Thursday, January 29, 2009

looking ahead

Through no fault but my own, I've been trudging through this past week, making up for the fact that I didn't keep up with my book work last year. I need that data to file my sales tax return which is due Saturday, so I've been slogging away entering all the data that should have been entered weekly and monthly. It hasn't been one of my more exciting weeks!

It's a good thing I've made discipline one of my touch stones this year, as evidenced by my lack of it last year. I didn't keep up with my book work last year (even though that was a goal I had made for myself!) because I find bookwork tedious and boring. And, if I pushed it off for another day, there were no immediate consequences.

This year, I've recruited the help of artist friend Bonnielyn Brankey to hold me accountable in keeping my books up to date each month, and I in turn have promised to keep her accountable in blogging at least weekly. I'm excited about this because I've had friends keep me accountable in other areas of my life, and it has really helped.

Why the picture of the brayer and printing ink? Just before Christmas I ordered some printing supplies so that I could do some exploration with nature printing - i.e. making leaf, flower prints, etc. on my handmade paper. I have been really eager to try this, and I set up my new supplies with in eyesite of my computer, as motivation to get my tax work done. Next week should be much more interesting!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Faith via ipod

ABC News is looking for people who turn to new, often abbreviated means, as a way to keep religion in their fast-paced lives. In an online survey, they want want us to tell them how we stay connected to our faith in the digital era.

So I told them. And as I did, I was shocked at how central my ipod touch is to my realm of faith.

In the morning I get up early to read my Bible before everyone else gets up, and chaos reigns. I read the Daily Bible which is the Bible in chronological order, but if I want to look up something specific, I find it fastest and easiest to use the ESV Bible I've downloaded on my ipod. When I'm done reading, I might review some verses I'm memorizing which I keep track of in my ipod Notes application. Next, I check my email from my ipod, where I receive daily descriptions of some Christian podcasts I like (Revive Our Hearts, Midday Connection, etc) and if they sound interesting I will download the podcasts from itunes, and listen to them on my ipod when I have time.

The kids like to listen to K love on the radio, and if there is a song we really like (and if I have any money left in my itunes account) I can quickly grab my ipod and download the song into itunes. Our collection of Christian songs has grown really large, but I don't mind spending money on something that can help reinforce their faith.

On Sundays I often miss the sermon, since I'm in charge of Children's Church during our service. So, I download my pastor's sermons, and if I am going to be driving up to see my parents that week (4 hour round trip) I may also see if John Piper, Mike Bullmore, or C.J Mahaney have any interesting new sermons. I love that these are all free!

I also love blogs written by people of faith, and spend many free moments (maybe too many) reading them on Google Reader from my ipod.

It is amazing to me how many faith building tools are available to an average person like me/us here in America. How blessed we are...but along with all of this comes responsibility:

"...from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48

If you are interested in taking the online faith survey, you can do so here.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Aerogarden update

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you may recall that I recently received an Aerogarden for my birthday. Basically it's an indoor hydroponics garden, and I inserted the "seed pods" and plugged it in two weeks ago.

So far, as you can see, the italian basil and purple basil are going strong. To the right of the green italian basil there is a thin frond of dill that's about 3" tall, but because it's so thin and delicate it barely shows up against the dark background.
To the left of the purple basil there is mint sprouting, and on the right you can see a sprig of thyme, which is about 2" tall.

There are two sluggards on either end of the back row, chives and parsley. The chives should have sprouted 4 days ago, and the parsley is 2 days late. I called aerogarden, and after being on hold for a long time I was assured that two new seed pods will soon be on their way to me. Unfortunately by the time I get the new pods and germination finally occurs, they will be well behind the other plants. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

read, write, read, write, read, read...

Purple Flowers

Pressed Botanicals on Handmade Paper, Unframed
5" x 5" handmade paper (mounted on 8 1/2" x 11" Gilbert Oxford card stock)
Available for purchase here

Did you make fresh new goals this year? Me too, but lets not make the mistake I made last year.

Last year I spent quite a bit of time making goals, but I'm embarrassed to say didn't really keep any of them! Because I didn't faithfully review them, eventually in the hustle and bustle of daily life they got pushed back to back of my mind.
By early spring I had forgot all about most of them.

Donna Otto, in her book Get More done in Less Time, Otto says the Goals section of your daily planner should be "flexible and expandable - and worn from reviewing. She goes on to say, "Remember that if you write your goals and never read them, you will forget them. Reading them often fives you direction for your daily activities and a focus for your energy."

