Thursday, May 30, 2019

Crochet Life Lessons

I love to crochet.  I am always learning something new and always expanding my skill set with this craft.  I push myself to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things with crocheting.  Recently I agreed to test a crochet pattern for a designer and I was very excited about it.  This pattern was cute and it involved making something I had not made before.  There was a firm deadline, but I had the time and I took a chance.  I signed up to test the pattern and the designer chose me as one of the testers.
Can a hobby really teach you life lessons?  Read about it on my blog, A Glimpse of Normal.
I had a week to get my piece done which seemed like something I could totally do when I signed up.  Then I had a couple of days that were a little busier than I thought which put me a little behind.  I was still plugging away on this piece.  I spent several hours one day working on my piece, gymnastics practice is always very productive for me.  Then I got home and started looking at my work compared to the other testers work and even though parts of my were measuring right, it didn't look right.  I realized my piece was gaining on the ends and it was all wrong.  I had to rip out (frog) 2 days worth of work down to row one of my pieces.  It made my stomach sick.  I was working as fast as I could and all of a sudden all of my work was gone.  My heart sunk and I knew in my gut, I was so far behind everyone else.  Throughout all of this, I was in constant communication with the designer and she was very helpful and encouraging to me.  I kept plugging away, but I was so discouraged and knew that even if I crocheted for 24 hours straight, I still wouldn't finish on time.  I started mentally beating myself up for my missteps on this piece.  I finally came to the decision that I had to tell the designer that I had failed at my piece.  She was very gracious and let me make a deal with her since I had been chatting with her all along.  I purchased the pattern since I didn't get my test piece done on time and I promised to get her pictures when I did finish.  In the meantime, I was still able to calculate size and yarn yardage for her since I did get 1/2 of the project finished in time. 

Back to mentally beating myself up....I was hard on myself.  I was so disappointed about not finding my mistake in my work sooner.  I felt guilty for the time I had spent on the work and the tasks I had put off to make such a tight deadline.  I felt stupid for continuing on with my work when I thought it was going wrong instead of asking about what was going on.  I felt crushed at having to rip out so much work.  I felt pressured as the deadline approached.  I felt inadequate and slow as the other testers were finishing their work in hours and not days like it was taking me.  I am telling you I really beat myself up over this one.  It threatened to defeat me as I continued to mentally count all the ways I was failing.  Enter my ever-wise hubby - he told me kindly that I need to let it go.  I could either keep beating myself up or I could move on.  I was trying my best to move on and the day I had to tell the designer I couldn't finish was a Thursday.  Thursdays are cardio drumming days for me and I desperately needed to take out my stress, frustrations, and failure on my drumming ball.  During class it hit me, I could either let this crochet mistake defeat me and steal my joy or I could chalk it up to experience and move on.  I chose to move on.  I had paid for the pattern so I could finish it on my timeline.  I put it to the side and picked up a project I had put aside to do the testing.  I picked up a project that was going well and worked on something I had been successful at.  A few days later, I picked up the test piece again and I finished it.  I knew that I couldn't let this project that had had so many missteps defeat me.  I couldn't let it steal my joy or my love of crochet.  I knew that I needed to conquer it and I did.  It turned out pretty and I finished getting the designer everything she needed.  Along the way I learned some good lessons:

  • Don't underestimate the time a crochet piece will take.
  • Don't ignore your gut - if you think you are doing something wrong, check your pattern and check with the designer they are happy to help.
  • Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
  • It's okay to mess up.
  • It's not okay to mentally beat yourself up.
  • Sometimes we will fall flat on our face.
  • You have to pick yourself up and move on.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Don't give up, even if you have to start over.
  • Try again.
I chose success over defeat and while I wasn't grateful for these lessons at the moment, I am grateful for them now.  I knew crochet could teach me a lot, but I didn't know that I would learn life lessons from it as well.  Who knew a hobby could teach me so much?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

From our family to yours...
We are so thankful for those who gave their lives to earn and keep our freedom serving in our military.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spring Cleaning: Outside

Spring is here in our neck of the woods.  The weather is getting better for the most part.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

We have had lots of rain, some sun, and we even had a little bit of late snow the other week.  I am really hoping that now we will start seeing consistent warmer temperatures and much more sunshine.  Sunshine just does the soul good.  Since Spring is here we decide to focus on getting some things done outside to clean up the place and get it looking better.  The hardest part of doing some cleaning up outside has been decided what areas and fencing to leave and what to take down as some of it is in disrepair.  Today I am sharing with you some of the work we have done outside lately...

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

 We have a small woods on our property.  We have lost trees this year due to storms and beavers.  So it was more than time to start cutting up the trees and getting it stacked for next winter.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Once the wood was brought up to the front of the property, the guys got it all cut (I took a few swings - a girl has to prove she can chop wood too, right?).  We all helped stack it and now it is in the drying process.  This wood will be burnt next fall.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Next up was the never-ending trailer load of mulch.  We spent almost a whole Saturday and a couple of weeknights moving mulch and fixing up our two main flowerbeds.  

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

The porch area needed to be cleaned up too and it was time to replant my metal washtub planter.  

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

Throughout all of the outside Spring cleaning, our kids have helped and worked right beside us.  They know how to work hard and work until the job is done.  I am thankful for that.  Now if the dog didn't dig so many holes...guess you can't win them all.

