Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet a Designer: Rebecca Rebouche

Here's a beautiful video of a fabulous artist. I love how her joy and love of life shines through so much in this video. It really makes me want to paint and draw and daydream. :)
{Site} {Blog} {Etsy}


New Orleans Artists РRebecca Rebouché from Anthropologie on Vimeo.

{Linking up with Kristen Victoria}

Biology Project - Week 1

Today I started my biology project. We're supposed to study a single plot of land for 8 weeks and report on our findings each week. We were given a field guide with questions and tasks to guide us (find a leaf, measure the air temperature, etc) and are basically supposed to behave like scientists studying a new environment.

We were told to try to find a site that measures roughly 50x100 feet; has meadow and trees, but no water running through it; is not mowed or cultivated; and is ideally close to home. So... as I half-heartedly observed my town, nothing jumped out as even remotely meeting the requirements. This is Oregon, so there's water everywhere (or blackberries, which are equally impenetrable). Also, do you know how hard it is to find a field that hasn't been mowed or isn't part of someone's wheat crop?

I finally settled on the garden plot out in our backyard. We've let it go wild over the past year, so I think it qualifies on most accounts (although it's only 50x25 feet in dimension and there are no trees in it). I think it's diverse enough for an interesting project though, so I made an executive decision that it was "good enough".

This afternoon, I spent about 45 minutes at this lab site, observing what I could observe. At first glance I didn't think there'd be anything living left to observe in there, since everything seemed to be dead. Soon though, I realized it was actually teeming with life!

Here are photos of some of the plants and wildlife that I observed (I also saw a small white butterfly, some smaller flies/bugs/mosquitos of some sort, and a honeybee, but they were too quick to photograph).

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Can you spot the non-native organism in one of these pictures?











Saturday, September 29, 2012

25-Step Value Scale

One of my projects this week was to make a 25-step value scale in pencil. Well, technically 9 of the steps were computer generated, but the other 16 were pencil. It sounds worse than it is, and honestly it felt great to get my drawing pencils out again!

Friday, September 28, 2012

First Week of School

Hi everyone! How's life out there in the non-student world? I'm four days into my second year of design school and it's great (and tiring!) to be back in the swing of things. I feel like I know more what to expect this year, which is a great feeling.

I haven't seen a lot of the first-years yet, since we have vastly different schedules, but the few I have seen all look scared and lost! Did we look like that last year? (Probably!). Of my class, about 25 came back this year. I really didn't expect that many, as the class a year ahead of us only retained about 6 or 7 students from first year to second year! It's nice to have so many familiar faces around, though!

So far my days this week have been a flurry of lectures, reading texts on graphic design, art history, and biology (the one general ed I have left to take), breaking out the pencils, rulers, and papers to start on some illustration projects, and standing in long lines at the bookstore. I keep meaning to take some photos to capture my week for you, but it's been "that kind of week" where I haven't had much time to breathe, let alone take pictures. I'll try to get more into a rhythm next week and get some photos of projects I'm working on for you, though! ;)

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How's your end of September going? Are you doing anything particularly creative or interesting?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

De-Stress Your Life... One Month at a Time

I'm becoming more and more convinced that stress is a key factor in not only our health but also in how happy we are and how long a life we live. Before I went back to school a year ago, I was sick constantly! I was also completely stressed out by my work environment. It was this situation where I wasn't being appreciated, I wasn't given enough to do, and I had absolutely no control over changing any of that.

In this past year though, as I've struggled to keep two Etsy shops afloat, gone back to school full-time, and moved twice... I've actually been far less stressed! I rarely get sick anymore, either, was is quite amazing to me! I'd started to think being sick was just "normal" for me.

So as I'm looking back over this past year and loving the positive direction my life is taking... it makes me want to continue in that direction!

If you've been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you probably know that I love setting resolutions for myself... and I'm equally good at not keeping them. ;P So I'm going to try something a little different. I'm going to give myself one 30-day challenge each month. That way it's a nice, bite-sized, measurable thing I can do that most likely will result in an actual habit-change. And rather than getting stressed out trying to re-make my entire life in a month... I can work on it one step at a time!

Month #1 Challenge

I challenge myself to stand up and walk around at least once an hour (during the day), if possible.

I read somewhere awhile back that sitting all day is one of the worst things you can do for your health. And as a champion couch-potato, I'm thinking that's probably not good news for me. Lol. But... moving around at least once an hour is said to bring stress-levels down, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, etc. So... that sounds easy enough to do!

