Expanding my Graphic Design Skills

Since I will be going back to an office job soon, I have tried to get as much graphic design practice in while I could.  Recently I have started to not just make invitations and milestone cards, but I have also expanded into the world of digital paper and clip-art.  Just today I published my first listing of a digital paper pack.  So exciting!!

retro triangles digital paper display pic

I spent many hours working on what looks like a simple item.  Graphic design is becoming a true passion for me and I really hope that I will have time in the future to continue working on developing my skills.  I am slowly discovering my own style, which is leaning more towards clean and modern lines than what I see many other people making (and purchasing).  What do you think?  Any feedback on what I should make next?  I am thinking of taking each color group in this pack and making a group of different designs but with the same color theme.  Is there a color group that you think works better or is just horribly ugly?

… Yes, I am asking for audience participation.  I may come to regret this…

Cross Country Relocation

Moving map

Yes, you read that right.  I accepted a new job in CT and will be relocating my family there in a few short weeks.  I intended to write about the moving experience, but so far it has just been one stress after another, which does not make for very interesting reading.

I hope that at some point soon I will have something insightful to say about moving my family away from everyone and everything we know.  Right now I can say that it is very exciting and scary as hell.

Invisalign – Tray 12

I wasn’t going to update my progress for a few more trays but I had to share some exciting news (exciting to me anyway).  I am doing so well with my progress that my orthodontist said that he wanted me to change trays every 10 days instead of every 14 days!  I am so excited to be able to speed up my treatment plan. 

The past few trays I have really been able to notice some tooth movement on my front problem teeth.  Previous trays worked to move my molars to make room for my front teeth to be corrected, also know as making huge gaps between my back teeth for food to get stuck in.  I am looking forward to when those gaps are closed and I don’t have to spend 15 mins after every meal trying to get all that crud out.

My morning coffee is still my major time without my trays in. I can only drink 3 cups of coffee so fast, ya know?  *TMI Warning*  Oh, and this past weekend I caught a stomach bug from the kids.  I quickly found out exactly how fast I can get my trays out when the nausea hits.  So glad that is over and I am feeling better!!

Editing 11 months

Now that I am having fun with my new tablet, and I have upgraded to Photoshop CC (previously using elements), I can have a little more control and fun with the monthly pictures of R.  Take this month’s picture for example.  I was not able to get her to lay on the quilt for the life of me, so I decided to turn the quilt into a backdrop by draping part of it over a table.

before

As you can see, the table wasn’t quite big enough to backdrop the entire view. (I have already done my basic color tweaks to brighten this picture). So, I decided to try a background clone stamp to see if I could cover those holes, and I think I did pretty alright.

after

The left side came out better than the right, with the quilting stitching being closer to matching, but I think it is ok for a first effort. This month I wanted to do a pink circle for the month, but I was having trouble getting it to multiply onto the onesie without any blue reflections coming through and making parts of it look purple. So, after an hour of fiddling with it, I decided to just leave it like this and call it done.  Not my best effort, but I was getting hangry and frustrated.

Intuos Adjustment Period

I am happy to say that I have made enough money in my ETSY shop to purchase my first buisness expense. Woo hoo! I got a Wacom Intuos tablet, the small one to save money.

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After using it for about 10 hours, I am starting to get the hang of drawing without looking at the tablet.  Sometimes it is a little frustrating…specifically when using drop down menus after having too much coffee.  All in all, I am happy with my purchase and am looking forward to having more precise control in my creations.

Being able to use it for organic shading on R’s birthday invitations has made my artist’s soul happy.  I look forward to sharing my creation with everyone soon.

Invisalign – Tray 10

Yep, I am still working on my Invisalign.  It has now become a habit to have the trays in; my mouth feels weird when I don’t have them in.  The rubber bands are still annoying, but I guess that is just a small irritation in the grand scheme of things.

I am officially over 1/4 of the way done with this whole process.  Woo-hoo!!  I haven’t noticed much straightening of my front teeth yet, but my molars are definitely moving a bunch.  I am not surprised at this, because the orthodontist said that my back teeth had to move to make room for my front teeth to be straightened.  I have had a few teeth that feel a little loose and some pretty severe tooth pain.  I went to the dentist to get it checked, but it was just from my bite changing which teeth connect and me clenching my teeth all night.  Huge relief that is all it was!

