Monday, February 20, 2017

Giving Yourself Permission to Try...and Fail if You Must

Recently I've been trying to step out of my comfort zone creatively. And boy is it uncomfortable. I've been trying new sewing projects, on which I have no freaking clue what I'm doing. And as I mentioned last week, I'm doing some behind the scenes work and will soon be launching a new blog.

Both of these things seemed like a good idea in my head. They even seemed like great ideas when I'm daydreaming about my hobbies from the lunch room at work. But then late at night, after the kid is in bed and all the procrastinating has been done, I'm faced with the harsh reality of actually putting pen to paper and needle to thread. ;) And. it's. scary.

Let's look at the facts though. Is it really as scary as I make it out to be?

What's the worst thing that could happen if I eff'd up my sewing project? I waste about $10 in materials and have to start over. Annoying, yes. But not life altering.

What's the worst thing that could happen if I eff up my new blog and it's a total lead ballon? No one reads it and those who do read it hate it and think it's stupid. So then I scrap it like I did the old one and start over. Disheartening. But not the literal end of the world.

And in both instances, even if my projects bomb, I surely will have learned something in the process!

AND neither of those realities is all that horrible when you really think about it. It's just my perfectionist self worrying about not being perfect and then being nothing while I wait around worried about not being perfect. Make sense? If you're experiencing any of the same feelings, here are the steps I'm taking to overcome my fears of failure and to get my butt in gear!

1. Give myself time to plan, but with a deadline. For both my blog and sewing projects, I have given myself the freedom to have a little planning time but I have also set deadlines for myself. I will launch my new blog by May 1. I will start a new sewing project within 1 week of buying the materials.

2. Plan for the worst. Like I said above, I think of the worst case scenarios, realize they're not too bad, and press on. When we're talking creative endeavors, the worst case scenarios are generally not life and death. It's usually fear of people not perceiving our work well or thinking our ideas are stupid. Those are things I can live with and work past.

3. Just freaking do it. I know. This is the hardest part. But at some point if you just power through the uncomfortable parts, it will get better! Case in point, when I started writing again, every post was agony. I was quite sure I was writing the worst blog posts on the planet but I just knew that I needed to keep going to because it would get better and I need the practice. And you know what, I already feel better about what I'm writing!

Is there anything you're wanting to do or try but are holding yourself back because you're afraid of what might happen if you go out on that limb? Try thinking about my steps above and see if you're still scared to do it!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DIY Sugar Glider Sack

Happy Sunday! It's time for a little DIY fun. ;)

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I made some little hanging bags recently for some adorable little animals called Sugar Gliders that were at my friend's animal rescue. How did an exotic pet end up at what is a primarily dog and cat rescue you may ask?...Well, someone dumped 29 of them in a cage on the side of the road a few years ago and left a note for the people who run the shelter in hopes that they would take care of them. When I learned about them, they only had five left but they needed few extra fun things in their cages to play with/snuggle in. So, when my friend heard about something else I was sewing, she asked if I would take on the project. And I did, because who doesn't want to help some super cute little animals? Oh, and I kind of had no idea until consulting the Google what these little things looked like. If you don't either, click here to find out! They're so cute!

I was looking for an easy project to ease my back into sewing (again) and this turned out to be just the ticket. I did the first batch of two with some scrap fabric that I had bought about 2 years ago and never really had a plan for. Or maybe I did but I forgot between then and now.

My friend told me that they were currently using Crown Royal bags for these little animals so I just modeled mine after one and went to town. I ended up making 10 all together for about $15 in materials. The reason my friend even asked me to make them in the first place is they tried buying some online and they were selling for $15+ a piece! So this was definitely much more cost effective for the shelter.

As fate would have it, two of the little guys who had been there for years actually got adopted while I was finishing their bags. However, the shelter has other little animals (like rats, who are surprisingly adorable) who would be super happy to play and snuggle in the bags so they'll still go to good use!

Have you made anything fun lately? Please share!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

On Making Decisions

I read something interesting recently about decision making. If you've been around for a while you've probably read one of my several rants and/or brain dumps as they relate to this blog itself. The focus, the purpose, whether or not it should have a purpose. I've gone 'round and 'round and 'round on the topic, to only still, 2 years later, be undecided on the blog's "purpose" and whether or not it should even have one. But as I was saying at the beginning, I read something recently about decision making when it comes to blogging ideas and concepts and it was something that made me stop and think. This writer was reinforcing the idea not to rush yourself with a creative decision. Yes, a decision needs to be made eventually, but it might be in your creative best interest to let your thoughts align on the matter before jumping into something.