Now that I've started school again, I'm taking a smallish water bottle with me to class, and every time it empties, I get up and go re-fill it (not during a lecture, but if I'm working long hours in the lab, this is a good reminder to get up and move around). So not only is this getting me moving around more in the course of my natural day, it's also getting me to drink more water, which is also really good for my health in general. So overall, I think this is going to be a really interesting challenge and I can't wait to see how the month turns out!

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Won't you join me on this month's challenge? Grab a button to remind yourself!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Knitted Hats and Accessories

Fall is my favorite time of year, in case you didn't know. The leaves changing, spices in the kitchen, crisp air, warm sweaters. The whole vibe of the season is so exciting to me, like something's brewing and about to happen. Which is why I'm so happy to show you some more of my amazing line of knit hats and accessories! (Smooth segue, no?) I've got acrylic hats and wool-blend hats, as well as a few gorgeous scarves and cowls. And all in super cute colors, too! Makes me very excited about this upcoming Fall season!!

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What's your favorite thing about Fall?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Starting an Herb Garden


Yesterday I stopped by the local farm store and was poking around their garden section. I've been meaning to start an herb garden for like 5 years, so figured this was a good a day as any to get started on that.

Did you know you can buy cayenne pepper plants? Did you even know cayenne peppers grew on plants? I'm not sure that ever really occurred to me. I've only seen cayenne ground up in jars in the spice aisle at the grocery store! Lol.

Anyway, after browsing everything they had, I decided to start my indoor garden with a pineapple mint plant. Pineapple mint is so named because supposedly it smells like pineapples when you brush past the leaves, although it just smells (and tastes!) like plain old mint to me. But it's a cute plant and should be fun to (try to) take care of! My grandpa had a patch of mint in his backyard when I was growing up that I loved to eat, so this seemed like a good plant to start with.

Some of the other plants I saw at the farm store were green pepper plants, tomato plants, chives, marjoram, sage, and several other herbs. I really wanted to get one of each, but I figured I should start with one plant and see if I don't kill that one first. ;) I might have to go back and snag a green pepper plant though, because I've been craving those ever since I saw them there. I wonder if green peppers grow indoors??

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Friday, September 21, 2012

TV Theme Songs

I have this rule for myself that I have to watch through the opening credits of a show at least twice a year: once at the season premiere, and once at the season finale, so that I remember them. In this era of TiVo, I generally fast-forward through this part so I can just start watching the show each week, but there really is something great and memory-making about hearing a show's theme music! Plus a show's opening sequence is usually pretty fun and creative in and of itself.

Here are a few recent-ish openings that I like. What are your favorite theme songs?







Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why I am only sort of going to continue to do swaps (even though I said I wouldn't).

Okay I know I said I wasn't going to do sponsors anymore, but... I had so many complaints about that that I decided to continue in just a lessened way (so as to make it easier on myself while I'm busy with school).

My blog is now open to swaps only, not paid spots, for creative and interesting blogs. I am not going to do anymore giveaways or Sponsor Intro posts or anything like that. I also have a disclaimer on my swap page that I do not wish to participate in anyone else's giveaway or Sponsor Intro posts. Sorry if that makes me a spoil sport, but that gets REALLY TIME CONSUMING when I have 10-20 blogs that I'm swapping with. Everyone seems to have their own version of interview questions or survey that they want me to fill out, along with submitting a photo, social media icons, an "about me" blurb, etc. And while I appreciate that each blogger really wants to make an awesome Sponsor Intro post, it's all just entirely too much (and besides... no one reads them anyway).

Blah...

Enough of that soap box for awhile...

In other news... I changed my blog design again! I was going for a really clean, simple, refreshing look. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet a Designer: Stephanie Kubo

I stumbled across a completely fascinating artist today, Stephanie Kubo. Her portfolio doesn't state if she's a working designer, illustrator, etc, but her work is exquisite so I think she fits the bill for including in my Meet a Designer series. Enjoy! (Linking up with Kristen Victoria).




















Sunday, September 16, 2012

Looking for a new church

For reasons I won't bore you with, I'll most likely be moving a little closer to school within the next month or two. This prompted me to start church-hunting again, to find something a little closer to where I'll be located. And this, of course, prompted me to start thinking in depth about what helps me decide what churches to try and what churches to stick with once I try them.

