Biblio-Files January 2017

It seems that January is the month that I read the most. This has nothing to do with resolutions, fresh starts or that kind thing as you may think though. It has more to do with fewer hours of daylight and coming off of the busy season and craving down time. I read some great books this past month. I enjoyed every spare second that I had to read and hope I can steal this much time for reading this month as well. Here is what I read:

1. The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman. I like her magical books, but sometimes they feel as though she’s churning out just another of the same things. This felt a little like that. I prefer her  historical fiction writing and should really pay attention to which genre of her books I’m buying. It was still a fun book though, good for a weekend read.

2. Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond. A wonderful story about a rescued elephant and her life with her keeper. I cried. It was lovely. If you have ever felt a strong connection to an animal, you’ll love it.

3. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. I have never read a Tan book that I didn’t love. Set both in the past and present, Tan weaves the tale of two sisters and their stories masterfully. Her writing is beautiful and captivating.

4. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I wasn’t paying much attention when I bought this one, and didn’t realize until I began reading it that it was about a leper colony in Hawaii. It was fascinating, well written and engaging.

5. When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman. The story of a young girl through adulthood and her relationships with friends and family. I tore through it in I think two days, I couldn’t put it down.

6. New York by Edward Rutherford. I LOVED this book. I finished it this month but it took me months to read it (at 860 pages, not surprising), little bits at a time. It is the story of NY, told through one family through the generations. It was slow to get into, but growing up here and reading about it’s unfurling over time was really cool. I cannot wait to read the rest of his books.

7. Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer. A biography about working in the funeral business. I have read many books about death and funerals. This one was more of the “party” planning aspect of it, and a bit gossipy, an area I’m not much into reading about, but it was still interesting none the less. It was a good deal more biography than I thought, but I got into it.

8. Lessons Of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King. Poppy King founded her lipstick company when she was a teenager and this was her story. I read it as a biography about someone building a business and loved it for that. I read a few reviews where people thought it would be about running a business and were bitter it was not. So note that if you are interested. If you’re a fan of business biographies, it’s not the best, but it’s a quick read.

9. The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart. This was the book Stewart began writing from prison and was basically her sharing what are her important rules of business, peppered with personal anecdotes. Its 12 years old and dates itself a few times technology wise, but the basis of it will never go out of style. It’s a quick read and if you love Martha, a must.

10. 6 Months To 6 Figures by Peter Voogd. Around the new year, I was on and clicked on an on air class by Peter Voogd out of curiosity. I loved his energy and philosophies on life and business so I ended up buying the class and going through it. I then bought this book because I got really into his approach to goal setting and wanted to read more. He introduced me to the concept of morning routines that I am now obsessed with and although I still cannot believe I took a course and read a book with this title, it changed my life in a few ways. Hey, you never know where you’ll learn something amazing!

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No More Notifications

Apparently, I’m one of the last people to do this, but this past week I removed all of the notification dots from my iphone. It has been amazing. The week before, I stopped all notifications from popping up on my locked screen or when I was using the phone. I didn’t really think about the dots when I made the initial adjustment, so it was a kind of baby stepping withdrawal, and it feet so good that I just kept going.

What made me want to do this was that as social media was such a large part of my day work wise, it was getting harder than ever to feel like I was not being constantly interrupted. I was feeling bombarded with work, news and mostly, a whole lot of spam at all times and add to that a stream of ig likes and comments scrolling through my screen, I felt like I was drowning trying to keep up with staying on top of this and all the usual work.

When I finally reached the point where I was close to panicking every time a message notification came though because I felt I had to answer NOW (I will say that FB biz pages constantly rating your page based on response time is largely at fault for this), I was at my breaking point. I was feeling like I was getting nothing done, and was irritable at constantly being interrupted. I was beginning to resent everything I was stopping work to do and was in a constant state of irritation.

So I did two things. I closed my email on my computer and shut off all notifications on my phone, requiring that I open an app to see if there are notifications (except phone calls and texts, which still pop up, soundlessly). I also stopped reading my email when I first wake up. I do my morning routine, and then I sit down at my desk with time to answer anything I need to get to. I close everything and a few hours later, open the email to check it.

Doing these two small changes has made a world of difference in my mental state and my productivity. I felt calmer within hours of the red dots going away and I no longer stop work to stare at a spam email that i just delete. Of course, I also can absolutely still obsessively check things if I’m in the mood, I simply have to open the app.

