Be Better: Canva

Since I plan on starting to regularly post on multiple websites, such as facebook, instagram, and flickr (with mixed success as of yet).. I knew I needed something to help streamline image processing.  I had heard of Canva and am deciding to give them a try.  I went through all of their learning tutorials, because I figured I might as well know how to properly use the program, and because I thought I might learn a thing or two about design (the first is true the second is debatable).  But, I think that for someone without an art background, you probably would learn some fundamentals of good design, such as utilizing white space, or how to pair fonts.  But I personally recommend anyone using Canva to take the hour (I’m not even sure if it took me this long to take all 30 tutorials, but I suppose you should take long enough to actually learn what they’re teaching) and do all of them.  Each one has at least one good tip, or instructions on how to use the program, including short cuts to make it even faster!

Right now, I’m trying to design my wedding invitations, and it’s actually going really well.  I’m sure I’ll share them on here when they are done.  But things that I really like so far about Canva include the variety of fonts for free, and the shapes.  Oh man, do I love those shapes they provide!  Being able to upload my own photos, and quickly and easily turn them into Pinterest worthy blog photos is super exciting.  This is by no way endorsed by Canva by the way, I’m by no way at that kind of level.  I hope to be able to utilize Canva more often for photo editing and prepping, instead of using Photoshop.  I took about 10 minutes and managed to whip this image up.  So, this is my first official image I’ve put out that I designed using Canva.  Still my original photo though.

Does anyone else use Canva?  If so, do  you think it makes processing images faster than more traditional editing software?

sweatereyes

 

Be Better: February Review

So after my first “month” of blogging, and trying to schedule and plan better, how have I done?

Obviously this is being posted on a Monday, and.. well I’m not supposed to be posting on a Monday.  This *should* have been posted last Thursday.  So, why didn’t it?  To be  honest, I think I need to work on my discipline.  It’s not that I don’t *want* to be posting, and writing.. it’s just that it is really easy not to.  So here I am, last day of the month, and lets just say I’m happy that this is a leap year.  The extra day will WILL mean that I will accomplish some of my goals this month.

GOALS:

  1. Finish Mermaid Doll – not done
  2. Complete Four Motivational Pages – two out of four
  3. Have rough copy sketched for four pages of comics – uhhh
  4. Update profile photos on various websites – okay to put off for now
  5. Create business colour scheme and start branding – yes!
  6. Donate hand-crafted items to Charity event at work – yes!
  7. Establish AND follow blog schedule – uhhh.. let’s talk about that

1: So where am I?  Well, I’m not finished the Mermaid Doll.. gah gah gah.  I still need to finish painting the box and I think that she needs a few details added too.  This is going to be my main project for tonight.

2: I’ve completed two motivational pages, and have a third sketched out.  I don’t think it’s reasonable to think I will finish this one AND complete a fourth one.  But, four was a bit ambitious (that would have made it one a week), and they are a bit more labour intensive than I had originally thought.. though drawing these I find very relaxing and when I’m not in the mood to create, but know I should, these are an easy way to get something done.  That being said, next month I may only put two on the goals list so I can make more time for other projects.

3: Comics.. ahh.  I really need to just DECIDE what comic I’m even working on.  One day it’s Thalia, the next it’s the Transit of Valari… obviously I can’t work on both at the same time.  That being said, this is probably my ONLY goal this month that I didn’t make any headway on.

4: Okay, so I haven’t updated my profile pictures yet.. but I have sorted and backed-up a tonne of photos on my computer.  I just ordered new glasses last night, so maybe I’ll wait for them to come to take some new photos.

5: Yay, something I can say I’ve actually done!  I’ve used Canva, an online tool that I will be talking about more next week (err later this week), to start creating my brand template.  I have a new colour scheme picked out, and fonts, and even some design elements.  So one thing I can proudly cross off my list for the month!

6: Where I work (Michaels Arts and Crafts), has an employee supported Charity called Michaels Cares.  The program is help associates in times of severe need, such as life threatening illness, death in the family, or your house burning down.  This year, I really wanted to support the program because I know a friend of mine had to use it last year.  While I haven’t talked much about Gaeten on my blog before, he was a true inspiration to me and his loss is something I still feel.. I’ve been seriously considering writing a post about him, so that’s all I’ll say for now…  But it’s been a big month of fundraising, and I’ve purchased a lot of cupcakes in support.  I’ve donated a few items into the silent arts and craft auction, the topic of my next What I’m Working On post.

