Friday, January 29, 2016

Need More Business Progress? It's Not Too Late: How to Make Stuff Happen 2016!

January has already been an awesomely busy, productive start to 2016 for me! I've switched my focus to profit and my bank account made a big leap forward. Project ideas are finally clicking and moving forward. 2015 feels like a year of change, organization, planning and research. This year that work is coming together and moving to the next stage.

One of the big thing's that's finally moved to production stage is a huge amount of eBooks. I've been revised loads of whole living related ones for clients and additional ones on business and much more for myself and I'm loving the hell out of it! I thought this would be a good time to talk a little more about the 2016 Workbook I launched this month.

I love sitting with my workbook & planner in the morning, scheduling, then making stuff happen!

This eBook is 55 pages long and I've recently added a few more features that I feel will make it even more helpful for planning the year in full! I'm currently working on filling mine out entirely and it's helping me define EXACTLY what I need to do to hit my goals with money, business and more in 2016.

I designed this Workbook to really dig deep to help you flesh out your dreams, goals, and business, then REALLY schedule the necessary ACTION steps required to make it happen! It's a self-started detailed coaching session, and I'm excited to follow-up on the people who've bought it to see where it takes them this year.

I'm happy to see positive reviews already!

This eBook is still on sale for $5.00 until the end of January. I hope you'll check it out and let me know how it helps you accomplish your dreams in 2016! It's never too late. Let's make those resolutions and long-set goals happen!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Looking Back at My Colorful, Kitschy, Retro Early 20-Something Kitchen

This spot in front of the stove was my happy space. I loved cooking here, even with the lack of counter space.

Behind-the-scenes I'm embroiled in file organization for myself and a client. I have a literal mountain of note transcribing and digital file moving/sorting/modifying to get through! While I was on a roll, I've started organizing my blog posts (1236 published, 743 unpublished ones in draft!) so they're finely categorized. (for your reading pleasure!) Along the way I'm determining which posts "light me up" inside, to point me in the direction of what to write in the future. A couple hundred posts in, the first post that made me "light up" was one sharing photos of my 2nd apartment's kitchen from 2010!

I remember custom-making the huge pieces above with origami paper to fill the wall and add some color to the otherwise drab, utilitarian kitchen. My mom found the frames at the thrift store. They used to be in Doctor's offices. There was no where to put them in my current kitchen so I ended up throwing out the collages and giving the frames back.

I still have that origami paper. I'm going to use it to make a bunch of little boxes for organizing tiny odds and ends. And maybe cranes? Fish? I'm excited to craft with that paper again soon.

These old photos "spark joy" for many different reasons. They give me a nostalgia rush. I like them better than the shots of my living room which I was proud of at the time, while considering my kitchen a failure. These photos bring back memories of living alone, and the benefits and pitfalls. I worked without distraction, I didn't have to pick up after or cook for anyone, but my horror movie habit was torturous living alone! I watched Psycho and had to shower with my curtain open, after Rosemary's Baby, I heard whispering through the wall and never felt less safe! 

I remember the acquisition of each vintage cup, retro magnet, and find on trips to thrift stores or kitschy boutiques. I recall making lots of vegetable soup (and so much popcorn) out of busy and laziness. It's the kitchen where I first transitioned to eating as healthfully as possible. It's the kitchen with my incredibly-hard-to-keep-clean "Beetlejuice" tile that charmed me into renting the space in the first place. Looking at the photos, I remember taking them after making and hanging my new art pieces and doing some arraigning to make the kitchen cozier. I remember hating them and the post idea, I almost didn't share it. 

I should take it as a little lesson on some of the things I struggle with in life: letting people in, just letting go, not obsessing over perfection on a project, and just posting on this blog with less anxiety. Quality is paramount, but not if it's at the expense of progress, I struggle with the balance. 

I can't recall why the hell I took this blurry picture at a dutch angle above and felt compelled to post it like that, cracking the necks of then-readers (and I'm still a tad embarrassed to re-post them), but six years later, I'm happy that this memory is here. 
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Cold Day of Manatee and Nature Watching at the Famous Blue Springs, Florida

There are various natural springs named "Blue Springs" in Florida. This one in Central Florida is famous for the amount of Manatees that come to visit the warmer (comparatively, still cold as ice for a human) waters. This was my first time seeing Manatees in the wild. I've seen plenty of dolphins in the nearby St. John's river, but never the gentle Manatee you'd associate with its brackish water.

There were dozens of Manatees. Huge monsters, dainty babies, all sizes. Some scarred from boat propellers, daintily gilding through the water.

And all of the surrounding nature was gorgeous, too. It's funny, in Florida the leaves often don't change color until December and January.

And we got to see some gorgeous owls, too. We heard them first, crying out loudly, there were two on a branch fighting over a gray mouse!

