January 2011


Because the deep and profound thoughts that have haunted my brain for the last 6 hours refuse to coalesce into a blog post, I am throwing you a funny bone instead!

A few random bits of absurdity that make up my life.

For example, when I logged into WordPress a short time ago, I was greeted by my stats bar – which shows how people stumbled across my blog.
Those magic Google keywords and phrases they used to get here.

It is a clear snapshot, revealing the topics people are interested in studying…
things like “secret zombie outbreaks”“Crowds of demonic people”… and “disgusting vaginas”.

Folks inquiring about “Disgusting eye backgrounds” and a “painting of cat on a man’s face”.

I also received visitors curious in “Vacuum cleaning nude”… and being “spanked in a punishment outfit and put in the corner bare”

There were many other explicit things that I dare not even type.
I’m not making these things up. Seriously.

Sometimes I think Google has lost its marbles.

And Kathleen would blame the strange tags I use, like “boy wearing fairy wings”… but you’d have to have an imagination on steroids to make the Herculean leap from fairy wings to “an erotic experience while riding a horse”. πŸ˜‰

“You have been online for one year do you wish to get offline and get a life? Options:yes-no-remind me next year!”

Wordpress search keywords key phrases stat summary

Oddly, I searched for this exact phrase and couldn't find my blog.

I’m curious whether I could actually compose a blog post incorporating all those elements, to satisfy any freak who might pop in.
Hmmmm…. creative writing assignment gone wild!

Anything I find hilarious, bizarre, or fascinating …gets shared on Facebook.
And if we’re not already friends, then your Facebook wall is missing that extra splash of crazy sauce.

Without me to remind you “not to eat your yogurt with a fork”,
where would you be?
Covered in yogurt, that’s where!

Facebook has this great app that I found last year, called Year in Status.Β Β 
I shared mine for 2009 along with my ruminations about turning 30, but here is a recap of stuff you might’ve missed from 2010:

TaraFly's Facebook Status Updates in 2010

And for those of you unable to read that tiny font… and don’t you dare say it’s just my eyes! I’m warning you… πŸ˜‰

My contributions to the Facebook Madness:

  1. TaraFly wants to know how many people faithfully ate their sauerkraut last night… and whether it has affected your luck in years past. πŸ˜‰
  2. In real life, the beautiful girl meets her Prince Charming, they fall in love, and she spends her Ever After cooking and cleaning for Beasts.
  3. TaraFly is feeling slighted because the neighbors didn’t invite her to their furniture throwing party… (again!) … Making plans to throw one herself – BYOB (Bring Your Own Bureau)
  4. Guesses the neighbors must’ve run out of dressers to hurl, and now they’re breaking coffee tables.
  5. Wants to know who needs their diaper changed…. C’mon, fess up!
  6. I will be celebrating only the 4th of Christvaleasthanuween-giving this year. Makes decorating much simpler.
  7. TaraFly sliced open her finger while washing aluminum cans. Eh. Didn’t need all this blood anyway.
  8. It’s time to get some chicken flavored tick-tacks, or else don rubber gloves and BRUSH MY CAT”S TEETH!!!
  9. Survived Snowmageddon, and all she received was this lousy mountain of snow piled onto her vehicle by a sorry bunch of neighbors borrowing her OWN shovel. πŸ˜‰
  10. Wonders why anyone would take a survey titled “20 Things You Wouldn’t Want Anyone To Know About You”. πŸ˜›
  11. TaraFly ate the blasted Bunny, but all the candy came just the same. πŸ˜›
  12. TaraFly is tired of confirming the same friend, 4 days in a row! Either Facebook has a fatal flaw, or the friendship wasn’t meant to be. πŸ˜›
  13. TaraFly has a front row seat at the races tonight… and might even place a bet on the grey tabby.
  14. TaraFly recommends Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern if you have trouble dieting. Nothing kills an appetite like watching him eat live bugs. πŸ˜›
  15. TaraFly needs more pizza sauce in her lap.
  16. Finally discovered my calling in life. I was born to be CRAZY!
  17. TaraFly thought she had seen the last of the politically correct “Three Little Pigs”, but it has re-surfaced and is demanding to be read. Time for PC piggy annihilation.
  18. TaraFly wants Facebook to stop pressuring her to LIKE things, simply because 15,000 other people liked it…. Has she ever made a popular decision in her life?!?!
  19. TaraFly knows that cat fur is the Spice of Life. You can eat it with anything.
  20. TaraFly wonders how a person stabs their knee with a needle, while sewing a stuffed animal…. Screw those thumb guards. This girl needs a body cast.
  21. TaraFly washed and folded a load of laundry, swept and vacuumed, made breakfast, cleaned dishes, changed 3 litter boxes, dressed kids, scrubbed fridge and stove. Is looking forward to sitting down to finish a piece of art…. and daring the children to spill or break something.