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Website

I must say, a church's website is a pretty huge first impression. If you don't have one... or if it looks like it hasn't been updated since 1992... I most likely won't read far enough to even find out when your service times are. You don't need a flashy, gimmicky site either (in fact, I'd prefer you didn't), but please make sure to list services times, directions, ministry and education opportunities, and also names and emails/phone numbers of people I can get in contact with in case I have more questions. Also, it is super helpful to have some photos/videos of actual members of your church (at a recent event, for example), to give me an idea of the age range / vitality of the church. If your church has ONLY white-haired people or ONLY college-age people... I'm probably going to keep moving. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a healthy church should have attendees of all ages.

Friendliness

I'm trying a new church today, so I'll have to let you know how they rate on friendliness. Overall I think friendliness can make or break whether I decide to keep going to a church, though. I've been to churches that had great sermons but no one spoke a word to me the entire time - not in greeting or in finding out if I was new, etc. That's a huge red flag and a sign of some unhealthiness, if you ask me. I need to feel like I'm wanted at a church, first of all. For example, do they notice if I'm there or not? Does anyone bother to invite me along on their plans that afternoon or during the week (or does the church even have plans and things to do during the week)? I realize I'm introverted by nature, but it really shouldn't be my place, as a new person at a church, to reach out to them. Just saying...

Ministries

While I realize that not all churches will have all things, at minimum it seems to me that a healthy, growing church should have Sunday Bible classes for all ages (including adults), as well as some system of weekly night Bible studies or fellowship groups. Sunday morning sermons are great and definitely a vitally important part of church, but... if a majority of the church isn't meeting together and getting to know one another on a more intimate basis outside of Sunday morning, church becomes just something we do, rather than a way to learn and grow in our faith. I love to see a church that has a children's ministry, high school classes, adult fellowship groups, etc. This tells me that people are plugged in and involved, not just weekly pew-warmers.

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All this to say... I've been thinking a lot about churches lately and these are some factors that I've come up with to help me figure out where I'd like to call my new church home. Obviously Bible teaching is #1 in importance, but beyond that, I think some of these other factors can really be a good indication of the health of a church and whether or not it will be instrumental in helping me grow in my Christian faith.

What do you think? How do you personally pick a church? Have you had to do that since becoming an adult or do you still go to where you went as a child? What made you decide to stay at the church you're attending now?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Budgeting Ideas for Creatives

I'm a horrible budgeter... as in, I never budget. I kind of keep in the back of my mind how much money I have and I try never to go over that... which I feel like I generally succeed at. But I don't actually sit down and plan out how much to spend (or not spend) in each category of my life. I have made budgets in the past, but never seem to be able to stick to them. I think maybe my brain just doesn't operate that way.

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Have you heard of Outright? It's a keep-track-of-your-money website that has bank-level encryption and security that I signed up for a couple years ago during one of my boring afternoons at work (back before I left work to start taking classes again). Like most budgeting plans, I set it up and then never looked at it again.

Well they emailed me today enticing me to check in and use my account a little more actively. I was like, "Outright? Oh yeah, I forgot about that site!" Lol.

It was actually pretty interesting going back over my finances for the last couple years. I especially liked the graphs showing income/expenses per month. The visual side of my brain loves that sort of thing.

The kicker was... with the exception of two months, every single month showed more spending than income. (And I wonder why I'm always broke.) The even crazier part was... the spending was generally just a little itty bitty bit more than the income every month. Meaning that I always just slightly spend over my means. I'm like the goldfish who grows (or shrinks) according to what size bowl I'm in. Sigh...

Which makes me think...

Since I've set up a plethora of budgets over the years and never seem to look at them after I set them up, what if I just made it simple for my right-brained mind... what if I just flat out save 10% or 20% of every incoming piece of money, whether that be from Etsy, school loans, wherever. (Of course this plan requires that I not also borrow steal from my savings to buy things like new iPads or tennis shoes).

This should work, right? It would sort of create a buffer zone that I would barely notice but would be ensuring that my income always stays more than my outgo. I think my right-brain could wrap itself around that.

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If you're a right-brain creative, do you have trouble with budgeting? Do you force yourself to kick your left-brain analytic side in gear or have you found a right-brained way of dealing with these things?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Goodbye Ads!