7: The Big One.  Did I make a schedule I can actually follow?  Did I follow it?  Kind of and kind of.  I love my written schedule and it fits to nicely on a half page.  But, I also have to admit that last week I didn’t technically get two posts out (or even one), though this post is still within my week (since my schedule runs Tuesday to Monday).  What is working is picking specific things to write about in advance so I’m not racking my brain trying to remember what I’ve done recently.  Now I just need to dedicate myself to FOLLOWING the schedule to a T.  Just remember, Discipline not Motivation.

So, to keep my silly goals of posting, expect my next post later tonight.  After today, I *should* be returning to regular scheduling.

Be Better 2016: Digital Scheduling

Okay, so week two of blogging schedule.  I mentioned last week that I had already adjusted my schedule, but have to admit that this week I’m going to follow last week’s (because I uh.. didn’t write my posts in time this week.  Honesty).  I’m going to use the excuse that I had a week off of work, so I’m allowed to relax once in a while… but relaxing so early into my Be Better 2016 Plan is probably not the best idea for me either.  Regardless, I’m still pushing forward and doing my best.  Last week I shared how I’m attempting to schedule blogging, and plan blogging ahead better so I don’t have to think of what to write about, or feel forced to create so that I can post about something I did that very same day.  I’ve introduced a highlighter to my blog plan, and the colour makes me happy.  Now I just need to figure out how to carry my blog schedule with me more consistently.

But, the blog schedule isn’t the only list I’ve been trying to maintain for the huge life goals I’ve started working towards.  I want to get more consistent cleaning done at home, healthier eating, plus all the little side projects and ideas (all on top of being an artist and working a full time job).  As many of you already know, balancing all of this is really hard, and it’s become apparent to me that trying to create hand-written lists and keep them all up is damn near impossible (for me at least, and I really like lists).  So, I have finally made the step into the 21st century, and last year I got a smartphone all of my own.  I have to admit, technology has gotten pretty cool.  As soon as I got the phone I started looking into time-management and scheduling apps, I tried out a few but decided on one that was king of them all: ColorNote.  I lets you make check-able checklists and test files.  It has a calendar view, and lets you re-new lists on a regular basis (such as daily, or every Tuesday).  I also just learned from looking on their website that you can also re-name the colours so that you stay organized with what each colour is for (nifty).  ColorNote is by far the most customize-able list and schedule app I can find (that’s free too of course), it just takes a bit of time to figure out how to use it.

So my calendar view is a sea of little yellow dots which are for daily tasks.  I’m trying to keep it simple, and not over-divide work or make lists that are a mile long, so I’ve decided that for each day of the week I only have my work schedule (or my usual work schedule), laundry, dishes, cat litter, 15min tidy, plus one room focus.  I think this is a good way to start, since it doesn’t load up any one day with cleaning.  I also have two checklists that stay on the first day of the month for monthly goals, one list for art and creative business goals, and one for house and personal goals.

Over the past week, I’m also thrilled that my partner fixed our internet, so my phone can finally connect to our WIFI at home!  This means I can re-work my morning routine, and hopefully come up with something that works better for me (waking up 20 minutes before I have to leave, and spending about 10 of those minutes laying on the couch has proven to not be the best approach).  I’m going to leave you today with a reminder that it is still winter in Ontario and a sneak peak to what I’ve been working on.

 

 

Be Better 2016: Blog Schedule

Alright, so this is my first post from my new blogging schedule.  As I previously mentioned, I’ve been working on making a proper blog and online schedule, and dedicating myself to finding the best ways to implement it.  You can’t obtain your goals unless you have a good plan.  Blogging and getting myself online is only one aspect of my New Years Resolution, but I’m trying to take things one step at a time, and really iron out each step so that I can actually reach my goals.

So I’ve spent a few weeks and have made a blog schedule.  It’s a completely different approach to blogging for me.. which is why I think it might work.  While I’m definitely using more digital means of keeping track and reaching other life goals (something I plan on talking about in my next Be Better post), I decided to do something more visual and hand-done for blogging.  I picked a cute notebook (one I already had), and divided the page in half.  I have a simple legend, and plan on seeing more and more highlighter throughout the book.  It’s weird but I realized that based on my schedule, it makes way more sense to make my blog week go from Tuesday-Monday.  Once I decided that, the schedule made a lot more sense to me, and just sort of fell into place.  I’ll be sure to update on the success and alterations I make the schedule and how I’m keeping track of it.  I’ve already slightly adjusted the lay-out of the weekly checklists for the coming week, which I’ll share next week.