And the runner-ups:

  • TaraFly turned into a pumpkin 7 minutes ago… and realized, too late, that pumpkins cannot walk upstairs to their bedrooms… or type on Facebook with their jkfl,gjdbh.lsfjt,murt….
  • TaraFly couldn’t afford to pay the exorcist any longer, and got repossessed.

Β 

  • Please put this on your status if you know someone (or are related to someone) who has been eaten by a dragon. Dragons are nearly unstoppable and, in case you didn’t know, they can breathe fire. 93% of people won’t copy and paste this, because they have been eaten by dragons. The other 7% of people are sitting in the shower, armed with fire extinguishers.

So I’ll leave you with this invitation to join me on Facebook, because I need to get outta here!
Before the crowds of demonic zombies, with disgusting eyes and vaginas, come here to paint cats on my face, and force me to vacuum in the nude.
Or worse….

canned vegetables and food pantry

Getting a peek inside our cupboards...

Last week, I wrote a fairly difficult post (for me, anyway), confronting my prejudice against the criminally insane… and how I’ve struggled to change my perspective on judging others.

It’s extremely easy from where we stand, to look at people in less fortunate circumstances, and blame them for their own misery.
I was raised to think that way. And I still believe in personal accountability.

The year 2011 is not even 1/12 over… and already I see a pattern emerging: this is shaping up to become the year which tests my faith and personal convictions.

Beginning with prejudice.

I carry around quite a bit of prejudice, typically towards people who moan and complain about being victimized.
Society is against them.
Their employers are against them.
The government is against them.
They just can’t get anywhere in this world.

You know people like this. You might even be one of them.

I’ve encountered plenty of obstacles in my short lifetime, but if I failed to overcome them or find a work-around, I attributed it to a lack of motivation or laziness on my part… not on some conspiracy designed to hold me back.
“Where there’s a will…”

Like many people who have never lived without, I’ve frowned on the “abuse” of the welfare system.
I’ve never applied for food stamps, subsidized housing, or the like; it looked like a joke being played on a naive bureaucracy. Don’t those silly state workers know “single mothers” have live-in boyfriends?

But before you angrily grab your keyboard to respond how misguided I am… let me finish, mkay? πŸ˜‰

This year, changes are taking place around here… too early to be discussed yet.
But in the last week, I’ve stared the possibility of poverty square in the face, and it scared me. So I’m re-evaluating where I stand.

When you have $0.00 in your bank account, after getting work hours cut and paying some large bills, and with two weeks looming until next payday… you begin to panic.

You think about the last full gallon of milk: it won’t survive a week with three kids. It won’t survive 2 days!
You think about that 1/4 tank of gas in the car. The diapers, the cat food, the laundry soap…

You also begin to think irrationally, and your choices suddenly multiply: you could beg for money, you could steal, move in with relatives, or apply for welfare.

Or you could get creative.

That’s the decision I made.

a nearly empty freezer with popsicles and tostitos

Joe has anxiety attacks when the frozen dinners are gone

Taking an inventory of our cupboards and fridge gave Joe migraines, but we had to look past our convenience “Go-To” foods – to see the full potential of what we had stocked away.
You know those boxes of pasta lying around? Elbow, Bowtie, Spaghetti… cook them!
The canned veggies that nobody wants to eat… find a way to serve them. (Bwahahaha)

Our biggest concern was the milk situation. We hadn’t anticipated that we’d be broke, and didn’t stockpile on our most frequently consumed beverage.
The apple and orange juice disappeared very quickly, so I made sure to conserve our milk exclusively for the kids to drink.
Which begs the question: What did we cook with?