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The Search for Evening Activities

When Adam and I first met, the immediate reaction I had was to his energy. As someone who has so much energy that I selected a business name with “Manic” in it, that’s a big deal. What we soon realized though was that our energies were very different, but that’s ok, we’re still more in sync with each other than we’ve been with people before, so we work with that. But sometimes it’s a bit trickier.

My energy is slow burning and long. Think marathon running. As much as you’d assume with the manic in the business name and all, that I have a crazed spiking energy, I don’t at all, but I also don’t crash. As long as I get enough sleep, I can work 16+ hour days for weeks and just go go go. Adam is more of a sprinter. We joke that he has the same energy make up as our rat terriers, he goes really hard, and then has to nap. The harder he goes, the more napping. Sometimes if he has been skate boarding, working and socializing for too many days in a row without down time, he can stay on the couch for days. Quietly watching movies, playing games and sleeping. Constant quiet time is his reset and really essential to his mental health. So quiet evenings are something I encourage he do often so he doesn’t get to the shut down phase of days and days of it.

You can therefore imagine that a typical evening if he worked days (being in hospitality, Adam’s schedule is all over the place, but recently has had him home most days by 6pm), would have him lying on the couch ready for a movie by 8pm or so. I on the other hand, am just getting home from kickboxing, starving and wanting nothing more than to grab a quick shower, eat and most nights head back into the studio. I do jewelry production at night and try to schedule these for when Adam closes or has plans, but even on non production nights, I enjoy being in there working after 8pm if I can. A couple of night week though, we want to actually hang out together. This is where our energy levels are the most conflicted.

Last year I decided that besides being on for background noise at night in the studio, I am over tv. I despise sitting on the couch in a dark room with a movie or show on. There are so many things I want to accomplish in my life and none of them will get done in front of the tv. So I refuse to watch it and if Adam wants to watch a movie, I go work in my studio. So the nights he wants to hang out with me, he thinks that sitting in the living room together watching a movie is ideal. He gets to lie on the couch, and I’m near him.

I do not at all want to do this though and argue that silently sitting on different couches is not really spending time together. But then we’re left figuring out what to do instead. We don’t have much time to spend together each day, so I like to do things where we get to talk to one another. With how my energy works, if I’m not working, I’d prefer to be out doing and/or seeing things. But Adam goes into sprint mode during the day and rarely wants to do anything out and about after 7pm. To compromise, I’ll usually read in the living room, while Adam plays video games or with his phone. But sometimes we both want an activity besides going out to dinner where we can talk and have fun.

Last night we once again were faced with this dilemma at 8 or 9 pm. It was the end of the day, we had about 2 hours left in us before we were ready to wind down, and Adam was actually raring to go. What are we supposed to do together during these hours? I thought about going to the trampoline park, but due to Adam and the way his energy works, if he gets would up that late, he has trouble sleeping, so I don’t think that is the solution. We ended up playing Scrabble, but need more options as there is only much scrabble I’m willing to play.

In the summer we go swimming or walk the dogs, but even these need to be done before 8 as they are more enjoyed by light. I keep racking my brain for things that do not involve food, alcohol, spending too much money and can be done between 8pm and 10pm. I’m pretty sure that most of my friends who have little kids are in the middle of the night time routine, but I’d love to hear the things you all do!

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Barbie and me

One of the my Barbie weddings, August 1984 (note that Barbie herself is the maid of honor, not the bride)

When I was a kid, I don’t remember playing with dolls other than barbies. But oh man, I LOVED Barbies. Mind you, I was the oldest child, a product of divorce at a really young age with both parents remarrying pretty quickly and the first grandkid on my dads side. There was a lot of love from all of my aunts who had their first niece and the guilt of divorce/new parents PLUS I had 4 sets of grandparents from the age of 2 on, 3 sets for which I was the only grandkid for many years. Combine all of that with being born in the mid-late 1970’s and I’m pretty sure that all of the many gifts I received for at least 5 years were barbie related. I remember having a traveling case of Barbies with me at all times as a little kid. Although I think I enjoyed the accessories more than the dolls. Don’t get me wrong, I had piles and piles of the clothes, from my own time and an extensive vintage collection from all of my Aunts and was into them, but I liked having the Barbies do things, and I REALLY liked the props. I had the 1960’s Austin-Healy convertible that had belonged to my Aunts that I (oops) opted to cut the faux trunk open with an exacto knife and immediately depreciated it’s value. But hey, Barbie had a lot to do and a working trunk was necessary. As I also had the Corvette from my own era and I enjoyed how much more awesome Barbie looked tooling around in her vintage pink car, but the Corvette made me realize that I also really preferred the amenities of more modern times.

