Right now in life, I am:
MAKING patterns for my surface pattern design portfolio. I put a mini portfolio together before heading to the NYC Fabric Design Workshop I attended. Here and here are peeks of a couple of my patterns.
COOKING more Beef and Rice Salad Bowls, protein pancakes, cornbread muffins, purple hull peas from the Farmer’s market, peach and strawberry galette (used this recipe), blueberry peach muffins (this recipe).
DRINKING my Mamaw’s sweet tea.
READING Heather Ross’s book How to Catch a Frog and Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise. I also finally finished Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisbrun.
WANTING to work on some block printed designs.
PLAYING this song.
SEWING nothing this month, but I did finally order yardage of one of my fabric designs on Spoonflower! There will be some sewing happening next month!
CROCHETING nothing lately. I have multiple projects in the works, just haven’t worked on them recently. Crocheting has taken a back seat to other creative endeavors.
WISHING for a great 4th of July weekend coming up!
ENJOYING my new office chair!! So excited about it! My old one was a little rickety and too short for my desk. I love the size and style of this one and that it is height-adjustable. I’ve been admiring it for a long time, so it is exciting to finally have it in my home! It did take about a month and a half for me to get it after I ordered it. I also had an interesting time fitting it in my car to bring home and assembling it by myself while Drew was out of town. Violet was so much help, lol. From PB Teen, here.
WAITING for some more exciting summer adventures! LOVED going blueberry picking with some friends from church.
LIKING this quote: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way…things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe.
WONDERING why cats like to get in bags and boxes so much.
LOVING visiting the Farmer’s market in the summer. Drew loves heirloom tomatoes and I loved the gluten-free doughnut and freshly squeezed orange juice from the Covington, Louisiana Farmer’s Market.
HOPING this post helped others who deal with stress, anxiety, or depression.
MARVELING at the wonderful time we had in New York City!
NEEDING get a hammock in my life ASAP.
LEARNING how to Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio from Bonnie Christine.
SMELLING (subtle) paint fumes as we finally painted our hallway and kitchen! And as we live through a full on office renovation at my work office (those paint fumes aren’t quite as subtle)!
WEARING shorts and sandals around here (on the weekends at least, not to work). So hot in New Orleans!
FOLLOWING my list item of exercising more by signing up for a month of yoga classes at a local studio.
NOTICING the beauty of our surroundings on a walk to get snoballs.
KNOWING how grateful I am to finally have this little side table makeover project done. I’d been thinking of doing this for years!
THINKING about how sweet it is when this little kitty curls up and sleeps next to me while I work.
BOOKMARKING this 5-year old magazine article about Anna Maria Horner. Read all about her influence to my creative story, here.
CELEBRATING our three year wedding anniversary and Father’s day.
OPENING lots of new blog posts! I’ve blogged more this month than I have in a long time!
LAUGHING at Violet and her silly ways. Always.
FEELING grateful for how full and sweet this month was.
Growing up, cornbread was a daily staple at my grandparent’s house. We had it often enough at our house too, only usually in muffin form. My grandparents made drier, unsweet cornbread (that my Papaw often experimented with and threw in whole kernels of corn or jalapenos) and my Mom always made hers sweet (and a little more cake-like) with Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. After going gluten-free, I thought cornbread would be a quick and easy replacement for bread with meals. However, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix is not gluten free. I’ve made many different GF cornbreads, all good, but none the same as that muffin mix. That is, until I came across this recipe by Smitten Kitchen. These are seriously the best, homemade cornbread muffins — gluten-free or not.
Homemade Cornbread Muffins (gluten-free)
makes 12 muffins, recipe from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Cook’s Illustrated
-2 cups yellow cornmeal (divided)
-1 cup flour (I use my gluten-free all purpose flour + 1 tsp or so of xanthan gum)
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
-1 1/4 cups whole milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
-1 cup sour cream
-8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
-3 to 5 Tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like your cornbread)
-2 large eggs
1. Heat oven to 425°F (220°C). Grease 12-cup standard muffin tin.
2. Mix 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal. Cook cornmeal/milk mixture over medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until it’s thickened to a batter-like consistency.
