Reflections on 2015
Happy New Year! 2015 was such a wonderful year filled with travel and creative pursuits. I love reflecting back on all that has happened over the past year. I love setting goals and working to fulfill them. This year I used my planner system to track my yearly goals (see my goals for 2015 here) and break them down by month. It was a nice way to help me stay on track. Here are some of the things I accomplished in 2015:
- quilting – I learned to quilt! I’ve wanted to learn to quilt for years and I finally made it happen in 2015! I made two throw sized quilts. The first one I started at the Cotton and Steel Patchwork Weekend Workshop I attended at Anna Maria Horner’s Craft South in Nashville this summer with all the designers of Cotton and Steel. I did all the patchwork on the top of that one, then I sent it off to a lady I met at the workshop to long-arm quilt and bind it for me. You can see it finished, here. I did every single bit of the second one myself! I picked out a design, picked out fabrics from my collection, even designed some of the fabrics for it myself, I did all the patchwork, sandwiched it together, quilted it, and bound it! I was so scared to do all parts of it, but I’m so happy I did! It feels like a great accomplishment! You can see my Value Quilt finished, here. I realized that I really love quilting and I’ve already been planning more! It is just so nice to snuggle up on the couch under a quilt I made myself! Violet even loves to sleep under them! I’m so glad I attended that workshop this summer and I also read the quilting books that my dad got me for Christmas last year (love this one).
- ceramics – Ceramics wasn’t originally on my list of goals for 2015, but it was on my Life List. I took a hand-building ceramics class in college (and loved it) and I had always wanted to learn wheel throwing. I had in mind that sometime I might sign up for a month or two of classes at a local studio only a few blocks from our house. Well, early this year, a friend of mine from our 20/30s church group, who is a much more experienced ceramicist, asked if I wanted to start taking classes there with her. Of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to have someone to go with! We started there in February and I continued through the early part of April (read about it, here). I took a break for the summer and picked it up again in October, November, and December. So nearly half the year I spent weekly making pottery! It is a great studio, where you can just come in and make whatever you’d like (with the owner there to assist you if needed). I learned to use the wheel and made lots of mugs and bowls along with two handmade pour-overs for Drew, and various other little trays, dishes, and vases. I also made a few more hand-built pieces. I’m so glad I got back into this! I really have enjoyed using a handmade mug for tea, hot chocolate, and my warm honey/lemon water in the mornings.
- surface pattern design – I didn’t quite put together the 2-3 SPD collections this year that I originally wanted to do, but I did make quite a bit of progress on my design work. I put together one collection, made a mini portfolio, and started on some other collections, but then I attended a Fabric Design Workshop this summer in NYC with Heather Ross and Anna Maria Horner and decided to take a different approach to building my body of work. In addition to expanding my knowledge of the textile industry, seeing how Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, the designers of Cotton and Steel, and Bonnie Christine (I took classes with her in 2014) approach their design work was so eye opening. They all have different strengths and styles and design very differently. I had a nice chat with Heather Ross at the end of our workshop and she really helped me see that I needed to focus on building a unique voice for my work, to fulfill a niche not already occupied by other designers, and helped me to start thinking a little deeper about what kind of work I wanted to make. Chatting with Melody Miller and Alexia Abegg of Cotton and Steel really emphasized that point further. I also realized that my art background was a huge asset and to find my voice in the design world I needed to experiment a little more with various ways to create patterns and artwork and figure out what process(es) worked for me. So I took a little more time to research fabric design traditions and techniques and put together a style board of design inspiration that really speaks to my soul and the heart of the work I want to create. I’ve experimented with sketching more in my sketchbook, turning those sketches directly into patterns, designing directly within Illustrator, designing in Photoshop, coming up with a design, carving a stamp block, block printing it, and then turning that into a digital design, working with watercolors and India ink to paint sketches and then digitizing those, and experimenting with my abstract painting style in pattern work. I still have a long road ahead in my design career, but I’m happy to be where I am today compared to this time last year! I did print some of my own designs on fabric via Spoonflower this year! I also designed a fabric for my niece’s homecoming dress!
- calligraphy – In 2014, I joined the New Orleans Lettering Arts Association. In 2015, I went to one of their meetings on Copperplate Calligraphy. I also took Melissa Esplin’s I Still Love Calligraphy course (it was a 2014 Christmas gift from Drew) and some other lettering courses on Skillshare. I love what I learned from those classes, but I realized that I prefer the more whimsical and natural style of my hand-lettering over the more formal looking Copperplate Calligraphy. I also improved at digitally hand lettering on my Wacom tablet and I incorporated more of my hand lettering into blog images and my other design work.
