My 366 Project

One of my 2016 goals is to do a photo-a-day project with my DSLR camera so I can practice my photography. I had never been interested in this kind of project - it seemed too overwhelming, especially when you consider editing and sharing the photo each day.

But the TWIP Family podcast made me reconsider. Every time I listen to an episode (usually while driving), I'm inspired to grab my camera and try out some of the things they discuss. They have a group 365 project on Flickr for 2016, so I joined.

Here are my first 3 shots for 2016:

My whole project is posted here on Flickr:

ARC's 2016 366 Photos Project



Currently: December 2015

Woohoo!  This is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Super quiet at work, kids are home all day so no morning routine rush, and lots of time to complete projects big and small.

READING

I picked up two Jojo Moyes books at the library on a whim. They have this great "new paperbacks" section up front and I've found a lot of fun reads that way. I read the very popular Me Before You and really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of John Greene's The Fault in Our Stars, but for an older audience. The second one, One Plus One, was enjoyable but the characters were way too similar to the other book, so I didn't enjoy it as much reading it back to back. I loved that the daughter in the story was a math prodigy, though.

This month our book club is reading Graeme Simsion's excellent book The Rosie Project. It was recommended by a few friends last year and I loved it, so I suggested it for book club. I was happy to re-read it, and I read the sequel, The Rosie Effect as well. It was not quite as brilliant as the first, but I definitely liked it.

ENJOYING

Reading fiction again. I have never been able to match the pace I had in elementary and middle school, as high school and college came with a ton of mandatory reading. In addition, my Project Management certification requires me to spend a good chunk of my reading time on business-y books to get continuing education credits.  But starting my "virtual book club" last summer has meant that I've read *at least* one fiction book a month. In addition to that, Trillian's newfound love of reading means we're at the library a few times a month and I always find something fun to read while I'm waiting for her to pick out more Rainbow Fairy books (sigh).

#dresser #furniture #diy #paint #goals

A photo posted by Anandi @ The Papercraft Lab (@anandirc) on

WORKING ON

One of my 3 Q1 goals - painting Meridian's dresser. We bought this dresser to use as a changing table in 2009 before Trillian was born. I decided I wanted to paint it, but since we used sticky-back Velcro to attach the changing pad, I had to wait until we weren't using it for diaper changes anymore. That time came last summer (Hallelujah!) but I had to finish Trillian's dresser first. Then I lost all interest in more sanding, masking, priming, and painting.

But then TJ mentioned that he'd give me a little incentive to get this project done (and out of his garage!) We need some kind of media console cabinet/table for our living room. We have decided that we need to start buying real furniture after my IKEA debacle this summer (The Case of the Missing Mattress) and he didn't flinch when I showed him some absolutely LOVELY ones at Restoration Hardware. He said we could buy the new media console once I finished that dresser. So here we are, two days into the Second Dresser Project, and I just need to clear coat the top and spray paint the hardware.  Woot!

LISTENING TO

A guy at work told me about the podcast called This Week in Photo: Family.  It's specific to family photography and seems geared towards beginners/amateurs who want to get better at their personal photography. I love it!  It seems to be weekly and I've got lots of catching up to do! Their Q&A episode was super helpful and got me to think about tackling my fear of learning how to use a flash. So I asked for one for Xmas and TJ was kind enough to oblige.

PLANNING

Both of my planners are in my hot little hands, which is better than the Passion Planner debacle of 2015, where I didn't receive my pre-ordered planner until the end of January. After hearing a ton of endorsements for the Get to Work Book, and seeing its simple black and white, project-focused design, I was sold. It even has 3 checkboxes on each day for my Most Important Tasks so I don't have to stamp the boxes myself anymore!  I'm so excited about it :) That'll be my daily use planner for work and personal tasks. It also lets me plot out larger projects like the 3 scrapbook projects I have on deck for The Papercraft Lab, and this dresser-finishing project.