I've decided, for the sake of my sanity, to forgo keeping sponsor ads on my site for the school year. I'll revisit the idea next summer, but for now... I'm headed back to school for another year of graphic design! I anticipate being SUPER BUSY, as I am taking 2nd year classes and also some 3rd year classes. It's been really fun getting to know all of you who have sponsored me over the last few months, so don't be a stranger! I hope to still see your wonderful comments on my blog over this coming school year. :)

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Writing interesting and engaging blog posts

Wow! Only two weeks left in this summer blog series! Where has the time gone?


So, I've been thinking a lot about what makes a "good" blog post lately. If you would've asked me a month ago, I'd have probably said something along the lines of... find a niche, write what's you, love what you write, etc, etc...

But I'm not going to.

See, I'm starting to feel like blogging is making it's way back to it's roots. If you'll remember, back in the old days (like... 5 years ago), blogging was more like online journaling. You wrote about your day, maybe included a photo or two, maybe ranted about the crazy check-out lady at the grocery store. But then, somewhere along the way, blogging turned into this crazy profitable (?) business endeavor. Everyone became a "mommy blogger" or a "fashion blogger" or a "lifestyle blogger". It became "cool" to blog, and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Soon there were these blog geniuses who would go around telling everyone "how to blog" (oh wait... was that me?).

Can we take a breath here?

Is it just me or is blogging getting really complicated? Rather than tell you to schedule your posts, look here here and here for inspiration, and never miss a day unless you're sick... I'm going to give you just one piece of advice:

Write like nobody's watching.

Seriously. Write like nobody's watching. I mean... you can write like you're writing to a friend. That works too. But don't focus so much on gaining sponsors (or readers). Don't try to be cool, witty, or interesting. Don't worry about offending us or alienating us (okay, maybe worry a little - nobody likes a constantly negative Nellie).

I guess my point is... if you were writing your thoughts out to the universe and didn't expect a response... what would you say?

Write about that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Link Dump #6

How well do YOU see color? Take this test and find out.

Here's a cool video tutorial on how to give text a cool pattern fill (using Adobe Illustrator).

Love this article on non-paying design clients and when/how/if to give a refund.

A beginner's guide to watercolor painting supplies. In case you wanted to start watercolor painting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Enter to Win: Original Oil Painting

Today I have a really fun giveaway for you all! One of my sponsors, Sarah, has offered to give one lucky reader a 6x6 inch oil painting that she's done.

She also has an Etsy shop and is willing to give ALL of you a 10% off discount if you use the code DESERTROSE - how cool is that?

Win this painting! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why charging too little makes your items seem cheap.

A common refrain I see across the Etsy forums is, "Why am I not selling? Are my prices too high?" Did you know that a man would never ask that? I have no idea why this is, but women tend to undervalue their work, and the more I learn about this phenomenon, the more it baffles me.


The truth is... pricing low gives off the vibe that your items are cheap, made of cheap materials, possibly knock-offs. Does that sound like the vibe that you want to give off? No, probably not.

But I just do it for fun!

When I hear people say this is, what I really hear them say is... "You should, by necessity, hate your job. And if you love it, you most certainly shouldn't be paid for it." Which is utter rubbish.
What you love to do and being paid for a living don't have to be mutually exclusive things. And why should they be? Life's too short to hate what you do every day.

But no one else is charging very much either!

That's probably true. They also aren't making a profit. Are you sure you want to put yourself in the same boat as them? There is a market out there for what you sell. Trust me on this. And someone who values hand-made, quality, one-of-a-kind items is most likely also going to be someone who is put off by a low-end price-tag (there's a reason why everything's more expensive in Beverly Hills... and it isn't because their clothes are spun from gold).

But I feel bad charging more than what I'm charging!

Um... really? Why? Would you feel bad being paid a living wage to answer phones or flip burgers (okay, you probably couldn't make a living wage doing that... but you know what I mean.)
You are providing the world with a valuable skill! Please don't undervalue that!

But isn't loving what I do payment enough?

If you are independently wealthy... maybe. But also consider that for every low-priced item you sell... you're also devaluing the entire hand-made community by teaching consumers that such things should cost very little. So really... it's not just about you. You're also hurting me and every other hand-made business when you charge too low.

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And because I can't seem to stop watching this video, if you didn't watch it last time I shared it, I really encourage you to watch it this time. It completely blew my mind with how to go about pricing so you can actually make a living. For women, it's a much more psychological thing than anything, which I find utterly fascinating.


Watch live streaming video from etsy at livestream.com
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