Saturday, October 21, 2017

Setting Goals Post 9 :: Write 31 Days

By delving deeply into ideas from different lists, we've been talking about the different ways to add indepth content to your blog articles. The topics and links that we've already discussed are at the bottom of this article so you can easily go back and read anything you've missed or that you'd like to review. 

Today l
et's talk about goal setting and ways to write about this topic on your blog. Many people write some sort of goal setting post in late December or early January. That's a good idea since many people are thinking of goals near the beginning of a new year.

But there are other options: Instead of using January first as your goal setting date, you can choose your birthday or your blog's anniversary. Any month or date can work. These are your goals, so you decide what is best for you.

Once you announce those goals, it's a good idea to return to the list and analyze your progress on occasion. July is in the middle of the year and a good time to check on how you've been advancing, and a post can come from that information. You can choose to do this on a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly basis instead. The thing to remember here is that you want to be honest with yourself. If you review your progress and find yourself lacking, you have a couple of choices:

  • step up your game
  • modify some or all of your goals so that they are more realistic
  • reduce the number of items within the goals
  • abandon the whole idea

Again, you have to make the decisions that work best for you. Don't continue to push yourself to complete some unattainable fantasy--that is sure to be frustrating or depressing if you feel that you've failed. The point of setting goals is to help yourself stay on track so that you can succeed. Anything beyond that began as unrealistically difficult or is just too much for your life.

This brings us to another important point: how to be realistic in setting your goals in the first place. Look at your accomplishments in the past. Very likely you have pushed yourself to accomplish what you've already achieved, so seriously consider whether you can take on any more.

Add cPhoto credit: Jeff Sheldon @ugmonk 

Have your needs or goals changed? If so, then you can consider letting something go. If you don't need that something in your life or it's a negative influence, let it go and replace it with something positive or needed. If you need all of the things that take your time and energy and you just can't add anything, face that truth and either give yourself more time or seek help from someone who may be willing to assist you.

For example, while in college and nearing my senior year, I decided that I wanted to graduate a semester early to save money. I generally took 15 hours of classes. I decided to take yet another three hour class, but I had three small children and drove an hour both ways to ULL. The plan had pitfalls that I did not anticipate. I depleted all of my energy racing to get to classes and keeping up with the added work, which meant I had nothing left for my family, and my grades began to suffer. In the end I had to admit defeat and drop a class. I simply could not keep up the pace of 18 hours.

I should have seen that I was being unrealistic in thinking I could add any more to my workload. Had I been honest with myself and analyzed all the parts of that plan, I'd have saved myself many days of misery. Instead I looked at the positives of my goal and jumped in without considering how it would affect my family, grades and health. 

One way to analyze your goal(s) is to use the old-fashioned Pro/Con list. Draw a line down the center of a sheet of paper and list the advantages on one side of the line and the disadvantages on the opposite side of the line. Remember to include others who will be affected and allow them to give input. Let them add to the Pro/Con list. Then consult someone who can be objective on the subject. An objective person, who has nothing to gain or lose in your endeavor, may have add items for your list that you could not see. Finally, look at your list with honesty and decide what is best for you and your family.

Writing your goals takes one think above all others: courage. You are essentially telling the world, "This what I want to do." Not accomplishing that can be difficult. However, should you decide to write about your goals, you may have several posts in this one subject. 
  1. your decision-making process and outline of your goals
  2. detailed steps you will take to achieve them
  3. a timeline of your proposed accomplishments
  4. future checkup posts
Some subjects to consider in goal-setting:
  • Business goals (increase sales/contacts, PR, branding, etc.)
  • Personal goals (weight loss, renovations, etc.)
  • Blogging (posts per week/month, increase following, etc.)
  • Arts and crafts (how you plan to grow in your skills)
  • Travel (where to go, with whom, mode of transportation etc.)
  • Continuing education (reading, classes, skills, research etc.)
  • Craft shows (research, vendor booth, # of shows, etc.)
  • Teaching (# of places/classes, increase in # of lessons, etc.)
As you begin thinking of writing about your goal-setting, consider not only what you plan to do for the next few months or year. Also consider what you want to do in the long term. What do you hope to accomplish in the next five or ten years. While you may choose to write those down but not blog about them, you will have a way to look at your current goals to make sure that you are moving in the right direction for all of the things you want to do.

