Tuesday Reviews-Day: Happy: The Journal

Tuesday Revews-Day

Happy New Year!

At this annual calendar flip we often declare resolutions, goals, or intentions for the new year. While it’s completely arbitrary, it feels good to have direction with the yawning year ahead of us, and I’m just as prone to ascribe hopes and dreams to the beginning of the calendar year or the beginning of a new birth year as anyone else.

Which is probably why I accepted a copy of Happy: The Journal for review. And since it’s a daily, dated journal that starts on January 1, today seemed the best day to share it with you.

On its own, it can be a book to put happy thoughts of each day. Or, you can use the prompts that accompany each entry, usually following a theme each month, to direct your journaling a bit more. The pages are pastel and the lines are spaced wide, which I think makes the idea of daily journaling and introspection a little less daunting.

Perhaps the one detractor to this journal is the binding. When will publishers think of how a book will be used and bind accordingly?! A lay-flat binding, like actual notebooks and journals, would have been preferred, but lacking that a spiral binding would make the journal much more user-friendly.

Reading the introduction, I realized that there is a book that preceded the journal, and I thought it might be useful to read that, as well. (The Kindle edition is only 3.99 as of this writing, so it’s an easy pick-up if you’re so included.)

Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day and Letting Go of Perfect was written by Fearne Cotton, a UK television and radio personality. While I’m not a huge fan of self-help books as a general rule, I found many feelings and passages in Happy that resonated with my own, far less public, experiences. The book has quite a number of activities in it, and the worksheets are printable from the publishers website. There are a bunch!

Overall, the point of both the book and the journal are to concentrate on the choices we have in our lives to concentrate and react to the events and people we encounter and encourages us to choose happy, joyful options over the negative alternatives. Because Fearne doesn’t set herself up as having all the answers, instead is quite frank about her struggles over the years and the ongoing ones of today, she’s a far more relatable source, like sitting down to a cup of coffee (or wine) with a good friend.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Happy: The Journal in exchange for a review; no other compensation was received. All thoughts, opinions, and errors are solely my own. Affiliate links have been used throughout this post.

2017 is my Reset Year

The Creative Life

Because last year certainly didn’t go as planned!

Let’s take a quick stroll down last year’s goal list, shall we?

House Plans:

  • Downstairs Bath: 85% complete
  • Driveway and Privacy Fence: 5% started?
  • Recycling Sorter: 75% complete per Todd’s plans, but totally functional, so we could call this one a win
  • Compost Bin: big ol’ nope
  • Back Hall/Mudroom: Hah!
  • Utility Room: You’ve got to be joking

Some of those were stretch goals anyway, and the bathroom renovation ended up taking way more time than anticipated. But now we’re a lot more prepared for the next rooms, whenever we get to them, knowing what waits for us under the floors.

Family Goals:

  • Get a dog: check! And it would not be wrong to say this added to the delay of certain other projects.
  • Milestone birthdays: check and check
  • Visit Savannah, Ga: This we’ll scoot over to the 2017 goals.

Career Goals:

  • Career change: This happened, but not the way I’d planned. With the closing of Graphateria, it became a need instead of a want, but I’m glad I was able to maintain a steady income. We’ll just go with that.
  • Book Projects: I did get some work done on the Low-FODMAP book, but there’s quite a bit left to do.
  • The Crafty Branch: TCB was the red-headed stepchild of the year, withering on the to-do list vine. Mixed metaphor aside, I have some plans to revamp TCB for 2017, the first of which will be coming out this week (I hope).
  • The blog: It wasn’t quite as neglected as TCB, but we hit a few low points during the job change and adjustment period.

Personal: Goals:

  • Move more: We didn’t even do the 5K this year, so I’m going to count this as a no.
  • Be more productive: I still got a lot done this year, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.
  • Art every day: started strong, finished weak.

So….. yeah. Not a great scorecard, overall.

