Come find me at my new home!

Posted by on Aug 26, 2012 | 0 comments

Hi Crafting Crazy Friends!

I’m so excited to tell you that I have a new home here on the interwebs:  Natalie Chiles!  As in www.nataliechiles.com!

Yup.  It’s up as of August 27th, 2012!   Posting will cease to happen at this blog, and soon many of my best posts will auto-forward to my new site.  I hope that you will join me over there, where I will bring you more awesome craft ideas, and even more awesome other topics, including health & fitness, juicing, photography and more!  My content is more organized, I have a swanky new theme, a great design, and am so pleased with how it turned out.  Come on over and check it out!  See you there!

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Time Management: A Full-Circle Attitude Adjustment

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 | 3 comments

Hello Crafting Crazy friends!  I’m sure it seems a bit like crickets chirping here at my corner of the internet.  I will say that potty training a 3-year-old boy, dealing with a sick dog, and learning so much behind-the-scenes  material about blogging and photography has really thrown my brain for a loop. So today, I’m throwing out some material that I shared way back in April over at Chronically Distracted.  It’s actually very timely for me- I need to re-evaluate my time-management…. yet again!   I’d love to hear how you do it, too.  We can always learn from each other, right?  Enjoy!

………..

I’ll be honest here: I’m really a bit of a mess these days.  I’ve gone through a huge transition (for me) in the last eight months, and I’m still sorting myself out.  Here’s my backstory in bullet form:

  • elementary music teacher for 12 years
  • had three kids between 2007 & 2011.  Bam-bam-bam (done).
  • After becoming a mom, I didn’t want to teach anymore.  I wanted to be with my babes, but had to wait a bit.
  • Resigned from teaching in June of 2011.  Hooray!
  • Took on dreams and reality.  Dreams= being with kids, crafting & blogging.  Reality= we ain’t got no cash flow! Must earn cash!
  • Took on a WAH job that I love, but this new life is throwing me for a loop!

There ya go- me in a six-bullet-nutshell.

Today I’m going to share with you my full-circle journey in time management.  I say full-circle because while I have learned a lot in the last few months, I still feel like I am right back where I was when I started.  The difference?  My attitude is much more relaxed about time management than it was when I started because I made some minor changes in my approach.

What I wanted was to have a picture perfect day-to-day life.  I wanted to play with my kids, keep my house clean, work, craft, blog, cook, be a wife, and smile through it all.  Instead, I found myself tumbling into bed at night feeling stressed out that I didn’t get enough done, and wondering how I was going to “catch up” the next day.  I was also short-fused with my kids- I was inflexible with them and it showed.  It was time for a change.  Some action.  Some order.  So I got some books and I started reading about time management and organization.

One book instructed me to draw up a fairly detailed weekly schedule.  ”This is exactly what I need!” I thought to myself.  ”I need to plot out my week and just follow the schedule!”  So I tried.  I sat for several hours developing a schedule, and for one week… I was quite successful.  I did the laundry for our entire family of five in two days flat- folded and put away.  I cleaned a little each day, and my house looked awesome.  I assigned different tasks to different days in terms of blogging and work.   I even called my sister and told her that I really liked this new time-management thing- it was really helping!

I learned a week later, when “life” happened (husband working late, kids getting sick, etc.) and the schedule went out the window…it wasn’t realistic.  It was too rigid for me.   I’d allot time to blog while my kids were napping, but then one of them wouldn’t nap and I’d end up disappointed and stressed about not being able to finish what I started.  Or something would come up and I’d have to put the intended agenda on the back burner.  Does this mean the book was a waste of time?  Not at all.  It helped me prioritize and helped me examine the different hats I wear in my life.  And through trying a rigid schedule that I wanted so very much to live by, I realized that now, as a WAHM, I have to approach things differently.  I have to roll with the punches in a way I haven’t had to before.  Most importantly, I have to change my attitude.  Instead of getting frustrated when the kids have to take priority over editing photos or blogging, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that they are the reason I’m trying to work from home- I want to be with them, not working away from them at a traditional job.

So here are those minor changes I mentioned earlier.   Maybe some of these would help you, or maybe they’ll spark an idea that would work even better for your situation.

{Get. Out.}  I get out of the house by myself at least one night a week, but usually/hopefully twice.  I go to Starbucks, I take my laptop and papers, and I work.  Without interruption.  I put the baby to bed and head out the door while my husband puts the big kids to bed.  I come home and I’ve accomplished something, not to mention I’ve had some hot chocolate that I didn’t have to make.