When I first became obsessed with homemade baked goods, I went crazy in the Baking Aisle of the grocery store, and purchased everything I might ever need:
Brown and white sugars, all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking soda and powder, packets and refrigerated yeasts, condensed and powdered milk

When the milk alternatives ran out (every recipe seems to require milk!) we moved on to the heavy cream that Joe had purchased over the holidays for my homemade eggnog. We still had an entire pint of cream leftover!

I Googled “milk substitution” and one Know-it-All posted an article that you could NOT substitute heavy cream for milk.

However, I knew that 3/4 cup of milk + 1/3 cup of melted butter could be substituted for heavy cream, if you had none on hand.
So why not the reverse??
Since our butter was also low, and every recipe wanted butter, I tested the theory.

I made our pancakes with heavy cream replacing BOTH milk and butter, and guess what? It worked! Haha
The pancakes were still fluffy and delicious, and the kids gobbled them up without complaint.

So screw the Know-it-Alls. Don’t listen to them! ;P

The kids are huge junk-food fiends. Mia’s favorite snack is the Pop-Tart, and she can go through an entire box within days.
So once the two boxes of strawberry and cinnamon flavored Pop-Tarts were gone, despite our best efforts to teach a 3-year-old about conservation, Joe looked up recipes for homemade variations.

And we found an excellent one here, but you can Google “homemade Pop Tart” also…
Basically, it’s just a pie crust recipe rolled flat, cut into rectangles, and filled with jam, jelly, applesauce, a brown sugar cinnamon mixture, or whatever you like. πŸ™‚
It turned out light and flaky, and reminded me of a Toaster strudel.

A handmade baked pop tart using pie crust and jam

Joe and Lydia's initial tasty attempt at Pop-Tart baking

We had a nearlyΒ full jar of strawberry jam in the fridge, and we also experimented with cinnamon applesauce.
It’s an easy recipe, with very few ingredients. Joe and Lydia made the first batch together.

Little girl hanging upside down on chair

Some days I measure my worth by those empty baskets... sad, huh.

My obsessive goal to keep up with our laundry was put to the test, when our industrial size bottle of detergent decided to run dry at the worst possible time. Sure, I tore apart the top of the container and rinsed the residual soap from its plastic sides into our machine. But it wasn’t enough.

That green box of Borax sat on the shelf, mocking my laziness.

Last year, a few soap sellers in the Etsy forums helpfully posted links to their favorite recipes for handmade laundry detergent… but they involved shredding mild hand soap with a cheese grater and boiling the scrapings into 5 gallons of boiling water.
I had all the ingredients, including the 5 gallon metal pail, but who wants to cook soap shreddings?? Not when detergent is more convenient. πŸ˜‰

With no other alternative, I spent one afternoon boiling soap. It wasn’t terribly hard, and the loads came out smelling clean, but I won’t be using the grater for food anytime soon. LOL

“Going green” and “living sustainably” are hot buzzwords that many of us equate with expensive energy-star upgrades or tree-hugging communes. Those folks who ride bicycles in 15 degrees farenheit, trying to avoid snowdrifts.

But in reality, sustainable living includes finding creative ways to cut expenses, and being frugal with your resources.

Growing your own crops, canning veggies, using cloth diapers, boiling your own detergents, upcycling clothing, and making your foods from scratch (instead of buying factory processed Pop Tarts)… are just some of the ways to ultimately save your family money.

It’s terribly easy to become complacent when money is lining your pocket, and those microwavable chicken nuggets are tempting you.
I can totally sympathize – remember, I’m the girl who worships the clothes dryer! (Who wants stiff laundry crawling with spiders?)

But perhaps we can help out our less fortunate neighbors by teaching them to live sustainably, helping them to stretch their meager incomes.

