It really isn’t possible …

For me to suck more at blog posting than I do, and for that, I apologize. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly TWO MONTHS since my last post, but I guess it makes sense because I’ve been so freakin’ busy, I can’t even keep up with what’s going on lately. But that’s what I’m here for today – to get caught up, and hopefully, stay caught up, on blog posting. So, let’s get started. 😉

First, on a personal note, I signed up for three accounting classes this semester. I just finished one up last week, and in the first eight weeks of the semester I learned something that’s vitally important. I do NOT want to be an accountant. The only enjoyment I get from any of these classes is the human interaction I get twice a week from going to my intermediate accounting class. Beyond that, I hate every single minute of the classes I’m taking. So I dropped the class that was scheduled to begin this week, and I will finish up the class I’m taking now, but after that I’m done with accounting classes. Maybe I wouldn’t hate it so much if I didn’t feel like it sucks valuable time away from my businesses, but I feel torn between doing school work and working on the businesses. I think “resentful” is a better word than “hate” though. I am very resentful of the time I spend doing school work when I feel it’s  not going to be very helpful in the future.

Which brings me to business … We have been going like gang busters on the soap front. A new show every weekend, a lot of work going in to the business, but not the results we had hoped to see at this point. So last month, we sat down and took a long, hard look at what we’re doing and we realized that the biggest inhibitor to our success is the way I scheduled shows. I looked for allegedly big shows that would hopefully bring in a lot of sales volume, but we’ve found that the attendance numbers for the two biggest shows we signed up for were vastly overstated. Sadly, both of those shows were “traveling shows,” meaning that we traveled to them and stayed in motels. As such, we made NO profit off either of them. We’ve learned our lesson, though, and all of our future shows will be within distance to get home at night after the show is over. We’re really excited to be staying close to home over the next several weeks – most of our shows from now until Thanksgiving will be at the Cy-Fair Exhibit Center located at 11206 Telge Road. That’s the FFA complex at Telge and 290, if you’re familiar with the area, right across Telge from Cy-Fair High School. We will be out there this coming weekend, at the Cy-Woods FFA Booster Show, so be sure to look for us there!

One of the things I’ve come to realize with all the shows and the focus on soap is that I have not been able to get much done for the embroidery business, but I really want to focus on that. In fact, the concept is moving from straight embroidery to other fabric arts as well, but I haven’t had time to devote to any of it really. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so glad that we’ve decided to cut back on the road shows and stick close to home from now on – it should give me more time to work on the embroidery business and get it up and running. I mean, check out this adorable hoodie sample that I did last week.

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Now, maybe it’s just me, but I think this hoodie would make a great gift for any woman. It comes in sizes from XS to XXL, and it’s super comfy! Of course it can be customized with your initials (I guess people don’t want to run around with MY initials on their chest LOL). I’m working on the listing for my Etsy shop now and it should be active by the time this post is public. But if it isn’t, and you’re interested in ordering this hoodie, just send me a message and we can chat about it. Who knew setting up an Etsy listing could be so complex?!

Anyway, I guess that about brings you up to speed for now. There are other things in the works, but I’m not ready to share those just yet. So stay tuned and please don’t fault me for being out of touch the last couple of months. I know I always say this, but I’ll try to do better; I promise!

 

Trying to carve out time for me

When I worked outside the home, I thought I was busy. It seemed that I could never find enough time to do the things I wanted to do, and that I was always torn away from my favorite past times to do other things – work, mostly. I have come to realize, however, that I wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought I was, and I was, in fact, quite lazy. But to be honest, I’m still a little lazy, even though I’m busier now than I ever have been.

Or am I lazy at all?

I’ve always believed that if I wasn’t being productive, I was being lazy. Sat on the couch all day and watched tv? Lazy. Laid in bed and read a book for three hours? Lazy. Stared into space thinking about lint and aliens and dog fur? DEFINITELY being lazy.