A quick reminder that the list below includes all of the posts in this series. Also visit the Write 31 Days site to find other writers and topics. A special thank you to Crystal Stine for hosting the challenge. Click here to to her Facebook page.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Friend Finishes ~~ Tees and more

I told you here that I'd been helping a friend whose wrist is pinned together and in a cast. She fell and broke it pretty badly, so she won't be sewing monogrammed tee shirts for a while. But she had a nice little thing going, so I'm being a good friend by helping when I can. I took a few days to get another order of tee shirts sewn up so she could get them to NSU this weekend. 

There were several tees and four of these pull-overs. This stuff is thin and slick, so yeah, hard to sew. I remembered that my Bernina has a dial to set the presser foot so that the feed dogs can grab the fabric and move it along. 

If you have that feature, it's quite useful when sewing this weird stuff. But you have to remember to readjust the dial after. Otherwise, when you work on something like the warmup pullovers or the fleece blanket, both of which are thick, the same setting can cause a pretty serious drag.  You don't get very far even though you're driving at full speed.

It doesn't take very long to remember that you caused your own problem. Ha! Anyway, we are done for quite some time, I think. She's promised not to take any orders so that I can work on a few quilts. Two of them are Christmas gifts!

Everything turned out great. Well I had a slight problem with one seam ripper slipped and took a bite out of the knit. I sort of repaired it so one of the young grands can wear it as a night gown. It won't fit anyone else.

I'll leave you with some linkups and this picture of our cat. This is how we sun ourselves in Louisiana--half in the sun, half in the shade. 

Link Ups!

Your Journal Post 8 :: Write 31 Days

If you are a blogger or writer who keeps a journal, you have a goldmine of articles. There are a variety of ways that you can keep and publish your journal, and we'll get to those in a bit. 

First let's chat about what a journal is and why someone, anyone, would be interested in your journal. For some people a journal is a diary of sorts, a place to write or forge in some way a meaning of the day's events. It can be as simple as recording the people and occurences that one has experienced in one single day. However, it can be as intricate as keeping a record of hourly events, thoughts and ideas, personal experiences and inspiration, and interviews with others. Some journals are kept on a daily basis; others less regularly. For the sake of this article let's assume two things: that the writer (you) uses the journal as a supplement to your blogging and that you journal on a somewhat regular basis, perhaps two or three times weekly. 

Now that we have a fair definition and understanding of the journal being discussed, let's figure out why anyone (other than yourself) would be interested in your notes. Several times in these articles I'm mentioned that your readers want to know you. It bears repeating that they want to know who you are. Really. The real you. Not some writerly version of the person you want them to know, but the person who is really sharing her story and her knowledge. 

Other reasons for wanting to read or see your journal are mostly based on the information within the diary itself. A journal will answer at least some the following questions: how do you work; what hours, days, etc.; how do you juggle family, work and other commitments, and still find time to create and write; what is your process for creating; how do you record thoughts and ideas; how do these records inform your decision-making; what is your purpose for journaling; do you include drawings, sketches, notes, or thumbnails; and, depending on how detailed your notes are, many other questions. 

If you don't keep a journal, it's never too late to start doing so. Writers, photographers and artists of many genres will tell you that keeping a journal is the best way to capture the "aha" moments that inform their art. 

For example, one day while walking through a hotel hallway with my family I noticed a beautiful swirl pattern in the carpet. I stopped the entourage at the elevator so I could snap a few pictures. Later I reviewed the pictures, none of which I would show to anyone, and was inspired to create a new quilting motif. Because I had a notebook with me, I was able to draw out the motif, jot down the photo number on my phone, and note what drew my attention to the carpet to begin with. 