There were many adorable manatee huddles and cuddles and contented-looking twirls.

I'll be back to see them again next year. I have lots of Florida nature and kitsch explorations planned for this year! I can't wait to point my camera at them.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

10 Tips For a Successful Business Launch: Getting Past the Start + Staying Inspired

No matter what business you're trying to start, it's hard! It takes more hours than you'll earn at first for nearly everyone who starts one. It can be difficult to realize your vision. BUT it's thoroughly addicting and rewarding and something I'll never stop doing. For anyone else who's trying to make their business ideas a reality in 2016, I'm sharing some tips from the trenches for getting through the initial start-up and development process.

1. Look at your current workload completely honestly. Delegate and cut tasks brutally.
Too many of us spend time plowing away on tasks that don't matter. Look at all of your to-dos honestly, get rid of some, delegate others.

2. Do the ugly stuff, your research and business plan, first.
No matter how much it hurts or how much you just want to dive in, do your business plans first. Do it!

This post is full of product photos and label designs that didn't work for me. I'm re-designing everything.

3. Don't reveal details too early, you never know how long development will take.
I make this mistake all the time, it's better to reveal details when you're near-done.

4. Don't launch until you're completely confident with your product...
Take your time to develop something you're proud of. Time spent depends on your project, too. I've read some people in my field will take years to launch something. Some movie directors I like will sit on something and slowly incubate it for decades! Quality counts, take your time.

5. BUT don't take TOO long or you can get stuck in development hell for YEARS.
On the other hand, don't drag it on for too long, set realistic deadlines for yourself and execute. Sometimes you have to relax and just do.

6. Contract outside help when/where possible.
If you're stuck forever somewhere, consider hiring help with things you can't easily do. Like web design, photography, graphic design, etc.

7. Focus on Quality...
Quality is #1, don't put out anything you can't be 100% behind and proud of. It's easier to sell something you love.

8. But cut the fat wherever possible, by doing things like shopping in bulk.
Shop in bulk , shop around, do what you need to keep costs realistic but also high quality.

All cutting-room floor efforts, but not in vain. You learn from what doesn't work.

9. Keep inspiration high, take classes for and network in your field.
This is very important to learn as much as possible about your field but also to stay inspired. Make craft groups, work with friends, visit museums, get a job with a business you want to start. (Work at a cafe if you want to open a cafe.) Be interactive and get out often for new inspiration.

10. Work on what you do a little bit every day, and never the passion fizzle out.
Don't work too long or too hard, don't lose sleep over our business when avoidable. Work a little bit every day, and keep the fun and passion high.

I've learned everything above the hard way making lots of mistakes over the past 17 years of making stuff for the web and another eight years of making or curating products to sell.

Got any further business questions? 
Or better tips! I could always use more. Please feel free to share via e-mail or in the comments!
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Friday, January 15, 2016

Vegan Banana Bread Recipe: For Your Cold Winter Days- Or Anytime, Dammit!

I asked AJ what his favorite thing I've ever cooked for him was and he surprised me by saying "Banana Bread!" It's simple comfort food, but nothing beats a gorgeous loaf of banana bread fresh out of the oven, especially on a cold winter day with a big mug of tea or coffee. If we have it for breakfast the whole loaf pretty much disappears! Here's how I make it. This version has no eggs, added sugar or milk, and it's beautifully moist from the coconut oil!


1) 4 Over-ripe bananas (bananas spotted brown are best for more moisture and sugar content)
2) 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
3) 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (you can sub for safflower, sunflower, almond, or olive)
4) 1.5 TSP Baking Powder
5) 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
6) Pinch of Salt, optional
7) 1/2 TSP to 1 TSP Ground Cinnamon
8) Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
9) Pinch of ginger powder (optional)
10) 1-2 TSP Vanilla Extract

Tools: Baking Pan, Sifter (I use a cup and a fine mesh strainer), blender, handheld immersion blender OR something to mash your bananas and coconut oil together


Step 1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then sift your flour, baking soda, and baking powder well because any lumps will show up in the bread. Set this aside for later.

Step 2) Mix your bananas, coconut oil, extract and spices together completely in a large bowl. I use my Vitamix blender here because it mixes my bananas and coconut oil together completely, quickly, and beautifully, but you can mash it together by hand or use any other blender.

Step 3) Pour your dry mixture over your wet mixture and gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Don't over-mix it, it's ready as soon as all the dry ingredients are well incorporated into the wet. From there, pour your ingredients in a creased bread pan.

Step 4) Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes. Check on the bread by inserting a toothpick, it's ready when it comes out clean.

Recipe Adapted from Vegan Recipes of India, everything on her site looks delicious!

