When I was at the kitchen sink this evening after work, I noticed that things outside have changed in the last 24 hours. It looks like the plants got some much needed rain this afternoon, and we got some much needed color back in our lives.
When this whole Pinterest thing started, I was excited to have an online place to collect my ideas and inspiration. Then, everyone in the world discovered it. One morning while I was checking Facebook, there was an onslaught of slow cooker recipes and crayons being melted on a piece of canvas showing up in my feed. It was then that I decided that I would abandon Pinterest and only visit when it was absolutely necessary to find a last minute DIY gift that I could botch.
One evening, I was looking through a few of my favorite blogs and noticed that if you hovered over one of the images, a “pin this” button showed up in the corner. Once you clicked on this, you were taken to a new window where you could add the image to one of your boards. Now that – I could go along with. I immediately decided that I needed to have something like that for this blog. Only problem was, I was going to have to put a little more effort into my Pinterest account if people were going to want to hang out with me there.
Here’s where it gets tricky. I see a lot of things that I want to pin and re-pin. The first time I spent an afternoon on Pinterest, it was a bunch of “Ooooh! I’ll pin this now and come back to it later!” Well, later never actually happened and I was left with a mess the next time I logged on. After sorting through everything, I noticed that a lot of the things I was pinning weren’t linked to anything in particular. They were either dead links, or Pinterest had blocked the original site. In the case of some projects I had pinned, I kind of needed more than a photo of the finished piece….some instructions would be nice. After I had gone through a few images, I also noticed that some of them made you go through 3 or more sites until you got to the original post. I guess I need to be more careful when I’m re-pinning. So, my Pinterest page has gone from 100+ images to a little over 20. The only thing there now are photos of gardening and remodeled hay lofts, but at least the number of pins is more manageable.
So, now that the page itself was sorted out, I needed to put a little effort into this here blog. First, something I have been wanting to do for a while was add some social media icons to the header.
Sounds simple, right? Well, I’m a designer and not a programmer, so some of the coding involved was a little outside of my comfort zone. After a couple of late nights, I finally had them where I wanted them. Actually, it was probably closing in on midnight and I declared it “close enough”.
Next was figuring out a custom “Pin It” button for my images. I use WordPress, so I did a quick search for a plug-in that might be able to help me. After trying a couple and wanting to cry when it came to customizing the settings, I finally discovered this one. It was easy to add my own custom button image and also determine which photos would not use feature. For instance, I don’t foresee anyone wanting to pin the images on my About Me page. That would just be silly.
So, now when you visit here, either in the main page, or individual posts, here’s what you’ll see first:
Here’s what you’ll see when you hover over an image:
And here’s where you’ll go when you click on the “Pin It” rooster:
Note: I disabled the “Pin It” button on the images in this post, so I could show you what a clear before and after would look like. You can test drive it on any other post on the blog if you would like.
If you feel so inclined to follow me on Pinterest, I would love to hear any tips or ideas you have!
I have a list of links that I thought I might share with you today, but first I’m going to need you to look at this picture of my goat:
After we get our lawn cleaned up this weekend, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on their pen, so they can be outdoors full-time. There’s also that pesky “spring cleaning” thing that needs to happen now that we’re (hopefully) done using the wood stove for the year.
Here’s to a productive weekend!
I thought this article went nicely with my post from last week.
I’m hoping to dig into this post a little more this evening.
Cheat Sheets for Designers. Because who doesn’t love a shortcut?
I’m still in my 20′s. Maybe it’s not too late to embrace some of these lessons.
The logo creation process for Disney’s “Wreck it Ralph”.
Shannon has a well-written post about how small-scale farms receive little (if any) benefits from The Farm Bill.
Have you ever wondered how your favorite authors cranked out such masterpieces? See some of their rituals here.
I’m pretty sure this will be happening around here now that our yard is full of little birdies again.
Who wants to turn a shed into an office? I do!
Read this and then try to tell me that grief is a uniquely human emotion.
I love this quote!
School isn’t what is used to be.
This weekend gave us just a little taste of the weather that is yet to come, while reminding us that it is not, in fact, flip flop weather yet. Last night, we were drifting off while sighing in exasperation at the fact that it was, once again, snowing. This morning, however, offered plenty of sunshine – even if it was still a little too chilly to ditch our coats.
The daffodils that have been trying so hard to make their appearance for weeks have finally bloomed, buds are beginning to appear on the bushes, and the lilies on the side of the barn have even broken through the ground. The chickens are thrilled to be back outside on a more regular basis, and have been rewarding us with an abundance of eggs.
It was so good to see the sun this afternoon, and to get outside and enjoy it…even if we couldn’t forego shoes.
No matter what anyone tells you, or how many articles you read, there is no such thing as a work/life balance. I am tired of reading about and hearing about women who balance their jobs and their families and do it all gracefully, without frayed nerves, curse words or tears. Those women are bullshitting you. The work/life balance is a myth. The work/life hustle is for real.