It is a long haul until the finish of this process, but I will be very excited when I am finished.  As with my Lasik, I am expecting this process to be worth every frustration and every penny in the end.

Emoji Cookies

As R is currently unloading a basket of clean, folded laundry, I can now post a quick update in my cookie making adventures.  Last month, I made emoji cookies for fun.  I have to say, they are my favorite cookies made to date.0205152151a

I made some small ones and some bigger ones.  This was my first chance to use my new cookie making tools that I received over Xmas.  The food coloring and squeeze bottles were a huge help with making and frosting these cookies.  I did have one squeeze bottle incident with one of the large cookies.  The cap blew off of it as I was flooding the icing… so I decided to go with it and have a laugh about the mess.

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Other than some nicer looking pans for my cookies, I am going to have to get some more squeeze bottles before R’s birthday.  Making up colors one at a time is not the most efficient way to frost these cookies.

Weight Loss Challenge – Week 1 of 8

So, a group of friends and I are doing a weight loss challenge.  Whomever looses the most weight in 8 weeks wins the prize.  We are judging the winner based on who loses the highest % of their starting weight.  We figured that was the fairest way to do the challenge, since there are so many different body types participating.  I have to say, that the first week I am kicking butt.  Hopefully, I can keep this rate of weight loss going!  The first week, I have lost 1.5% of my starting weight.  Woo hoo!!

I cannot credit any insane exercise plan.  I have just reduced my snacking, tried to eat healthier, and been under an incredible amount of stress.  I have not cut out bacon or gluten or any of the foods that I love.  I have done that in the past, and after a few weeks I have been so miserable that I have overindulged on everything I was restricting.  So instead, this time I am going for moderation.  If I crave french fries, I will have a few.  Not a whole massive order of them, but a few; just enough to take the edge off the craving and make me feel happy in my tummy. With the stress that I am experiencing, I need some good chocolate and beer in my life. :)

2015 Resolutions

It is that time of year again.  The time to start thinking about everything in your life that you want to change.  As much as I would like to go to the gym or take a Photoshop class as part of my resolutions, both of those require money that I do not have laying around right now.  Ah, the joy of being a stay at home mom!  So, part of my goal for next year is to get a job that I actually like or to get my ETSY shop making enough money to have that be my job.  Neither of those made it to my resolution list, though.  Here are my slightly vague, setting the bar low, resolutions for 2015.

IMG_20140817_134737I know this is vague, and a picture of neatly folded laundry doesn’t look very cluttered, but there are so many clothes there.  So very many clothes.  L has a drawer that is FULL of shirts, most of which he doesn’t even wear.  Our house looks like Toys R Us threw up in it on any given day.  My closet is filled with clothes that I would like to fit back into someday… hopefully…  So, my resolution is to get rid of some of the crap that is cluttering my life.  How do I measure this, you may be asking.  Well, I haven’t quite figured that part out yet (quote from Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Men in Tights).

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This past year has been filled with WAY TOO MUCH fast food.  We were doing good with cooking meals when I was getting Blue Apron boxes every week, but when I quit my job, I had to cut that cost out.  Now, we are running to Jack in the Box all too often after the kids are finally asleep (9 pm).  I have tried to cook at home, but with R being uber clingy and L being crazy after being at preschool all day, neither kid has let me even get a pot of water on the stove most evenings.  So, I am going to be looking for (and probably blogging about) healthy and most importantly fast recipes that I can make on the weekday evenings.  It also helps that I have a contest going with some friends on who can lose the most weight in 8 weeks.  Maybe that will kickstart my healthy eating?

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At the end of this year, I dipped my toes into the world of royal icing and fell in love with it.  I also received a beautiful new mixer and many tools to continue my new hobby.  So, I intend to put those to good use!  Speaking of, I have cookie dough in the fridge right now, waiting to be made into cute woodland creature cookies.  Oh, and fair warning to any of J’s coworkers that read my blog, he WILL be bringing cookies into work.  I am going to be making cookies, but if I am going to keep the previous resolution, I need to get them out of the house as soon as they are done.  My philosophy is: If one cookie is good, eight are better.  So, out of my sight means not in my belly.

