Monday, August 21, 2017

Upcoming crafty plans

It looks like I'm not quite ready to abandon my blog yet. When I considered it over the weekend, it saddened me to think it would be gone. Your comments and suggestions helped clarify for me why I've continued to blog throughout the year, so I appreciate those of  you who took time to respond to last week's post. For now, I'm sticking with it and using it as a place to say what I don't say elsewhere and as a place to store some of my memories until I scrapbook them. How can those not be good things, right? Anyway...

Like many of you, I love to make plans. The anticipation of the fun I'll have or a place I'll visit is almost as much fun as the actual event. I feel the same way about making crafty plans. When I consider all of the projects and plans I have in my crafty life, I get really excited about those prospects. Since I also love reading about other people's crafty plans, I thought I might share some of mine with you here.  And look, I decided I needed to keep a crafty planner in the process of all of this thinking about my crafty goals. I had this adorable personal-sized Heidi Swapp planner just lying around my studio space collecting dust, so I've decided to use it for my crafty planning purposes. It's honestly a bit small for my preference, but using it seemed like the economical, smart choice instead of rushing out to buy something else. (I am giving myself permission to change in January if I REALLY want to try a different format that's larger.)

I'm not decorating it to make it pretty or anything; this planner is really just for the utilitarian purpose of trying to organize my crafty life. If it works, I could always decide to decorate it later. For now, I think I want to spend my time making other projects rather than decorating my planner. I'll just drool over everyone else's gorgeous planner shares online while I use mine to make lists. :) At least the outside of mine is cute without any effort... hahahaha!

Because I like to dabble in different kinds of hobbies and crafts in my life, I've separated my crafty plans into different categories for clarity. In the list below, I'm sharing my crafty plans for the next 2-3 months with you, and, yes, my goals are quite lofty. I mean, that's just how I roll. :) 

Scrapbooking plans
1. Continue working on my 2017 digital PL spreads - goals of 2 pages per week minimum (tune in to the podcast in two weeks for more details about this!)
2. Add spine labels to all of my finished albums on display in my living room
3. File huge stack of finished layouts in the appropriate albums
4. Make three layouts per month for my regular albums and make accompanying process videos
5. Begin work on Kelsey's wedding mini-album
6. Update Selfies class for Nashville retreat
7. ScrapGals Nashville retreat, October 6-8

Stitching plans
1. Continue working on gifts of embroidered necklaces - really need 5 of them by the end of September
2. Choose a new, large project to work on beginning in late August - probably another city of the world to continue that series
3. Frame the two city stitching projects I've finished and display in my living room
4. Download free stitching projects from DMC for future plans - they have some great freebies that I don't want to miss out on because I'm a slowpoke
5. Decide which (if any) holiday projects I want to make this year - consider an ornament series that I could make for myself and for Kelsey and Jake

Other crafty plans
1. Create a late summer painted pillow cover or band for my living room
2. Make new spirit shirts for my school bestie and me
3. Create a late summer painted canvas for my front door (similar to the pumpkin one I made last year - maybe sunflowers or an owl or something to tide me over until the beginning of October)
4. Continue my 100 day sketching project round 2, although I'm already woefully behind schedule
5. Attempt painting canvas fall shoes similar to the way the Certified Celebrator did the pencil ones for back to school

Social media plans
1. Re-commit to blogging at least twice a week - shoot for three times per week sometimes
2. Begin a process video series on my YouTube channel
3. Offer my retreat selfies class as an online option after the Nashville retreat
4. Attend Bell Buckle craft fair on 10/21 for inspiration and maybe some purchases :)

Digital plans
1. Do a better job of ordering monthly prints from Snapfish - try to do this the 29th or 30th of each month
2. As I order monthly prints, check backup status and delete them from my phone - 8k photos on my phone is ridiculous
3. Purchase an external hard drive to use for digital backup of photos and files
4. Delete horrible digital photos three months at a time beginning with digital photos from 2007 - estimate this will take 30 minute increments of time or less

There you have it; these are my upcoming crafty plans for the next few months. I have grand plans, right? Of course, the good thing about a blog is that I can use this blog to hold me accountable for the plans that I've made. But if I fail miserably, then this blog entry becomes tangible proof of my inability to follow-through. Nothing like creating an either-or situation, right? Here's to hoping that I look at this blog as a promise to myself and you, and that I do actually make most of these projects in the next few months. 