I find sitting in long meetings tedious and doodle as a distraction. Often times, I will cut out the doodles I like and tape them into my journal. It's amazing how often those doodles find their way into my quilting. 

Photo credit: 
Estée Janssens @esteejanssens 

Journaling can be done at any time or in any way that works for you. Jot lists, webs, notes, freewriting, clustering, drawings, doodles, experimenting are all great way to journal. By the same token you can begin in any way that works: mindless or mindful thoughts, shapes, colors, lines, ideas. Pre-plan for those days when it's difficult to get started: 

  • print inspiring quotes to cut out and paste onto the pages
  • start a list of questions you'd like to explore
  • keep a list of people who inspire you or write about family
  • review previous pages of the journal and choose something you'd like to explore further
  • begin with an odd shape (perhaps one you see at the moment) and try to recreate or tessellate it
  • explore your feelings--are you happy, sad, confused? draw or write about your feelings for this moment in time
  • explore the positives in your life--what are you grateful for? 
  • write about or draw a memory you cherish

In no time you will have a journal that expresses the many sides of you: family, art, work, inspiration, creativity, and so on. What to do with doodles on an otherwise blank sheet of paper? The answer is simple: do what you want with it. Add notes, write, continue with the ideas that your doodles inspire. Or simply toss 'em.

I never remove pages from my journals. If I don't like what I've drawn or written, I simply stop and turn the page. Oftentimes I return to those "failed" pages and explore what happened. Other times I recycle the page. I use "failed" pages to practice a drawing or motif before turning to a clean page. Another reason to leave the failures in is that I can return to those long-ago drawing and words and see how much I've grown and how my tastes have changed.

You do what works for you. Rip out page after page if that is what you need but try to keep going. It can be difficult at first to admit that something has fallen flat, and you may be tempted to quit. Try to avoid quitting. Change the subject, rework the piece, add a twist, or keep adding to the original. All of those can help you to move on. Moving on means finding some form of inspiration and writing about it. That writing can be minimal or extensive. Go where the writing takes you.

Let's say you have a journal and are willing to publish a page or two. You can take a picture of the pages or scan them and add them to your blog post. If you've used the journal as inspiration toward a finish work, show or explain how you started, how you transferred the journal pages into an idea that you could produce in a different medium. Then, of course, show the completed piece. 

As an art quilter, I've made a few quilts that began on the pages of my journal. One quilt in particular started as a jot list of things I could perhaps consider for a quilt. The list included several things that had belonged to my recently deceased parents: their house, a bird's eye view of the property, the barn, a favorite chair, the old tractor and so on. Later I reviewed the list and remembered that my niece had recently taken pictures of the place, so I asked her to send a few and asked permission to use them in a quilt. 

Daddy's Barn
One photo of the barn really spoke to me. I traced the photo to create a drawing in my journal and took notes of what I might need to do. (See a post about that here.) From there, I retraced the drawing on transparency film so I could blow up the picture to the right size. I continued working by taking notes of potential problems and began pulling fabrics that might work in the quilt. Eventually I made a pattern, cut fabrics and appliqued them in place, using the photo, journal drawing, notes and transparency. A quilt grew from an idea in my records to an award-winning memento of my father's favorite place. 

Now think, would you like to see the pages of my journal that show the progression of my work? If you answered yes, you understand why others would be interested in the pages of your journal. Maybe we should both get busy working on a journal post. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pin It Weekly #218

Nancy of Grace and Peace Quilting has both a blog and a Pinterest site. I happen to follow both because both are terribly interesting. She is a long-arm quilter with a few winners under her belt. Visit her blog and see why. They are pretty awesome! 

The quilts below are some that she's pinned on her "Scrap Quilts" board.