I’ve realized over the last few weeks that it’s not laziness at all; I need that time to recharge my batteries, restart the creative juices, and push forward. OK, maybe it’s just laziness sometimes, but for the most part, I do those things when I have hit that brick wall we hear about so often, when my brain is over loaded and I just can’t deal with things anymore. I have also realized that I didn’t have these problems when my kids were young, because I actively sought out time for myself, and I don’t really do that anymore. You know, when the kids were young, I always thought I’d have more time when they were grown to do the things I want to do, and while that may be true, I’ve become worse at managing my time.

Over the last several months, in fact, I estimate that probably 80-90% of my waking hours are spent either making, thinking or planning something for my business. Another 5-10% of my time has been spent talking to Chris about his business, and the other 10-15% (depending on the day) is spent doing school work for my CPA program. I cannot recall the last time I sat down at the sewing machine just to sew for fun. Sure, I spent some time last month working on the Star Wars quilt, but that was when I was considering selling it at one of my shows. But the more I considered selling handmade fabric art items, the less I wanted to make them. So last week, I made a decision that my fabric art items will not be something I make for shows to sell. I may, from time to time, offer a piece that I’ve made but have no specific plans for, once it’s completed, but for the most part, I am choosing to keep my sewing & quilting activities out of the business. I make probably 10 batches of soap a week; I think that’s sufficient for the time I spend on making things for the business.

I have also decided that I need to set some business hours, because frankly, this “All work, all the time” thing isn’t making me too happy. My mom and Chris have been telling me for months I need to do this, and they’re right. Of course, now Chris has a fledgling business and he’s struggling with this as well. LOL At any rate, my new business hours are from 8 am until 5 pm – just like a regular office job. However, I will not be reachable before 9:30 am, so that I can spend some uninterrupted time on taking care of the books, advertising and other administrative duties. Whether or not I’m reachable until 5 pm will depend on the day, but if you need anything at all, please feel to contact me on Facebook or by email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Obviously, with the nature of the products I make, I’m not always able to stop and chat when someone pings me, but I always respond as soon as I can.

Jill

How did I ever find time to work?!

Today marks the two month period since I left my corporate job. I really cannot believe it’s already been two months! It seems like only last week, I walked out the door of that building for the very last time. Admittedly, the first week or so was pretty rough for me; I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself, because I’d already decided to return to school and work toward a CPA. I had a little more than a month until my first class started; what, exactly, was I supposed to do until then?!

Well, two months later, I can honestly say that I don’t really know how I ever found the time to get up every morning, get dressed, go to the office and work for eight hours. One day, I may have to do it again, but for now, I’m keeping myself busy in a million different ways:

  • I’ve started a business making soaps, candles, and beauty aids
  • I’m taking a refresher class in accounting principles
  • I’m trying to work out my school schedule for summer & fall classes
  • I’ve done more sewing in the last two months than the last two years combined
  • I find time to walk on the treadmill most days
  • I have time to read, even though a majority of what I read is either sewing, accounting, or business related
  • I spend time with my husband; he had surgery in February and I was able to be at the hospital with him, and take care of him when he came home without worrying if I was missing anything important at the office
  • I have taken care of my grandson a few times (who can resist an adorable toddler who is usually pretty happy?)
  • I’ve taken time for myself – I’ve attended a class or two for sewing; we take long drives in the middle of the week when it’s less crowded; I’ve been able to get together with my mom a few times

Overall, I’m busy, and I’m happy. In fact, I made a comment to my mom the other day that I have difficulty making time for things I used to do regularly when I was working – like laundry! Oy vey, is my laundry out of control! Ugh!

My hope is that my business will take off enough that I won’t have to go back to work for Corporate America. I really want my days there to be done. But if I have to go back down the line, I’ll make it happen. The only thing is … I’m really enjoying the way things are now! I love getting up in the morning and making soap or candles. I really enjoy taking a day off and going to see my mom when I feel like it. It makes me so happy to spend the day with my husband, or my grandson, or by myself in the studio.