You feel less “poor” when you have control over your environment.

I’m adding the decision to live frugally to my personal goals this year.
When our tax return arrives, the bulk of it will go directly into an emergency savings account, and we’ll continue to “live poor”.
Not starving and devoid of milk, mind you, but really taking to heart the recent lessons we’ve learned: Utilize everything we have, and find alternatives to save money.

Even if it means a bit of elbow grease… or in this case, grating soap! LOL

Do you have any awesome money-saving tips you’d like to share with me?

illustration drawing of Regency kitty cat sitting at window by TaraFly Art

At the Window - an original Regency cat drawing by TaraFly

Last year, I was kicking around an idea to create a calendar using black and white sketches… since a large, full-color, hanging wall calendar would be very expensive to produce on my printer… (which explains why most Etsy artists are creating small desktop calendars or having them mass-printed elsewhere).

I thought it would be a neat idea to present this calendar of sketches like a coloring book, with a new character to decorate each month.
I know my kids would look forward to scribbling all over Mom’s calendar, and afterwards each piece could be kept and framed as wall art. πŸ™‚

I know you’re thinking… “Sounds great! What happened?”

Although it didn’t come together as quickly as I’d planned, considering I had a dozen projects already in progress… I still intend to create the calendar for 2012, incorporating many of the drawings that I haven’t painted yet.
Some of them may never be completed otherwise. πŸ˜‰

Tonight I came across the blog of a children’s book author, Elizabeth Dulemba, who hosts “Coloring Book Tuesday” – making her own artwork downloadable for printing at home. Once her young readers finish coloring them, they may be scanned and e-mailed back to Jenn, who will display them on her blog.

I thought this was such a cool idea!! So I’ve decided to “borrow” it, hehe
I can’t promise a new drawing every week, but perhaps once or twice a month for starters. πŸ˜‰

“At The Window” is a digital drawing of a Regency kitty sitting at her window, with a book in her lap.Β  Perhaps she is waiting for a special visitor, or she’s watching the gentlemen hunting on the lawn.

She may be downloaded simply by clicking on the link above, or clickingΒ on either of these twoΒ images shown inΒ my post.

Click to Zoom and view the full-size file (which is 1600×2000, or 8″x10″ at 200ppi) … and then Right-click and save it to your computer.

Regency lady kitty cat sitting at window artwork by Tara Fly Art

An example of coloring At The Window.

She can be colored digitally, or printed out to decorate with crayons, markers, glitter, felt, fabric, and anything else you fancy!
I’d love to see what you do with her!

If you share your creation with me, I’ll post your artwork here on my blog and my Facebook fanpage.

Also, everyone who is featured will receive a $5.00 coupon for my Etsy shop (or my website, if you prefer)… πŸ™‚

You may scan and post “At The Window”:
to your Facebook wall and tag me… (gotta friend me first! *wink*)…
my Fanpage wall – if you’re a fan
upload it to Flickr or Photobucket…
or e-mail it to me directly.
(I’d be happy to help if you have trouble uploading it, just send me an e-mail).

If posting it anywhere online, please keep my name on it, so folks can search and find my other artwork easily. Thanks!

Enjoy this free coloring book drawing with “Many Thanks!” from me…
and please share this post with anyone you know who might like it, too!

I really appreciate everyone who supports my artwork, and makes this internet a fun, engaging place to be. πŸ™‚

Orphan Stray Kittens, an acrylic painting by TaraFly

The Lost Ones - an acrylic painting of two stray kittens.

ο»Ώο»ΏI’ve always had a morbid fascination with people who commit crimes because ‘the voices’ commanded them to do it.

What do these voices sound like? Is it your own voice… a loved one, friend, or complete stranger? Are they audible or suggestive? Do they echo inside your head, as if coming from headphones… or enter the room like disembodied specters?

I seriously want to know.

A few years ago, I briefly attended some sessions with a psychologist… and during the initial consultation, she asked me a series of ominous mental-health questions, such as “Have you had any thoughts of homicide or genocide?” and “Do you hear voices?”