My second planner is the Commit30, and when I saw the 30 day check-off page for each month I knew it would be perfect for helping me track my very small fitness and health related goals for the year. Each month will be a different 30 day challenge, starting with tracking my meals daily on my phone in January so I can get an accurate picture of exactly what I'm eating. February will likely be a "walk 20+ minutes daily" challenge and I haven't thought beyond that.  We'll probably do another Whole30 at some point.

CONTEMPLATING

Quarterly goals for 2016. Laura Vanderkam suggested making goals quarterly as it's easier to stick to them than a New Year's Resolution which I'll forget about by April. I have 3 goals for Q1:

  • Walk 75 times for 20+ minutes a session
  • Make my 2015 holiday scrapbook by the end of January
  • Paint Meridian's dresser & get it into her room

I also did a year-end performance review following this template. At first it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work, but actually going through month by month, I found a lot of things to be proud of and a few surprising lessons:

  • I dislike group exercise classes and prefer working out alone
  • I spend way too much time on Facebook
  • Having my daily to-do list on paper in a weekly planner works amazingly well for me
  • I can be a morning person!
  • I was able to find flexible, well paying, remote, part-time work

I ended up writing about 5.5 pages for my review, and it was a really nice way to wrap up and reflect on the year, and think about how I might approach 2016 differently. I highly recommend it, especially over a nice cup of tea :)

So there it is, my last Currently post of 2015.  Happy New Year everyone!

A COMPLETE Wrap-Up

It's the end of the year, and time to review and wrap up 2015.

My word for 2015 was COMPLETE. It was a good one. I am an enthusiastic starter of projects, but less excited about the slog through the middle. I'm also a good finisher, but I often get stuck in the middle. Especially if it involves sanding, sorting photos, or decluttering stuff I never cared about in the first place.

I finally finished painting this for T, about 18 months after we bought it.

I finally finished painting this for T, about 18 months after we bought it.

I made a list of projects I wanted to complete, and I fell far short of it. But I've learned something else over the past year since I started planning my daily and weekly tasks on paper. I *vastly* overestimate what I can get done in a period of time.

I forget that I'll have interruptions by small people or work matters. I forget that I need to eat regular meals and that I need breaks between completing detailed work tasks. I forget that my brain is mush by the time I've put the girls to bed at 7:30pm, and the only thing I'm good for at that point is surfing the web or reading.

I'm learning. I go to bed early now on a regular basis. I can't remember the last time I was up past midnight.  Or 11pm, for that matter. I spend the last 30 minutes before bed reading one of the many books I bring home from our wonderful library.

I've been waking up anywhere between 5:15am and 7:00am on most days, giving me at least 30 minutes before the girls need to be coaxed through their morning routines. My daily to do lists are shorter - no more than 5 items. If I get them all done - whee! - and I can pick a short errand or quick chore from my weekly list. But I'm focusing very hard on not overscheduling myself, either with tasks or appointments and events. This brings me peace.

I did complete several projects on that list this year:

  • My Week in the Life 2014 Album
  • My Project Life 2014 Album
  • Processing ALL of my 2014 photos including the Disney trip with 1000+ photos
  • Refinishing an old dresser I bought for T so she has a place for her clothes
  • Set up the girls' new shared bedroom
  • Kon-Mari'd the heck out of my clothes/jewelry/accessories, linens and crafty/house stuff
  • Found my forever phone
  • Sold or gave away almost all of our baby & toddler stuff
  • Planned and held a birthday party our girls loved
  • Created 3 client scrapbooks as The Papercraft Lab
  • Updated our will for the first time since 2008
  • Made 12+ scrapbook pages plus more than half of 2015's Project Life album
  • Made a stash of birthday cards at the beginning of the year
  • Made and sent all of our holiday cards

That's a lot of stuff in addition to the day to day life of work, family, and fun. I feel pretty good about that, even though I didn't check off the entire list.

