Monday, August 15, 2016

I've Been Planning, Y'all!

Many, many moons, 1999...I was an art major. I took art in middle and high school, and I was pretty sure I wanted to be a graphic designer. As a teen, I loooooved designing stuff. I spent hours and hours on my home computer designing avatars for this new CHAT thing you could do online, and I also started teaching myself web design. Sadly, when I got into college, got into my courses, and got an internship, I realized that corporate design is a life-sucking drag, stopped designing, and changed my major to English.

I had lunch with Anita from Anita Loves Books a couple of weeks ago, and we always have a wonderful time chatting about family and makeup and this time...planners! She brought her Erin Condren Life Planner, and while I've always loved planners and paper goods, it was the first moment that I thought to myself, "STICKERS....PRETTY!" I bought myself a Happy Planner the next day and started my sticker and washi tape stash at Michael's and Hobby Lobby.

Last week's planner layout. A brain explosion...with stickers. 
In true Andi-is-over-the-top-about-new-hobbies style, I also purchased a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, and I'm making my own stickers. So...many...stickers. Functional ones, pretty full boxes, groovy patterned half boxes, wee tiny mini icons. AND I LOVE IT.

A sheet of wee tiny miniature icons for my planner. One of the first really challenging sheets I've put together. It worked!
That old designery spark is back, thanks to the I CAN DO ANY DAMN THING I WANT'ness of it. I've been watching tutorials, downloading images, drawing, and practicing my hand lettering. I borrowed a Wacom tablet so I can draw freely in my design program, and it is ON!

It's a good feeling to have this creative juice since books just haven't been providing that outlet lately.

30 doodles every day! It's hard work getting back into the swing of drawing and thinking outside the box.
In a short time, I've found that I'm a "white space planner," I prefer a "plan as you go" style, and I really admire planners who are super creative with their layouts, style, design, and approach to planning. I'm linking a video from Jenny of StickWithMeShop, the first shop I've ordered stickers from, since I really love her style.

So as not to overwhelm you all, I've started a separate planning Instagram account at @estellaplans. I also have a Twitter, but it's a pain in the ass, so I'll probably just bug you all via my regular Twitter account.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Book Orphans: Fiction I've Never Opened

Admission here, and this is at least partially why I was inspired to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and not buy this year. I have books on my shelves I've NEVER OPENED. Either I read the blurb and purchased them, or I knew the books by reputation and bought them. And there they sat. And sat.

Someone tell me they have this going on on, too.

Salamander by Thomas Wharton is pretty (I promise, I won't say this for every book)! I know I read lots of reviews of this one, oh, probably 10 years ago? Maybe 15? As I think about it now, it's definitely one of the oldest books left on my shelves. Time to read or cull.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is one of the books I bought half-price by reputation alone. I don't read the same amount of middle grade fiction that I used to, so we'll see if this one ultimately makes the cut.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters will DEFINITELY get read. I buy all of Waters' books because I love her so hard. In truth, I'm sort of hoarding this book. There are often Sarah Waters dry spells, so I'm saving this one for when I need a fix.

Astray by Emma Donoghue is a similar situation to The Night Watch. I'll definitely read this because I love short stories, I love Donoghue, and I bought the book when it was on sale.

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire was a going-away present when I left my job in March, so it hasn't been languishing on the shelves for nearly as long as the others. I have a hit and miss relationship with Maguire. The Oz series is a big hit, but others, like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, didn't play as well.

Now, don't leave me hanging! What books on your shelves have you completely ignored?

P.S. Today is your last chance to donate to my St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser! I'm over the $1,500 goal, but who says that should stop the fundraising? Thank you so much for your support! I'll post my head shave here when it's done!

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Couch to 5K Finish Line!

If there's one thing I wish I'd done on this Couch to 5K journey, it's keep a journal. I ran my last program run this morning...30 minutes in the pre-dawn. I was stoked for this run because it's the last official one. Is it my last run? Ha! No. Not at all. Now I'm on to improving my 5K, and there's a lot of improvement left to do.