Confessions of a Fabric Addict: I May Have A Scrap Problem... A Challenge For You!

Ring Cycles Quilt by Houston Quilt Bee | Addicted 2 Fabric

Quilt Fabrication

Confessions of a Fabric Addict: I May Have a Scrap Problem... Some Inspiration!

Little Crosses Quilt Pattern by Emma Jean Jansen

Another of Nancy's boards is "Medium Density Quilting." Yes, she has separated her quilting motifs by the density of the stitching. Brilliant, no? These are a few medium density motifs.

Baptist Swirls - 6" rows

Loopy Over You- Paper- 6" W6-JB-LOY

Americana Flourish -- 10"

Cinnamon - Paper - 6"

Modernish 2 - 12" wide

And since I'm there already, here are three from her "Modern Quilts" board. Have a great week! And say hi to Nancy for me when you pay her a visit.

Rocket 88 Free Pattern: Robert Kaufman Fabric Company

The Colorful Fabriholic: Dancing Plus Blocks Tutorial

Summertime Clambake

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bloggers You Follow Post 7 :: Write 31 Days

Most bloggers have followers that they can write about. That's what we discussed in Post 4 (here). Yet, bloggers are also followers ...and we all have favorite blogs that we return to again and again. There are a couple of good posts right there on your sidebar. 

The reasoning behind the idea is pretty straight-forward: as a long-time reader, you have had the opportunity to get to know the blogger, having interacted with her blog, emailing her on occasion, and maybe even meeting her in person. Conventions and shows provide a wonderful opportunity to match a person to the blog. Getting to "know" the people who write your favorite blogs gives you an advantage in your own writing. With permission, you can write about the blog or the blogger.

Let's turn things around a little and think about how to write a post or two using your favorite blogs.

  •  It's easy to create a list of your favorite blogs. Perhaps write a short blurb about each one giving basic information
  • Are you willing to name a favorite? Go ahead! Why is this blog or blogger your favorite? What's her special gift in her niche? How does her writing stand out? How long have you followed her?
  • Do you feel a special closeness to one or two bloggers? Write about your friendship. Why do you sense this closeness? Why do you think the other person feels the same? Be sure to contact the other person and ask permission to write about your personal connection. You can write a general post about all of the bloggers you feel connected to or write an indepth post about one or two. 
  • Cover one special blogger each month (choose your own timeline). See the questions above or create your own; then dig into her blog and find the answers. 
  • Cover each blogger by speciality. Name the speciality and define it. Then present the blogger who best presents that speciality. For example, I follow many quilting blogs--I could cover modern, traditional, applique, trapunto, art, paper piecing, and so on. Explain why you think this blogger is an expert in the field.
  • Present the bloggers you follow by the books, videos or articles that they bring to the field. Bloggers today are writing and creating e-zines, books, tutorials, videos and in many other mediums. Provide links to the item(s) and explain what this particular blogger has added to the common knowlege that others in the niche need and appreciate.
  • Which bloggers have you met in person? How did the writer strike you? Were you surprised by her personality or did you meet exactly the person you expected? What did you do together? Is there something that you are sure to remember? 
  • Do you follow bloggers from outside of your country? What are their special gifts? How did they come to the field? What issues or problems do they face that is different than your own experience? Do they write about place? How does this knowledge affect you? You can cover each blogger separately or in one general post. 
Photo credit: Kai Brame @kaibrame
You must remember foremost that you are writing about real people. They have families and friends, many of whom may discover or be informed of your post. Privacy rules and internet etiquette should always be considered, especially when writing about other people. Ask permission first. Give the blogger as much information as you can about your plans so that she can make an informed decision about whether to allow this invasion of privacy. Many bloggers are more than happy and honored, but others may say no or lay down strict rules for your article. Be honorable and show your respect for the decision. Send a copy of the article before publication for her approval.