Having the word COMPLETE to focus on was a good reminder, especially when I was tempted to veg out online. The lure of Facebook is less appealing to me now - I'm realizing how much less satisfied I am browsing and scrolling vs. reading something I chose specifically or working on a crafty project.

I thought I did better with visual reminders of what I haven't done, like keeping albums out on the table or that pile of paperwork visible in the overflowing inbox. But I realized this kind of "visual clutter" overwhelms me. It doesn't inspire me to get to work - it wants me to hide in another room where I don't have to look at it. So I put it all away. I made a list of what needs to be handled. Seeing clean, open spaces on my desk and tables paradoxically makes me MORE willing to buckle down and get into the guts of a project.

With this knowledge, I've picked my word for 2016. I'll still be focusing on my uncompleted projects: Project Life 2015, Day in the Life 2015, Holiday 2015 album, and another dresser, this time for M. But that's a topic for another post.

2015 Creath Family Holiday Letter

Hellooo! It's time for another installment of the yearly Creath Family holiday letter. Overall, it was a good one.

Meet Luna.

Meet Luna.

Since the last letter, we acquired a new canine family member, Luna, who's a 40 lb mutt from the Humane Society.  She's probably part American Staffordshire Terrier aka a kind of "pit bull" but she's much smaller than the average one, so we're not sure what else she is. She is a very sweet dog and has adjusted to our family nicely. She'll be 2 years old on Dec 17.

 

 

Instead of the usual monthly summary, here are some quick snippets of what we've been up to:

I started a new contract job at Microsoft in January for a team I had previously worked for as a regular employee. I increased my work hours to about 35 per week and it's all from my home office/craft room, which is pretty fantastic. The work is interesting and challenging, and two of my coworkers are friends I have known for 13 and 7 years.

Meridian started preschool in May at a new Spanish immersion school run by one of Trillian's favorite teachers. She's adjusted well and now surprises us with new Spanish words! She's becoming such an interesting little person - strong-willed but also very cuddly.

Trillian is in Kindergarten in the same class as Meridian since it's Montessori, and we're super excited that she gets to learn more Spanish! We're also excited not to have to drop off kids at two different schools every day :)

I am so excited that Trillian started reading for fun this year. Like, so engrossed that she can't hear us while she's reading. We've been borrowing Rainbow Fairy books from the library at an alarming rate, so if you've got any other beginning chapter book suggestions like those, I'm all ears!

Don't tell her but we bought her a Kindle e-reader for Christmas. Our library has an incredible selection of eBooks for kids, so we wanted her to have a device that she can read easily, rather than a backlit tablet with games and other distractions.

TJ's parents came to visit us in May, followed by my parents, who came to spend the summer at their place here.  My parents and brother came over for Thanksgiving, too.

I'm sad to report that my Paati (grandma) died in September. She was sweet, smart, and talented, and I'm lucky I got to spend so much time with her when I was a kid. I have a few of her watercolor paintings hanging in my house, including the abstract design she painted for my childhood bedroom when I complained that all she ever painted were landscapes and flowers. (Did I mention she was also really patient with me?)

We did some traveling this year- more than usual for a bunch of homebodies- TJ had a work trip to the East Coast, we went to Disneyland in June for my 40th birthday, I took a Mama-only trip to California in October, we explored Boston and Connecticut in November, and will visit TJ's parents and Granny in Tucson this month.

Last month, TJ found out his company is closing its Seattle office, and he has been "invited" to move to Connecticut. We went to check it out and liked it, but are waiting on some final details before making a decision. It's a tough one. On one hand, it would be a Great Adventure to live on the East Coast for a while. On the other hand, we have a whole life here in Seattle, and our house is perfect for us, thanks to the 2013 remodel. Also, tech jobs are easier to find in Seattle. Lots of thinking to do.

We don't lead exciting lives, but we are thankful and content.