This is something I did not really do before creating my now defunct My Everyday Life blog. I wanted something new and fresh and a project that had a more "professional" feel than my little personal blog here. But I didn't spend any considerable time planning or working out any details before jumping into it and I just expected it to come of age on it's own. And to probably no one's surprise but my own, it did not. It grew stale and I realized that I was trying to make it something I thought people thought it should be, not an expression of my own thoughts and creativity.

You may wonder why I'm writing about this topic yet again. Well the desire to create a better creative space for myself has never been truly satisfied. I came back to my original blog because I needed some sort of creative outlet and here it was just waiting for me. However, other than just getting some words on a page, it doesn't do much for me. My previous community of military spouses and part-time writers and general kind-of-like-me people have moved on to other things, sometimes coming back every once in a while to update but even that is a rare occurrence. Mostly I feel like my writing is pretty isolated, other than to my dad, who still reads consistently because the posts show up in his inbox. ;)

So again, why am I even talking about this? Because I still want to create a new space. I still want to make something that's more than my random ramblings about things that don't matter. I've been doing some thinking lately and it seems I want to cover about 23094 topics, which would leave me with far too many irons in the fire. And then, I keep seeing these tutorials and templates out there of how to organize your thoughts and plans, and I really want to use them but then that little friend called "self-doubt" rears her ugly head and says "well what do you even need that for?"

Then I had an idea.

Because I don't want to stop writing all together while I hammer out ideas and a plan for this new project, I'll just keep writing and chronicling that journey here. It will be a little bit of a Inception situation to write on a blog about planning for a new blog but hey, that's where I am, so that's what I'll write about.

And to come full circle, what this has to do with decision making is that I'm actually allowing myself time this time around. I will give myself deadlines, but I'm going to really take my time and thoughtfully plan out my project, rather than jumping in headfirst without teasing the water.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Small Savings Tricks that Can Make a Big Impact

Let's talk savings today! I have quite a few savings goals on the horizon so I've been thinking long and hard about what I can do to maximize the amount money I put away each month.

A lot of people get overwhelmed when it comes to meeting savings goals or just beginning to save money altogether. Especially when most sources will say that you must have 3-6 months of living expenses saved at all times or you are basically committing yourself to living in a cardboard box down by the river if you ever lose your job.

And if you already have something like that in place, you may have other things you want to save for like a vacation or big purchase. Personally, I'm saving for a new computer, spending money for my BFF reunion in Alabama, and RAGBRAI.

While it is important to save up money to float you in the case of an emergency or for other goals, it doesn't have to be scary to start that process! In fact, it can be kind of fun to challenge yourself to meet the goals. Here are a few quick tips to go ahead and jump on that savings train.

1. Automate a Small Savings Contribution

Many times people feel that if they're not putting gobs of money towards a savings account each month that it's not even worth it. This is not true! Obviously the more you contribute the faster you'll reach your goal but if you need to, start small! Is there an amount that you wouldn't really miss from your weekly or monthly budget? Maybe you think you wouldn't really notice $5 per week, set up an automatic transfer and away you go! At the end of the month you'll have $20 more than you did before.

2. Put Any Extra $$$ Towards Savings at the End of the Month or Your Pay Cycle

The way that I do my budget, I have a set amount to spend each paycheck and any amount that I am under budget the night before I get paid goes right into savings. Literally sometimes this is $2-$3 but it always goes in. And being in the habit makes it easier to do when I'm $50 or more under budget, rather than subconsciously trying to find a way to spend it.

3. Review Your Savings Plan Regularly

When I started my weekly transfer, I had $5 every week going to savings. But as time progressed, I would look at my account week after week and realize I could increase that contribution. Now I have $15 going into my savings account each week. I started that weekly transfer about a year ago because I felt like I was spending at least some of my money on dumb stuff that could easily be eliminated if the money just wasn't there. Now instead of an extra $20/month I have an extra $60/month.

Personally, I use the weekly contribution and the end of pay cycle contribution to bolster my personal savings that helps me pay for things like traveling to see my two best friends, clothing, personal entertainment, etc. For our joint savings (aka Emergency Fund) we have a slightly different approach but also include the end of pay cycle method as well (more on that another time).

What tactics do you use to save money? 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

All of the Thoughts

I had plans to do a weekend (or end of week wrap up) and then plans to talk about some current events and then plans to talk about money and then I realized that my brain is just going a million miles a minute and none of those topics are going to work out. So you, lucky readers, get a brain dump because all these things flying around in my head need to go somewhere and here seems just as good a place as any. Buckle up.