This bread is best devoured entirely while it's still warm. The coconut oil in this bread can become more "dense" or harden at room temperature, just slightly warm it before serving to bring it back to the wonderfully soft, fluffy texture. This bread is especially delicious with one of my savory vegan lattes, homemade nut milk or digestion-boosting chai tea! Above you can see we enjoyed ours with big blueberry smoothies and malty fermented pu'erh tea. Oh man, just writing this I want to make another loaf and eat the whole thing. Wrapped in two blankets and sipping tea. Because I am a silly Floridian and the 30s is too, too cold for me!

What's your favorite go-to for winter eating? I had a one-day bread cheat but I'm actually on an all-plant (as in, literally only plants like lentils and sweet potatoes, no gluten/tofu/processed vegan food) and it's been amazingly delicious.
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Monday, January 11, 2016

How to Really Make Your New Years Resolutions and Business Goals Happen in 2016

Making a planner and/or a workbook has been on my to-do list for years! And now, after reading and applying advice from several different productivity, list making, self-help and organizing books over the years I feel like I've made one that I know will help you clear your mind and accomplish goals in 2016!

This workbook is simple, easy to read and finish, but effective. It's perfect for you if:

  • You're mind feels so full that you don't know where to start with your business or personal goals
  • You have so many ideas you don't know which idea to execute first
  • You need help figuring out which tasks you need to do in what order to accomplish goals
  • You make the same resolutions year in and year out without making progress
  • You have big dreams and high energy and you know 2016 is the year the dreams become reality!
  • You're determined to be productive this year, but need helping getting it all organized
  • You're tired of making plans + goals but not accomplishing them day after day; year after year
  • You're ready to kick-start your business goals NOW
  • You're ready to lose weight or stop a bad habit YESTERDAY
  • You need help with focus
  • You have a creative vision but need help planning and polishing it to make it a reality!

This workbook is 43 pages and is on sale right now for
$5.00 until the end of January! Think of this workbook as a planner that forces you to make the action steps necessary to make personal and business goals really happen. I can't think of anything similar that I haven't shelled out $17+ for!  The workbook price will go back up to $15.00 after January. 

You'll receive a copy immediately after purchase so you can print it and get to work ASAP! I REALLY believe this will help you if you're dying to achieve your goals and resolutions this year but need a way to organize it all and make it tangible. 

I had so much fun making this book and will be filling it out throughout the year along with you! Let's make 2016 a year of tangible accomplishments! 

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Fully Kon-Mari'd Apartment Tour: Earnest Student Shared Space Before/After

When I moved into this apartment four years ago I had at least six bookshelves stuffed to the brim with books, DVDs, VHS tapes, collectibles and so much merchandise! (Seen here, it was cozy and usually organized, but, TOO MUCH.) My merch would later inhabit an entire sunroom at my ex-boyfriend's house, and when I sold the amount back down to a manageable amount it came back to my apartment to literally spill out of every pantry and closet...when it wasn't in boxes all around. Tormenting me!

When I completed the first Kon Mari method I was at my lowest point clutter wise, I'd hit a wall and couldn't go any further. Finishing the method forces you to confront every single item you own by category and get over cognitive biases that urge you to hold on to stuff you don't need. It's brilliant and it's transformed my apartment and streamlined my design process! I did the method twice because I rushed through and finished it three days the first time (she recommends six months for the average household) and left out some things/lied to myself about others. This is my apartment two "purges" later.

This is my view every day from where I spend the most time, on my computer! It's hard to capture the scale of this apartment on camera, the ceilings are super tall and it's by far the biggest apartment any of us have every occupied. The minimal beauty of the space kickstarted my (initially, slow) purging when I moved in four years (?!) ago.

This "living room" feels bare compared to before, it's relaxing but I'll slowly be working on it this year. I regret selling a 1960s nutone stereo counsel, I'd love to replace the TV stand with that and hang the TV on the wall, but the gifted IKEA stand hides all our video game related wires nicely! More art will make it's way back to the walls over time. I'm deciding on wether to keep some, re-framing others, and looking for good originals to invest in.

The layout of the apartment is one large "great space" combining living and dining rooms and then a long hallway connecting two bedrooms. My desk is facing the door now for good Feng Shui flow. (And being able to talk to my roomies while I work versus them talking to the back of my head while I face the window or wall is nice.) I am trying to sell the mid century modern night stand you see next to the 90s blue couch. I'd love to get rid of the couch but AJ wants it, so I'll keep removing Yuko fur from it and fluffing it periodically. :P

I know some rugs really break up the space beautifully but my animal sheds so much and it's easier maintenance to obtain for a floor covering. It's a daily battle against the dust in this old apartment.

