Resolution: Waste Less Time

These are my promises to myself. I want to be off of my phone (no Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit) after 7pm every day. I noticed I was spending hours doing these things at night when I could be doing anything else. And the return on time invested in online activities like that is… pretty much nothing.

New Year's Resolution

Anyone else want to waste less time this year?

Giving Thanks: An ultra-cheesy post on gratitude

John and I have had a year – it’s been good and bad, definitely busy. Today is a reminder to continue to dwell on the things that are good in life – my husband (hahaha – I still can’t say that without thinking it’s weird), my amazing family, good Christmas songs that I play a week before Thanksgiving (sorry, Fleur).

I think one of the best ways to stay happy is to preoccupy yourself with what makes you happy. In the same vein, I think the easiest way to remain miserable is to linger on what is making you miserable. I challenge you today to just think about something happy, fun, or good whenever Aunt Marge starts annoying the crap out of you. And maybe start a gratitude journal on your iPhone.

Although John’s mom won’t be with us, we’ll be thinking about the good times we had with her around the dinner table. She loved to cook and to adventure out to new restaurants with us. She also made a mean sweet potato casserole that I wish she could be here to share.

We’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my lovely sisters, their partners and my niece – now we all get to sit at the adult table! It’s going to be a bit of a misfit holiday – we’re having turkey skyline chili, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and more pie than actual dinner.

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving, however you choose to spend it! Dwell on the good!

Give thanks today and every day for a happier life

Design challenge hiatus and a change of plans

Some of you may have noticed that I stopped posting design challenges last week. I seriously thought I could create something extra every day for a year, but once I got to thirty, I decided to take a break.

The idea behind creating one extra design a day (I say extra because my career as a web designer also includes a bit of design each week day) was to help me flex my brain muscles and make it easier for me to be more creative at work when designing for the web.

The problem

I began to dread (okay, that’s a bit dramatic) coming home, because I’d have to sit back down at a computer for at least 30-45 minutes. And that would be for the quicker designs where I already had a quote in mind or a photo lined up. It took even longer if I had no idea what to do that day. The longest designs included illustration, which took closer to 4-5 hours.

Along with a 40 hour work week at WebSolvers, I’m also an adjunct professor teaching an online class for beginning HTML/CSS – this typically takes 3-6 hours a week, depending on the class schedule. And I was planning a wedding, making my own bouquets from scratch with paper and designing all of the signage.

I’m just not used to this amount of busyness. I tried to work through it, telling myself I was just being lazy. I figured, after getting home, I would eat dinner while working on the design challenge, then check on my class, then around 7:30-8pm I could start doing whatever I wanted! But I usually fall asleep by 9:30pm, so that left just about an hour or two of downtime / time for whatever else I needed to do. I was exhausted and cranky. No amount of sleep (I’ve still been getting 7-8 hours) was making up for the lack of un-scheduled time on my daily calendar. Something about the shrinking size of that time was eating at me.

This is what I learned about myself during these thirty days:

My brain is dumb done after about 7pm. I am probably of better use at 4am than at 7pm on a normal day. I should probably consider a change in my sleeping schedule.

Too much scheduled time makes me antsy. The fact that I couldn’t come home and just do whatever I wanted was annoying the crap out of me.

I am a jack-of-all-trades. This is something that I had always kind of thought was a bad thing. That whole, “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none” saying would play through my mind and I was all, “I want to be The Master!” I already design digital things for a living, so why not work on being a master of that?

The problem is that I like a lot of different things. I can’t quite explain how I start feeling when I devote myself solely to one thing for long periods of time. The only word that I can think of is “off”. I get the itch to write, I love to knit and crochet, I love to read, I like taking pictures, I love to play video games, I was trying to learn how to play guitar… Having blocked out another 1-3 hours a day took away from all of these other things that I like to do.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never master anything completely. There are people that become passionate and gung-ho about one particular thing and then there are people like me who love to dabble, and there’s nothing wrong with either path.

All of this sounds negative towards the design challenge, but I did have fun and I loved the feeling I got being able to complete something to show the world each day. I just don’t think I can continue to do it every day. So, I will try again after the honeymoon (two weeks from now), doing only one challenge per week.

You can also expect to see more posts about other facets of my life, such as photography, knitting/crocheting, etc… along with these posts.

Design challenge, day 30, class information listing

This is a problem I’m having to figure out for a project – how to convey a bunch of information for a class (student review/response, student work, sign up button) in a space that won’t take up a whole page to either get someone to click through to more information, or even better, to just sign up. I’m hoping here that the past student review and student work will speak for itself.

Not quite sure about the sign up button placement though…


Design challenge, day 29, travel to Kyoto for some tea

When I was little, my grandpa bought this movie from a discount bin called My Neighbor Totoro. If you haven’t seen it, the story starts with a family moving into a ‘new’ home. It’s old, rickety and to me, full of charm. I fell in love with the architecture, the shoji (those Japanese sliding doors covered in washi paper) and how they might make you feel like you were barely separated from what was outside.

My Neighbor Totoro led to my becoming a semi-otaku and an interest in some day visiting Japan.

On top of that, during my early twenties I became obsessed with tea so Japanese tea ceremonies are also on my list of things to experience.


Have tea in Kyoto

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Design challenge, day 27, Banff National Park in Canada

The next place John and I would really like to see is Banff National Park in western Canada. We’ve had a strange obsession with Canada lately – joking about moving there, even lingering a little too long in Canada at Epcot. This was one of the places we seriously considered for our honeymoon but I found that sometimes roads were closed in November up there due to snow and something about chains and tires – I’m not sure what you do with chains that relates to tires but I did not want to deal with that. (Lifetime Floridian here.)

Banff National Park, Canadian Pacific

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Design challenge, day 25, extreme knitting

I found this quote the other day and I was all, “Man, I could totally see that quote overlaying some mountain climber. How inspirational!”

If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right.

Then today, I start thinking about what kind of photo could go with it and the thought of a giant yarn stash crossed my mind – one where you’re stuffing yarn into your desk drawers because there’s no more room in the allotted basket/shelves/tupperware set of drawers/closet/guest closet. If you knit or crochet, you know what I’m talking about… It starts with a ball or two of yarn when you start out, then you start visiting yarn shops and you think, “Oh, that’d be great for a [insert knitting/crocheted object here that you’ll probably never even start]”.

So I started searching Flickr for images that I could use and found this amazing woman – my hero – knitting on Splash Mountain with undeniable proof.

Extreme knitting on Splash Mountain

The challenge here was trying to get something usable out of an image that was too small and too grainy.

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Design challenge, day 24, Redwood National Forest

John and I have been thinking about traveling a lot lately. My bucket list is pretty much all travel-related. On our honeymoon, we’ll be visiting a few places in California, including the Redwood National Forest. My parents took me here when I was a wee babe and of course I don’t remember. It’s always been somewhere I’ve wanted to go.

I always love simple travel posters and graphics, so I thought I’d try my hand at one. I can only hope to get lighting this amazing when we’re out hiking in California.

Redwood National Forest, California

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