4. Stir melted butter, sugar, and sour cream into cooked cornmeal. When mixture is cool enough to not cook the eggs, whisk in eggs and stir until combined.
5. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined (batter will be thick).
6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (will mound slightly above the rim).
7. Bake until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13 to 17 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking to ensure even cooking.
8. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and let cool 5 minutes longer. Serve warm with butter and/or honey.
A little over five years ago, during my freshman year of college (2009/2010), I first realized my desire to be a designer. I’d always had a love of art/painting and spent time in grade school and middle school playing around in Photoshop and in high school designing ads and spreads for the yearbook, but it never really clicked until I was in college. Before I went to Tulane, I toured SCAD’s campus and dreamed about how amazing it would be to study there, but I thought being an artist meant having to sell paintings on the sidewalk. So I went to Tulane and planned to major in English and become a teacher, just like my grandparents.
I won’t go into my entire creative story thus far, but after mentioning a bit about Anna Maria Horner and her role in my design career, I wanted to share a little more about it.
During my freshman year at Tulane, one of my classes took a field trip to visit to a small art gallery/publishing house where I met the first person I’d known who called themselves a “graphic designer.” Something clicked in me during that visit, and I started to realize that design was the career I’d been looking for all along — a way to be artistic and creative, but in a practical way. I moved back home for the summer (between my freshman and sophomore year) and interned at a graphic design/printing company in my hometown. There I learned the very basics of Adobe InDesign, a bit about vectorizing in Abobe Illustrator, how to create logos/business graphics, set up print jobs, and about vinyl cutting and screen printing techniques.
While living back at home, I spent a good chunk of my summer re-designing my childhood bedroom, gardening, painting, and reading my mom’s Country Living magazines. In one particular issue (the July/August 2010 issue to be exact), I came across this article, about Anna Maria Horner and her career as a fabric designer. I was intrigued by the article, but what caught my attention the most was the floral sketch on the bulletin board in the photo. I recognized that design! It was from my dorm room bedding! That sketch turned into Anna Maria’s Small Gathering print in her Good Folks fabric line. I had picked it out and designed my dorm room around it the summer before.
My mom is a seamstress and I grew up sewing and crafting and have always had a love of fabric. But never before had I put much thought into who designed the fabrics I bought. The whole idea surrounding it was exciting. Maybe I could do that! Not just design boring logos and business graphics, but use my love of art and painting to create designs for fabric! I spent the rest of the summer just giddy about the possibilities.
Tulane didn’t have the option to major in textile design, or even graphic design, so I studied art (I ended up with a degree in English and Studio Art, Painting concentration) and made it my mission to teach myself as much about digital design as I could. I honed in on my Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop skills, and Drew and I even started a Web and Graphic Design business to make money during college. My sophomore year of college, I discovered the world of blogging and started following the blogs of Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey, and Sandi Henderson, some of my favorite designers at the time. I learned bit by bit about their design world through their blogs while I continued to study English and Art and learn digital design on my own. But I was still left with a desire to learn how to create patterns and repeats and how to get into such an elusive industry as the fabric manufacturing world.
After college, I started working full time as a graphic designer while continuing to learn surface pattern design by taking online courses, reading books, and playing around in Illustrator. I started making connections in the industry, which led me to Quilt Market, where I met Anna Maria Horner (and many other amazing designers) in person. Several weeks ago, I was able to travel to New York City to take an in-person Fabric Design Workshop with Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross. It was an amazing experience to learn from Anna Maria after admiring her work for so long! What was even more amazing, is that she actually brought that Small Gathering sketch from the Country Living article bulletin board to the workshop and talked about the process behind it! She drew it while watching her children’s swim meet with art supplies that she had packed for her kids to color with.
There is much more to my creative story, and it is nowhere near over, but it amazes me how Anna Maria Horner and this sketch/print in particular tie into it. Isn’t it amazing when things come full circle?