This year I’m going to scale things down a bit, knowing what I do about things as they stand as the year turns, so here are a few things to concentrate on for 2017:

  1. Finish the bathroom remodel. We’re close, but the finishing is still a pretty big job.
  2. Get the privacy fence installed–I really want to spend time in the backyard, give Duncan a good space to run, and do all of it without feeling like we’re in the fishbowl of our neighbors. Keeping said neighbors out of our yard is a bonus.
  3. Spend less. Ignoring the fact that I just broke my no-spend January rule on Saturday when I ordered a small piece of tech, my goal is to really get my finances in better shape and that involves, first and foremost, spending less. I did manage to pay off one credit card last year, a fairly large one, but I need to stop using the others so much, too. It’s a process. I’m working on it.
  4. Art every week. A bit more reasonable than art every day, and I have a new journal for it and everything. I’ll be posting the weekly pages on instagram with the #aew2017 tag, follow along or join me!
  5. More videos! Even though it’s been a few months since I managed to upload a video (stuff was filmed, it just never got edited), I somehow managed to pass 500 subscribers on my YouTube channel. That’s wild! And since the art and planner-related videos seem to be the favorites, those are probably what I’ll concentrate on over vlogging (at least while editing time is short and life is not exactly vlog-worthy).

Sure, I’d still love to go to Savannah, but with Duncan and a less-flexible work environment, it’s a little tougher to manage a weekend getaway. But I hope we can make it happen. And there are work and side-project goals swimming around in my head, of course, but nothing I feel comfortable blogging about just yet.

And before I forget, my word of the year isn’t so much a word but a prefix:


As in revisit, revamp, redo, restart, revise, rebrand, revitalize, relaunch, reboot, review… you get the picture. Last year may not have gone the way I’d planned or hoped, but it doesn’t mean I have to start all over from scratch. I have assets in place that I can turn into something, I just have to rethink them and revise the plans. Re- can be back (as in return) or again (like most of the words above). The important thing for me, this year, is to take what I have and go through it again, figure out what worked, discard what didn’t, and work through it again and again until I get it right.

Good luck with your own 2017 planning!

It’s February, Do You Know Where Your Goals Are?

Just for Fun

The thing about making goals (resolutions, etc.) is that they are not set-and-forget sort of things. In order to keep up with them, we actually have to look at them and, you know, make an effort!

I don’t know if I’ll post about it each month (unless you want to read it, then absolutely), but I figured at least right now, after the first month of the new year, I’d do a public check-in on all those goals I set last month and see how I’m stacking up.

First up was house projects, and we’ve definitely gotten the first big one underway (our downstairs bathroom remodel progress so far can be found here: week 1, week 2) and we’re still trucking right along with another update to come this Friday. The smaller project for the beginning of the year was a recycling sorter and that’s functionally done.

Our semi-finished but fully functional recycling sorter

Our semi-finished but fully functional recycling sorter

By that I mean the sorter is up and in place, though it technically lacks the hinged top and front pieces. Still, we’re using the bins and even made our first trip to the recycling center last weekend on our way to Lowe’s for the umpteenth time (okay, only the 4th, for January). Todd can take his time on the finishing touches to the sorter once the bulk of the bathroom work is completed.

So far we’re 2 for 2 (the other house projects being for later in the year).

On the family goals front we’re still not to those tasks, yet. March and April for the birthdays (though planning is definitely underway) and we’ve been hunting through the dog listings on about 4 or 5 sites looking for a likely candidate but it’s not realistic to bring one home in the messy middle of the bathroom project. For this category I’d say we’re on track.

Career-wise things are a little slower. I’ve been checking listings regularly (and have a saved search over on Indeed) and almost got an interview, but the position didn’t pay near enough to cover my bills. Shame, the hiring firm really liked my resume. BUT! They did ask if it would be okay if they kept in on file in case something else came up that fit both my skills and my salary requirements. Of course I said yes! I also put in for some part time work and created an account over at 99designs and UpWork (though I need to update my portfolio that came over from eLance) for freelance work. I’m still not 100% sure about 99designs–it’s technically spec work, but the jobs do pay out as opposed to the contests for **exposure** that I flat-out refuse to participate in. We shall see.