While the program is built to last nine weeks, I stretched it out to 16. I can think over the months and remember the trends in my abilities and moods, but I wish I still had the specifics. One thing is for sure...this has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life.

I wanted this morning's run to be great. Maybe set a new pace record or really crush it. In truth, it was a damn hard run. I didn't sleep well last night, and I started a strength training regimen yesterday that left my legs tired and spent.

But I did it anyway, even though it was hard, I was tired, and I didn't want to get out of bed at 5 a.m. I missed my goal pace by a minute, but it was a hard run, and it's OK. You have to get through the sucky ones to get to the really good ones. And when did I ever think I'd be able to run 30 minutes straight? When I was in high school that was out of the question for me. Now, at 35, I'm game.

Running has given me some key things.

  • Confidence. Doing new things and doing them well takes a lot of time, devotion, and perseverance. Sometimes the improvements are only incremental, but they are valuable and worthwhile all the same. I've done this, and I can do much more. 
  • Courage. I've been courageous in some ways...when it comes to pushing through the hard stuff for my family, for instance. I haven't been very courageous about trying new things. The fear of looking silly or failing gets in the way. Running has drastically lessened my fear of embarrassment and...let's face it...pain. 
  • Control. A greater handle on my health, the ability to make wiser food choices, decreased anxiety, and the mental strength to push myself toward the next goal. 
I'm just so happy. I'm so, so proud, and I'm not afraid to say that out loud. I'M SO PROUD! I can run. 


There's no way you could possibly know how much your kind words of encouragement here--on Twitter, Instagram, via email, all over--have kept me going. Thank you, thank you. It's still a long road ahead, but I'm excited for it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Currently \\ Reading and Doing

Right This Minute | David and I just caught up on some house cleaning. We've been following Apartment Therapy's How to Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days. This little project started when I decided I wanted to check out zone cleaning, and Kelly sent me the link. We have a habit of letting most of our cleaning (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc.) wait until the weekend, which actually leaves a lot of random, deeper cleaning tasks out in the cold. I'll probably do a whole post on this because I find the mundane details of home life fascinating. I love knowing how other people handle this stuff, so let me know if that's something that weirdly interests you too.

Feeling | Good! Friday I spent all day at a very swanky mall in Dallas with girlfriends. I hadn't seen them in quite a while--we worked together at my old job--so it was fun to hang out all day, eat sushi, and enjoy happy hour. I was fairly exhausted yesterday, so it was a sluggish Saturday of not doing anything really.

Reading | YES! Big news, eh? I'm finally reading The Fireman by Joe Hill for #Firemanalong. I was waiting on my library copy, and it took forever to arrive. I quickly knocked off 50 pages of it on Thursday, so I'll probably try to dive back into it tonight.

I'm also getting into Toil and Trouble, a series of six comics by Mairghread Scott and Kelly and Nichole Matthews. It's a re-imagining of Macbeth with some seriously badass witches at the helm.

Finally, I'm listening to Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I started this on my Wednesday night work commute this past week, and it's love! Jahren's writing is so eloquent, and her voice is so soothing. I love the way she explains her science in layman's terms. Looking forward to listening more this week while I'm working out and driving.

Listening | Besides Lab Girl, I'm into podcasts, always. This past week was an especially good episode of Lore titled "The Mountain" about explorers and their sometimes-tragic ends. I don't recommend listening when you're out running before dawn. In a part of town with iffy streetlights.

Watching | I've been getting caught up on some BookTube viewing, but besides that, mostly watching Chopped during meals.

Loving | My new Lush purchases! I grabbed a Rose Jam scented "bubbleroon"--a bubble bar that looks like a cute, sparkly, pink macaron.

Hating | Shootings. I don't even have the energy to go into it today.

Eating | Veggies! While I haven't been as consistent as I'd like, I am making a concerted effort to make sure about 3/4 of my food is veggies and fruit. Having that ratio in mind really helps me, and so does summer produce from our neighbors. This week I'm going to make these lentil-stuffed zucchini boats. 

Anticipating | My next trip to the pool. So hot.

Images by Freepik