My personality and the way that I care and invest in things makes me very prone to stress, anxiety, and depression. This was something I really, really struggled with during college as my health issues, low energy levels, un-settled-ness, stress of grades and performance, exhaustion from difficult and draining courses and late nights studying, difficulty making close friends, distance from family (etc…) really led me into a difficult mental and emotional state. (Thank goodness for Drew, I’m not sure I could have made it through without him!) Things have gotten much better over the last few years as I’ve developed a happy home of my own, no longer have the stress of grades/late nights of homework, are more able to explore my creative passions, and have my health issues more under control. But I’ve noticed that depression can easily sneak up. With all the stresses and many ways that life takes hold, it isn’t hard to get to the point of overwhelm and feel like you can’t handle it all. Family dramas, work burnout, stress of future unknowns, the physical/mental/emotional weight of various work and social commitments, there are a lot of things that can subtly get you down without realizing it until you are already there.
I feel like this is something I will always battle in whatever complexity (and maybe everyone does?), but as I get older, I’m really trying harder to safeguard my mental and emotional health.
For anyone else out there that might find themselves battling stress and overwhelm, here are a few calming and stress-relieving techniques that I’ve found help me. I want to preface this by saying that I’m no expert, these are just some of my observations and I’m not perfect at having them all together either. I just wanted to share, in case this could be of help to someone else. These are not meant to be a cure for anxiety or depression, just ways to help keep a more positive physical, mental, and emotional attitude. If you are really struggling, seek professional help!
- Take care of your body. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, I’m gluten intolerant and have a couple other minor food sensitivities, and I get headaches really easily. Because of my low energy levels and digestive issues, it is super important for me to eat a healthy, whole foods diet (free from wheat, barley, and rye, and limited on milk, eggs, and sugar) and it is essential that I get a good amount of quality sleep (8-10 hours a night, doing my best to avoid waking up in the middle of the night). I also need to eat healthy snacks throughout the day (I get headaches when I’m hungry), take my vitamins, get more exercise (Pilates/yoga and walks around the neighborhood), let go of stress and keep up positive feelings. You might not have the same dietary restrictions as I do, but eating healthy, whole foods, getting good sleep, and exercising is important for everyone!
- Let go. This can be a really hard one, but a really important one. There are a lot of things that can be toxic in our lives – family drama, bad relationships, bad workplace environment, stress from where you live, etc. These are often hard to control. But it is really important to do everything you can to not let these things affect you for the worse. Let go of the toxic relationships in your life, change your workplace, move to a less stressful environment, whatever it takes. Living in a toxic situation just tears you down mentally, physically, and emotionally. Maybe for you this is as simple as disconnecting/unfollowing/unfriending — removing the people from your life that make you mad/jealous, you don’t really know any longer, don’t bring joy to your life, etc. It could also mean curating the information that comes in — from news sources, social media, etc. Stop letting information in that just tears you down. In the same respect, let go of things in other areas of your life that aren’t working any more. Let go of goals that don’t work any longer, bad feelings, past hurts, disappointments, and as said above, people that aren’t healthy in your life.
- Simplify. The things we surround ourselves with take up so much mental, physical, and emotional space in our lives. We often surround ourselves with so many things that they become a burden — a burden to clean, to put away, to find a home for, to take care of, to repair, to manage, etc. It is so freeing to get rid of the excess and to not feel so tied down to objects — keeping only the things in your life that bring you joy. Clear out the junk, de-clutter, clean out your closet, get rid of everything in your house that you don’t use or don’t love. Less stuff equals more time, more happiness, and more joy. In the same respect, evaluate new purchases so that you don’t end up buying new things you don’t need.
- Put some love into your home. I’ve found that one of the biggest contributors to keeping my sanity is having a nice, safe, comforting place to come home to in the evenings. It is a respite from a long work day and a place that I feel relaxed and safe. One of my biggest struggles during the beginning of my college years was that I didn’t have this place to come home to and feel settled in. If your home isn’t doing this for you, consider investing a little into it. Make it a place you enjoy coming home to at the end of the day (or all day if you work from home).