1. I'm having some computer issues and may need to replace my laptop soon. Honestly, I'm not terribly sad about this except that it's going to be a big expense and I'm always hesitant about big expenses. But my current laptop is a pain in the ass and hinders my ability to do things like work on the blog and I'm not saying that the reason for my absences but it certainly doesn't help. I'm using my husband's laptop right now and having a computer that works the way it's supposed to is oh so nice. I've already got some money saved up so I'll just keep on saving until I decide for sure which one I want.

2. I'm going to try and start sewing again. I really enjoy sewing but I'm not terribly good at it when I never practice. So I bought a pattern for a simple dress and some practice material on Saturday night so here goes nothing. I'd also like to make a little cosmetic bag for when I only get halfway through getting ready in the morning and have to bring a few cosmetics to work with me. (It happens more than it should.) But currently, all my bags are too big or too small and none of them are big enough to hold both cosmetics and a brush or two (if I need, say, my blush brush) without using my biggest bag, which is a pain in the ass because it's so big.

3. I'm exhausted, have I mentioned that? The last 3 weeks have been absolutely draining and I really need some time to just rest and reset before Monday. I'm going to try really hard to balance Sunday between chores, errands and just relaxing. I'm not going to be very much good to anyone if I don't hit that reset button today.

4. I'm about halfway through Chamber of Secrets on my Harry Potter re-read and though I can usually only read a page or so at night before passing out with my Kindle on my face, I am loving it. My BFF and I are re-reading together but she's had to slow down because I can't find the energy to read more than 3 pages per day right now.

5. Speaking of reading and sewing and blogging. I'm starting to find time for my hobbies again which is really nice. Thankfully my little guy goes to bed by 7:30 or 8 every night and after that is hobby time. My husband sometimes works in the wood shop while I do other things and sometimes we work on stuff together (usually separate projects in the same general vicinity) but I'm really excited to be using this time to do things other than fall asleep on the couch. ;)

6. Speaking of blogging, I've been thinking again about starting another blog. It's not that I don't like this one, but it doesn't really have a clear voice or purpose. And I've written a few times about how it both is and isn't necessary but I'm wanting a bit more out of my blog. I don't have a super clear idea about what I want it to be yet but it's something I'm thinking about so stay tuned! :)

Well that's about it. I know it was a lot of barely coherent rambling, but hopefully now that's it's all out, I can be coherent again. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Initial Impression of Ibotta

All Ibotta links will take you through to my referral link.

Happy Sunday y'all! I didn't have a whole lot planned for today except cleaning and grocery shopping so I thought I would share my newest fun shopping saving tool!

A couple weeks ago I began using the Ibotta app to save a little extra money here and there. I've read several articles recently from people who use it often and get quite a bit of cash back on their regular purchases. After doing some research, I decided this was a great app for a lazy couponer such as myself! Here's what I think of it so far.


1. Ease of use. I can literally sit on my couch and browse items that I can earn cash back on later.

2. So many stores! I'm not sure what I expected, but there are definitely more options than I thought there would be. I also shop at the military commissary a lot for groceries and that's not usually included in these types of things but it is on Ibotta!

3. Includes "regular" grocery items. A lot of time when I use coupons, I feel like it's a stretch whether or not I would actually buy the things I have coupons for. Today though, I got money back ($2 to be exact) from Ibotta for buying milk, eggs, and bread of any brand!


I'm not sure I really have any yet. I haven't tried to actually redeem any money yet (I think you have to wait until you accumulate $20) so time will tell if that process actually ends up being easy.

I think so far I've earned a grand total of $3 so far but I've also only had the app for about 10 days. The other things that's kind of neat is that if you invite friends to Ibotta you can both get extra cash! So, if you're thinking of trying it, feel free to sign up through my link so we both get rewarded! :)

I was not asked to write this on behalf of Ibotta or any affiliate but I will be rewarded if you sign up through my link and receive your welcome bonus to Ibotta.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Weekend Wrap Up & Plans for the Week: 1/15/17

Check-up on last week:

Package mailing: CHECK! Except that I came home and realized I have 2 more to send out...
4x to the gym: I went 3 times so I'm counting that as an almost win!
Finishing my book: SO CLOSE. Maybe tonight!

This weekend I...

...went to the gym and by chance ran into a friend and ended up chatting while we were on the treadmill. That counts for extra cardio right? Right?!?!?
...didn't do a whole lot else. I watched some Harry Potter movies, sat on the couch a lot, and had really good intentions of doing laundry. my son set up with a sweet new storage shelf for his toys which is making me so happy. I love that at the end of the day his toys aren't just everywhere.