It is time for Spring Cleaning at A Glimpse of Normal.

There is still more to clean up and more to get done, but our property is always a work in progress.  We take it one day at a time.  Until next time...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Review of Book Brush

As a blogger, I spend a lot of time behind the scenes preparing photos for my posts.  It can be very time consuming, but I want my posts to look good and for my readers to have graphics to look at.  I also need pictures to share and promote on social media.  Recently I was given a chance to review the Book Brush website from FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and see what all I could do with this site.  Book Brush is designed for creating graphics for authors to promote books, but I have found it to be a very useful tool for this blogger.
Do you need professional looking graphics that are easy to create?  Check out my review of Book Brush on my blog A Glimpse of Normal
Book Brush is an online website that is designed to help authors create professional ads and social media images on their own for their books.  The Plus plan offered on this site features the ability to easily and quickly create 3D cover images, templates for ads on Amazon, BookBub, Facebook, and more, and access to over 1 million royalty-free images and book stamps.  It also includes a Video Creator that allows you to create Video Effects behind a promotional image.  The site is very user-friendly and also has a Limited Free plan if you just want to try it out.
An example of creating a book cover. 

I think the easiest way for me to tell you all about Book Brush is to tell you how I used it.  I have no experience with graphic design and I am not an author, but I am a blogger and I want to create professional looking images for my blog, so I was really curious if Book Brush would work for me. I set up my Plus account and started looking around.  The Plus account lets you create unlimited images and gives you 5 Video Creator credits each month.  This plan also gives access to over 1 million background images and you can upload your own images too.  I tried out both types of background images when I was creating designs for my blog.  I really liked both ways of creating images.  If I didn't find something I liked from the background images that are already on the site, I could upload my own.  You do need to check the image licensing when using their background images, but it is easy to do because they provide the link to the licensing info for you.  Every background image I used was available to use on my blog and I loved that I didn't have to go do the digging for the licensing info so that I could make sure I wasn't breaking copyright law.
This is a graphic I created for my blog using one of the background images from the Book Brush site. 
The Plus plan also includes templates, stamps, and fonts for you to use in your images.  I created many of my graphics using the Custom Creator where I could easily use templates for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, BookBub, Amazon, Website Ads, Email headers, cards, or my own custom sized images.  They even have a 3D Creator for authors to use to make their book covers pop in ads.  I could click in any of these categories and quickly create a layout that would be the perfect size for these social media sites.  I also loved that I could pick my font from their large selection of fonts and then customize the options for it like color, shadowing, spacing, and so on.  There are so many possibilities with this website.  The Plus plan is available for just $8.00 per month.
This is an image I created with the Video Creator.

I appreciated being able to try out and review the Book Brush website because it is so quick and easy to use.  I loved all the options for creating all the different graphics.  I was able to quickly find answers to my questions in the help section.  I will definitely continue using Book Brush to create images for my blog because of how quick and easy it is to use.  Check out the Book Brush website to get more information and see how you can use it.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the product/product information. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did/will receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

May 2019 Menu Plan

May is here!  We have wrapped our school year and we are looking forward to a little bit longer summer.  If you are wondering how we finished so early, it is because we had ZERO breaks since January.  We really didn't take any time off this school year and kept our noses to our books so that we could finish early.  Anyway, that frees up our time to start working on some projects outside (if the weather ever cooperates), finish up some projects inside that just need painting, and have a more relaxed schedule.  I am totally looking forward to the relaxed schedule and time to work on some things I have been putting off until school was finished.  I am also looking forward to warmer weather and more sunshine.  That is what I was thinking about when I put together this month's menu plan.
Do you have trouble coming up with a monthly menu plan?  Head over to A Glimpse of Normal and see what we are having for dinner this month and get ideas.
  1. French Dip Sandwiches
  2. Zucchini Ravioli
  3. Copycat Olive Garden Pizza Bowls 
  4. Roasted Turkey Breast
  5. Haystacks  
  6. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
  7. White Bean and Chicken Verde Soup
  8. Copycat In-n-Out Burgers
  9. Lemon Butter Chicken
  10. Cast Iron Pizza
  11. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Sauce
  12. Out to Eat - It's Mother's Day and I don't have to cook today!
  13. BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
  14. Hearty Beef Barley Soup
  15. Crock Pot Cafe Rio Chicken Tacos
  16. Super Easy One Pot Lasagna
  17. Oven Baked Pizza Subs
  18. Parmesan Meatloaf
  19. Mexican Zucchini Beef Skillet
  20. BBQ Pulled Pork
  21. Quinoa Bowls with Hummus Vinaigrette
  22. Walking Taco Casserole
  23. Hamburgers
  24. Pie Cooker Pizza
  25. Chicken Fajitas
  26. Hobo Dinners (foil dinners)
  27. Philly Cheesesteak Packets
  28. Brats
  29. Skillet Chicken Parmesan
  30. One Sheet Cilantro Parmesan Broccoli Baked Salmon
  31. Muffin Tin Pizza Bombs
Do you cook different meals when the weather starts to get warmer?  I know I do because I like to use our grill/smoker more and eat produce as it comes into season.  I also like lighter meals as it gets warmer.  What is on your menu plan this month?  You can find the recipes for these meals on my May Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  While you are there, take a moment and follow me.  I might pin way more than I can ever use, but you never know when something will come in handy.