{Prioritize.}Family comes first.  Work comes before my blog.  This will hopefully change slightly as I craft and blog more and get more experience under my belt.  For now, I have to prioritize, and work gives me income, which is most important for my family right now, so that’s my focus.

{Keep it clean. But sane.}  One thing I did keep from that rigid schedule:  I still clean a little each day.  It just works better for me.  For example, Wednesday is bathroom day. (I hate Wednesdays.)  We have a decent sized house- if I leave it alone too long then it’s such a hassle to try and catch up.

{Wash it up- when needed.} I do NOT have a “laundry day”.  For some reason it irks me to wash a small pile of clothes every dang week.  I’d rather have my kids nearly run out of clothes and do a huge load for each of them.  So I do laundry as it needs to be done, no sooner.

{Ask and you shall receive.}  When I need help from my husband, I ask for it.  I don’t assume that he realizes I need it.  Thankfully, he obliges as often as he can.  If I need an extra night at Starbucks, he tells me to go.  Likewise, when he has projects crop up at work and has to stay until 2 a.m., I have to go with it.  He does, after all, bring home the bacon, so he should probably do his job.

{Give it Up}  I gave something up.  Sometimes you can’t just do it all.  For me, right now, that something is the self-induced pressure of getting to the gym.  I even wrote a post about rededicating myself to the gym once I was done breastfeeding my youngest, and that milestone has come and gone.  I have two mornings a week when my two big kids are at preschool, and technically I could take the baby to the child watch place and workout for an hour and a half.  The problem is that my baby naps in that window, and I think naps are super important for babies.  I could also drag all three kids with me to the gym, and… eventually I will.  But I need to feel more balance in my life in other areas before I throw a workout routine in the mix.

{Say “om.”} I relax.  I hate it when people say to “just relax,” but I need to.  Four-year-old giving up naps (somethingIholdsacredwhichgivesmepersonaltime)?  Deep breath.  I can handle this.  Nearly-three-year-old taking forever to potty train?  No biggie.  He’ll get there.  I’m trying to see the big picture- nobody naps forever, and no one cares when you stopped wearing diapers once you’re grown.  Right now I need to just meet my kids where they are, keep tabs on my attitude, and enjoy the moment.

Do you have any time management tricks?  Do you need a schedule or something more loose and fancy-free?  Do you throw a schedule out the window if things get crazy, or stick to it even more?

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Where in the world is Crafting Crazy?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 | 0 comments

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve all be waiting with baited breath for my next post, right?!  ;-)  Just kidding!

Seriously, though, things have been Crazy-with-a-Capital-C around here, and something had to give.  Unfortunately this time around, that thing is my blog.  The reality is that we have three kids, and all of them need me now for various reasons (potty training, teething, kindergarten readiness- holla!).  Have to put them first.  And then there’s that job I have- I love it, and it’s busy now- rad!

I have done some amazing things recently.  AMAZING.

Thing One:  I took my photography class.

Thing Two:  I went to Elevate.   More on that soon, I hope.

Thing Three:  I took Content Brew.  More on that soon, too.

 

These three things, combined with a nagging itch for change have initiated a huge change coming here at Crafting Crazy.  For now you’ll just have to wait and see, but know that I’m working hard to improve this here space of mine on the internet in a big way, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I will!

Until I get these changes finalized I will be sporadic here for a while.  Once I’m ready, though, watch out!  I just may blow you away with my mad blogging skills.  Or not- we’ll see.  Ha!

Until then, I will see on you Facebook for sure (I can’t give up my FB) and here and there throughout the summer.  I’ve decided that big changes can’t be instant, they take time.

In the meantime, check out this guy.  He’s been wandering into our yard all week.  We have a neighbor with a very nice property- pond, paddle boats, lighting, the whole nine.  They must be low on food for him, because he doesn’t usually come our way, but for some reason lately he’s in our yard almost daily.  I finally got a picture of him- he’s huge!  Not even sure what he is- a loon?  Regardless, he’s beautiful and makes me want to dig a pond for him to catch fish in. I can’t imagine he’s sustained by bugs and plants.

 

Enjoy your day, and see you soon!

 

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Nobody’s Perfect: Blogging!

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 | 4 comments

{Click here to read about the reasoning behind my Nobody’s Perfect series!}

sunflower taken at baby shower

I took this photo this weekend at a baby shower.  Good, right?  I’m getting better every day!

