I just posted about committing to paint more and doing a portrait for my friend, and here’s the video of the process below. It was actually my biggest goal yet since starting my productivity journal. But it got even bigger when I decided to document the process and make a youtube video about it.
The editing process was a BEAST! I lost four hours of editing on Shutcut due to a corrupt file. I like to stick with something when I learn how to use it…but man…I think I’m going to switch to something else after Shotcut did a LOT of malfunctioning on me, quitting and kicking me out of the program a lot. Phew. May have even been more agonizing to me than labor. But, I hope people enjoy the video and are inspired to set their own creative goals!
Have you thought of yourself as a creative person yet realized that you feel like you have too much to do to take the time to be creative? That has been me. I keep my calendar pretty simplistic to keep stress low. (In my opinion, that’s a MUST when you have either a chronic health challenge [for me currently it’s the hormone and digestion/food intolerances issues mainly] or a high-support-needs child or two). Navigating life’s challenges while trying to stay sane AND keep the house from becoming a complete disaster while also maintaining some semblance of a social life left me feeling like my schedule was pretty crowded. So I’d say I didn’t have time for anything else. I believed that, too.
And the truth is, I DON’T have time for things that cause more stress and drain me. I’m in a season where I do not volunteer much unless it doesn’t stress me out, because I can love my family and others better when I’m not a cranky ball of angst. I also recently stopped attending a moms’ group that has been so meaningful to me EVEN THOUGH I love it! Why? I need to give my “best yes,” and right now there isn’t enough capacity in me to attend that and also build the relationships I’ve been feeling led to grow more in my community.
Yet I realized something. You know the crazy thing about productive, resilient, remarkable people? They don’t have any more hours in the day than you or I yet somehow they MAKE time for exceptional activities. So I thought, Well, I want to be resilient and not settle for merely surviving! I need to make time for things that energize me, give me a zest for life, which in turn helps me be a better version of myself for the world!
I value art and consider myself a creative person, yet that was one area I had let go to the wayside. I’m not sure how to express it, but doing art (or a garden, etc.) awakens something in a person, at least in me, that invigorates the soul. I wanted more of that along my journey out of survival mode.
In learning about goal-setting and knowing the fact that 40% more of our goals are accomplished when we write them down, I committed to doing more artwork. My friend was the catalyst for action when she saw one of my smaller pieces of art I did 10 years ago and challenged me to do more. I’ve done maybe one painting a year to give as a gift the past 10 years, if that. So when she said, “Will you do one for me?” I felt like that was confirmation and the reason to get to it!
As an aside, realistically, artists cannot do art upon request to give to people for free very often, if at all in some cases (especially if that is their livelihood). Not to be too woo-woo, but artists put some of their heart into every piece of art. I personally have to consider the pull on my time taking me away from more focused attention on my family, or say, re-organizing that disaster of a basement, if I’m doing art for someone else. But her genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for something that was already stirring in my heart before she even spoke it just made me want to say yes, kind of as a thank-you for being the impetus.
Saying a goal out loud to another person and putting a time frame on it helps light your fire. Also, doing my Youtube channel with the idea of living creatively and intentionally also was something that motivated me. If I’m hoping to share my love for intentionality and creativity to encourage others to be creative…well, I kind of have to be actively and intentionally creative.
Doing the painting was not only an exercise in goal-setting, reigniting a passion, and connecting with my friend, it was also just about being. What do I mean? I had to stop all the commotion of my life and just be in order to do that, to be still with paint and a paintbrush and a blank canvas. I had to be an artist who knew what her subject was.
So I did a portrait of my friend and her two cultures. I wanted to capture what matters to her and who she is as a person–someone with a big heart. The world is better and more beautiful with her and her perspective, which is the sentiment behind my painting. The validation of that, the whole process of goal-setting and creating art, and growing along the way makes it worthwhile to me.
I moved a lot growing up (and since getting married for my husband’s job) and there were two places we’d check out first to get settled into a new location. First, as people of faith, we’d find a church which would be our surrogate family in our new location. This last time almost three years ago, I was really struggling with hormone issues I didn’t know about and it felt like chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression. The playgroup and moms’ group at the church down the road was a place of acceptance and care where I could recharge and connect with other moms a while with my kids under the care of some grandmotherly-type volunteers.
The second place we’d find was a library. I believe libraries, too, are key for a healthy community. It’s a place where you do not have to have anything to offer, and yet be given so much. There you can find tools for life, productivity, and your interests in the self-help section, or just some fun entertainment or serious research. I used to joke that I need a wheelbarrow for every library trip…but now I just got one of these carts and let the book-grabbing spree begin! What most people don’t know is that the library is a richly experiential place too, with clubs, classes, and opportunities for even things like 3D printing or fishing!