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I find that whenever I have a free moment, I end up folding laundry or vacuuming the carpet or just picking up some of the clutter that is everywhere.  I rarely just sit and play with the kids.  I can do a project with them, but if I am asked to wait while L cooks dinner for me in his kitchen, I find myself cleaning or checking my email or doing anything except being in the moment with him.  So, one more resolution is to play with the kids more.  Be in the moment and just play.  Try not to think about all the other things I need to be doing to keep the house running.  Just play.

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I seem to have lost it somewhere between growing up and feeling old.  Uncaring bosses and screaming kids have sucked the joy right out of me.  This past year, the few things that I have found happiness in doing, have had the joy taken out of them by someone else.  So, I am going to keep looking for things that I can find joy in doing/making/being.  I am going to do those things that make me happy and eff anyone that has issues with it.  I am a Maker.  I find joy in making beautiful things.  (I am good at it too)  So, I am going to focus more on doing those things that bring the joy back into my life and avoid the things (and people) that take it away.  Just looking at the picture of R, so happy, makes me more determined to make this goal happen.  I want my kids to remember me as a happy person, not someone that has been run over and depressed by life.

2014 Resolution Recap

Time for my yearly look back at how badly I failed at my resolutions for the past year.  Not being negative, just realistic. 😉  I set the bar low this past year, knowing that I would have some major changes in my life; I did not set the bar quite low enough, though.

Blog More
First up was to blog more.  59 posts published in 2014 compared to 45 posts published in 2013.  I would say that this resolution was a success  I set the bar pretty low on this one, but it was an achievable goal.  Having 2 kids has really made it difficult to find time to write coherently; nap time is usually reserved for laundry, cleaning, and coffee.  This year, I also feel like I had much less to say in general.  So much of my day is taken up with the small difficulties of being a mom that I don’t have anything to say outside of that.

Eat More Family Meals
Technically, we did this one, but not as well as I was hoping to.  Once R was here, it was much more difficult to sit down for a meal than I expected.  Now that things are getting into more of a routine, we end up feeding the kids together around 5 pm and J and I eat together after the kids go to bed.  One or both of us always sit with the kids while they eat so I am going to count that as a family meal.  I hope that with R eating more solid food, we can get better with this as the new year evolves.

Write Thank You Notes
Christmas thank you notes are still pending, but I actually did this one. I wrote thank you notes for L’s birthday gifts and for the baby shower gifts that I received for R.  I am also in the process of writing them for all of the Christmas gifts we received.  I did miss on writing them for my birthday, but that just gives me room for improvement for next year.

Re-Read Books
This is one that I was able to do as well, but not as much as I was hoping to. I read 3 old books for every new book that I bought, but I did not hit the 5 old books per 1 new book that I was aiming for.  Over the past year, I have become addicted to my Nook.  I now do not like reading paper books if I can help it.  As much as I would like to keep reading paper books, if only for the vintage appeal of it, I cannot ignore the benefits of eReaders any longer.  Light included with the book, not as heavy as a real book, easier to hold, and much easier to find the next book in a series (and way too easy to buy a new book with the click of a button).

Go To 10 New Places
I failed abysmally at this goal.  I will use the excuse of having a new baby in the house as my reason for not going to new places.  We did go to quite a few places, which were new to R, but not many were new to all of us.  The few new places we went to were

  1. San Jose Ramen Festival
  2. Parts of Las Vegas – namely some very nice resteraunts
  3. L went to Tatum’s Garden with his grandparents
  4. L and R went to San Francisco for the first time for my 4th Trimester Bodies photo shoot

So, in the end, I would say that I made a solid B effort on completing the resolutions.  I am hoping too either set the bar lower this next year or to make an A+ effort towards getting the resolutions completed.  Considering how much I already have on my plate, I think I will be setting the bar very, very low.