Today I’m starting a slightly-more-than-one-week class that is hopefully going to help me a LOT.  If you look in my sidebar over there on the right you’ll see a button for Content Brew.  It’s run by an amazing blogger, Melissa, who runs momcomm, and happens to work for the amazing Burts Bees, too.  Rad, right?

Melissa is going to enlighten us with how to plan the content for our blogs more efficiently. I need this.  I need this soooo bad.  I’m hoping a magic wand is involved somewhere.  And maybe some glitter.

In the last few days I’ve come to understand that I have lots of goals, and no plan.  I have so many things I want to accomplish, and no way to get there.  Don’t get me wrong- my life is AWESOME and I totally made the right choice in leaving my teaching career.  And I know I’m learning right now because I am so uncomfortable.  I have no idea what I’m currently doing, I just know what I want to be doing.  I’d be a great visualizer if I could just get a second to sit down and do it.

My biggest challenge is that I want to be a present mother to my children.  I want to play with them, sit with them, read with them, and create with them.  At the same time I am yearning, dreaming of being this creative, independent woman with a job/business/career that allows me to be creative and independent all by my lonesome.  I need some me time.

The ultimate conundrum is that the only time I have to work on these dreams is at night.  And the rub:  I need sleep like nobody’s business.  If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I am dead on my feet.  So I can’t be a night work horse- it just won’t work.

All this is to say that I’m using this week and this class to reassess my approach to blogging, crafting, creating, and sharing.  I want to do it so desperately, and yet the way I’m working right now isn’t working on many levels.   I want to put quality content out there.  I want to improve the content I already have, and do many more behind-the-scenes improvements for my blog.   It’s overwhelming thinking about all that I need & want to do in order to consider this little plot of mine a success.   But I want to do it.  Small steps, right?

 

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Fitness Challenge Update and Juicing

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 | 8 comments

It’s been a while since I updated about my fitness challenge.  I’m amazed at the progress some of the women are making in our group.  Everyone has their battles, and mine appears to be the “comfort zone” my body has settled into.

As I posted earlier, I tried the HCG diet and had great success on it, but it sort of “weirded me out” a bit.  Now I’m on the opposite end:  I’m eating super healthy (with the exception of Memorial Day Weekend- yikes), and I’m exercising again (a LOT), but my weight is coming off a lot slower.  I know this is a good thing in the long run- it will be more likely to stay off.  But getting on the scale and seeing that number budge very little from week to week is discouraging.  We’ll see.  I’m going to keep at it and try to reach my goal weight by… oh, I have no idea.  Someday.

In the meantime, I’m running and doing Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred to get myself back in shape.  Jillian.  Oh, Jillian.  That’s another post, entirely.

Onto my new favorite thing:  juicing!  Now, have no fear.  I’m not going to tell you that you, too, should buy an expensive juicer and fill yourself with fruits and veggies and cleanse your body until you can’t leave the bathroom.   Nope.  But I will say this:  eating this many fruits and veggies does make you feel pretty damn good.

First and foremost, I love the juicer I chose.  It’s this one, and you have to look hard to find it available in any stores.  If you decide to buy a Breville *anything* be sure to call any store before going, because their stuff is pretty much flying off of shelves these days.

Why did I chose to get a ridiculously expensive juicer?  I want it to last.  It was recommended to me by a few different friends (who did not know each other- even better).  And the reviews of these juicers are just phenomenal.  I am also pretty comitted to juicing as a new part of a healthy diet.  I’m not going to do a juice cleanse just yet, but I do want a way to get more veggies & fruits in my system.  Juicing is the way for me to do that.

So what am I making?

It’s funny because when I was waiting for my juicer to arrive (it took FO’-EVA) I went out and bought some juicing books.  Now I hardly refer to them because I’m just having fun playing around with flavors and seeing what my tastebuds (and my digestive system) like.

Below is a photo of one juice I made- it made a LOT of juice, and I drank. It. All.  It was good. Sometimes I’m adding coconut water to my juice because it’s supposed to be good for you.  I don’t like it by itself, but you can’t taste it in juice, and it’s just more hydration.

This particular blend contained:  celery (2 stalks), carrots (2), cucumber (1/3), apples (2 small), spinach (a  few handfuls), heirloom tomatoes (a bunch- they were close to going bad, so in they went).  I add at least one apple to any veggie/green juice, because they give it a bit of sweetness.