Print Your HeART Out kit contents from The Crafty Branch.

Print Your HeART Out kit contents from The Crafty Branch.

The Crafty Branch released it’s newest kit yesterday, the Print Your HeART Out kit is all about monoprints and the gelli plate and I’ve had loads of fun using the plate myself to make kit samples as well as a couple of other projects. The gelli plate is definitely not going to be leaving my work table any time soon (though I may move up a size since I’m enjoying it so much). And I’ve begun implementing my social media strategy, but realize it’s something I really need to work up to rather than jump in with both feet (because the latter is rather overwhelming). I’m also looking into a VA for those tasks.

No movement on the book projects, yet–I need to start putting that on my to-do lists or it’ll never get anywhere–but the house project updates are helping me keep my weekly video goals (though I need to get quicker on the editing) and I created my 2016 Editorial calendar for Scraps Of Life.

For career I’ll say 3 out of 4 in progress. That’s not bad for the first month.

Finally, in personal goals, I had three: move more, be more productive, and art every day.

I know that the remodel is definitely getting me more active on the weekends but I’m not even up to an average of 7,500 steps a day with the activity band, much less the 10,000 “norm” so I’ve got a ways to go. What I have noticed is that it’s going to take a little bit of a mindset shift, but not the one you might expect. I’m really big on efficiency, so I group tasks together: everything from stacking items to go upstairs together so I only have to make one trip (usually when I head upstairs for bed) or grouping tasks away from my desk at work so I can minimize time away from my computer (and the space where I do much of my work). This efficiency of tasks is costing me movement! Now, sure, it’s well-reasoned, but is it what I need to stick to or can I change it without losing the “grooves” I get into on tasks that increase how much I can get done.

Good question. One I don’t yet have an answer for.

Speaking of productivity, we’re going to go about 50/50 there–I’ve gotten a fair amount done this month, but I know I’m capable of more. Take Sunday, for instance–we had things we wanted to get done, both Todd and I, but we independently and simultaneously decided that a 2 hour nap was what we were going to do. Productive? Nope! But it felt really good!

And then there’s my Art Every Day personal challenge. Yeah, I know this one hasn’t happened, I’ve missed some days. But to figure out just how many I missed, I had to flip through my photos and journal to see how many days I was creating something versus not.

My Art Every Day Results for January

My Art Every Day Results for January

If I count things like video (which I do, because it is creative in its way) I managed definite creative pursuits in at least 18 of the 31 days, or 58% of the month. Not stellar, definite room for improvement. Of course, some of those days I worked on multiple projects but only listed the larger one. But the point is to make a conscious effort to exercise my creativity EVERY day. So I’ll work on that for February.

I have one other goal that I didn’t actually list in January but it’s one that I’m actually doing well on, so let’s end on a high note: I’ve gone 34 days without impulse shopping or superfluous spending of any kind! More than a month–that’s a record for me, I’m sure! I’m being very strict with myself over my budget right now (it needs help) but I’m really committed to it so it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it might. And it’s not that I can’t buy anything fun, I just have to plan and budget for it (hence the no impulse shopping). And I didn’t use my credit cards this month, either (well, okay, less than $5 on my Kohl’s charge because it was tied to the discount code I was using, but the other $50 of the purchase was covered by a Christmas gift card and it was a planned purchase on top of that; so I’m not counting it against my record). Remember my budget worksheets? All of the balance trackers will show down arrows on the February sheet and that’s definitely a good feeling!

Have you checked in with your goals so far? How are you doing with them?

2016 Goals, My Word of the Year, and More!

Everyday Adventures

I feel like not doing a resolutions post in the early days of January is like breaking some sort of blogging rule. Add to that, I like to put my goals out there and hold myself publicly accountable, so here we are!