- Make time in the day to focus on your passions. It is really easy to get caught up in the get up, go to work all day, come home, clean up the house, make dinner, go to bed routine, leaving no time left to focus on things you really love or enjoy. I’ve found that if I neglect my creative passions and personal goals for too long, I start to really feel depressed (and that my day job (or school when I was in college) is taking over my life). For me this means carving out a little time in the evenings (even just a couple times a week) to read, work on personal design work, decorate, paint, crochet, practice calligraphy, learn new skills, etc. During college I really didn’t have time to focus on a lot of these, or they were tied into my school work, so my “outlet” became cooking a nice dinner every evening. It was the one time of the evening that I could forget about the work I needed to do and just focus on preparing the meal. Whatever it is for you – set that time aside for it.
- Fun counts. A friend of mine from work shared this bit of advice with me and I love it. So often we think “fun” things should take a backseat to more important life things. But if we don’t make time for fun, we end up feeling empty and depressed. For me, this means that even in the middle of a busy week, I need to make time to meet with my church group, have a movie night with Drew, get out of the house and explore the city I live in, read, watch TV, do something relaxing and refreshing, take a walk. Live a simpler and more intentional life, enjoying the here and now. This could also tie into your passions, and sometimes it does for me, but even your creative passions can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes and it is good to take a break from them to relax and watch a movie (or whatever).
- Create a calm mind. By this, I mean taking the time to rest your brain. Making time for work, personal upkeep, creative passions, etc. can lead to a pretty busy and hectic life if we let it. Make sure to allow yourself a little down time for your sanity. Spend time in prayer/devotion, meditation, yoga/exercise, a peaceful walk around the neighborhood, journaling, time to read, to practice gratitude and reflect on your blessings, whatever this means to you. Just take the time to quiet other stimuli and practice solitude. Trust me, it is hard to make time for this, but it is oh-so-good for your sanity. I’ve found that often the only time I end up setting aside for this is when I’m in the car on my commute to work and back. But even just those few minutes of calm/silence can make a big difference in my day(s).
- Create a calm morning routine. A nice cup of tea or even just warm water with honey and lemon is really nice to sip on while getting ready in the morning. Having a morning devotional, prayer time, journaling, meditation–whatever way it takes to start your day in a calm way (instead of rushing around like a crazy person to get to work or school on time!). Try not to check your phone/e-mails before work (otherwise I compose e-mail responses over and over again in my head until I get to work and can actually reply!). I struggle a lot with having a calm morning routine (I’m always so tired that I want to get every last second of sleep, meaning I often wake up too late and I’m in a rush) but I think this is one of the best ways to make sure you start your day off on the right foot.
- Create a consistent evening routine. This can be different for everyone, but for me, I like to try to get in the shower by 9 p.m. and get in bed by 10 (I’m naturally a night owl, so this takes a lot of effort for me). Ideally I would then have a little bit of time to read and decompress from the day before going to sleep by 10:30 or 11 p.m. For you, this could also mean a quick pick up of the house, running of the dishwasher, wiping down of the kitchen counters, picking out your clothes for the next day, packing lunch(es), etc. Whatever it takes to get to bed on time and make the next morning/day less stressful.
Those are great overall life goals to keep stress and depression at bay (for me at least), but what to do when you are really having a rough day? Here are a few simple things that help me when I’m in a really low spot or having a particularly stressful day:
- Take a few deep breaths and read “Desiderata.” During one particularly rough time in college, my dad called me and read this poem to me over the phone, hoping that it would help me. He often quotes it, especially in that “the universe is unfolding as it should.” I find that when I’m having a hard time, re-reading it not only reminds me of him and that memory and that everything will be okay, but it brings a little more peace into my life. Here it is:
Latin for “things to be desired”
Max Ehrmann, 1927
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
- Drink a cup of tea or hot chocolate. In the middle of the work day, I often can’t stop what I’m doing to do something more fun and creative if I’m having a bad day, so the best I can do is take small steps to improving my day/attitude. There is just something soul-warming about a nice warm drink to sip on. It can also make working on unenjoyable tasks a little more enjoyable.
- Prayer, meditation, gratitude. Day not going well? Take a few minutes to pray about it. Or take a few minutes to meditate and shift your focus. Or spend a few minutes thinking about all the blessings in your life instead of focusing on your troubles.