Here are some things you should know about juicing:

{juicing is messy}

I had no idea how messy it would be.  It makes sense when you’re making juice twice a day (which is what I’m doing) that you’d have some sticky counters or floors.  And this juicer is great in terms of power, but every once in a while something squirts out of somewhere and catches me off guard.  This is mostly my error- if you push things through it too fast, it squirts.  (There’s a joke there, I know.)  I’m using my mop a lot more, that’s for sure!

{juicing is time-consuming}

This is partly because I have three kids.  I make their breakfast first, and then I make my juice.  I make their lunches, and then I make my juice.  Then I have a normal dinner.   But getting the produce prepped (washed, cored, peeled, etc.) does take some time.  I don’t mind- it’s an excuse to zone out a bit and give my brain a rest.  Even if a juicer is lauded as being super-strong or able-to-take-a-beating, you still have to prep your fruits & veggies one way or another.

{juicing is noisy}

This is only a pain for me because my kids are already scared (as in horrified) of the vacuum and anything else noisy (except helicopters and motorcycles- those are okay).  So bringing in the juicer was not popular at first.  Then I made them pineapple-orange juice and now they are okay with it.  This particular juicer is actually quite tolerable on “low,” but quite loud on “high.”

***BUT***

 

{juicing is good for you}

I don’t need to tell you that it’s good to consume more fruits & veggies.  Duh.

{juicing is delicious}

Unless you screw up your juice by adding too much of something or putting in something you aren’t fond of, you really can’t go wrong.  I will never juice a green, red, or yellow pepper.  I hate them.  Nothing will make me like them.  So I won’t juice them.  Even if you try kind of a wonky combo, your juice will taste at least okay so long as you like most of the stuff you put in it.

{juicing is fun}

It’s a new way for me to make food.  I’m all about that.

Do you juice?

Maybe you have a juicer in your cabinets that you received for a wedding gift, or you bought one and just haven’t used it.  GET IT OUT!

Would you like to see more juicing info here at Crafting Crazy?  I’m thinking about posting the juices I make every once in a while.  I’d love to know what questions you have that I can find answers to, or what other things you’d like to know about  juicing.  Leave me  a comment here or on my Facebook page and I’ll hop to it!

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Photography Study: Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Posted by on May 30, 2012 | 10 comments

I think I’m starting a new series!  I am so in love with photography it’s not even funny.  After attending my photography class a few weeks ago I am taking so many more photos, and even loving my mistakes, because now I understand what I’m doing wrong.  So every once in a while I’m just going to post photos I’ve taken.  Sometimes, like today, they’ll be grouped and themed, while others will just be a photo dump, of sorts.  This series is going to be for personal reasons just as much as a blogging thing.  I want to keep track of my progress, and this will be an easy, visual way for me to see how, when and where I improve.  Huzzah!

These photos were all taken in the same place.  I went up with my family to check out the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum as a potential location for a festival in the early fall.  I had never even heard of this place, but I was instantly happy that I brought my camera because it was rich with fun things to take pictures of, and it was a beautiful day.

This place is unlike any other place I’ve been in San Diego.  It’s not really even in San Diego- it’s in Vista, which is way north county.  It felt very rural when we got there, and it was a bit like stepping back in time.  We even spoke to a man who worked there who was literally bleeding from an engine repair injury while he spoke to us.   No big thing- just bleeding.

I was also disappointed- my grandpa was a steam engine connoisseur and would have loved this place.  He visited me several times before he left us in 2004, and I wish I had known about this lovely, quirky place to bring him.

I also learned a valuable lesson:  check your settings!  I forgot that the evening before I had been at Le Diner à San Diego, and my friend, Brent, had used my camera for a few shots.  When I started taking photos at the museum I was wondering why they didn’t look the way I thought they would.  Then I realized that Brent had put my lens in manual focus, and I also hadn’t adjusted my ISO for daylight. Whoops!  Once I did that, I was off and running.  Lesson learned!

Check me out- I’m doin’ good, right?  :-)

 

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Le Diner à San Diego: An Experience!

Posted by on May 28, 2012 | 6 comments

A few months ago I heard about this amazing evening event in San Diego:  Le Diner à San Diego.  It sounded surreal, to say the least.  The location was withheld until hours before it started- and I love a good mystery!  Everyone was to wear white, dress elegantly, and bring a delicious three-course meal to share with friends.  The only thing provided would be tables and a beautiful location (and they also had a bar). I was totally hooked!