How I ever found the time to work is completely beyond me …

All quiet on the western front …

Or at least the home front. I haven’t really been involved in the studio due to some personal things. I’ll be back in the studio this week, though, and I hope to be able to post some new stuff in the coming days. I’ve been more interested in getting past this week than I have been in sewing and doing artsy/craftsy things, but now I can focus on things that are more fun.

In other news, I have a new blog that will document my transition from corporate life into the next phase. I’d be so happy if you’d stop by and take a look.

Until next time …

Lessons in patience and frustration

Last week, I wrote about all my plans for the free time I would have now that I’ve left Corporate America behind. I was so excited and looking forward to doing what I want, when I want to do it. I’d like to report back to you that I’ve been having a great time doing all the things I planned, and more, but alas, that is not the case. Instead, what I can report is that I’ve been sick all week. At times, I’ve been so sick that even the idea of walking up the stairs to my bedroom seemed like unnecessary torture. Not only that, but the few times I’ve felt well enough to drag myself in to the studio, my results have been frustrating and irritating, to say the least. In fact, nearly everything I’ve touched this week has resulted in similar feelings of ineptitude and irritation. The only thing that has truly worked in my favor is sitting on my butt, watching Netflix and playing on the iPad.

So that you don’t think I’m exaggerating, here, in no particular order, is a partial list of the things I have failed at miserably in the last seven days …

  • I decided that since I was sick, and didn’t really feel like doing much standing, I would work on improving my Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7) skills. EQ7 is a great program that quilters can use to plan out quilts, and I’ve long wanted to master it. I did some tutorial courses a few months ago, and I thought that maybe it was time to give it another go, so I pulled out my notebook and opened the program. But something is wrong, and I cannot open the Sketchbook. The Sketchbook is the “clipboard” that stores the blocks and fabrics you’ve planned to use on your quilt, and without it, nothing is going to happen. So now I’m waiting on technical support to tell me what I’m doing wrong (it must be my fault, right?).
  • I thought I would try scanning the patterns from the Amy Bradley Campers quilt into the Brother ScanNCut. I’ve had the SNC for probably a year, but I haven’t used it to its full potential, so I thought I’d try using it for this. At first, I couldn’t get the patterns to scan properly, but then I figured out it was the way I was trying to scan them. Got that figured out, and got a block’s worth of pieces scanned in, so I thought I’d test it out with some “throw away” fabric, and maybe use that to make a cute sewing machine cover for one of the machines. But I couldn’t get the Wonder Under to adhere to the fabric. I thought I finally got it to adhere, so I tried cutting a couple of the pieces on the SNC, but … wow. It was a mess. An utter mess.

Brother SNC trial

  • When that didn’t work out, I thought I’d try using the AccuQuilt Go! Baby I bought last year but haven’t used much (are you noticing a theme here?) to play around with applique. While I knew I wouldn’t use it to do the Amy Bradley quilt, I figured I could get some practice fusible interfacing and such. I happened by SewVac City in College Station yesterday and bought a new die to use with my Baby, a cute owl I thought would be fun to work with … but again, I still can’t get the fusible to fuse to my fabric! At least the die cuts fabric well …

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I could go on, but I think you get the picture. So I’ve decided to take the antibiotics the doctor gave me today and wait a couple days to see if my abilities improve with my health. Because I mean, what else can I do? I think that one more failure might push me to the edge of sanity and let’s face it – I’m already barely hanging on as it is!

I will say this – if I cannot figure out how to get the applique thing going, next week I’m going to do something I know I CAN do and piece a quilt!

New Year Incoming!

