Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Midsummer post

This year is turning out to be kinda strange.  I feel like things are moving at a pace that I have no control over, but nothing significant is happening.  It's like chipping away at a large stone, waiting to find that one perfect spot where the whole thing will crumble and reveal the goodies underneath.

Feeling like I'm treading water is no new sensation to me, but this time is different.  There's a certain anticipation that has been building.  I'm back in school, with only 2 classes left for a certificate and a professional license in my field.  I've been working less, but it feels like I'm hemorrhaging money, with the promise of more clients or performing new duties on the horizon.

I've somehow decided amid all of the school and work stress, that I would be going to NY Comic Con with my sister.  I've been learning how to sew garments, with my sister and mother teaching me, for costumes.  The excitement for Comic Con between the two of us, is immense.  Maybe the feeling of impending awesomeness, is just the thrill of planning a cool trip with my sister where we can just geek out together, maybe it's the promise of furthering my career goals by the end of the year...I'm not sure.  It's all of the above, and more.

I am impatient, especially when it comes to waiting for things to happen.  There are some things that just need to unfold over time, and I have to embrace the feeling of being out of control.  Enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back to school

I did it.  I started school again!  That exclamation point is placed with a kind of nervous excitement, the kind that is tinged with a bit of dread and loathing.  To clarify, I like being in school. I enjoy learning, but I really dislike the mundane aspects of school work. Sitting down to type papers or write essays does not appeal to me. I look forward to the days when I'm fully licensed as a counselor and I can take short continuing education classes that interest me without homework and tests. 

Anyhooooo...it adds a layer of stress to the new year, but I know it will be over sooner than it seems. I will be going part time and continuing to work part time.  By August of this year, I'm hoping to be done and ready to start outpatient counseling with adults.  Taking more classes was a hard decision, but I realized that I will be stuck moving laterally in mental health unless I get my license.  I am looking forward to moving on to a wider variety of career options! 

Happy New Year! Let's make it a good one! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crafting, working, crafting!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get noticed by someone who runs the Facebook page for Plants vs. Zombies.  They posted a link to my shop, with pictures of some of my plants!  However, they didn't give me any warning so I was baffled as to how I could have gotten 6 orders in a day, when I barely get 1 a month!  

Well, after the initial rush, some other orders trickled in, and I quickly found myself overwhelmed.  I am SO pleased that other people have enjoyed my idea, and can appreciate hand made items.  I feel like its so much more worthwhile than a plastic toy made in China.  But they do take a good chunk of my time and I definitely want to be consistent about what I produce!  It just would have been nice if the people that promoted my shop could have given me a warning! Lol

Thankfully I'm caught up, just in time to catch up with all the work related paperwork I put off to finish my orders!  I hate paperwork anyway, and it was a convenient excuse to procrastinate on my least favorite work duty.  I just need to spend a few days buckling down to remove this looming cloud of guilt and dread.  

In the meantime, I've been working in re-branding my shop.  Formerly hornsofdestruction, because my old user name was forced as the official shop name, I had titled my shop "Crafty Gamer Girl" thinking I would focus on game items.  My crafting has been much more eclectic, and hornsofdestruction was never intentional.  So I recently chose the name Blue Milk Crafts, due to my love of Star Wars.  Luke Skywalker drinks bantha milk in Episode IV, which is naturally blue...the more you know...I hope that tidbit helps someone win at Trivial Pursuit one day!  

Thus far, I've made a craft email (bluemilkcrafts@gmail.com), ordered new business cards, and made a new, simple shop banner.  It's a good start!  I might try twitter again, but we shall see!  All of the shop progress may need to go on hold in January if I get accepted into the post-masters program I've applied to.

When I think about the future a few months ahead, I get hesitant and unsure.  I don't know where I'm going, following a few breadcrumb trails at the same time.  It's easy to become overwhelmed.  I'm trying to keep an open mind, stay grounded, and maintain my mental and physical wellness...and I think that's all any of us can do when things start to overwhelm us!  

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost."

~Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Taking a break!

I feel the need to break from this blog for a little bit.  I'm going to leave it up and running, and I'll likely come back to it from time to time.  I have not had a lot of time to craft or cook or garden, and I don't have the motivation to write.  I wish I did...but I can't force it.

