Check-In: March 30

It’s been almost exactly a month since I did a general “hey, what’s happenin'” post, so here we go!

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What I’ve been working on: Nothing concrete yet, but I taught myself a new trick. I can now make some super intricate patterns like the one above! That one’s literally the first one I’ve done so it’s kind of unbalanced and a little all over the place, style-wise. But I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do more damask-style patterns and a way to kind of “draw as I go” inside a pattern, rather than combining elements. So I finally cracked the code (turns out you just Google “damask pattern tutorial illustrator”) and now I’m excited about what I can do with it.

What I’ve been reading: I picked up a couple of true crime-themed books from the library this month. I got Alan Moore’s From Hell, a decision inspired by Last Podcast on the Left‘s Jack the Ripper series. I never paid much attention to the Jack the Ripper story, despite my favorite kind of true crime being more historical true crime. I’ve finished the actual story and I’m just reading the back matter now. Alan Moore really pulled together the threads of so many theories and actual people and events in to a very compelling story. I don’t recommend reading it before bed, though. Dreams get weird.

I’m also reading Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, some Edwardian-era true crime to follow up the Victorian-era. The book itself is a little bit meandering for me to really get caught up in the story as intensely as I think I’d like, but it does a good job of telling the story of a both really interesting lady I’d never heard of and the story of a missing girl she investigated.

What I’ve been watching: I’ve actually been watching a couple of reality shows. Which is odd for me, because I kind of hate any reality show that isn’t RuPaul’s Drag Race. But, they’re very different from the usual reality show. First is The Great British Baking Show, which everyone loves and for good reason. It’s a competition show without any manufactured tension or drama. There’s tension and a little drama, but it’s actually real. There’s no obnoxious feuds or coaxed confessionals. The people on the show seem to genuinely like each other and feel genuinely upset when someone has to leave. And the setting is pleasant and there’s lots of good looking desserts and breads and it’s just a happy place. (And it really has me wanting to do more baking.)

The other show is Terrace House, which I’ve seen described as the Japanese Real World. And that’s kind of what it is. Six young people live in a nice house and just interact with each other. I just started watching it because you don’t see much live action Japanese television here, much less reality television. And again, I was surprised at how real it was.  But Justin McElroy explains why this show is so interesting better than I can.

What I’ve been listening to: I devoured S-Town in a couple days. If I didn’t have a job, I would have knocked it out in one. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give anything away. But it’s by the Serial and This American Life people, and it’s a perfect blend of both. It’s a Southern Gothic audio drama but it’s all real. So good. I think I liked it more than Serial. Definitely more than Serial season 2.

Check-In: September 8

What I’ve been working on: Guys! My shop’s been open for a year now! Here’s some (digital) cupcakes to celebrate!

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I’m not exactly an e-commerce powerhouse, but I’m happy with the growth I’ve seen in the past year. There was (and still are) a lot of lessons to be learned, but I’m optimistic. I started this endeavor as an experiment and went into it fully prepared to fail. But… I didn’t! Not yet, anyway. Hooray!

I’m planning on doing a whole separate post on what I’ve learned in my first year, so stay tuned for that. Until then, happy birthday!

What I’m listening to: I just started listening to You Must Remember This, a podcast about “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” I listened to the series on Joan Crawford (which is still ongoing) and really enjoyed it* and right now I’m listening to her series on “Charles Manson’s Hollywood.” (Which, sitting here alone in the house waiting for my husband to get home from work, I realize now might be a bad idea.) Nightmares notwithstanding, it’s also a very good story. They’re all thoroughly researched and contain SO much detail. I love so much detail.

*Despite the narrator’s tendency to read Crawford’s quotes with a not-great Transatlantic accent that was accurately described by a friend as sounding like Janet Snakehole. You’ve been warned.

What I’m watching: I just finished up the new season of Difficult People. Such a fun show. I’m also devoting a significant amount of my time to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2, of course. This whole thing where the top two have to choose one of the bottom three to eliminate is rough. All (most. shade.) of the queens on this season are SO GOOD. How can you choose a bottom three much less send someone home? I can’t even. I’m sure my favorite, Katya is going to go far. I’m worried about my other favorite, Phi Phi O’Hara, because they seem determined to give her the villain edit again. (Look. I love Alyssa Edwards. You love Alyssa Edwards. But Phi Phi ain’t wrong when she says that if you’re trapped in a room with her, a little Alyssa goes a looooong way.)

Check-In: June 9

What I’m working on: I’ve got a couple irons in the fire. Here’s a little sneak peek at something I’m hoping to have up in the shop this weekend:

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It’s very fiddly and is taking a while. There might be an easier way to do what I’m doing, but heck if I know what it is.