I asked, “How would I know if I heard voices?” That unnerved her, I think. πŸ˜‰
But she calmly replied, “Oh, you would know.”
Really?

It was eventually determined that I “suffered” from minor bouts of depression and anxiety, so minor in fact that I simply decided to deal with them (and save money on prescription drugs). They are lovingly referred to as my “mood swings”.

But there are no voices in my head, except my own.

Having never experienced a severe mental illness personally, I have a difficult time understanding and sympathizing with its victims.
I actually had to refrain from typing ‘victims’ in sarcastic quotes, because whatever we may think of them, they truly are victims of their own minds.

I’m sure many of you reading this have probably felt a similar sense of prejudice.
Raise your hand if you harshly judged Andrea Yates for drowning her own five children in their bathtub?
Oh, yeah…. my hand is waaaaay up there.

So she didn’t take her medication and was subjected to “voices” from somewhere, demanding that she murder her babies. If it were me, I would tell the voices to go jump in the tub and drown themselves instead.

After watching Shutter Island last weekend (my explanation for these ramblings…), I’ve been dwelling on the mental state of criminals, and how reality is an abstract form that differs from one person to the next.

I begin to realize that from where I stand, everything appears crystal clear.
Naturally, the voices people are hearing are malicious and wrong, I tell myself. Why presume this?
Because my conscience tells me so!

Ah, but what if the conscience and the Voice are one and the same?

That inner light of morality, which warns us of indiscretions with twangs of guilt and fear, is merely a by-product of our upbringing and environment … or as religious people would argue, it’s the “voice of the Holy Spirit”, warning us against sin. And everyone understands right from wrong…
Right?

But what if that same conscience could lead people astray, and convince them to do horrible things?

Perhaps this voice boomed down from Heaven like a divine Commandment. What spiritual person would dare reject the apparent Voice of God? By the way, it wouldn’t be the first time He’s demanded the sacrifice of our children (see: Genesis Chapt.22)
Maybe the Voice was testing Yates’ faith?

When we judge someone, we’re simply holding them accountable to our own moral code.
I’m guilty (a million times over) of making absolute statements: “I would never consider….”

Those presumptions are wrong, however, because although I would not commit murder in my current state of mind, there is no guarantee that if I were sharing her experiences as my own that my response would be any different.

You simply cannot know why an individual chooses one path over another, without swapping brains with them Frankenstein-style.

Scientists say that we live by a unique roadmap which was shaped long before we were actually born.

What your mother ate for lunch each day during her pregnancy, any drugs she might have taken, and even her emotional state (and stress levels) contributed to your physical and mental development as a fetus.
After birth, your immediate environment continued to impact you… the hospital staff, your first home, your siblings, teachers, neighbors, television, church, and if you listen to health fanatics on my Facebook wall – even those Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Pop-Tarts that are loaded with HFC and brain-altering chemical additives.

Life may be full of choices, the options are quite limitless… but depending on how and where you are raised, your personal view of the world has been conditioned to be quite narrow and absolute. Although, being “narrow-minded” in this particular case isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Some would never consider having an abortion, or foregoing college, or voting Republican, or cheating on their spouse, or eating tofu…

So how could they possibly understand or sympathize with their neighbor down the street who is struggling with a messy divorce or pregnant 13-year-old daughter?

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt belittled and misunderstood?
Perhaps on the phone with a bank clerk or creditor?
…Or in the check-out line when your card is declined?
…. When the officer pulls you over, and you’ve left your wallet in the other pair of pants?

Have you accidentally bumped into someone with your shopping cart?
…Or your perfect child suddenly throws tantrum in the store over a box of cookies?
… And your sincerest apologies fall on deaf ears?
And the faces of everyone around you are scowling with disapproval or blatant disgust?

You worthless and sorry excuse for a human being.

You should be ashamed.

You shouldn’t be a parent.

Hold onto that memory… and think about how it really feels to be judged by others.
When your best explanations turn into ashes in your mouth, unable to convince people of your innocence.

They don’t understand your situation.

They aren’t hearing your voices.