For now, you can find me on Tumblr, or as I like to call it, "blogging for people with short attention spans".  Tumblr is a great site though.  It allows you to easily connect with people who share the same interests as you, giggle over fandom jokes, and ogle beautiful people/places/things in your feed.   Here it is, come on over and have some fun with me.

I'm also on Facebook for my crafting:  Crafty Gamer Girl (Hornsofdestruction)  Officially, my shop name is Hornsofdestruction because it was my original username.  I have never wanted it as the official shop name....I'm looking at changing it, so if you've got suggestions feel free to comment.  I need ideas, since a lot of what I tried was already taken.

Ok, now you know where to find me.  I'll still keep posting random things when the urge strikes so stay tuned.  :D

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to Busy for an Introvert

As usual, back to work means less free time, but I also feel like my personal life has been hectic this year.  I'm noticing that during the last 6 months, there have been more family and friend obligations than I have had in a long time.  When you're an introvert, it's hard to not have enough quiet time or alone time.  One event is fine, but if a few social events pile up without a break, it starts to wear me out.

I find that there are a lot of misconceptions of what the word "introvert" really means.  Many people have a tendency to use it synonymously with the words antisocial, awkward, and shy.  I am none of those things.  Of course introversion will manifest itself differently with every person...life is on a continuum and there are varying degrees between extremes.  There are introverts that are ALSO socially awkward, antisocial, and shy...or any combination of those traits.  However, there are also extroverts that are all of these things or a combination of those traits.  

As general definition, I tend to say that introversion means that you lose energy during social interactions, while extroverts gain energy from social interactions.  For me, this means that every time I spend the day with friends or family, I need time where I don't have to interact with anyone for a while.  I feel mentally drained, and sometimes physically.  I enjoy social interactions with the people I love, and I even get lonely every once in awhile, craving a social day.  

This whole concept influences my work as well, since I'm a counselor and a behavior therapist.  I spend my work time engaging with people, and I get frustrated if there isn't down time between clients.  When I get home, I want to lay there like a potato and not speak.  I can't neglect my husband when he's home, but I'm inclined to retreat even from him if I get overworked.  It's a fine balancing act, for an introvert...work in a social environment, and sustain healthy relationships, all while maintaining a personal sense of wellness.  I've realized that I don't do well at anything in my life, if I don't balance my time.  It will be different for everyone, but for me, that means an afternoon or a few hours ever other day where I am not required to talk to people, even my husband.  

Finding balance should be a goal for everyone, introvert or extrovert. Maintaining mental wellness is imperative for everyone.  Here's some points I frequently make with parents of my clients:

  • You can't take care of your loved as well as you'd like, or perform in your job as well as you'd like, if you are not taking care of yourself first.  
  • It isn't selfish to need down time or personal time, whatever it may mean to you.  A manicure every month, a coffee or ice cream treat once a week, a daily 15 minutes to listen to music or meditate...figure out what you need to feel good, and do it!  "Treat yo self!"  
  • Know your limits, and learn to say "NO!" to people (in a nice way, of course).  If you know you won't enjoy a social event because you're tired, don't go!   And don't feel bad about it!  

I know these ideas may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people I talk to that have trouble with these points.  If you feel overwhelmed, keep these ideas in your head going forward, and I guarantee things will start to shift back into balance.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Seller's Rant and a Rupee Project

I have a bit of a perfectionist streak, and I find it difficult to get my clay crafts as perfect as I would like sometimes.  I actually get angry when I look online at some of the poor craftsmanship I find on sites like Etsy, where crafts people are trying to sell clay items that are covered in fingerprints, have visible joints in the clay when it would have been easy to hide with a little extra smoothing, or just look nothing like what they are intended.  I don't want to call anyone out directly, but do a search for something popular like "zelda" on Etsy and I'm positive you'll find some examples.  

There's a huge difference between crafting items I feel like making, versus crafting things with the intention of selling.  There are a few issues to consider when you're thinking about selling your wares.  

The first issue is the concept of easy and consistent production.  A good example to use is my butter earrings.  They are very popular, but they are hard to make.  I hand cut a small stencil for each earring, and stencil the letters, paint the lines, and then have to clean them up and glaze them.  They take a lot of time, and while the sticks of butter themselves are easy to produce, the steps to get to the finished product are tedious.  A more simple design, like the rupees featured below, are easily reproduced and don't require much more work beyond the shaping of the clay.  