I have realized that I am not so good at the finishing thing when it comes to sewing. I am very good at the starting thing, but not so hot at the finishing thing. This is evidenced by all the projects I have “in progress” that should have been finished long ago, but are still languishing in one state or another in my studio. From clothing to quilts to home decor, I am an equal opportunity procrastinator. I don’t know if this is the result of too many ideas, not enough time, or maybe adult onset ADHD, or just too much going on in general, but this year has been one of my all time lows in completions. And it makes me very sad.

Not only that, but I really have not spent enough time sewing in general. I moved my studio downstairs this year in the hopes it would make me more productive, and it did for a while. And really, I have spent more time in the studio this year than I have in recent years but still not nearly enough, and not focused at all, as evidenced by my lack of finished projects. I would like to pretend that I don’t know what’s causing the issue, but I do, and it’s nothing more than a mental block. A mental block I need to get past and stop letting it interfere with my creative process. My kids are grown now, which I always thought would mean more time to pursue sewing and other hobbies, but instead it’s resulted in less time in the studio. I really need to get my head back in the game … err, studio. And I need to quit messing around about it and just do it.

I really don’t like to make new year’s resolutions; I think they lead to bad feelings and they put a lot of pressure on you when you probably really don’t need it. But since I know there are areas of improvement I need to make, I am going to set some goals for myself, on a monthly basis. Actually … I think I’m going to make the goals on a weekly basis, at least to start out. For my purposes, the week will start on Fridays (convenient because tomorrow is Friday and it’s also the first day of the year; see what I did there? 😉  ).

So … goals for the week commencing January 1, 2016 …

  • Treadmill at least 20 minutes, four days
  • Sewing at least 30 minutes, four days
  • Catch up on laundry
  • Remove & put away Christmas decorations
  • Re-arrange bedroom to better fit treadmill

I won’t say, “Now, how hard can that be?” because we all know how hard it can be to commit to something like this. Or to commit to anything, really (except my husband; that wasn’t difficult at all). I’ll report back in a week and let you know how it’s gone, and then I’ll set new goals for that week. I’ve even set a reminder on my calendar to come back and do the update, so I don’t forget.

Wish me luck. 😀

November Recap

Once again, I have let an entire month pass without posting; I guess I really suck at blogging lately. I’ve had good intentions but I’ve heard that they pave the road to hell. So, without further ado, let me tell you a bit about what’s going on in my life.

First off, I found out recently that my position at my company is being eliminated and, I suspect, outsourced. No one has told me that specifically, but it’s the way things are going in my company lately, so I’m not that surprised. A little angry, yes, but not surprised. But I probably won’t be leaving till sometime in the first quarter of 2016, so I’m not really looking for another job just yet. I have applied for a couple of things internally, and I hear there are some jobs that will be available soon that I might apply for, but right now, I’m sort of in a holding pattern. Between the waiting to find out if I have a job, then finding out that I don’t in fact have one, it’s the primary reason I haven’t posted in the last month.

Secondly, I’ve been working on this jacket, which is nearly complete.

Jacket

All that’s left is the binding, which I had hoped to get done on vacation last week; sadly, I ended up with a pretty horrible chest cold and felt bad all week, so I didn’t get a chance to focus on this at all. I have been playing with doing some embroidery on black Kona cotton for the binding but at this point I really just want to get this finished, so I might skip that for this iteration. I plan to make at least one more fleece jacket in the next few weeks, so maybe I can do the embroidery on that one.

Next, I’ve been working on some Christmas gifts. A couple I can’t share at this point, because … well, I don’t want the recipients to see them yet!  But I can share this adorable Minions quilt I’m working on for my 18 month old grandson.

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Sorry for the bad lighting; it was late and it isn’t finished yet. LOL

I’ve been working on my crochet skills, if they can be called that. LOL I made this scarf, which is just double crochets that I made a width and length that I liked.

Crocheted Scarf Folded

Crochet Scarf

Yes, I know it looks sort of goofy with the fleece jacket, but hey … dare to be original, right? 😉

So, in a nut shell, that’s what I’ve been doing the last month. And I promise to at least try to do better in the future on posting more often …