January 2ndΒ was my 31st birthday. I’m officially “in my 30’s” now…. but no matter, I haven’t celebrated my own birth in years.
But would you believe my husband and oldest daughter completely forgot? πŸ˜›

happy birthday wishes on tara fly's facebook profile wall

My family forgot, but Facebook remembered my birthday!

The kids are too hung over from Christmas, Joe has typical absent-minded “Male Brain” and can’t remember which day it is, and I feel stupid making a fuss over myself.
Although I dropped a few hints yesterday about “feeling old”… comments which are always guaranteed to get an eye-roll and/or lecture from the man who is 21 years my senior.
Revenge was sweet, however, as Facebook reminded everyone to post well-wishes on my Wall. Thanks guys! Your thoughtful comments humbled my housemates. πŸ˜‰

But Friday really was a significant day.

Firstly, Friday was the 31st… which is just like the 13th, except written backwards.
Does writing something backwards count as bad luck or good luck?

It shouldn’t matter to someone who lives with a half-black cat and refuses to eat her sauerkraut and black-eyed peas. I find superstitions simply curious.

Secondly, it marked the end of the year 2010. Although I didn’t pay attention to the clock, and realized it was midnight only when my Twitter feed lit up with “Happy New Year” written all over it…

Leave it to Twitter, because even this girl, who still can recall the license plate number to her high-school crush’s car, needs an occasional reminder as to which holiday we’re celebrating. πŸ˜‰

happy birthday wishes continue on Tara Fly's Facebook wall

And the Birthday Wishes continue throughout the day... ((hugs))

But New Year’s = Resolution making.

Remember how grudgingly I caved to the popular practice of penning my business goals? I haven’t forgotten about it this year… I guess it’s time to take a closer look at how successful I’ve been, huh.

Lastly, and most memorably, I had bits of shredded cheese embedded between my keys which made typing gooey.

From Thursday’s shin-dig, no doubt, which I was unfortunately not invited to attend. I was told it was a rowdy affair, and the kitchen was ransacked – the contents strewn around the living-room like confetti.
I was engaged upstairs, ministering to a suicidal pile of CDs that had formed a group pact to jump from the tower, falling six feet onto the carpet.

There was one fatality – a Dave Matthews album I hadn’t listened to since high school. The funeral was closed to the public.

little girl playing in pile of CDs on floor

Mia was the sole witness to the tragedy.

After the events of this past week, I find it humorous to reflect on the goals I made for this past year.
When I sat down last January 1st and resolved “to create 4-5 new pieces each month, not including commissions”, I was being incredibly optimistic.
Unrealistic even.
But the dynamics of our household were very different then.

My 2 and 3-year-old have reached many physical and intellectual milestones this year, not least of which has been the mastery of overcoming barriers and outwitting child-proof doorknobs and cabinet locks. Their ability to cause mischief has increased tenfold, due to their “divide and conquer” method of splitting my attention between downstairs and upstairs messes. Now that we actually have an upstairs/downstairs in our home, not to mention an open floor plan.

They run positively wild here! LOL

“Let’s cause a disturbance in the kitchen that will occupy Mommy long enough for us to empty the contents of our dresser onto the floor.”

The spare bedroom which serves as my studio has been a godsend, in terms of keeping my art and supplies organized and out of danger, but doesn’t allow me to work while supervising the little devils. Unless I keep the door open and invite hell to come inside.

Needless to say, my productivity took a dip this year. In 2009, I was averaging a painting per week; in 2010, I managed to complete one per month (with a few side projects, like Cat Cameo necklaces).

Nor did I reach my ultimate sales goals for this year, although I did earn more overall in 2010 than the previous year. That my sales remained steady is a good thing, especially considering the slight increase in price needed to accurately reflect my expenses and give room for growth. πŸ™‚

I’ve set my current prices so that I can work with wholesale orders and consignment shops, which is something I didn’t manage to do in 2010… but I’ve made initial contact with a couple of gallery shops, and have all the info necessary to submit my work for review in the next few weeks. I promise I will!