When I was a kid, I used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey, a radio broadcast where fictional characters would learn life lessons by climbing into something called the Imagination Station and traveling somewhere, maybe back in time to a historic event, and seeing for themselves. To me that’s what the library is as well. A portal to discovery, awakening the imagination and possibilities.
(By the way, several of my friends work at libraries, and they’re some of the coolest people around because they are passionate about discovery, too!)
I made the following video to share my excitement for our real-life imagination station. In my opinion, it is the best trick in the bag for moms. Rainy day? Whiney kids? Need a change of scenery? Trying to save money but have the urge to shop? Trying to be a minimalist but want all the books and things? The library is the solution! Give your kids an experience, and give them the keys to their own entertainment instead of trying so hard to entertain them yourself! Get them to love books and learning so they can be equipped to cure their own boredom. And that can start even before they can read! Picture books are a wonderful imagination-prompter.
You may be surprised what is waiting at your local library!
This is a no-fuss treat that both non-GF friends and GF folks all can enjoy together, and it’s great both warm or cold, as dessert or breakfast! I tend to serve this when we have company, since it’s quick and no-fail and makes the house smell great! (I use Wyman’s of Maine frozen wild blueberries, since Ibotta has an offer for a few dollars back on up to 5 bags sometimes, which I deep freeze. This recipe takes about 1/2 bag.)
Prep time 10 minutes, bake time 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 8.
- Pour blueberries into the bottom of a 9×13 glass casserole dish filling it about 1 inch deep (about 1.5 lb/half the bag of Wyman’s frozen blueberries).
- Stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional) or 1 tsp zest.
- Mix in 3 Tbsp maple syrup (optional).
- Stir 1/4 cup brown rice flour into the berry mix (or other GF, but I like the brown rice flour to give it a sugary texture).
- For the crumble topping, mix two cups of old fashioned oats with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon and another 1/4 cup brown rice flour.
- Melt 1/3 cup coconut oil in a pyrex bowl, and stir into oats.
- Mix in 3 TBSP maple syrup.
- Spread oat topping evenly, and bake for 30-40 minutes.
- Refrigerate leftovers if you have any. The coconut oil makes it retain its crunchy topping texture–my favorite part!
If you have intolerances or food allergies, you know it can get tiring trying to read all the ingredients and look for “safe” consumable goods! When I started my hormone recovery journey, I went gluten-free and soy-free. That was a lot of effort, and I guess I was well-prepared for eliminating an even longer list. When I had some IGG blood testing to find out what else my body couldn’t handle, though, I was in disbelief. Actually, I laughed when the lady read me the results because the first thing she said was chocolate. Are you kidding me? *Sigh.* My morning treat had been frothy hot chocolate (cacao, maple syrup or honey, and milk).
Then there was dairy. (Oh cheese, how I miss you.) And yeast. (Well…I guess no GF pizza for me at MOD anymore…but what’s pizza without cheese anyhow?). Coffee (well, I’d already ditched that a few years ago, though occasionally I would swipe a sample at Trader Joe’s). Eggs (I’d been having one each morning with salad. Ugh). Peanuts. Tomatoes. Some other stuff I probably have forgotten and need to look up. And corn. Which is in a rather lot of gluten-free things–have you noticed? So my already limited fare got even more narrow of a selection. (On the bright side, my symptoms of chronic tiredness and achiness in the morning have improved! So I guess it’s all worth it.)
While I generally read food labels for ingredients, as someone who is constantly baking, I actually had never noticed that BAKING POWDER contained corn! I would never have thought to check because I just sort of figured it was its own ingredient, like baking soda.
Thankfully, a friend mentioned her nephews have corn allergy and can’t even having baking powder in things. Enlightened, I was on a hunt for corn-free baking powder. Almost impossible to find and very expensive, I decided to make my own replacement to refill my old baking powder container using 2 TBSP baking soda plus 1/4 cup cream of tartar (while cream of tartar usually comes in tiny spice containers, I bought mine in a big bulk container because it’s handy for cleaning powder as well). It works! I do smash each teaspoon it in my palm before adding it to recipes because it can clump a bit. (FYI, If you are not corn free and do not have cream of tartar, you can still make your own baking powder if you need some in a pinch with the same ratio of baking soda to corn starch.)
As a SAHM, sometimes I need a little motivation for monotonous work like folding laundry, doing dishes, or…peeling potatoes. Today, I had a happy little discovery that my new stackable wire storage bin, which I bought for holding potatoes or apples in, also doubles as a laptop holder. Woohoo! Now I can watch some youtube organization videos and fix potato soup! And when I’m needing a recipe online while I cook in the kitchen, I’ve got a handy upraised (read: spill-safe) spot for the computer! Now I’m “peelin’ perdy thmart!” It’s the little things that make me smile! What’s adding a bit of bliss to your day today?