A few nights ago, as part of the Bloggers Get Social January Instagram/Periscope challenge, I did a ‘Scope on my Resolutions (which aren’t resolutions, but goals, and it’s an important distinction, even though it all boils down to the same thing in the end). If you haven’t heard of Periscope yet, it’s okay, it’s a twitter spin-off (as I understand it) and it’s live video streaming–raw, unedited, whatever happens, happens–and then it’s available for viewing for the next 24 hours. Thanks to a service called Katch, though, you can archive your videos for replay past the Periscope window.

So if you want to see/hear me chatter about my goals so forth, here you go:

(Direct link for the feed readers: 2016 not-Resolutions Periscope via Katch.me)

But if you’d rather just see everything in a list, why, I can certainly accommodate you there!

House Projects

  • Downstairs Bathroom Gut job renovation, starting soon (sooooon!), though we just added another element to the project that we hadn’t previously discussed. I’ll leave you with two words: Pocket. Door. Ooooh!
  • Driveway and Fenced yard Driveway is iffy, depends on getting City approval for it and there are a couple of things that make that less of a certainty; one being the proximity to the main water valve/access thingy and the other being a city sign that would need to be moved a few feet farther down the sidewalk… yeah. And there’s really only one place to put a driveway, so it’s not like we have a lot of options. But even if we can’t get the driveway approved, we still want to and will fence the yard, the driveway potential just determined where a gate needs to go.
  • Recycling Sorter A honey-build for Todd, this is projected to be done this weekend and it’s so we can stop being lazy and get back into the recycling habit. The sorter will have three large, removable tubs that fit into a wooden frame with covers and a space underneath for additional stuff (the cardboard recycling can flat-pack its way under there). This way we can grab the totes that are full, pop them in the car, and take them downtown easily.
  • Compost Bin I know we could just designate a far corner of the yard for a spot to put compostable kitchen waste, but I’d prefer something that’s more than just a heap on the ground for a variety of reasons. I’ve seen some that involved rotating parts and a hatch to keep any odor contained and I think that’s more what I’m looking for. This is a mid-year project.
  • (Extra) Back Hall/Mudroom Once the bathroom is finished and the wall between the hall and bathroom is redone as part of it (more on that another time), the rest of the back hall/butler’s pantry/mud room area is largely cosmetic. Of course, I say that, but we’ve had discussions on what to do about the supremely sloped floor in there so, yeah, maybe  not quite as cosmetic as it seems. But this is an extra project, if it gets pushed to another year I won’t be heartbroken.
  • (Extra) Utility Room–Currently the home of the washing machine, dryer, and chest freezer, this room isn’t exactly destined for greatness. It is, however, destined to hold the water heater and fridge from the current kitchen (which requires moving gas lines and adding some more outlets) before we can redo the kitchen. A remodeled kitchen is high on my list of projects for 2017, I think, so yeah, if could get this out the way, all the better.


  • Get a dog! Finally! Every place we’ve lived together I’ve made sure we could get a dog because I knew Todd really wanted one and I’m not exactly opposed to the idea, either. In fact, I’ve had major puppy fever for the last couple of months and it is not abating. That’s part of the reason for wanting the fenced yard (the others being privacy and a noise-break), but with the current chain-link fencing on the side we could easily install a doggy door in the back hall and the pup-to-be-named-later would have safe, easy access to the back porch and shaded side yard. It’ll be at least another month, but the clock is ticking and we are perusing the rescue orgs and PetFinder on the lookout for our new family member.
  • Celebrate some milestone birthdays! Todd turns 50 in March and I turn 40 in April, and plans for parties for both are in place. I’m super-thrilled Todd gave me the go-ahead to throw him a party this year (he generally prefers not to mark the passing of his own years) and it was because he came up with a theme he likes (Hawaii 5-0!). And my friend L has been planning my 40th shindig for months.
  • Visit Savannah, GA. It’s not too far away, it’s some place I’ve always wanted to see, and it just seems like a good year for it. I’m not going to specifically say I want to do this for our anniversary, like last year’s goal, but just when the opportunity strikes.