Do tell: what are your immediate crafty plans/goals?
Don't forget: My second class, One Trip, Three Ways, is now available on my blog. The video attached here is the promo I made for it back at the end of May, even though the class wasn't released until August 1st.  In this class, I share my six week trip to Paris in 2015 in three different formats - a planner-style mini-album, a traveler's notebook, and a mixed-page 12 X 12 album. The class includes more than 150 pages of inspiration and several hours of video. At only $20, I think it's a very good value. If you'd like to consider it, please click A Lowder Life Shop

Friday, August 18, 2017

Where to go from here? Thinking out loud.

I have to be honest: I'm in a bit of a quandary about what to do with my blog at this point. Is the age of blogging over? Have we all just shifted to other forms of social media like Instagram and YouTube and Snapchat and the like? While I'd argue that blogs have a certain place and fill a certain need in the vein of online communication, I know that I rarely visit individual blogs anymore unless I'm following from a post that I first encountered in another format like Instagram or Facebook. Is my behavior indicative of changing consumption practices, or are there people who are hungry for deeper, more personal, and potentially even more intellectual content? I just don't know.

While I've loved having my blog these past few years, I am having more and more difficulty keeping up with it and giving it the attention it deserves. Back when I blogged every single day - for more than a year, actually - my blog updates were something I planned and scheduled and took care of with the same kind of approach as my daily shower. It was just something I did that became sort of automatic. There's beauty in that because it became a habit that then turned into a written record of my life at that time. And it was kind of a challenge, a commitment, that I felt really proud for sustaining for a significant amount of time.  Then, at some point, it started to feel like I was struggling my posts were just not as meaningful as they should or could be and it became harder to create content that I thought was authentic. That's when I ultimately decided to step back and only blog a few times per week as the mood struck me.

Ultimately, I've become less likely to blog as time passes. Sometimes I just forget about it. Or there are lots of other things that are capturing my attention that seem more fun or more rewarding or more well-received. When my schedule gets really hectic (like this time of year), I prefer to spend my down-time just sitting on the couch instead of blogging or creating. Some of the time, I wonder if anyone is really reading my blog anymore. And the rest of the time, I stubbornly think that it's really a great place for me to keep track of my memories even if no one else ever reads it. I even get frustrated with myself for taking into consideration whether others are reading my thoughts. I mean, that's not why I originally started the blog, so I don't really want that to be the only reason I continue it.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are a finite number of hours we all have each day. How should I spend the free time I have? What really gives me the best return for my investment of time and effort? Is it blogging or podcasting or retreats or Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest or YouTube or online classes? And when do I spend time creating new content and documenting my life for fun if I feel stretched in too many different directions? Let's not forget about my full-time job and my family and my friends and the fella and taking care of my home/yard and... You get it; we all face the same challenges with managing our time and energy.

How do you decide what's worth your time? Are you reading blogs right now? (Even if it's not always mine since I've been a bad, bad blogger for several months now. Shame on me!) Are you watching more videos? What methods are you using to create and share? Maybe you're like me and have fizzled out with some genres of social media and added others. How have you decided what to pick and choose that fits your life best right now? I'd be interested to hear how these questions have impacted the way you spend your time. Because right now, I just don't know where I'll go from here...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New class available - One Trip, Three Ways

I'm excited to announce that my brand new online scrapbooking class is now available!  It's titled One Trip, Three Ways and focuses on my 2015 trip to Paris. This self-paced class includes 20 lessons, more than three hours of video, and more than 150 pages of scrapbook inspiration. At only $20, I think you'll agree that the price is good for the amount of content you receive. In the class, I scrapbook about my trip in three very different formats: a planner-style mini-album, a 12 X 12 mixed format album, and two traveler's notebooks. If you have any trip or any event that includes hundreds or even thousands of photos and you feel overwhelmed about documenting it, then this is a class that I think might really benefit you.

Take a look at my promo video for the class:

**I wasn't able to finish the class until today, but I hope you'll agree it was worth the wait.  :)

And if you're interested, I'd love it if you'd click on the 'shop' section above and purchase the class. I don't think you'll regret it!

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wanna see my raccoons?

If you listen to the podcast, then you have already heard the story of my squirrel infestation in the attic followed by the subsequent raccoon infiltration. Thankfully, all attic critters seem to have been captured and evicted, but I thought you might enjoy seeing some pics of the process. 

These first pics are of the mama who was quite large at around 20 pounds.

This is of the baby, a yearling who was around 10-12 pounds. He came out of the attic about 24 hours after the mama because he got hot and hungry. 

Both of the raccoons were released into the wild in a nearby town around 100 miles away. Hopefully, that's far enough that they don't return to Casa Lowder. 