I’m going to switch gears a little tonight and do something simpler and hopefully have that up in the shop as well. I’m going to try and sprinkle in some quick, simple designs among my more ambitious ones. I don’t want to go too long without putting up new listings. It seems to me that my views on Etsy pick up during those times where I’m actively posting listings. And I don’t want to lose any momentum.

What I’m reading: I checked our latest book club book out of the library more than a week ago, I think, and I still haven’t started it. I’ve gotten terrible about procrastinating on my reading. It doesn’t help that I’m reading so many comics. I’ve put New Mutants aside and I’ve started reading the original Secret Wars because I’m at the point in Uncanny X-Men where that happens.

I’m about to start feeling the anxiety that’s prevented me from reading superhero comics for the past few years. It feels almost impossible to find a self contained story anymore. You have to be keeping up with a half dozen X-Books. Or a handful of Avengers books. And then there are the crossover events with things spread out over ALL the books. Now, I understand I can enjoy the story without EVERY tiny part of it… but I can get kind of a “completion” compulsion. Or maybe it’s a literary FOMO. I don’t know. But all I know is I just wanted to read X-Men from Giant Size #1 and it’s already sent me off on tangents with New Mutants, Secret Wars, and the Wolverine and Magick limited series. And I haven’t even gotten into nearly the quagmire the X-Universe is today. I think I’ll finish Secret Wars, read Uncanny #181 (Young Dragons in Love!) and take a break for a nice novel.

Anyway. Enough about my X-Anxiety. (An-X-iety? I don’t know.)

What I’ve been playing: My husband and I have been playing a lot of  Terraria  together this week. We both like video games, but we rarely play anything together because our tastes don’t overlap in multiplayer games very often. I tend to stick to RPGs, strategy games and simulations. But these open ended building games are perfect. I usually spend my time building houses while he goes out fights things and explores. I join him for a boss fight every now and then, but my main focus is usually interior decoration.

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That’s me under the blue and green slime banners in the trophy room. My husband is the blue guy in the horned helmet on the roof.

Check-In: April 21

What I’m working on – I’ve been trying to make myself sketch more. I’m getting stuck WAY in a rut and need to loosen up a little (a lot).

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Look closely for insightful notes.

I also did another pack of solid colors. I discovered it’s kind of hard to come up with a palette of 24 colors without relying on just a rainbow spread. But I like how it came out.

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What I’m watching – Y’all, I’m so far down the Drag Race rabbit hole, I haven’t even started the second season of Kimmy Schmidt. I’m on Season 6 of Drag Race, though. (Favorites? Darienne Lake, Courtney Act and Bianca Del Rio. Obvs.)

What I’m listening to – My husband is playing some Slick Rick on the other side of the office.

Practice makes something or other.

So, I did my first pattern exercise. I managed to not get hung up on the details and just did a thing. The exercise was to take inspiration from a floral arrangement for motifs and palettes, and make a pattern with two colorways.

I don’t think I hate them. My colors need a lot of help. The pattern could flow better… but I kinda like the loud 60s chitz of it all. Here’s my practice bits as some free phone wallpapers if you can stand the busy-ness.

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Check-In: April 14

Let’s get right to it!

What I’m working on: Stella’s getting her groove back, y’all. I’m feeling better and I’m getting stuff done.

Another listing up on the shop…

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I’ve done a whole slew of these basic color combos, but I think I’ve gotten a couple of techniques improved. I’m just trying to keep my shop’s momentum going while I work on other things.

I’m doing some of the exercises in my new book to jump start the creativity engine. I’m working on one as we speak.

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I’m really, really fighting the urge to be a perfectionist about this. I’ve got to give myself permission to just do something as practice and maybe just throw it away in the end. Not everything has to be the start of something that gets finished. It’s okay to make ugly things. It’s the stopping that’s the problem. *deep breath*

Other things I’m working on: New blog features, shop listing categories and a couple personal projects.

How I’m feeling: Better. I’m trying to keep up with my exercise habit. And thank goodness. If not, my back would be a wreck right now. I haven’t been so good at the posture when I’m at work.

I’m also giving meditation another shot. I downloaded the Headspace app and I’m doing the free ten day trial. I have to say, a ten minute meditation session in my car on my lunch break really helps with the afternoon brain fog I get. We’ll see if I think it’s helpful enough to pay the subscription fee after these ten days…

What I’m reading: The Bees! It’s surprisingly intense for a story told from a bee’s point of view.

What I’m playing: So much Minecraft. I’m building a tower.

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