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.

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Check-In: November 3

What I’ve been working on: Not this blog, obviously. It’s been a little while since I did a check-in. Here’s a couple things I’ve gotten done — a new invitation design:

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And some sweet little hearts:

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That invitation almost wasn’t done this week. I fussed over it for a while before becoming completely frustrated and decided to give up for the night and go to bed early. But, before shutting down, I decided to take a look at Pinterest and some other sites I go to for inspiration. I happened to see something that (oddly) looks nothing like my final product, but provided just enough of a hint of something that I went right back to my design and got it done within an hour.

I dunno what the moral of that story is. Perseverance? The power of Pinterest? Maybe just take a break and look at something else for a second? Maybe all of them.

What I’m listening to: I’ve been listening to a little bit of The Dollop. (A dollop of The Dollop? Wait.. no… come back…) It’s a history podcast presented by some funny guys. I’ve been skipping around listening to the ones with titles that pique my interest. I learned (by way of Huey Long) that Louisiana had a governor named Ruffin Pleasant. So good.

What I’m reading: Remember that book I got over a month ago? Well, I’ve renewed it at the library twice and now I’m finally actually reading it. Many apologize to my book group, for I am truly the worst of all people.

What I’m playing: Y’all. Civilization VI came out and of course all my time has been devoted to that because Civ is well and truly my jam. ❤

Check-In: September 22

What I’m working on: Well. It’s the first day of fall. So, of course I’m working on Christmas stuff that I should have actually started a month ago. Also, it’s still 90+ degrees outside. I’m not anywhere near feeling holly-jolly yet. But, I’m giving it the old college try!

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What I’m playing: The husband person and I had our first Pokemon battles. I was soundly beaten. But, I caught a super-awesome Skitty and I named her Pancakes and we’re going to be best friends and then he’ll be in trouble.

What I’m listening to: On the heels of that podcast series about Charles Manson, I’ve started listening to My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark and I DON’T KNOW WHY. I don’t really watch any true crime TV. But It’s always a subject I’ve tended to fall into a Wiki-spiral with. I like the podcast because they actual do the Wiki-spiral for me and there’s no chance of me accidentally seeing a crime scene photo. I do not do not do not do not like crime scene photos. But audio descriptions are fine.

True crime is one of those weird subjects. I know so many people (most, if not all, are women) who are super-fascinated by it. And they’re all really compassionate, smart, friendly, non-psychopaths. Karen and Georgia hypothesize that people who find true crime fascinating are the people who have the most anxiety about it. Which probably explains why so many of those people are women. I absolutely have anxiety about gettin’ got. (Among other things.) Maybe subconsciously, knowing all the stories is a way of preparing. If I know how SHE died, then I can avoid it.

(Hey, there’s a fun note to abruptly end this blog post on.)

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 23

What I’m working on: I’m trying to get some more “basics” up in the shop. I put this one together early this week:

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Hopefully it’s not too late to make July 4th barbecue invitations!

I’d hoped to have a few more things done, but we got waylaid by some minor medical issues. Everyone’s okay, but it was just better to spend the past two days on the couch with the hupsband instead of at the computer.

What I’m listening to: I’ve gotten back into the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast. I was a regular listener for a while, but then my podcast subscription list got out of control and it fell on the back burner. But, I’ve been going through all the episodes I’ve missed and listening to whichever ones strike my fancy. Today I learned about the origins of knitting, the history of the English language and the Jelling stones.

What I’m playing: The Steam sale started today! I’m about to buy the latest Crusader Kings II expansion. I’ll let you know how it is. 🙂

Check-In: June 16

What I’m working on: Okay. I’m still working on my fiddly, fiddly patterns. I’m not even going to promise that they’ll be out by the weekend because we know how that goes.

But, I did get this up on the shop:

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It’s a little different that my usual stuff, but I really had fun playing with the colors.

What I’m listening to: First of all, I don’t know if you guys have heard of this obscure little show called Hamilton… Okay, I’m super late to the game on this one. I’ve kind of ignored the hype up to this point because I tend to be picky about musicals. But, after the Tonys, I decided to give the album a listen… and I’ve listened to it everyday since then. Whoops.

I don’t know why I didn’t think I’d like it. Revolutionary statesmen are my jaaaaaaaaaam.

Second, I know I’ve plugged The Memory Palace before, but please listen to the latest episode. It’s so good. It’s a illustration of the march of progress — and the heartbreaking ways history repeats itself.

What I’m reading: I’m still reading X-Men and Secret Wars. But I’m also working on Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, our latest book club pick. I’m really enjoying it. I love a unique take on the standard fantasy world. It’s also pretty nonstop with the action, which makes for a pretty swift reading pace.

I also picked up Hamilton: The Revolution. I’ll probably get the Ron Chernow Hamilton biography when I’m done with it.

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Libraries are the best, y’all.

Check-In: May 5

What I’m working on: I’m working on getting my blogging act together! As a result, I feel like my shop has been neglected. But, I’m in the process of starting up a couple new blog features that I hope will lead to some regular (varied, interesting and entertaining) content. Fingers crossed that I have my first one up by Monday.

Other than that, I’ve spent some time repairing the quilt we keep on the couch in our living room.

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As you can probably tell, it’s an old quilt. Actually made by my great-grandmother. Probably in the late 60’s (if the double-knit polyester is any indication). It had been kind of tucked away by my grandmother. And then I inherited it about six (seven?) years ago. And I’ve used it CONSTANTLY. My husband and I are under it any time we’re on the couch. It’s good for naps. The cat loves it. (Also, you might recognize it as the inspiration for this.)

But, 50-year-old quilts don’t hold up well to that much love. So, I’ve been stitching pieces back together and I’ve got a hole to patch on the backing. Drastic measures may have to be taken soon. The batting is kind of disintegrating inside of it, so I think I might see if it can be taken apart, the batting replaced, and stitched back together. Maybe we can keep it from being loved into oblivion for another couple of years.

What I’m listening to: The husband person got me listening to Hello from the Magic Tavern. We play Dungeons and Dragons and as a result, we’ve listened to a few D&D podcasts. But this is a whole ‘nother animal. Arnie, the host, fell into a portal behind a Burger King and landed in the magical land of Foon. Luckily he’s still picking up a weak wifi signal from the BK and can put out a podcast.

How I’m feeling: So, I went ahead and paid for a month of Headspace to see how I like the program beyond the 10 day trial. And.. I kind of love it. I never thought I’d get this into meditation, but I haven’t had a problem making a habit of it because I look forward to it every day.

Admittedly, I feel a little weird paying $13 this month for instruction in a practice that’s thousands of years old… but I do like Andy’s guided meditations. And I like the way he explains the process. And I like the fact that the app presents science-based articles about mindfulness and meditation and it’s uses in every day life. I don’t really want to get spiritual with this practice. I just want to calm my anxiety and improve my focus.

As far as the anxiety goes, it for sure works. There’s been a couple moments in the past 20 days where I’ve gotten that kind of fluttery, untethered feeling I get when I feel particularly anxious or stressed. But, just 15 minutes of meditation and it’s like I’m yanked back down to earth. I fully recommend trying the 10 day trial of Headspace (and they’re so not paying me for this) or look up and of the hundreds of free guided meditations out there on the internet.