The second issue is pricing.  How much is your time as a crafter & creator worth?  Sites like Etsy factor in here as well.  You will find some items that are skillfully crafted with prices that undervalue the time and effort put in, but you will also find some items that are woefully overpriced.  I perused shops that I admire, and used their pricing to get a starting point.  In addition to estimating material costs, I started using a timer for batches of items I make, and paying myself an hourly wage based on that time.  Don't undervalue your time!  Personally, I'd much rather pay $10.00 for a handmade version of a trinket, versus a cheap plastic mass produced version for $5.00.  

The third issue is figuring out the types of items that you can do well, that will also sell.  There area many sellers on Etsy making really cool things, but they don't sell.  People aren't interested, the seller hasn't promoted their stuff, or a combination of the two.  I recently started selling items at a local used video game store, and I've shifted my focus away from mushrooms and moustaches to game related items.  I always created game and Star Wars items, but not regularly.  Now it will be much more of a focus.  

Moral of the story/rant about selling:  Produce quality items, don't undervalue your time, and find a theme that works for you.  

On to the rupee project!  

This was my first time making a mold for clay.  Sculpey sells a mold maker compound, and it's super easy to use if you have something you'd like to reproduce without having to sculpt it every time.  I created a "blank" half of a rupee out of bulk polymer clay.  I made sure it was as close to perfect as I could get it.  Then I pressed it into the mold compound and baked it.  Perfect rupees every time!  

This was the first rupee I made.  I used a metallic shimmer finish on the red clay.  I like the way it came out, but it was a little too metallic instead of looking like a jewel.

For the large batch, I switched to iridescent powder, which certainly changed the look slightly.  I prefer this one, and I think I'll be experimenting with translucent clay in the future to give it even more of a jewel look.

Prepping for glaze!

I highly recommend trying a mold if you have never done it.  It will rock your world.  It would be more difficult with items that have significant details, or if you were planning on doing multiple clay colors in the mold, but it can be done!  Experiment!

I've also continued to crochet in my free time.  Here's the pile of squares I have at the moment.  I have a long way to go, but a little at a time.  I didn't realize it would take 100 squares to make a throw size blanket!

I'm going to go make myself another cup of coffee and clean the house today.  I have one tomato turning ripe, and one pepper...I'm super excited!  More gardening stuff to come!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A day off

Over the weekend I was privileged to be puppy sitting for the cutest corgi ever. If any dear readers are coming over from Facebook, you've already seen the plethora of pictures I took. I couldn't get enough of his little face and fluffy butt.  Here we're my faves:

See! He's the cutest little guy!  He could be a little annoying...I would say that anything that nips at your muffin tops while you're trying to chill on the sofa could easily qualify as "annoying".  But it was a great experience, and I think my husband is much more inclined toward getting a puppy than he was before.

In other news, we had a few days straight here in central VA without rain. It was sunny and hot for the last few days, so I went out to give the veggies a good soaking with the hose.  While I was spraying, a darkish cloud moved overhead and I experienced a really beautiful sun shower.  I could see the line where the rain stopped. Extremely cool and a little zen. I watched the sky for a bit, enjoyed the sun filtering through the crepe myrtles, and took note of all the bug and butterfly activity that was going on around me. It's soothing for me to take a moment to just observe, passively. Listen and look.  Notice the feel of the huge drops of rain.  Then back to watering and pulling weeds!  

I have a pumpkin that is steadily getting bigger. The issue is the fact that my pumpkin plant decided to grow up and over the bunny fence.  I've heard of ways to make a little hammock for trellised acorn squash, so I will have to hunt down some old or cheap hosiery. He's still palm sized and I hope he doesn't fall off before I make a hammock!  

I've also been thinking up ideas for the next round of craft projects. I'm trying to take advantage of extra free time while work is still slow.  Tonight I plotted out the squares for my mother's blanket, since I decided to add in a variation with the colors for a little more interest. Here's my crazy sketch: 

I don't know if any of you other crochet people plan out your blankets like this, but drawing it was annoying. I'd love to hear any tips or tricks if you guys have them!  I need an app for the iPad...

I'm going to try to get some paperwork done tonight too. Taking advantage of that productive feeling while it lasts!