Well, my husband and I found out a lot about ourselves and our spending habits by being extra intentional with our spending. We started out strong, using no credit at all, finishing up gift cards and paying cash (including change I found in the car and piggy bank) or going without. Then, after week one, I found out my hubby had used the credit card. Bum-bum-bummmmm! He bought a computer cord replacement. That kinda irked me. I didn’t see it as a necessity. We have two laptops, one “his” and one “mine.” We could have been ok using only one for a few more weeks. I’m all or nothing, right? If we’re doing a no credit challenge, let’s do this thing!! So my bubble popped a little there. However, something positive did occur in that we had to communicate about our expectations of the month a little better, and then hubs had a few “wait lists” for the upcoming months put on Amazon for things we’d like to get, and wanted to plan ahead for, instead of instantaneously ordering.
Yep, we discovered he and I define necessary spending quite differently. We could have kept up the beans and rice dealio…but my hubby requested that we use credit for “necessities” like food. He meant the particular food he wanted, which I saw as not really a necessity. But I value him more than a personal goal, so I got what he wanted, and we used the credit card.
Aaaand, since we had caved and used the credit card, and there was meat on sale, I went ahead and stocked up a little bit to put in our deep freeze. So that was also not just buying the bare minimum. But in the long run, I guess we do save money, because I got $5 off each on a few hams. So we’ll have that for Easter. And there was a fundraising opportunity for an adoption and something else I really believed in so we gave some money for those things as well. We did turn down a birthday party invite (but managed to find a gift to give later on super sale and bought with gift card money) because the venue costed. (And also, my kids don’t yet know how to swim, as the party was for an older kid at a YMCA; I was worn out anyways and didn’t feel like trying to keep two kids 5 and under above water on my own).
Anyhow, my conclusion is that if you know you actually have money to pay for stuff, it’s rather easy to not be uber frugal. I was a little disappointed in how the thing went, but it was good to use up those gift cards and loose change and in general spend a lot less, putting savings towards kids’ school and other important things. We’re not as hardcore as I’d hoped. Oh well. Do you have an awesome no-spend success story to share?
After a search for podcasts online about ways to successfully save money to “get in the zone” and distract/motivate me as I folded laundry, I discovered a lot of people do a no-spend challenge. (Which, in actuality, really means no impulse buys, because people still need to buy food to eat, in most cases, for those of us who are not farmers with a food cellar stocked up.) Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by a financial advisor, Amanda Abella,* in which she mentions that after noticing some larger spending, she wanted to practice going without just to start building into savings more again. One thing she pointed out that is so true is how shopping venues have really made it easy for you to spend mindlessly, for example, the Amazon One-Click order button. Your credit info is already in there, and you “need” something? Want it? Get it! To delay gratification isn’t really something happening in this day and age. (So her advice was getting rid of the Amazon One-Click, unsubscribe to seller adverts in your inbox, and lose the store cards.)
Well, as Amazon Prime members ourselves, with “free shipping!” so enticingly easy, we had been in the habit of ordering something as we thought we needed it; for me, this was because I was so forgetful when I went shopping, and usually distracted by two kids. It was easy to just remember while near a computer, and click away until we had acquired whatever we had forgotten at the store. And why delay when you can get it in two days? So, a week into our no-credit month, my husband and I found ourselves having several conversations about “needs” and “wants”. And I had a couple of chuckles at the fact that my husband, who generally looks at me as the “spender” in the family, and himself as the “saver” with few wants, was the one mentioning stuff to buy more frequently than I was! I had to remind him that he’ll have to wait for next month. So he has a growing wish list for February. Thank you, no-credit-month challenge, for building my credibility again in his eyes as someone not ruled by impulse. *smug smirk*
Somewhat irksome to him, but not regrettable to me, is that I recently gave to a homeless drive the long johns he used to wear snowboarding, but didn’t plan to use again anytime soon, and hadn’t used in several years. Although a cold snap arrived making him want them again, I do not feel badly for having gotten rid of them because of the fact that arriving at the point where I can part with stuff was a big milestone for me. (And another chuckle might have slipped out because he’s the one saying we have too much stuff, and wanted us to be minimalists. We had a conversation and he agreed the thermal unders could go.) But now that he found himself wanting them again, well…Guess we’ll put them on the wish list.