My first step was to find someone to go with us.  This proved to be challenging.  I think a lot of friends didn’t like the idea of having to wear all white.  Bummer!  Soon our friends Jen & Brent were signed up, though.  Thank goodness for friends who like an adventure (and wine).

In the days and weeks leading up to the evening I planned texted with Jen and we figured out our menu, talked about what we were going to wear, etc.   Finally, the day arrived.  The location was to be revealed at 3:00.  Our biggest concern:  weather.  It had been chilly the night before, and rainy that morning.   I was determined, however, to make a go of it.

I had visions in my head- it would be elegant, it would be serene.  I would be well-dressed, in heels, even!  Everyone would be nice, we’d make new friends and have lovely chats with Jen & Brent.  It would be like My Fair Lady, only modern.  I would come home with beautiful photos of a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime evening.  I would post on my blog about it, and it would look perfect.

In reality:  we froze our asses off.

It was FREEZING.

The location?  The Embarcadero.  If you’re not familiar with San Diego, this is a beautiful, waterfront park in downtown San Diego.  Ships go by, seagulls fly overhead, and there’s a marina on one side full of luxurious yachts and such.  The San Diego Symphony plays there in the summer months.  It’s gorgeous….when it’s warm.

Jen texted me soon after the location was revealed and said, “Uh…We are gonna freeze our nuts off.”  I remained optomistic.  ”I’m from Kansas!” I thought. “How cold could it be?”  It was too late to buy white pants- we were leaving in just a little while as soon as our sweet babysitter, Rosy, showed up.  So, I added some quilts to our pile of stuff and off we went.

As we got there, it was obvious that people were in the same mindset as us:  ”We want this to be cool, but it’s DAMN COLD.”  We persevered, though, because this event was just such a neat idea.  Here are some photos.  I took a ton, and then just as we were sitting down to eat my camera crapped out.  Very odd.  Now it’s fine.  Maybe the camera was cold as hell, too.  Some photos of our evening…

 

The view of San Diego from the Embarcadero.  Sort of makes me want a boat.  Sort of,  but without the taxes and dock rental fees.

downtown san diego skyline Le Diner a San Diego

Jen & Brent.  [Jen, your hair looks fine.  It was windy.]  Brent runs a very cool company called Groovy Like a Movie.  He’s rad.

Brent took this with his iPhone.  He was asking Siri questions all night, like, “What’s the temperature right now?”  It was 61.  It felt like it was 45.  I can’t wait for an iPhone 4.  Maybe even an iPhone 5?

There was a competition for best table decor.  I didn’t go too crazy- lots of tables went all out, but I just brought a tea light thing from IKEA (I’ve had it for years, but you can put it in a line, a circle, anything.  12 total- love it.), sea shells, rocks, and a few small vases with freesia.  Simple but pretty.

This drink was lovely.  It had coconut milk and lime in it, and it tasted like a coconut-lime-mojito.  I can’t remember what it was called, but I was hoping a little liquor would warm me up.  It didn’t.  But I still drank the whole thing.

At 7:00 there was a napkin wave to start off the meal.  We were already eating, but it was fun to see everyone in white standing and waving their white napkins.  Very cool.

Jen made appetizers- crostini with tapenade, and shrimp cocktail.  Yum.

I brought a pasta salad for our entree.   This is an iPhone pic, since by this time my camera was done.  Note the portable trash bags in the background- classy, eh?  One of the tenants of the evening was to “leave no trace,” which included taking all of your trash with you.

Brent saw the sun getting lower and all of sudden grabbed my camera.  I thought he disappeared, but then realized he was right next to me.  Cool, huh?

My  man in his dapper hat, drinking Prosecco.  Have you had Prosecco?  We like it better than champagne.  It’s basically the same thing, but it just tastes better.  Props to my dad for introducing it to us.

Be sure to click this photo below- Brent took it with his iPhone 4, and it’s a very cool panoramic shot of our end of the event.  You can really see how neat everything looked.

I’m glad we went to this event- I just wish it had been warmer.  By the time we finished our entrees we couldn’t feel our hands, so we opted to head to Jen & Brent’s for wine and dessert.  I made pots de crème- more about them soon.  Yum.

Thanks to Jen & Brent for being so adventurous.  I love the concept of this event, so I was pleased to receive an email from them the next morning that said they’d see us next year… in the summer.  Right.  Lesson learned.

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