Did I mention that I’ve finally joined Instagram?  I have to admit, I think me and Instagram are going to be friends.

So while I’m posting this a little late for my Thursday deadline, it’s still in before midnight and therefor a success for following my blogging schedule!  Tomorrow I will be posting an update on what current art I’m working on.

I picked up a pen but drew a blank {another new year, another chance to make it better}

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Every year, around this time I feel the need to reflect and re-gather my goals and ambitions (including establishing exactly what those are).  I was more than happy to see the end of 2012, which will be forever in my memory a year of struggle, sorrow, anger and disappointment.  Every time I started to get back on my feet, another tidal wave would come and again I would be drowning, with no sense of what direction to go.  This hurts to admit, especially re-reading my new years post from last year (although at the time, I could not have possibly predicted the year we were about to endure).  But I can not dwell on the past, there is nothing I can do to change how 2012 went, but I can make a promise to myself, and to my family, that I will grow and become stronger from experiencing all of it.

Despite all the terrible things of 2012, I do feel that I am closer to my (and my family’s) big goals than I was a year ago.  The house, a year ago, was still crammed, disorganized and in no way close to be ready to put on the market.  But now?  We’ve organized almost the entire house, cleared out the basement, and actually put systems in place to keep it that way.  I know that the progress we’ve made on the house, and our lifestyle habits, has made a huge positive change in both myself and my partner.  It feels so nice to just be in a tidy home on a regular basis.  Plus the bonus fuzzy feelings when friends and family come over and are truly amazed at the transformation (pictures of said transformation are on their way, but you know, one thing at a time).

I’m still working at Michaels as a Certified Art Framer, and honestly, I love my job.  I am proud of myself for taking the risk (even if it did result in some serious financial insecurity throughout the year, which also means that I still work at Swiss Chalet to supplement my income).  I love being able to actually talk about colour theory, plus I get to see a tonne of interesting art.  I’ve seen everything from limited Star Wars lithographs (from 1979, signed and numbered by the artist), original paintings by an apprentice of Tom Thompson, a silk war map with a truly amazing story behind it, to beautiful fabric and yarn art made by a 90-year-old woman.

Last year, I made a resolution to post to this blog twice a week, on a regular schedule.  Although that worked for a while, I admit that I allowed myself to be swallowed by the rest of my life and was too sad to blog most of the time.  I do want to try to pick up regular blogging again.  Last week I re-started my Photo Vault Tuesday posts on the Shock Stock and VHS Swap blog, something that I intend to be, once again, a weekly thing.  I also am continuing my photo blog, and my series that I have dubbed “Another Day”.  Last year, while I was reviewing a lot of my photography, I realized that somehow, somewhere along the line, I had actually developed a style.  I’m not sure where to go from here in that regard, but for the time being I am content with working with that.

Last year’s resolutions really focused on me establishing what I want, what was important to me, where I want to go, and how to move forward from failure.

One aspect that I attempted to tackle last summer was the main purpose of this blog.  I did a lot of changes, in hopes of making the blog easier to navigate.. but I don’t feel that I quite hit the nail on the head.  I have frequently changed my mind about what I want this blog to be, and generally have wanted to be so many thing that it is probably confusing.

I think that a root of this problem lies in Identity.  I want this blog to be honest, even when it’s ugly.  I want this blog to represent me, my voice, my art, and my life.  Identity is something that I have struggled with since I was young.  I think this is also why I have always been fascinated with self portraits, and the idea of transforming myself on a regular basis.  But I’ve grown to realize that identity is not something that is static, I do not have any single identity.  Rather I am (like all living beings) always in flux.  This gives me a better sense of control, knowing that my identity is not something that I need to stamp out into a neat little square, but something that can change and develop with me.  I just need to listen to my own heart, and be honest with myself, and move forward from that.  I just need to be the best that I can be, so that I can be proud of myself when I fall asleep each night.

I’m sure that, to a certain extent, the tone of this post is influenced by my current medical problems.  I’ve been more or less bed-ridden for almost two weeks now, and have not been able to talk very well the entire time.

Oh, and if you love my title, it’s a lyric from Touche Amore’s song I’ll Get My Just Deserve.  It’s a beautiful song, I highly recommend it.

 

Re-Focus, new ideas: Move Forward.