The cool thing about grocery shopping without credit has been that money has turned up…change in the car amounting to enough with the money a friend paid me for something to get just what we need, within 25 cents of what I had in total going through the checkout. Then, I found a bag of flour sack towels that I needed to return to Walmart because they weren’t nice enough to embroider as gifts as I’d intended (with unsightly fiber runs in them), which provided another $8.50 that I’ll be able to use for veggies or whatnot next time we need them. Which is probably today. There’s another something I can return to a store to get about $12, which makes me feel pretty confident that although we need sour cream (to go in the potato soup I plan to make with the pocket change potatoes I got at Aldi), eggs, carrots, cheddar, and greens, we’ll be able to get all that without feeling majorly deprived this month.
I’ve been using what’s in my freezer, which is awesome, instead of just refilling it atop what’s already in there. So for fruit, after our apples run out, we’ll be using up the pear slices and pear sauce my mom gave me from their trees. I “roasted” the two organic super-sale chickens in my big crock pot to debone, make broth, and use the meat this month. That turned out really tasty and I will be looking for more sale chickens next month to restock the freezer with. Then we’ve been having a variety of dried bean dishes (thanks, instant pot, for making those not seem intimidating!) like white chicken chili and beefy chili. Perfect for extra-chilly weather. I made fried rice with frozen veggies and some uncured bacon we had in our freezer (because I bought a few on sale b1g1 last month). That was a hit, for sure. We love bacon! I’d already had some ham cubed and frozen from Thanksgiving as well a turkey meat, for a variety of other dishes with those. I am finding I’m actually a better meal planner and cook when there is less in my fridge and freezer to work with, ironically.
So that’s recap of week one. I don’t think we’ll feel deprived this week either, because on my husband’s day off we’ll be using a gift card we got for our anniversary to go to a restaurant with the kids. We’ll definitely have to make sure we stay under the amount on the card enough to include tip, because we’re out of cash! So I’m guessing we’ll skip drinks and go with water, no real biggie.
Have you ever had to or wanted to pinch pennies? What were some tips that worked well for you?
*P.S. This podcaster had some good insights, but I should mention that earbuds are necessary if you look her up as some words she uses are not for little ears, IMO. In our home we try to limit screen time, so when my kids watch their Octonauts or Little Einsteins show, I do a podcast or youtube with my earbuds in. Nobody’s being ignored or needing attention that way.
As I take down and prepare to recycle our 8-year old, pre-lit, 4 ft. Christmas tree that slowly dwindled down to having only 1/5th of the lights working, I start to think about how I might miss out on the after-Christmas sales, where I was hoping to snag a replacement. They’re probably all sold out by now! I worry. (Did I mention how I am an expert? At least at worrying. I’m trying to lose that credential lately.) Even if they weren’t, I spent the cash, mostly piggy bank quarters, on groceries and now we’re not using credit this month! I think, defeated.
Then I catch myself and say, as it is a new year, how about a shift in thinking? I am determining to stay on the sunny side of life this year. The past several years were way too wearing on me, full of anxiety and more often than I’d like to admit, negativity (which grows easily when you’re chronically fatigued), and I’m ready for an improved point of view. (And hormone health…but that’s for another post!)
My January goal, as mentioned earlier, is not using credit. After December and gift buying, mostly on Amazon (where Discover offered 5% cash back on purchases!!), my husband showed me our mint info…and there was a lot of red. Actually, in more than just December. Because we don’t buy what we can’t afford, I didn’t think of it as a problem. I’m the acquisitions expert in the family. (Read: shopper extraordinaire). We had money in savings. I discussed everything beforehand with my financial partner, my handsome hubs. But with over half the year drawing from it (mostly for medical bills and health efforts like buying organic and gluten free foods), maybe it’s time to scale back in other ways? So, thought-pattern shifting time!
I don’t really do things half-heartedly. I’m kind of all or nothing. So when my husband suggested we be careful the next few months and try to save, I got curious. What if we didn’t use credit AT ALL this month?! (With the exception of buying gas, which Discover offers 5% cash back on, again…that’s making money, you know)?! How much could we save then? The possibility was rather exciting.
The goals? Save for our kids’ next year at a private school, be able to afford plane tickets to visit my brother on the other side of the US, and budget for a dog (wasn’t that like $1,000 a year including vet bills?).
So, no impulse buys this month. Empty our pantry. Get creative with meals, only use gift cards ($40 to Target, $25 to Amazon, and the rest of our cash, which was about $20 in bills, and $10 in coins) to restock the empty fridge with fresh milk, fruit and veggies for the kids after returning from Christmas vacation. Put all “wants” on a list for next month. I got this. So I think.
P.S. Back to the Christmas Tree…I changed my thinking to more outside the box. I’ve always wanted a little 2-3 ft. live one that come in cute little pots at Lowes! So that’s my plan. Next year, we’ll have a tree/bush to plant outside after adding some live greenery to our home. No artificial one in storage(we don’t really have storage spaces in our home) for me! How’s that for a step towards minimalism? I should pat myself on the back for that triumph out of decor-tragedy!