One of my favorites was the Barbie dream store, which I never knew any one else to have, but I had so much fun setting up a store and making the other Barbies work there. Side bar: One day I wrote numbers on each of my Barbies, high on the outer leg, with a permanent marker. This was how I organized them. I would tell Barbies 11, 18 and 22 that they would be models in the store today. And Barbie 8 would man the cash register and on and on. I somehow felt this process was much better than names. Where on earth did I get that idea???

I was lucky to also have many Barbie home items, including a few of the dream homes, the jacuzzi set, the bubbling spa, and many furniture items. I  remember the dream bed the most vividly as it was a canopy and the stars on the bedding glowed in the dark. But I never knew what to do with all the home stuff. Barbie is standing in the kitchen, Barbie is lying on the bed. Ugh, lame, Barbie wants to be out wearing her fabulous clothes and doing cool things. I did have Jem, her stage and all of her band mates, but I was really never into the rock star fantasy, so I didn’t play with that much, if ever. I of course had the horses, Dallas and Prancer, because of my mom, which I was also not into. I had a few Skippers and and Kens and Tracy and Todd, along with all the other side characters that all came to be in the 80’s but Barbie was always my main lady. And as she really had her mind set on work, aside from the occasional wedding or night out, all the others worked for her. It’s also hilarious to point out that thanks to a few photos that my grandmother had taken of one of the weddings in her garden, that Barbie was never the one getting married. She was always in the wedding, and often helped to plan them, but it was always Tracy and Todd getting married. I do remember being excited about all of the crazy, frothy outfits, like peaches and cream, the dream gown and a few others. But I never was into the “normal” clothes. From an early age, I declared that if you were going to take the time to dress up, you might as well go all the way, it was so not worth it to stick her in something less than extraordinary.

My very favorite Barbie thing ever was this fold up home & office that came about with the day to night Barbie in 1984. Day to Night Barbie was my most loved Barbie ever, btw. That whole executive by day and cozy apartment dweller by night was my idea of perfection! That fold up office and murphy bed things was so magical to me. I’m pretty sure I received my own Commodore 64 around this time, so Barbie and I would both spend hours typing away on our computers, tap tap tapping. I found the photo above to make sure you were aware of  the amazingnes in case you never saw one in person. On the other side of the wall was a murphy, a vanity and a bookshelf and was blue on pink I believe. The day to night Barbie was just as fabulous as her home and office. The idea was that she would wear her snazzy suit and then in the evening, turn her suit skirt inside out to reveal a tulle concoction, and you would remove the jacket and bam! all along there had been a sequined top under her scarf, Barbie was ready to party!

What I’m curious about was did I request all of these work related Barbie props, or was that just was out there in the 80’s? Did they play a part in influencing how and what I thought about as I grew up? Were the working Barbies and accessories store play sets the catalyst for future non kid having, work obsessed as an accessories designer Sierra? I truly believe that of all of the toys from my childhood, day to night Barbie had the biggest impact on me. It is absolutely what I remeber the most fondly. I thank whomever thought that I needed to have the department store and the home and office accessories way back in 1984. Maybe that really was what planted the seed? All I know was that 3 years later Baby Boom came out, I was 10 and remember thinking something like: “Forget babies, I want to be an executive with my own business, you can keep the crying kids. I’ll be over here with the cool job, my own computer and nice shoes. Suckas.” And I never looked back.


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Get You House Guest Ready In Under 10 Minutes

One of the best parts about getting older is that the “drop by” is rarely done. I can’t remember the last time I drove near a friends house and thought, “oh, I’ll just knock on their door and see if they’re home”. Although in writing this, I realize that it most likely has more to do with cell phones rather than age. But I do think that age is still a factor as I’m sure, women especially know that the thought of someone just showing up on your own doorstep unannounced fills you with such dread that you would never do that to someone. So let’s all take a moment to be grateful for both wisdom with age and technology.