I admit, that I have had some difficulty with blogging lately.  I realized the other day that the reason for this was that I wanted this blog to be more focused on new art, crafts and decorating that I was/ wanted to be doing.  The problem with this was, that my partner and I have been crazy focused on simply de-cluttering, and being serious about paring down our belongs.  I haven’t had a lot of free time to work on the sort of stuff that I want to be posting on here more.  But, I am certainly very busy with my time; so, my solution to this is to simply be blogging about what I *am* doing.  We have the biggest garden and array of plants than either of us had ever had to take care of on our own.  I bake and cook most of our food from scratch, we buy very little prepared foods now.

A few weeks ago I was also given an amazing little tin recipe card holder from my mom.  I am kind of excited to fill it with my own recipes and all of the recipes I have adapted over time.  Did I mention that it actually includes recipe dividers inside?  To celebrate this amazing little addition to my kitchen, and to really force me to write out recipes and therefor put them into said holder, I am going to be posting full recipes and tutorials on some of my favourite and most popular recipes.  I don’t know if food is something that I will continue posting after this series, but we’ll see how it goes! So far, I have two recipes already done for the series and have at least two more planned.

My partner and I have really been trying to garden and experiment with plants this summer.  I have successfully grown Thyme, Oregano and Basil from seeds.   We also have a rather healthy cucumber plant growing in the back yard.  But the real show stopper was this guy that popped open yesterday:

A Sunflower!

This flower had been growing for some time, it’s stalk was all hairy and ugly, and to be honest we weren’t really sure what it was.. but we let almost anything grow if it wants to in our garden, especially if it is tall and weird.  I had suspected it was a sunflower last weekend, but wasn’t really sure.  I was really delighted when I saw this yesterday though, and today the flower looks even better!  It’s too bad that the leaves are all chewed up by bugs, but it is still so pretty.

We also have some blue flowers that grow every year around our back cement pad, we’re pretty sure they are considered weeds but they look and smell nice so we like them.

Outside garden area: sweet potatoes, garlic, pineapple, cucumbers..

A sweet potato we are growing!

So, although I am very excited about all the plants, I don’t think that I want to continue posting them on here.  So for this summer I am going to be posting plant and garden photos to my facebook page here.

I am also still planning on posting my Dante Vs. the Kraken story as it progresses.

Thanks for reading,

xoxo

A Day Late and a Penny Short {struggle, reflection, and some social commentary}

Yesterday, I was supposed to post.  I even have a post planned and generally written in my mind thoughts.  I had my entire day decided, but as things go, my plans of relaxation and quiet crafting with friends had to take a back seat to life.  After spending my only day off running around like a crazy lady (again), and having some terrible pains through most of it, I felt terrible last night.  I laid on the couch from five till seven, not even sleeping although I was very tired.  I explain how I was feeling to my partner: that it literally felt like I had all my energy sucked out of my body, my limbs weighing hundreds of pounds and my eyes refusing to stay open (even though I could tell I was not going to fall asleep).  This happens to me more often than I like to admit.  When it is only mild, I call it “phantom pain” since I’m not really in pain, although my entire body feels weird and mildly uncomfortable; but I call it that because I always get it after I have been experiencing pain for a specifically long period of time.  I explain all of this, and my partner looks at me and says “yeah, that’s physical exhaustion babe” (the babe part is actually an inside joke, he doesn’t actually call me babe).  I think about it, and I realize that yeah, I’m a total idiot, and this is obviously physical exhaustion.  What makes me feel like an idiot is that I never allowed myself to recognize it as what it is.  I know that I tend to push myself farther than I should, but to actually realize that I do it to the point of exhaustion about once a week is a little bothering.

Admittedly, the past few months have been difficult.  A lot of things have occurred in our lives that have been extremely emotionally tiring on both of us.  But that is all part of life.  You can not have the highs without also having the lows.  Realizing that I have actually exhausting myself over the past while made me step back for a moment and consider whether or not I wanted to take a break, or to slow down over all.  But, the existentialist me refuses these options.  I would rather do everything I want to do, be active, go on adventures, have fun with friends, and pursue my hobbies, goals, and dreams, than wallow in my own weakness.  I could use my medical condition to give up, to never leave my house, push all of my friends away, or worse.  What is the point of living at all, if you are only going to live in a box you yourself constructed?

That being said, the only constructive thing I accomplished yesterday was going through a large box of pens, markers, high lighters and other office supplies to test to see which ones still worked.  As it turned out, about half the box was garbage.  I was at least happy to have done *something* with my day.

And now, because I assume that most people saw the above writing and though TLDR, here are a selection of memes, images and quotes that we have recently saved, or on topics that I have been recently thinking about a lot.  (All of these images were found online, I am not the original creator)