Why write about those writers whose blogs you follow? Share the love, for one. Your readers may want to add to their favorites. They want to know what you think. They trust you, so they take your recommendations seriously and check out the other blog. Any of those is a compliment to you, and you can pay it forward by complimenting others. Once you ask and receive permission, the article almost writes itself--you know this writer, have read her work and can easily research additional information on her blog. You can also get more than one post from almost any of the options above--a sweet bit of good fortune. Who among us is not looking for ideas that can translate into multiple posts?

Consider writing about blogs you follow. Make sure you ask first and respect decisions. Once that's out of the way, you will most likely enjoy writing a post or two about people you already like and who add information and entertainment to your life. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Holidays and Special Events Post 6 :: Write 31 Days

Holidays are difficult for some folks. There are as many reasons for that as there are people, it seems. Others find celebrating holidays and special occasions both rewarding and fulfilling. Everyone has to find his/her own way. Finding or choosing that way takes courage and finesse and, for some, lots of stumbling around. 

The question for bloggers becomes what to do with this opportunity. Pull out all the stops and celebrate as though everyone were on the same happy train? Or to respect those who cannot find joy in the event and let it slip quietly away? 

There is no one answer, of course. As most things happen to be in life, the answer lies within ourselves. We have to make the decision based on what we think is best for everyone involved. I tend to try to take the middle ground. I want to celebrate the religious holidays, family events, and festivals that are all linked to my childhood and my entire life. But I want to respect others as well. So middle ground it is for me. 

If you choose to let occasions slip by, you can skip the rest of this post, because it is all about how and why you can take advantage of the joys of special occasions. I'll not be offended: you simply don't need this info and will move on. 

The rest of us, however, will unpack this idea of writing about religious holidays, special occasions, family events and so on. Let's start with an understanding that no matter what I call it, from this point on, I simply mean any occasion that is not an ordinary Sunday-through-Saturday, live-life-like-you-normally-do day. They are all special in some form: 1. probably require clothes you don't usually wear, 2. have people to whom you must be polite, 3. include food that is much too rich to eat daily and stay healthy, and 4. likely have a few other indicators. Those are all good because any one (or all) of them can be blog-worthy inspiration.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, we need to understand why. Why would readers want to spend precious time reading about your special event? Well, it's the same reason that people read bridal magazines, look at photos on Instagram, watch reality shows, or follow people on Facebook. People are curious. It's that simple. Oh sure, we can find philosophical and psychological evidence of that curiosity, but do we need to? Aren't you curious? Aren't all the people you know curious? Yes? Good. Let's agree that no matter the reason behind our innate curiosity, people are curious

Photo credit: Tom The Photographer @tomthephotographer
We all have our traditions and customs. We know how and why we do certain things. We know why our particular family serves turkey on Thanksgiving, for example. We know how we dress for weddings or funerals. We can likely explain quite a bit about our particular religious holidays. So why are we curious about what others do? Philosophers and scientists have studied our mental acquisitiveness since the time of the Ancient Greeks. 

I am in no way the person to turn to for insight in human perspective. I simply know my own mind, and I will read anythingalmost. My love of reading stems from my own curiosity and my need to know about people, history, culture, art, civilization and, well, just keep going, anything you name is probably already on the list. 

I hope I am not the most eager person of all time. I'm fairly sure I'm not. That means that I am not the only one; many other people  want to know about you. How you live. How are we alike. How we are different and why. What your culture thinks about anything my culture thinks. Those pronouns are the key. They all stand in for people: you and me and them and us. Together or apart. It doesn't matter. 