- blog – I delved a little deeper into some of my inspirations and a bit more of my creative story on the blog this year. I also redesigned the blog, adding recipes and projects pages to make those much easier to find. I got a little frustrated with blogging this year though, at how much time it takes (when I’m also working full-time and working on a million other creative projects) and the way I let my monthly “Life Right Now” posts add pressure to my life and become another insignificant item on my to-do list. Blogging isn’t my true love, I don’t make money from it, and I never plan to become a professional blogger. I do love having the record of creative projects and using it as a place to inspire others. I would love to get better at sharing more about my designs, design process, etc. In the future though, I plan to step back a bit and only post when I have something meaningful to say or share to inspire others (I don’t think my monthly recaps really do that!).
- read – I read several books and wished I’d made the time to read more! I worked on so many different projects this year that it seems like my free time was spent creating or doing various other things. I have a huge stack of books on my to-read list and I’d love to make more time next year to rest and read.
- pay off debt – We started paying on Drew’s student loans in his parents’ names this year (or at the very tail end of 2014) and so far have paid off over $30,000 (yes I said thirty thousand dollars) this year. We’ve made debt pay-off a priority in our lives (my entire salary (except for what we use on travel) goes towards it, plus some of Drew’s every month) and we do our best to live simply to be able to accommodate it. We could have done a little bit more, but our travels this year interfered with it. We only have around $12,000 left until we are debt free and I can’t wait to get there in 2016! I highly encourage anyone who is in a rough spot with finances to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and start thinking differently about money and spending. Paying off debt like this felt like it would never be possible for us a few years ago. In the last three years (part of which I was still in college for and had no steady income coming in) we’ve been able to pay off Drew’s credit card debt, his car, and now his student loans.
- simplify – I’ve always loved the idea of simplicity, so much so that Drew and I named our web and graphic design business Pure Simplicity Designs when we started it over five years ago. For years, I’ve also loved the idea of living simply, but I’ve put it into practice more this year than ever before. Starting on our debt pay-off plan several years ago really pushed us in this respect and we’ve only continued to grow from there. This year in particular, I took to heart the idea of only having things in my home and life that bring me joy. I’ve cleared out a lot of our unused possessions, cleaned out my closet several times leaving only clothes that I really love and wear, and tried to simplify my time by not over-scheduling myself. I also started to try and implement routines and practices into my life to help me live a calmer and more mindful life (see this list also). Some of those include establishing morning and evening routines, like morning stretches and drinking warm honey/lemon water from a homemade mug every morning and showering by candlelight with soothing music in the evenings (I’d love to then read in bed to decompress before I sleep). I also established a better planner system to help me keep track of my work and personal to-dos and prioritized specific tasks for each day. I’ve also tried to practice mindfulness, by simply being aware and present in the current moment. I started my own modified “morning pages” practice of journaling, where I clear my head by writing things out that are on my mind. Living a calmer and simpler life is something that I hope to work on for the rest of my life, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made this year.
- travel – Goodness, we traveled way more than we had originally planned to in 2015! In April we visited Drew’s brother in San Diego and then took a road trip across California. In May we visited family in southern Illinois. In June we went to NYC for a textile design workshop and Drew went to Philadelphia for a work conference. In July we visited Asheville, NC and also went to Nashville, TN for another workshop. In September we visited Austin, TX for the first time (Drew went back again later that month for a work trip), spending some time in Houston along the way. In October Drew went back to Cali to visit his brother over his work fall break. In November we went back to southern IL for Thanksgiving. Thank goodness everyone came to New Orleans to visit us for Christmas!
- house projects – This year we added a church pew and wall shelves to our foyer/dining room, painted the hallway and kitchen, and worked on re-designing our bedroom (we painted an awesome accent wall that you can see in the photo collage above!). We made over a side table, added lots of throw pillows, and cleaned out and simplified our possessions. After years of searching, I also found nightstands for our bedroom! I also set up a better workstation in my office – with a desktop computer and a more comfortable office chair.
Woo! 2015 was quite a year! Reflecting back over everything makes me really satisfied with all that I was able to accomplish personally in addition to working a full-time day job! I’ve come to realize that if I want to accomplish my personal goals while still working full-time and maintaining everything else in my life (eating, sleeping, etc.), I simply don’t have the time, energy, or space in my life for drama or chasing after things that don’t align with my goals. I’ve had to say “no” to a lot of things that could have been awesome, but that aren’t leading me in the direction I want to go.
I can’t wait to share more about my goals for 2016 with you (coming soon)! This year I’m working with Lara Casey’s Powersheets and I’m excited about Making Things Happen!
P.S. If you want to read more about what I was up to in 2015, check out these posts: November 2015 | October 2015 | September 2015 | August 2015 | July 2015 | June 2015 | May 2015 | April 2015 | March 2015 | February 2015 | January 2015