We wish you happiness, peace, and health for the rest of this year and in the New Year 2016!

Currently: November 2015

Brrr! The temperature in Seattle has dropped but we have had a few glorious clear sunny days. Even if it means temps in the 30s, I'm happy to see the sun.

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Contemplating

The big news is that TJ's job is moving to Connecticut in February. We're still deciding whether or not to go with it. We can make pro/con lists until the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is that it's really hard to objectively weigh the "gut feelings" that come along with this sort of decision. He loves his job, which is a Big Thing. I'm open to a new Family Adventure on the East Coast. There's a school there we love for T. Hopefully we'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

Listening To

Christmas music, enthusiastically. After Thanksgiving, it's Game On. I love this time of year. Pretty sure it's genetic as my dad is the same way. Two new favorites - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Andrew Belle and "Must be Christmas" by Band of Merrymakers (I know, I'm a year late to this one.)  Thanks to the Amazon Prime "Alt & Indie Christmas" station.

I'm also enjoying the new Deep Dive audio course by Paperclipping featuring Stacy Julian's Photo Freedom system. Like any organization junkie, I love a good system. I will not be adopting this one - in fact, I had her book and Kon-Mari'd it because it just doesn't fit the way I think. It's also WAY more complicated than I need, given that I am fairly happy with my existing photo organization system. (I discuss the details of my system in my email-based workshop here.) But despite all that, I've picked up some good tips on managing printed photos and generating ideas for scrapbook layouts.

Now if I could just find some magic elves who would actually go through my photos for me on a regular basis, that would be swell. 

Reading

Just finished The Clasp by Sloane Crosley for my virtual Book Club (we meet via Google Hangouts monthly). It was suggested by my high school friend S who has picked some good ones for us so far. It was a little slow to get going, but an easy, enjoyable read. I'm glad I read it, though not super happy I had to buy it outright due to the LONG holds list at the library. We'll try to pick older books going forward.

This month I also *devoured* Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes in 2 nights, only because I willed myself to let it last longer. It was THAT good. Very inspiring and well-written. I read about it in O Magazine last month on my trip and pre-ordered it immediately. It did not disappoint.

Traveling

We took an unexpected trip to Connecticut last week to check out some houses and schools and to get a feel for whether we'd even like to live there. We definitely liked it, though the idea of moving from our perfect, recently remodeled "forever home" makes me sad.

We've also got an upcoming trip to Arizona to visit family. After the monster 6 hour flight to Boston, this flight should be no problem! (Knock on wood.) Restricting screen time drastically at home makes a whole flight full of Kindle time super exciting for the ladies. Hoping this lasts a few more years...

Wearing

Super happy with my FWinter wardrobe - almost identical to last year's, with a handful of new pieces: 3 new casual dresses, 1 cardigan, 2 short A-line skirts and 1 denim tunic to wear with leggings which has gotten a ton of use already. Definitely a winner from eShakti.

Looking at houses in CT last week, I noticed that I have a LOT fewer clothes than most people. I was surprised by that, because it doesn't feel limited to me. I'm sure it helps that everything in there fits me, and I love it. I have definitely reached "just enough" with it, and it makes me happy every time I have to get dressed. Mission accomplished!

Working On

Holiday cards. This is the earliest I've ever been done with my "Holiday Sweatshop Craft" - the little item I enclose with most of our cards. I decided this year I am only sending out 60 cards, and have already made the list. I designed the photo insert for our cards and had it printed 2 weeks ago, and assembled all the cards today.  I am WAY ahead of where I usually am! I typically like to get my cards in the mail around December 1 and I'm definitely on track.  Woot!

I also found out my contract gig has been extended through the end of June so I don't (yet) have to worry about looking for a new job. Super thankful for that since a LOT of contracts are ending December 31 so the local market will be crowded. Hooray for 6 more months of work, and being "forced" to take 6 months off starting in July 2016!

What about you? Got a recent Currently post?