- Re-evaluation. Depending on your situation, this might not work, but often times the easiest solution is the simplist. Ask yourself “Does this really matter?” “Is this situation going to matter in five years?” If not, try to let it go. I sometimes get stressed about things that in the scheme of things don’t really matter. But I get invested and when things don’t go my way I get hurt. Other ways to phrase this are, “the less you give a damn the happier you’ll be” and “fill your heart with what’s important and be done with all the rest.”
- Writing it out. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in certain situations that I keep re-living them over and over in my head, making me unable to move on with my life or focus on the tasks at hand. I’ve found that sometimes I just need to write it out to get it out of my head so that I can move on. Grab a notebook or open a Google or Word document and write it all out. Once you are done, close the notebook/document and move on to the next thing. You can also talk it out with someone, but I’ve found that is often too close to gossiping/complaining and can sometimes exaggerate the problem. We are trying to let it go (not give it new life with someone else). Write it down where only you will see it, delete the document at the end if you need to, and move on.
- Read a book. This isn’t always an option (especially if you are at work), but if this is possible in your situation, take advantage of it. Pick up a book and get lost in someone else’s story. It is good to forget about yourself for a bit.
- Make something with your hands. Paint, craft, crochet, garden, build something, whatever, but do something that you can feel good about making. This is such a positive mental booster.
- Evaluate commitments. Is your stress coming from having too many plans, things to do, and places to be? Consider reevaluating your priorities and letting go of some commitments. Make less evening plans and spend more weekends free. Sometimes that simple solution is so great for your mental space. Maybe it isn’t too many commitments but some other thing that triggers your stress. Try to find a way to remove that stress trigger from your life.
- Check some things off your to-do list. This one is pretty obvious, but again, sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Are you stressed because you have too many things on your to-do list, but you can’t re-evaluate any of those plans? Go through the list and circle the ones that will take you the least amount of time to do, then go do them as fast as you can. This applies to work tasks or home tasks. It almost never fails that there will be things on your list that will only take you a few minutes, yet they are adding so much stress to your plate to see another line item to-do. After checking off a few things you will already feel so much more accomplished and ready to tackle the bigger things on your list.
- Spend quality time with someone you love. This one is also pretty obvious, but sometimes the best medicine is to forget about your problems and just hang out with someone you love. (Serotonin is an amazing healer, so spend some time in a long hug.) If you don’t have someone nearby who is free, call someone — a significant other, parent, sibling, friend, colleague, neighbor — whomever. Don’t let yourself get to feeling too lonely. (Loneliness is the root of all evil for someone prone to depression!)
- Turn up the music. I usually just turn on my favorite Pandora station or look up my favorite song on YouTube, but I would love to sit down and compile a playlist of songs that bring me joy to play when I’m feeling down.
- Remember that “this too shall pass.” Sometimes, we don’t have much control over the stressful situations in our lives. But, often times those things won’t last forever. As much as I wish I could say that I always lived in the moment and enjoyed each day, sometimes the best medicine is to think about the future when one day the stress that you are currently going through won’t exist. (This is mostly how I got through college. Telling myself it wouldn’t last forever and trudging through!) Make it through each day with your future goals in mind — be it a new job, a different career path, a new relationship, the excitement of starting a family, getting your debt paid off, going back to school, getting through a divorce, moving forward after a death in the family — whatever it may be, better days lie ahead!
Remember that having a bad day (or even a sequence of bad days) doesn’t mean you have a bad life!
What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks for how you de-stress and stay positive? I love this article on 10 ways to de-stress your day, hour by hour. I once read a book that said you should write a positive, affirmative letter to yourself to read when you are feeling down. Another idea was to take a dresser drawer and fill it with things that bring you joy — a scrapbook of your favorite photos, a list of inspiring quotes, your favorite chocolates, bath salts for a relaxing bath — and whenever you are feeling down, open the drawer and enjoy some of your favorite things. I haven’t tried either of those, but they sound like good ideas. Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know what helps you!
Again, these are not meant to be a cure for depression, just ways to help keep a more positive physical, mental, and emotional attitude. If you find yourself in a dark place, please see a doctor or mental health professional! Depression can be a very serious illness and you aren’t alone in your struggle.