  • Career change. Oooh, sounds big, right? Before the end of 2015 I’d put in for a job in Thomasville but, just after the calendar change I got the word that they were no longer looking to fill that position. Bummer! So I’m keeping my eye out for something that suits me, but this goal is a little shakier than it was when I first wrote it down in December. Of course, the side business(es) could take off, and that’d be a freakin’ fabulous way for this to work out, but I’m open. It’s not that I *have* to find a new job, but I’ve been with my current company for 21 years, I’m ready for a change. And to not have an hour commute one way.
  • Book Projects Okay, this is left over from last year and the one goal I really didn’t even touch. Granted, there were good reasons for it (ahem, The Crafty Branch), but that doesn’t make them any more done than they were this time last year! So the eBook of What to Feed Your Raiding Party is actually in progress, and the Low-FODMAP book is in a verrry rough draft form. The sequel to Raiding Party is more in my head than anywhere else, but it’ll get there. And there are always a few more on the back burner.
  • The Crafty Branch Speaking of which, TCB is technically one year old come the end of this month, but is, in reality, only 4 months since launch. February will see our 5th kit released and my main goal for this year is to implement my marketing strategy and see continuous sales of the kits. Gotta pay those bills!
  • Scraps Of Life Yes, I consider this under the career umbrella, even though a successful blog-as-a-business-model is as rare as hen’s teeth these days. Still, it’s part of my whole package, and I mean to keep it going and growing. I want to do a video a week (be it YouTube or Periscope), I want to finish our initial trek through the 64 Arts. And I want to build up the Senses Project that I stumbled into this week into a regular (at least monthly) feature. And I’d love to do some sponsored posts for brands I use in my normal, everyday life.


  • Move more. While I’m sure my doctor would love me to put “lose xx pounds” here, I’m not gonna (write it, that is). I don’t actually care about the number on the scale, I’m comfortable in my body the way it is now and my weight/size doesn’t stop me from doing anything I want to. I do agree that my sedentary lifestyle isn’t the best and will make a more concerted effort to be a bit more active this year. Todd and I got Garmin Vivosmarts as Christmas presents this year and we’re both trying to hit those step goals each day.
  • Be more productive. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I get a lot done on a regular basis, but I also know how easily I get distracted and how ineffectively I put my available time to good use, leaving me to scramble sometimes to meet deadlines. I want to be more consistent in my output and feel good about what I accomplish each day instead of fretting over what I didn’t get done.
  • Art Every Day. This can be anything from sketching/doodling to working on a painting, to making something for the house to whatever. Just so that at the end of the day I can say yes, I did something artsy or creative today. I’m usually thinking about projects on the daily, but doing them comes in fits and spurts, and I want to be more consistent. In the last week I’ve sketched on several occasions, drawn some digital art, and designed some bookplates. Not bad for week 1.

Which leads me to…

Word of the Year

My word for 2016 is Show. As in show up (be present), show out (put my best foot forward), and show me the money (I’m in business, not charity, right?!). Last year’s word was forward and I really feel like it kept me from getting down when things didn’t turn out like I’d hoped, planned, dreamed. The Crafty Branch is the best example–the first plan didn’t work so I kept moving forward and took a different approach. Now it’s time to take that momentum and have something to SHOW for it!

And speaking of show, look who’s showing up on the Imagine Crafts blog today: me!

One Word Planner Dashboard for Imagine Crafts

One Word Planner Dashboard for Imagine Crafts

Just before Thanksgiving I got the word that I was accepted onto the Artist in Residence team for 2016 and this is my first project for them. Our first prompt was all about organization so a planner dashboard featuring my word of the year seemed like the perfect thing. (That’s a stunt planner, up there, I made a similar wrap cover for my planner inserts, too.)