And this is where I spend most of the day, writing and making stuff for awesome people! The slouchy pillows (from AJ'S couch) are only there to keep Yuko off the chair, she won't jump on it so long as they're in place. She sheds more than any other animal alive, I swear it. I'm keeping an eye out at thrift stores for a comfortable plastic chair or anything I could just wipe her fur off of. I was gifted two HUGE boxes of Christmas lights this year and lined THE WHOLE APARTMENT with them (including kitchen/bathroom) as a lark and my inner kitsch lover/Christmas hating heart grew three sizes this year! I took all the lights down save for my office corner because the dim light is soothing while I work at night. I should replace them with non-festive "normal" string lights for the rest of the year!

Behind my desk the big cork board wall serves as my vision board. I feel like it's really helped me refine ideas, but I'll eventually try living without it to see what happens. I had an identical one I kind of regret donating. You still have some regrets with this method, as awesome as it is, but they're not bad. They inform you, letting you know what your true interest are.

The expedit unit is so empty and free of books! These are mostly school books. In her book Mari Kondo recommends donating ALL UNREAD BOOKS unless they truly spark joy. I thought I needed a lot of books for school and work but I didn't use them months later, so I was honest with myself and sold/donated them for the second purge.

I'm not going to show every drawer in the apartment (so. many! It would add 30 photos to this post at least. Maybe I can do an update on the putting-away process if you actually want to see that!) but I put things away according to her rules of stacking things vertically in all of them. This is my "tools/electronics" box which took up two boxes the first time I did the method! I parred it down some more.

Here's some documents I'm re-designing for a client that I can't get rid of yet and some school stuff. Each box in this unit is holding stuff I'm trying to sell or need for work for the moment but I'm working hard to reduce it all.

And this is what I see if I look to my right while sitting at the desk. The kitchen dividing counter is way taller than the average bar so I'd like to make custom stools for it. I never been able to find any anywhere that are tall enough. 

The kitchen stayed somewhat the same on the outside. I never had too much clutter on the counters.

But the cabinets are much better organized! Sometimes I feel like the spices being out is a bit cluttered and would definitely love to keep the dish drying rack put away when it's not in use (per method suggestions, and it just makes the space feel better when it's up!) but again, roomie protest keeps it out.

The first door on the right is my roommate's bedroom. The wire bookshelf is from the 60s, I was letting my roomie use it but now that she's replaced it I'm trying to sell it. The open door is her bathroom and beside that is my bedroom door.

My bedroom is large and open with a long closet and connected bathroom. This photo makes it seem smaller but the space between the bed and the vanity there is large. I haven't confronted all of my art prints yet, but I'm still enjoying the gallery wall as it is for now. Yep, need to straighten a couple of crooked pictures again. And yep, the Christmas lights should come down, but they're so cozy at night!

I bought the mod vanity originally to sell it but once it was set in my room I decided to keep it, it's a beautiful statement piece that I love passing every day. I've never sat at the stool and use the vanity to get ready or anything. It's "her" chair.

And I have a large attached bathroom with a big-ass shower. The washer/dryer is in the bathroom, odd but you can just toss towels/clothes in before a shower.

Big ass sink counter. Complete with smudges left from the glass cleaner, yay! You can see my childhood The Little Mermaid poster reflected in the glass, I'm thinking up ways to DIY a better frame for it. The bathroom definitely needs some TLC.

And for a laugh, a tale of two closets! I put shelves in the closet per the book's suggestion, a brilliant storage solution, it just makes your home feel more open and clean. The left side is AJ's side. He refuses to put his clothes away citing that it's a waste of time so it's all in a basket! He does eventually want to fill his side with his sports trophies and make it a beautiful "closet shrine". My side is organized but feels too full because I have my photo backdrops, two framed posters, and action figures I'm going to sell stuffed in there. It's hard to tell from the distance but that's all the clothes I have and it's crazy minimal, I have to find some replacements.

This tour is a bit of a "before" and "after": a "before" because I want to keep improving from here, adding more homey details judiciously now that it's so empty and sharing updates along the way. It's not as editorial and carefully cropped as my photos normally are, I just wanted to show a sincere space of a student/freelancer in a shared apartment. (Shared with my boyfriend and my best friend, Marianne.) It's not design-magazine or art-blog ready, but it's real. Only one table and my white "expedit" unit were bought new, nearly everything else was thrifted or donated to me by friends who no longer wanted the items, but it's still cozy and filled only with what "sparks joy". (With a few little exceptions, haha, it's not perfect yet.)

Related Posts: 

- A Full Post of Me Completing the Kon Mari Method + FAQ
- For Fun, My Colorful Vintage Apartment From Four Years Ago I'd love to paint the walls but this apartment is way too huge for that!

I hope seeing the clear organized space inspires you if you're one of the thousands that's purging and decluttering for the new year! Let me know if you want me to write more about the Kon Mari method or anything related to purging! I'll post updates as I transform this space with homemade and thrifted things throughout 2016!
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