Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

For those of you who missed it, are new to reading Just Jen, or just plain forgot (that's me!), here's a look back at what 2011 was like for me.



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I started out the new year resolving to keep my plants alive. #FAIL

But hey... at least I tried! And bonus... it smelled really great in my apartment for about a month!! If I try this again, I think I'll have to pay more attention to remembering to water them. Plants seem to like that.



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I became infected by the book The 4-Hour Workweek. The idea of generating a passive income to give yourself the time to do what you REALLY want to do began to take root in my brain, forcing out the mild resignment I'd had to just putting up with my wearying job. I began to dream of having more.



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I drowned my iPhone (not on purpose!). Luckily I'm a big enough geek to listen to WAY too many technoglogy podcasts, so I knew to immediately (as in... IMMEDIATELY... do not pass Go... do not collect $200) power it down, remove any removable parts (in this case, the SIM card), bury it in a bowl of rice and LEAVE IT ALONE for at least a week.

It totally worked too! If that ever happens to you, remember that it's not the water that kills your phone, it's the spark of electricity that you send through it when you turn it back on to see if it's working that kills it. So DON'T check it until you're 150% sure that it's 150% dry.



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I dared to dream that one day I could become a graphic designer. This little idea grabbed hold of me and helped veer my life right off the course I'd been heading down! No longer content with my mind-numbingly boring 9-5, I applied to community college and started building my dreams into a solid reality.



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I discovered Banana Spinach Smoothies! Mmm mmm good! I drank probably 2-3 a week all through the summer. Now that I think about it, I really miss those! They're SUPER yummy, give you loads of energy, and... not to sound gross, but... they really help to clean you out. No really! They do! ;-)



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The last week of June was when life as I knew it came crashing down around my ears. I'd called in sick one too many times and they told me not to bother coming back. It was quite a shock, to say the least, especially considering that I'd worked there for four years and totally didn't see this coming.

Looking back on it now, I think it was the best thing that could've happened to me. Even though I was well on my way to actualizing my dreams of breaking away from maintaining a boring existance, I was still playing it safe by keeping one foot planted firmly in that safety net. All in all, it really wasn't making me happy to stay there and it definitely wasn't contributing to a healthy, stress-free life, so... I think God knew best and allowed this job to be taken away so that I'd lean fully into what He had next for me.



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July was a pretty busy month for me. Unemployment spurred me on to revive my Etsy shop. It was also my dad's 60th birthday, so we took a family vacation to the beach for the weekend!

I must say, I've never been busier than when I've been unemployed, but I also haven't been this happy in a long time! I finally have the time and freedom to create, think, dream, and spend time doing things that matter.



A U G U S T * 2 0 1 1

I ended up moving back in with my parents to save money while I'm going back to school. It wasn't my original plan when I'd first dreamed up trying to become a graphic designer, but I still had a lot of peace about this decision. And honestly, it's turned out great! I have more in common with my parents than I realized, and we've been settling into quite a nice routine. :) Someday when I'm a rich designer in a swanky house somewhere, I'll have to return the favor and let them stay with me for awhile!



S E P T E M B E R * 2 0 1 1

School turned out to be awesome. I learned to embrace my right-brain a little more. And I was really, really busy learning lots of very, cool, new stuff!



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More studying. More learning cool stuff. More being busy. Guess I didn't blog a whole lot in October! Lol.



N O V E M B E R * 2 0 1 1

I completed the longest assignment to date for my Illustrator mid-term. I believe it took me somewhere between 20-30 hours to complete! When we first got this assignment, I thought there had to be some mistake - this looked impossible! But... as I got into the groove of it... it actually turned out to be pretty fun. And now... I'm really rather good at using the pen tool, which (I believe) was the real point to this assignment anyway. ;-)



D E C E M B E R * 2 0 1 1

After trying and trying and trying to get my Etsy shop up and running (to no avail), I finally gave in and learned a little something about SEO. So either all my previous hard work finally paid off or SEO really is a thing, because my December sales totally turned around after that! This last week of the month has been pretty slow, but the Christmas sales were amazing!