Their products will also be showing up in more of my Helmar projects as the months go by. Like in today’s Reading Road Map Bookmark where I used their great StazOn ink pads to embellish the decoupaged bookmark.

Reading Road Map Bookmark for Helmar Adhesives

Reading Road Map Bookmark for Helmar Adhesives

What are your goals for this year? Any exciting news to share???

Foodie Resolutions


It’s that time of year, folks, when we look back at the year that was (and wonder where it went so quickly!) and contemplate the year ahead (and what we’re going to do differently). As much as I dislike the word “resolutions”–it sounds so official and ominous and unyielding–it is what most people call their intentions (my preferred word, leaves some necessary wiggle room) that they set. Do you have any that are food-related?

No, no, no, I don’t mean the usual big-d-Diet ones. I mean little-d-diet ones, the everyday practices that we have, the getting out of ruts or starting new habits. Whether we live to eat or eat to live, food is a necessary part of our daily lives so it makes perfect sense that there might be some food-related intentions to be made for the start of the next decade.

If you want to eat healthier in the new year, instead of declaring an all-out war on carbs or fats, why not try a more subtle shift like these:

  • I intend to eat more vegetables. If you’re more of a meat and potatoes type, try mashed cauliflower instead of the usual spuds, bake sticks of turnips or rutabagas drizzled with olive oil instead of fries, or even creamed spinach on the side of your grilled or broiled steak or chicken.
  • I intend to watch my portion sizes. Pick up a deck of playing cards and place it next to your plate at home–that’s the size your portion of meat should be. Does it look very small on your usual plates, making you feel deprived? Buy smaller plates! It’s true, we eat with our eyes just as much as our mouths, and seeing a full plate of practically any size will increase your satisfaction with a meal.

Perhaps you already eat healthily but your usual meals have gotten a bit predictable. Maybe you want to try new things but don’t know where to start. All it takes is an idea:

  • I intend to try a new recipe every week. Too drastic a shift in our eating habits can be upsetting on several fronts. Immersion works well for languages, but I think a more gradual introduction to new ingredients, cuisines or cooking techniques is a kinder way to expand ones horizons; knowing that the familiar is waiting around the corner allows us to experiment more easily.
  • I intend to buy a new spice and learn how to use it. One of the most fascinating things in food, I think, is how different the same basic ingredients taste when a new spice or seasoning is employed. I recently picked up Ian Hemphill’s Spice and Herb Bible and am amazed at how thorough a reference it is, including helpful tips about which spices easily combine, what quantities to use with what sort of foods and what each is best suited for.

Or, maybe, it’s the food budget that needs an overhaul:

  • I intend to eat out less. While I’m all for supporting local restaurants whenever possible, let’s face it: eating out costs more than cooking at home and, when you are out more nights than in, your food budget can be way out of proportion. This means fast food and take-out, too. Not only will you be doing your wallet a favor, but your waistline may show the difference as well. And when you do go out, pay attention to those portions and bring half of it (or more!) home for future meals.
  • I intend to make shopping lists each time I go to the grocery store. There’s just something about having a list in-hand (yes, you have to bring it with you, not leave it on the counter) that curbs the impulse to toss stuff willy-nilly into the cart. It may mean a bit of pre-planning about your menu for the week, but I’m always astonished at how much I spend when I go shopping sans-list compared to with one, not to mention what I invariably forget and have to go back for during the week!
  • I intend to shop locally. While not always the case, many times a farmer’s market can yield better prices on fresh produce simply because the farms are down the road and require less transportation costs instead of several states (or countries!) away. Similar deals can be found with local meat markets that do their own butchering and therefore fewer middle-man costs. Even if the prices are the same, you may feel better for supporting the local economy in a more direct way than shopping for everything at the larger chains or big-box stores.

Whatever you intend for 2010, keep in mind that it should be to add something to your life. By keeping a positive spin on things and concentrating on meeting small milestones on a frequent basis you’ll have a higher sucess rate and be able to look back on the coming year with a smile.