Why people want to know (curiosity) leads to what people want to know (everything) to the question of how to provide the information. First, you can provide only that information you have. Sure you can do research and report back on your blog. But that is not the personal, experienced, human condition that most people are looking for. It's the reason that writers go on assignment. The reason that you can write about your experience and the rest of us will read ityou were there. You know the feelings: the fear, the joy, the love, the hate, the need, (keep going here, too)

Second, researching and reporting back just won't cut it. It won't be enough to express those feelings. You simply can't express feelings you didn't experience. You can imagine what they may be, but that's not the same as experiencing the feelings. Even if you never specifically write the exact words, "I wanted the whiskey," or "I hated that movie," or "I was so scared," readers know. You share your feelings in your story. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

There's your answer to how. How? I'll reiterate. Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. You share what you haveyour story. Now we've come full circle. Take that event that we were talking about way up there in paragraph five: those experiences that are "blog-worthy inspiration." The details of the things you experiencedyour uncomfortable shoes that pinch, the rich food on the Thanksgiving table, the funny niece who insisted on wearing a tutu, the beautiful bride, everyone dressed in black. Your story. Whatever it may be.

Your story is the one you experienced. That's how you include any special event in a blog post. If you can, write about one part of the experience in a post and come back to the event to share another part of the experience. Write about your grandmother on a post and come back to write about the little couple who have been married 57 years and held hands during the wedding. Maybe just show photos that you took. It's all part of your story and your readers want to read it. They (we) want to know what makes this holiday or event or occasion special. The answer was there; did you catch it?
Just tell the story, the story expresses the feelings, and the feelings hook the reader. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Quilt Inspiration: pun'kin

Pumpkins are the gourd of the day at this time of year. I saw a family at Walmart pushing a buggy with five or six huge pumpkins and a net-bag with lots of small fake ones. But with Thanksgiving and Halloween coming along very rapidly, it's time to find a few. 

If you're going to decorate with pumpkins, you should at least know the different kinds!
Curious about why I wrote pun'kin rather than pumpkin? My daddy said the word that way, and he sometimes called us girls pun'kin. With eight daughters, he said it fairly often, so when I hear the word, I think of his pet name for us. Even when it's prounced correctly I hear him saying it his way.

A family day at the local pumpkin patch is essential in the Fall. I love watching my daughter pick out her "perfect" pumpkin! #danskoessentials

The Patch (at Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch)

Carve a Pattern - Fabulous Fall Decorating Ideas - Southernliving. Turn standard grocery store pumpkins into decorative votive holders that are embellished with polka-dot cutouts.     How To Make It: Decorative Pumpkin Votive Holders

| October | "Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere." ~ Charles M. Schulz, The Great Pumpkin, Charle brownWhat a pretty fall arrangement for the yard or porch. Don't forget your backyard and patio. It's fun to decorate there too.98fca2ba685d1316b3b37175655100e8.jpg 540×720 pixels

38 Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas & How To Carve |

I love fall most of all

The Enchanted Cove

I found many pumpkin themed quilts, but all are small table toppers or wall quilts with the exception of this first one. 
pumpkin quilt - Bee In My Bonnet: I hope you...
It makes sense, though, that most of the quilts are small. A large pumpkin quilt wouldn't be displayed except for a few months a year. October and November, perhaps. Of course, Christmas quilts have only one year and there are many of those. 

Get ready for autumn with this cute harvest table runner! Use your favorite orange scraps to complete this cute project. This sophisticated fall decoration

Pumpkin Patch QuiltIt’s no surprise that I could hardly wait to make a mini version of the Pumpkins pattern! I decided to make this mini a little bigger than my other minis. It measures 23 1/2″ x 29″ finished, so it mak

Pumpkin Quilt

Scrappy Quilt show - Right Here!! :) - Page 28

Pumpkin= tutorial = Scrappy pumpkin table runner by Andy Knowlton | Thermoweb

Pumpkins wall quilt by Avis Shirer and Tammy Johnson

Autumn Welcome quilt by Shelly Pagliai. Panama Canal cruise projects.

48in x 57 1/2in

Of course, there are many people who own pumpkin farms, and a large quilt would make a welcome display either inside or outside the home. No matter the size or the season, pun'kin quilts can be especially cute. If you've a mind to make one, there are many patterns and even more inspiration pictures on Pinterest.