I’ve also done some research into three seasonal art festivals in the Washington D.C. area that I’d like to participate in this year. If I’m accepted, a hefty booth fee and inventory budget will need to be set aside.

Birthday Wishes from Tara Fly's Facebook friends

Still feeling the love from awesome peeps. And even a poopy litter cake!

I did, however, manage to update my blog each week (Or thereabouts), and I added a few functional items to my shop (namely note cards). Joe and I have lots of product ideas cooking!

2011 will be an exciting time spent experimenting with wood and cloth. Psst, he has been talking for months about purchasing a sewing machine for me – as a BIRTHDAY present, no less! – which means I’ll be cursing and stitching my fingers to assorted fabrics in an effort to create some stuffed animals for my shop. πŸ˜‰

Furthermore, I began working on my cat adaptation of Pride and Prejudice… even though I must have been under the influence of some strong cold medicine when I gave myself a 4 month deadline to have an entire book written and illustrated. I deeply apologize to anyone who believed I could accomplish that.
Nevertheless, the characters are coming to life one by one. Check out Mr. Bennet Cat, Mrs. Bennet Cat, and the Gossip Girls (Kitty and Lydia).

I might not have accomplished everything I set out to do, business-wise, however I’ve been blessed in so many ways this year:
We have a lovely home, with quiet neighbors…
Our own backyard … (free from cigarette butts and empty beer bottles, hooray!)
Three bright young children who greet me each morning in Chinese … (thanks to Nickelodeon – “Ni-hao!”)
A man who supports my decision to stay home and doesn’t gripe about our lack of money (too often)…
A wonderfully supportive online community of Facebook/Twitter/blog friends…
And a passionate small group of customers who love my artwork and gush about having a framed picture of Mr Darcy Cat on their desks. πŸ˜€

More Happy Birthday greetings from Facebook friends

Oh, look! More folks took a few moments to wish me well.

So to welcome the new year, and everything it may bring to me, I will set forth my goals as follows:

1. To *ahem* increase my blog posts to 2 posts weekly… and keep them fairly relevant/on-topic.

2. To list a new item in my Etsy shop each day, instead of renewing over and over.

Even if that just means a “new” size, matted option, sets, etc. Since I won’t have new artwork to reveal everyday, unfortunately.

3. To continue producing *at least* one new piece of artwork each month. Hopefully more.

4. To get my Zazzle shop up to speed.

Many purchases are made through Zazzle, even though it’s been terribly neglected. I just realized over the holidays that Christmas ornaments have been available for sale. But I didn’t add any to my shop. Ooops!

5. To create more functional stuff (like, um… Christmas ornaments!) and that wood and fabric I was hinting about earlier. πŸ˜‰

6. To make my website more marketing-friendly, i.e. adding a press kit, and better navigation.

I might even make the transition to a WordPress premium theme to run my entire site, although I know absolutely nothing about WP coding and I loathe giving up all my hard work… hehe, we’ll see.

7. To finally get my work into a retail shop and/or gallery.

8. To participate in a craft fair and/or art show.

9. To become fearless in my self-promotion off-line, and get those freaking business cards created!

I have two whole boxes of free Vista Print cards featuring Fire-Breathing Dommie on them, but my branding has taken a 180-degree turn, so new materials are needed to showcase Monsieur Darcy. πŸ˜‰

10. To keep in mind, and continually work towards, my ultimate goal – to grow this career into a full-time family operated business… so Joe can kiss the soul-devouring, mass-crap-producing Retail Giant good-bye. πŸ˜‰

More Birthday Wishes from friends

Do you think my husband gets the message yet? LOL ... Don't forget next year.

Of course, I have a few personal goals as well that aren’t worth sharing. But mainly to become a more compassionate and patient person.
And to whine less about my lot in life. I genuinely have too much to be thankful for to waste my time (and your time) complaining about my lack of time! πŸ˜‰

Although an occasional rant may still escape if I feel it’s worth sharing. hehe πŸ˜‰

So grab a glass of kraut juice, and let’s toast to the New Year 2011: To Less Complaining + More Art Sharing!