However…there IS often good reason for the “I’ll be there in 10 minutes” text resulting in a semi drop by visit. So this may be the down side to cell phones, we may have lost the no notice visit, but where visits used to be more planned, now the idea that you’re already out and about so you might as well stop on your way home visit exists. The good part about that is that it usually gives you at least 10 minutes to pull yourself and/or your house together really quickly. The bad news is that 10 minutes is very little time.

Keep in mid that sometimes, these visits are from your loved ones. Your near and dear, they’re seen it all, there is no need to tidy for them type people. Those are not the people who you are going to sprint for. Not because you don’t love them, but because really, they don’t care. You would in turn, not care if they did not tidy up for you, so no worries. Maybe brush your teeth if you know they’ll be near your face otherwise, meh. What I’m talking about is the stuff you do when your colleague is coming by with some papers to sign, or your kids new friends mom is dropping by with a favorite toy that was left in their car. Perhaps your in laws are in the area and want to say hi. In my case, it’s usually a client who is coming to the studio to shop for jewelry, so some level of decorum is expected.

I’ll start with the 10 minute deadline, and then move onto a few things to add on if you have extra minutes or if they’re late or something. Ideally you have a home where most of the things on this list are always done, but we have all have those days when they are not. If you have one things that has to be done, be thankful that you instead have a spare moment to brush your hair or change out of your jammies and into a pair of jeans. Or put put on a bra or something. Hmmm, I might do a post on that too. Until then, let’s get you ready for that semi drop by!

How To Get You House Guest Ready in 10 Minutes

1. Close doors of any room you just can’t even deal with.
Bed not made? Shut the door; Laundry room a disaster? Shut the door; Kids room a nightmare; shut the door. Basically you want to have as few rooms as possible visible to your guest that you have to tidy up.

2. Get all the trash out of the room/rooms.
It’s amazing how much garbage can accumulate in living spaces. Grab a garbage bag and toss in the newspapers, empty la croix cans (my husband leaves them everywhere), junk mail, tissues (my dogs love to carry them around and leave them on all over the place) and any big dust/leaf/whatevers off the floor. Basically you want to do this at a quick jog. Empty the waste baskets in the rooms guests will be into the bag and stick it in the garage/outside the back door/just get it out of the house. While you’re at it, if your kitchen garbage smells, that should go too.

3. Shove all clutter in a bag, basket or box and put it behind a closed door.
I’m serious. You will need to deal with what’s in the basket later, just grab everything that shouldn’t be there and remove it as fast as you can. Random socks, toys, books, blankets, whatever looks sloppy needs to be out of there. Make sure all dirty dishes are hidden too. You’re still jogging through all of this.

4. Grab a sponge or towel and wipe down any sticky/dirty surface in the rooms the guest will be.
Think kitchen counters, bathroom sink, etc. You’re not trying to really clean anything, just avoiding grossing out your company.

5. Light a scented candle or spray room spray, especially if you have pets.

6. In the final seconds, run around the room and fluff couch pillows, straighten furniture, tuck in chairs, straighten anything askew.
This is basically the equivalent of making sure you don’t have lipstick on your teeth and your pants are zippered. (Maybe do that too)

Your house is now presentable for last minute company, yay!

If you have a few extra minutes:

1. Vacuum.
This is not the type of vacuuming where you’re moving furniture and getting under things, but rather a quick pick up of dog hair or dust bunnies.

2. Dust.
If you have rooms with a great deal of natural sunlight, the dust can look a bit more obvious on table tops that have not seen a duster for a bit. Grab a microfiber cloth or a feather duster and go to town as fast as you can.

3. Clean the bathroom.
No one has ever walked into a freshly cleaned bathroom and wished it was dirty.

4. Make the bed.
If you can see the bed from the where you’ll be with your guests or want to give your guest a house tour, pulling up a blanket and fluffing the pillows can make a world of difference.

5. Clean the pet hair off of seating areas.
A quick vacuum, roller or blanket spreading can make a difference (I always forget to do this and feeling incredibly guilty when guests sit on the dog hair covered couch).

6. Wipe down mirrors.
If you have mirrors in living areas, a quick wiping down of them will make the light sparkle better and everything look cleaner.

Whew, you did it! Pat yourself on the back and go offer your guests some coffee!

