath!

We all know what that’s like, and there are plenty of tips and methods of being able to take a breath. Well, here’s my attempt this year:

In one of the dullest books of the Bible (I forget which), and pretty early on, when the Israelites are about to enter the land, some rules are set down for them, and among them: six years of work, one year of rest. I always wondered how much rest it would be, but it was basically a chance for the worked land to have rest, and the people would live off of what they had made the six years before.

For us, Sunday is our rest day (not always very restful, but that’s a different issue) just to give us a chance to get away from the work of the week, and according to some study out there, people work best if they work six days of the week, and rest on one day. No more, no less. So, being thoroughly in the habit of working six days and stopping on the seventh, I thought I would work along the same lines and give myself a chance to get away from work.

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So, every seventh week, I’m going to take a break from my Etsy shop. I’ve already made note of the weeks by putting down little ladybug stickers – hence the title of the blog post. It more or less works out so there’s a week off in every other month of the year.

I kept thinking: “wait, that’s not that much time! I’m going to get overwhelmed if its so infrequent!” However, it’s actually more than I’ve given myself in the past – which is why there are so many projects that have piled up.

I’m hoping this will help me balance everything out. In the past, while I haven’t exactly tackled business, I’ve never given myself time away from it, which has resulted in a prolonged, worrying trudge through the year. Lord willing, taking every seventh week off will give me a deadline, so that I have to work on business more seriously, but it will also give me a chance – longer than an hour or two – to get away from it, so I can come back refreshed.

Aspens in March 1

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I won’t neglect my sanity during my ‘work’ weeks, or my business during my ‘personal’ week. That’s an important part of my business, that I need to remember even when I’m taking a break from it, I will make sure it’s on track. (a problem I kind of deal with)

I think I’ll probably run out of things to do, because I don’t technically have that many projects (haha) so it will be interesting to see what I’ll do when I run out. In the meantime, 2016 is pretty much an experiment to see if this works for me.

So, this week, my main project will be painting a wooden boat shelf I’ve had for a while. This will be a pretty big project, especially since I just decided to distress the wood. I think I will try taking pictures of it, through the process and the finished result, and hopefully I’ll have a blog post about it later on this week. I’ve even created a Pinterest board about it, since this is not my only wooden project. Here is a link, if you want to check it out.

Also, I started a skirt last week, and I’ll definitely be able to finish it this week. And I’ve gotten very behind in my photo editing, so that might be something I get to do this week.

So, I think I’ve got my relaxation in order (not to mention all the regular things we do during the week). We’ll see how it works.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sarah