Next week I'd like to...

...get to the gym four times. We'll see how that works out since we're supposed to be in the middle of a huge ice storm on Monday (one of my usual gym days) but cross your fingers!
...get caught up on laundry. I am always behind. Always.
...seriously, finish that book. And start that Harry Potter re-read. I. am. ready.

What are your plans for the week?!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Weekend Wrap Up & Plans for the Week: 1/8/17

Back in the day when I did wrap up posts (at least I think I used to, I'll have to spend some time in the archives to figure that out) I had lots of pictures to share. No longer. That's either because my weekends have become significantly less exciting or just because I don't take as many pictures. I'm going to go with a combination of both.

This weekend I...

...watched the 3rd and 4th Harry Potter movies (for the 2304982309th time) and talked with my BFF about doing a simultaneous Harry Potter series reread. Yes, we are that cool.

...ate a lot of king cake. Even though we no longer live in New Orleans, the lure of sugary sweet cake during Carnival season still draws me in. And my mother sent us one that arrived in the mail on Friday and we've nearly finished it.

...made red beans and rice. Well, no me. The husband did it. But I ate them. And supervised. And yelled down to the basement when the timers went off. :)

...actually gave a second thought to planning ahead for the week. I've been flying by the seat of my pants for a while now (something to do with having a kid I think) and I'd like to get back to having a better plan in mind for the week. I find I get more done and tend to freak out a little less when I have a general plan for what I want to get accomplished.

So on that note....

This week I'd like to...

...mail off some packages I've been neglecting (4 to be exact). Some are late Christmas gifts, some are returns. All are well past they're "should be mailed by" date.

...go to the gym 4 times. I've already committed to go to spin class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but I have really early days at work Tuesday and Thursday so I'll have to squeeze in a weekend workout to hit my goal.

...finish the book I'm currently reading. This is kind of a stretch but I think if I read each night I can do it. I normally wouldn't be so impatient to finish but like I said above, I have a Harry Potter reread coming my way soon and I'm JUST SO EXCITED and I'm not good at reading more than one book at a time. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Goals!

Now there's an idea that's new and different! Just kidding, I know this is about as cliche as it gets but here we are. I absolutely love January and all the newness and freshness that it brings with it (at least in my head) and unlike the last few years, I'm going to go ahead and set a few goals for myself this year. I'd like to go back to monthly goals as well but I may wait until February to start those....unless I get crazy and go ahead and add those to the heap this week as well. (If only I could insert a crazy face emoji here. I'm sure there's a way and I just don't know how.)

1. Read more, iPhone less. 
I am the worst at aimlessly going through apps (cough, social media, cough) on my phone and looking at things that don't matter and that I won't remember (it also doesn't help that I recently downloaded Super Mario Run). There's really no need to check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 2x each before bed. I even received two books as Christmas presents to get me started down the right path. I don't have a specific reading goal, but I will be creating a page to keep track of books I read this year.

2. Lose the baby weight (and then some)...
Cliche, I know. And I don't care. (I sense a theme.) I got close-ish to my pre-pregnancy weight while training for my first sprint triathlon this past summer and the thing I loved most about it was that I felt strong. I would like to feel that way again. I would also like to feel like I fit more comfortably back into my pants.

3. Grow my blog.
This is almost funny seeing as how I've written only sporadically for the last few years and even started a whole new blog and then scrapped it because after two years it didn't feel like "me." I'm not even really sure what this means yet but at the very least I would like to get back to writing regular posts, increase the number of readers and maybe eventually start trying to write for some other sites again.

4. Travel.
I say this every year. I want to travel more. I want to do more. I want to be stuck in Nebraska less. And every year I don't do anything about it. I'm not sure exactly what this will look like (another theme here) but if I want to get out more, I'm going to need to start planning some things!

Even though that's only 4 things (for now), I feel like that's several big lifestyle things that smaller goals could come out of month to month. And more than anything I want to enjoy 2017 and live in 2017, not spend the year chasing arbitrary goals that don't mean anything. I want to read more to enjoy more books. I want to lose weight to be more fit and feel good about myself and what I'm doing for my body. I want to grow my blog to make more out of my creative outlet and give myself a project to work on that has meaning to me. I want to travel to see people and places and experience different things.

Also, I'm going to bed now because I just decided I'm going to 5am spin class tomorrow. I'll be the one in the back with the frizzy hair and smudged, day old mascara under her eyes.

Do you have goals for 2017!? Please share!