Now I just need to work on keeping my emotional momentum going so that I can fill up my shop to the brim for next year. Or perhaps... I'll figure out how to market to Australia for THEIR winter! Mwahahaha....



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And so... that leads us into the New Year. What do I hope it will have in store for me?

First off, I plan to finish my first year in graphic design school! Yeah!! Who would've thought, a year ago, that this would be what I was planning to do?

Secondly, I hope to build my Etsy shop bigger and better so that it can become a more reliable form of income. My goal is to not ever have to work a drudge job again.

Third, I have plans to unveil a graphic design Etsy shop as well! I've been a little distracted with knitting to put much work into it over break, but hopefully I'll figure out how to squeeze in some time this coming year to get that going!

So how about you? What are your New Year's plans and resolutions?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

This video is barely 3 days old and I've already seen it referenced in three distinctly different places on the internet. Definitely VERY CUTE and definitely worth watching.

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are always cute anyway, but they make an especially cute duo here as they play us a New Years Eve song in someone's living room. How adorable is that?

As JGL put it on his Twitter stream yesterday: Hey Zo, I think they like it ;o)



Watch and judge for yourself:

New York City on the brain

I suppose I've been watching a little too much Gossip Girl over the break, but I've got New York City on the brain. It just seems like it'd be a magical place. (Although I could be totally wrong about that). I think it's the history of the place that charms me. Have you been there? What's it like?

In my attempt to locate a "what does it feel like to live there?" point of view on the 'net, I ran across this blog: My Life as a New Yorker, about a graphic designer who moved there a few years ago from California. Unfortunately the blog ends abruptly in December 2009, but what I read up to that point is utterly fascinating.

Here are some of the highlights:

Even K-Mart is fancy in NYC!

The Guggenheim Museum

Adrienne's Pizza Bar -- I'm loving all the tall buildings in the background!

A flea market in Hells Kitchen

Cupcake vendor! We need one of those around here!!

An umbrella in the trashcan -- this just struck my funny bone for some reason.

Mad Men casting call -- how cool to live in the city where everything interesting happens!

Snow in NYC - so beautiful!

Sponsorship: January 2012

I'm revamping my sponsorship program again this January and I'd love for you to be involved! I really want to host ads from other creative blogs and small businesses, so hopefully that is you!

Take a look at my new ad options below and email me if you'd like to purchase a spot. Hurry, because they go fast!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wool Stocking Hats

Wow, can you believe it's almost the New Year? I've got just one more week of Christmas break, then it's back to school for me! This break really FLEW by. It's probably been a decade at least since I've had that much uninterrupted time off and it sure was great! Definitely NOT boring, that's for sure.

The main thing I've been up to is working my Etsy shop! I had a great Christmas selling season (it paid for Christmas this year!) and am now working on a new line of wool stocking hats for the new year. Such fun colors!



Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Sale!

We don't really celebrate Boxing Day here in the States as much as some countries do, but it's still an interesting holiday. I think the theory is that people take back their presents that they don't want and then buy the things that they DO want! Kind of Bah Humbug, if you ask me, but hey... who am I to stand in the way of the consumer-driven masses?

If you can't beat 'em... join them!! I now present you with... my Boxing Day Sale!


My Time Has Been Zilch Lately

I love reading blogs - there's just something inspiring about witnessing someone else's creativity. Unfortunately my time has been ZILCH lately, so I haven't been able to read much since last summer.
However...
I ran across a couple blogs today that made me want to start reading again. Both a fun, clean aesthetic to them, which is nice. Story of My Life has a great series of Blogging Tips that I found very helpful and easy to read.
That lastest post on Kristie Was Here, her iPod video, was very entertaining! As embarrassed as I would be to actually dance around in Target pretending I was in an iPod commercial, it was pretty fun to watch someone else doing it!
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