Lately, people have asked me different versions of the same thing: “How do you fit it all in?” My day job is extremely valuable to me. It is a guaranteed deposit in my bank account every week. Does it satisfy me creatively? Not all the time. But I am a middle class adult who knows that a full-time job is not all Fun Party Time. It’s about security, and family health insurance, and 401K benefits. Knowing I have all of these things allows me to sleep better at night. As a graphic designer, I have a constant hunger to make things look good. At my 8-5, this means letters, proposals, fact sheets, brochures, business cards, marketing packets, and other branding. In order to do my job (and do it well), I need to keep my skills sharp and stay on top of the latest tools and resources that will help me do my job. I don’t always get to practice these skills or stay challenged with the work I do during the day. This is the reason I take on freelance work for 10-20 hours a week.
One of the benefits of working freelance on a part-time basis means that I can be picky as far as who I take on as a client. I’m not relying on these people to cover my bills, so if a project doesn’t sound like a good fit for me, I can politely decline:
So where do all of the other adult responsibilities fit in? Well, sometimes during the work week, they don’t. Below is a run-down of an average weekday for us. I am, in no way, trying to make myself sound busier, or better than anyone else. It’s just the way I choose to spend the 24 hours I’m given every day.
5:00am Wake up and turn on the coffee maker. Hit the shower.
5:15am Eat breakfast and enjoy coffee while checking emails, Facebook, Twitter.
5:30am Go back upstairs and finish getting ready (blow-dry hair, put makeup on, etc.) By this time, my guy is usually up and getting ready for work.
5:45am Greet the kids with the click of bright bedroom lights and receive glares and exasperated huffs in return. Guy leaves for work.
6:00am The kids and I make our way downstairs so they can pick out their clothes and get dressed.
6:15am Head out to the barn to make sure the chickens and goats get their breakfast and fresh water.
6:30am Leave to drop the kids off at daycare and go to work.
7:45am Arrive at work.
12:00n Lunch. This is where I should tell you that I take a break and go for a walk or some other form of exercise, but that would be a lie. Almost everyone at the office is very keen on working on their fitness, so maybe peer pressure will work it’s magic and I will join them someday. Right now, I count running up and down the stairs 20 times in the morning my “workout”. If the weather is decent, I’ll run errands in town or find a quiet place to eat my lunch and read. If it’s nasty out, I’ll stay in, close my office door, and catch up on some freelance work while I eat.
1:00pm Back to work
5:00pm (me) Leave work and head for home. If we don’t have everything we need to make dinner that night, I’ll stop at the grocery store if I didn’t go out at lunch time.
5:00pm (the rest of the family) My guy and the kids are usually home by now. After their chores are done, they usually play outside if the weather is nice, or in the living room if it’s not so nice out.
6:00pm I get home and finish dinner prep, then put it in the oven. If it’s warm enough outside, I’ll hand the food off to my guy and he’ll put it on the grill.
6:30 – 7:00pm The kids and I go out to the barn and do the evening chores. Eggs need to be collected, the outside door to the chicken coop needs to be closed and latched, and we have to make sure the area where the goats sleep is dry.
7:30pm After getting back inside and washing up, the kids set the table and the grown-ups get the food on the table. We always eat dinner as a family, and because of my commute, sometimes that means that we don’t all sit down at the table until 7:30. If we have a plan in place for dinner, my guy will get it started before I get home. Most nights, we don’t have a plan. I don’t organize menus weeks or months ahead of time – God Bless you people that do, but I don’t function like that. If I have an idea of what we’re going to eat 12 hours ahead of time, we’re doing pretty good.
8:00pm After dinner, we all clear the table and the little ones head upstairs to get ready for bed while the grown ups take care of the dishes. And by “take care of the dishes” I mean “put them haphazardly in the dishwasher and hope that someone else will remember to start it before they go to bed”.
8:45pm After everyone has had a bath and brushed their teeth, it’s time to get tucked in. Here’s the part where I should tell you that I read to my kids every night. As much as I would love for that to happen, I’m not going to keep them up past 9:00 just to make myself feel like Mom of the Year by reading for an equal amount of time to each child – especially since they get up so early. Sometimes we have time for stories and sometimes we don’t. Most of the time, getting everyone into bed is not a job I enjoy. Someone is thirsty as soon as the covers are pulled up around them, night lights are not bright enough, and there is a smudge on the ceiling from where a spider was killed that is sure to attract more spiders, avenging the death of their brethren.
9:00pm Head back downstairs and get on the computer to do some freelance work. I work on the computer for anywhere from a half hour (if I’m replying to client’s emails) to two hours (for bigger projects, like logo development or web design). If I don’t have any work lined up, I’ll sketch out some ideas I have for future projects or do a blog post. Depending on when I get done, I might try to squeeze in a couple chapters of the latest book I’m reading before heading to bed.
11:00pm Turn out the light and get some shuteye.