When I returned to the USA last week, you can imagine how surprised I was to see a large fox loping through my front yard. A neighbor snapped this photo of said fox whom I've nicknamed Tod (bonus points for recognizing that reference).

Considering I live within the city limits in a neighborhood just off a main thoroughfare, the amount and variety of wildlife I'm encountering is a bit surprising. And y'all wonder why I don't spend more time outside here at home. Between the high heat, miserable humidity, overzealous mosquitoes, and audacious wildlife, I think it's safer indoors.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

10 Things I Miss - volume 3

After spending a little more than seven weeks abroad, I can tell you I'm starting to look forward to being home again. There are a few things about the USA that I've really missed and will look forward to when I get home. They aren't huge things, just little things that I take for granted when I'm at home. (And I'm not listing people, hello, because this post is about stuff; there's a difference between the two, eh?)

1. Sitting in comfortable chairs pretty much everywhere I go; it's like Europeans are afraid to get too comfy or something, even in their own homes

2. Changing out my purse to suit my outfit and mood vs. selection based on theft deterrent and having just one choice with me 

3. Top sheets because sometimes I need just a sheet when it's hot, but no cover at all feels wrong; can we talk about this whole duvet thing while we're at it?

4. Buying what I want without worrying about luggage overages and shipping constraints

5. Soft toilet paper, 'nuff said

6. Most of the tv channels being in English because it's disappointing when Sheldon Cooper is speaking German

7. Unlimited soft drink with ice refills; I always feel dehydrated after spending much time in Europe

8. Using a soft, fresh towel and washcloth each day instead of making one rough towel last a whole week (ick!)

9. Surfing online with no thought to data overages or wifi accessibility 

10. Playing with my scrapbooking supplies and other artsy things; I'm itching to create some beautiful things

Give me a few weeks at home, and I'm sure I'll be thinking about my next big adventure. For now, I'll just focus on the things I'm looking forward to at home. Although I love to travel, there's always something magical about coming home to your space and your people!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Possibly the coolest store I've ever visited - Raw Materials in Amsterdam

On a whim, Tonia and I stopped into this interesting looking store as we set out for our first full day in Amsterdam. I am so glad that we did! It is quite possibly the coolest store I've ever visited in my life, and I don't say that lightly.

Take a look at some of the delicious photos I took as we browsed around:

All of the sales clerks spoke English very well and were helpful but not overpowering. They even explained the shipping process to us in case we wanted to buy something large and/or bulky. I was impressed at how friendly and kind they all were. In fact, my sales clerk even wrapped up the item I bought after I told her it was a gift for myself. She said I deserved a pretty package to open when I got home. (How cute, right?!)  Before I left, they even gave me a Dutch design magazine and some postcards that they offer as their business cards. I almost refused the magazine since I don't read Dutch, but the clerk implored me to take it because the photographs were so inspiring in it. How did she know the way to my heart? I mean, I carried that heavy magazine around for the next ten hours, so I hope it was worth it. I could imagine myself decoupaging items from it on some crafty project, so I hope I can bring that image to life somehow. Haha!

I drooled over and caressed these cushion covers (and matching plant bags) for a ridiculously long time but just couldn't justify the suitcase space they would've taken up if I'd bought some. Sigh. I kind of already regret that.

Of course, this is just a sampling of their fabulous displays and items for sale. It was three floors of shopping with multiple rooms that just kept winding around in the building space. Every time I turned a corner, it was like stumbling onto another treasure trove. It sort of reminded me of a World Market meets Country Living kind of place except I think some of the furniture was truly old and not just reproduction pieces.

And, yes, before you ask, I did buy a little something, something. I'll share my purchases with you all when I get home from my European adventure. Suffice it to say that I adore the little treat I bought myself and could have easily spent thousands of euros in this store if money and shipping were no object. Yes, they do have an online store too. If you'd like to check it out, visit them at It was a totally dreamy place, man. I wanted pretty much everything in the whole store.

**No kickbacks or sponsorships led to this particular blog post; I spent about 30 euros in the shop, but they don't know I'm alive otherwise. ;)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Videos from Budapest, Vienna, and Prague

I've been posting videos about my experiences in the European cities I've been visiting since my trip with students ended. If you haven't checked out what I had to say about Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, I hope you'll click the links here and watch/listen. There are a few funny stories and maybe an insight or two. :)

(And on a side note, why does YouTube always choose the weirdest facial clip of me for the video preview? I mean, these are hilarious!)

I'll be checking in with videos from other cities soon!