Every Monday I am re-reading my New Year goals (I have set up Google calendar alerts to remind me), and then basing my weekly goals directly off of them.
Just like our grade school teachers used to say, I need to "read, read, read!"

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stopping By

Yellow Gazania

Pressed Botanicals on Handmade Paper, Unframed
11" x 14"
Private Collection

I've been a hermit
I’ve been working overtime trying to get reorganized for the year ahead in regards to both my home, as well as my art. And I’ve been spending too much time (I know!) pouring over seed catalogs, drinking in all of the beautiful pictures, dreaming of this year's gardens, and trying (in vain) not to order more seeds than I can plant.

Like last year, I will be ordering even more vegetables, since that worked out so well for us last summer. This poses a bit of a challenge, however, since I don't really have a dedicated space for them. I have so many perennials dotted through out my gardens, as well as lots of annuals that faithfully reseed themselves each year, so I will have to squeeze my vegetables in where I can. I'm ordering a number of attractive ornamental vegetables, and will also be "hiding" some of my not so good looking vegetables behind screens of cosmos and calendula.

As usual, I have given myself permission to buy one non pressable, non edible, non useful plant - just for fun. This year's fun plant is the medusa ornamental pepper. I plan on using it as an edging plant for my front yard garden, with a back drop of purple basil, which should really lend a riot of unexpected color by mid summer. Can't wait!


Monday, January 05, 2009

So far, so good...

Discipline. So far today, I've been able to stick to my plan of action with out wavering, and I'm proud! Now, if I can continue to do this for the next 360 days...

One of the first items on my to do list this morning was to create a "Squidoo" page. It's an assignment from my art marketing group, and it's due by tomorrow's meeting. In a nutshell, Squidoo is an informational portal where users can set up their own "lenses" on any subject they choose. My lens still needs quite a bit of work, but basically it's about how to press flowers, and will include links to my pressed flower tutorials. Apparently you can also link up to appropriate affilliate sites and earn adsense money for yourself, or a charity of your choosing, but at this point I'm just interested in driving more traffic to my blog and website via my own links.

Placing links on Squidoo was tricky, and involved some html coding that I wasn't familiar with. To save you some time and frustration, here is a helpful link I found explaining how to add a link in a Squidoo lens.

Back to my to do list. Next on my list is to get tonight's BBQ beef brisket going in the slow cooker...

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

My focus word for 2009...

Discipline. (yawn) It's not too exciting, is it? But when I look back on where I've been, where I've ended up, and what I could have achieved, I've realized that this one element is key - not just in my art life, but in every single area of my life.

Friends who know me well will be amused, because discipline has never been a strength of mine. I prefer to base my actions on whatever I feel like doing at the moment. I love being flexible and spontaneous, not rigid and calculated. Being a "stay at home mom" has been like winning the lottery for me, because no one tells me what or when to do anything, I plan my days according to whatever I feel like doing.

But, this freedom has its downfalls, and God has been kindly pointing out some glaring deficiencies in my life over the past year, all of which involve my having great difficulty saying "no" to myself, and yes to something that would be a wiser, or more unselfish use of my time.

The most glaring area of my life that lacks discipline involves my use of time - especially in relation to the Internet. I love, love, love, checking my email. I love reading blogs, too many blogs. I love checking out CNN, USA today, Fox News, the Weather Channel, Lifehacker, ebay, MSNBC...the list could go on and on (and some days it does). I need to wrestle with myself and come up with a workable way to be more disciplined in my use of the internet - the amount of time I could free up would be huge.

I really love myself, and love giving myself whatever I want at the moment. Another snack? Sure. A free afternoon? No problem, you can fill that order and do the laundry tomorrow. That growing pile of bookwork? It can wait, and besides it's so boring so go ahead and ignore it another week or so...

Basically I divide my life up into these five areas: spiritual (my relationship with God), family, home(and garden), others (church, friends, etc), Elizabeth's Flowers (my art and online businesses). Each of these areas would benefit greatly from me saying "no" to myself, and my whims, and "yes" to whatever would help me achieve my goals in these areas.

I do foresee one major problem with my quest to become more disciplined. What will motivate me enough to override my long ingrained natural tendencies? The newness of the challenge might for awhile...but what about during the long haul? Do I even have a chance at becoming more disciplined consistently? Knowing me, and my track record, my answer would have to be no. Not in and of myself. I don't have enough "will power". But, while reading a blog this morning (there I go again), I came across the answer. I need to love someone else more than me. I'm going to give this a try.

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