You’ll notice that list up there doesn’t mention things like, “vacuum and sweep floors”, “tidy up bedrooms”, or “pick up living room”. I didn’t leave them out because I thought they would bore you. They’re not on the list because they just don’t happen. Don’t misunderstand – we don’t live in a filth-infested cesspool, but folding a couple of stray blankets and picking up a few dolls are very, very low on my priority list. I also don’t watch a lot of TV. This is helped by the fact that we choose not to have cable, and there aren’t a lot of shows that I’m really into right now. New Girl and Golden Boy being the exceptions.
I should also tell you that the amount and type freelance work I take on varies with the seasons. In the winter, we’re usually inside a lot, and I have the time to invest that it takes to develop a logo or website. In the summer, we spend a lot of time outdoors and do a bit of traveling, so I like to keep the jobs small. My kids are also at an age where they are less dependent on me. They are perfectly content to play “restaurant” or “house” without my assistance. There is no way I could do what I do if my kids were still infants. I also know that my schedule will look a lot different when my kids are older, and involved in more activities outside of our home.
Here’s the thing – no one can do it all. That interview you read about? The one with that lady’s online shop that is so successful, she was able to quit her full-time job? Her husband makes enough money to cover their expenses. Also, she has 4 cats and no children. That woman whose house looks impeccable every time you visit? She has a housekeeper. And her kids are not allowed to have fun in the house. Ever. That lady at her kid’s soccer game who is sitting in the grass in her work slacks, feeding her children pieces of a rotisserie chicken hot from the grocery store? The one telling her preschooler to just pick the grass off the food she dropped and eat it? That’s me. And you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has embraced the Work/Life Hustle as wholly as I have.
We took some time Saturday and did a little spring cleaning in one of our outbuildings…and boy, did we find some stuff.
Basically, there was a lot of junk to sift through, and although we put a pretty good dent in the pile, we are not even a quarter of the way done. I posted a few things on Instagram and Facebook on Saturday, and the one photo that got the most action was the one of these things:
They were found all wired together, hanging on the wall next to some rusted out horseshoes and harnesses. The People of Facebook have ascertained that these are metal hooks for a whippletree:
So, now that the fun of exploring is over, we will be using our free weekends (HAHA! Free weekends? That’s HILARIOUS) to continue to sift through the old stories the “Big Chicken Coop” has to tell us, and make room for our own.
Happy Weekend! I took the day off of work today to get my house put back in order, but the weather here is so damn depressing lately, that all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and watch movies all day. This is what April 5th looks like outside my window:
So, in honor of my laziness, here is a quasi blog post for today…
Some links that caught (and held) my attention for more than a couple of seconds this week:
I though this was appropriate, as I’m re-evaluating my freelance design rates.
For any of you who may have gardening on the brain, some paper planter pots from Karen.
These Before & Afters, with decades in between
In 1938, Walt Disney Productions thought young women could only be trusted with ink if they were tracing something a young man had created. (“Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen.”)
Retro packaging designs prove that everyone in advertising was, in fact, taking hallucinogens in the 60′s and 70′s.
I need to find the tool used in this post immediately.
If someone tells you that you have no artistic ability, perhaps you should tell them to suck it.
No matter what the weather does tomorrow, we plan on cleaning out one of our outbuildings. The previous owners referred to it as “The Big Chicken Coop” when we took a tour of the property. I’ll be Instagrammin’ any of the treasures that we’re bound to find, but fair warning…there are probably going to be dead things. And almost certainly spiders.
Even though the weather thinks otherwise, Spring is here and that means that local organizations and clubs are getting ready for the summer season. I am one lucky girl to have been asked to be a part of the preparations!
There are softball concession stands that need menus:
Clubs that need websites:
And I’ve even managed to fit in a little time to come up with a couple of things for me. Fancy new business cards:
And maybe a way to keep myself a little more organized:
It feels good to come out of hibernation!
The weekend, once again, has flown right by. Usually, we try to keep the house at least picked up during the week, and do a half-day clean sweep on Saturday. However, in lieu of laundry, dishes and scrubbing dirty floors, we spent most of the last couple of days in the barn the with the two newest members of our funny farm:
Blackberry and Butterscotch are our two new fainting goats. I drove about at hour downstate to go pick them up, and while I was gone, my Dad (who is, amazingly, always willing to help me out when I start a project that turns out to be over my head) put together a pen for them in the barn.
When I returned, goats in tow, we introduced them to their new digs. It didn’t take long for them to make themselves right at home. I think the handfuls of treats and three little girls who were willing to keep them company while they got used to being away from their mamas may have been the very best kind of welcome.
Here are a couple of pages from my sketchbook over the last month or so. I finally invested in a good-quality sketchbook and watercolor pad. So much nicer to draw on than the scrap paper I was grabbing from whatever corner of the house it was sitting in.
This is Leroy. He’s eating an imaginary acorn. Or, he has just been startled and dropped whatever was in his hands. Yeah – let’s go with that.
And this is the result of a RHCP song being stuck in my brain for two weeks:
As you can see, my hand lettering needs some….um….work.
Using a computer as a design tool definitely has its advantages, but there is nothing like putting pen to paper.