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Bathroom Selfies Vol. II

I enjoyed pulling together Vol. I of bathroom selfies so much that I’m back with another 6 months worth! Well…6 months of the photos that I remembered taking anyway. I don’t think there any in August as I was packing, moving, unpacking, taking a quick trip to south Texas and then had major surgery, so that’s understandable. Besides that though, I have realized that 90% of the time I either don’t use the bathroom while I’m out and about, forget to take a photo or don’t have my bag in the bathroom with me. When I’m on a roll, I do them all the time, but then I forget and forget and forget. I still enjoy them though and it’s a fun way to remember where I’ve been!

Bathroom: Master Bathroom of our new house the day we closed. Austin, TX. July 1st, 2016.


Bathroom: Winebelly on W Oltorf, Austin TX. September 9th, 2016.


Bathroom: Enoteca on South Congress, Austin TX. September 10th, 2016.


Bathroom: Snooze on South Lamar, Austin TX. September 12th, 2016.


Bathroom: ShopLC HQ (first day shooting the DIY videos!), Austin TX. September 13th, 2016.


Bathroom: Madam Mam’s on W Anderson Lane, Austin TX. September 14th, 2016.


Bathroom: Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar, Austin TX. September 17th, 2016.


Bathroom: ShopLC HQ, Austin TX. October 7th, 2016.


Bathroom: ShopLC HQ, Austin TX. October 31st, 2016.


Bathroom: Fresa’s, South 1st, Austin TX. November 5th, 2016.


Bathroom: Austin Java, 2nd Street, Austin TX. November 19th, 2016.


Bathroom: Manic Trout studio, Austin TX. November 24th, 2016.


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Don’t Break The Chain

I don’t always know what I plan on writing when I sit down to write. This makes me not want to write, but it’s not enough of a reason not to. This is also most likely how I end up letting weeks go by without ever even logging in to this blog. Although to be honest sometimes I don’t have enough time to actually sit down and write and sometimes I’m not physically in the studio to sit down to write. But most of the time it’s simply the lame excuse that I don’t know what to write. I even keep lists of topics and drafts of post ideas that come to me when I don’t have time to write, just time to jot down notes or a sentence in my phone, and still, most of the time I just move onto to something else and decide that I’ll do it later. I got really tired of later never coming though and frustrated with days and weeks going by without writing anything.

So at the end of the year I was looking back on what I did over the past months and of course I started thinking about goals, and what I’m good at and what I like to do. You know what was on all three of those lists? Writing. You know what I did the least of in 2016? Write. So I started working on changing this. Writing more both privately and publicly. I’ll admit that I’ve been doing a lovely job of it and part of that is because unless I’m not actually near my computer at all on a given day, I sit down, set a timer for 60 minutes and start writing. I do this twice in the morning; once with the Manic Trout blog and once here. I aim for 1000 words on each. I enjoy both spaces for what they are as the Manic Trout blog is much more research driven, and jewelry and style related. In this space, I get to write what ever I’m feeling that day, which is actually why I think it’s harder to sometimes thing of things.

These two blocks of time are a priority to my schedule and what I do first thing in the day after my morning routine which includes writing my daily morning pages. Morning pages are a concept that many writers and non writers alike use to sort of journal a few pages of longhand about whatever pops into your head. I aim for two pages of anything that’s on my mind; what I was proud of the day before, what I’m excited about that day, what I want to do better today, what I grateful for, even progress reports to myself. I follow this with one page of my plans for the day and how I see it playing out. It’s a great activity to both jump start my day and get my creativity flowing.

What I find interesting is that because I started writing first thing to make it a priority, I discovered by mistake that I write much better early in the day. I was pretty surprised to realize this as I am actually really strong at doing other creative tasks, like designing and making jewelry in the evening and late at night. For a long time, I had in my head that I needed to write blog posts at night for the next day, assuming that I would be able to write better at that time. I always though that I was never writing these because of time, or other things that got in the way, but really it’s just not the time of day when my brain writes well. So this whole exercise and schedule has been working really well so far. I however still often have no idea what to write about.

This is why I usually blog for Manic Trout first. That space has more of a scheduled theme and as I typically research a topic and write about it, it feels easier than pulling things out of my brain. This also means that I have a sort of double warm up before I get here. If I have no idea what to write, even after thinking about it while going though the morning, I’ll write the title, look over my prompts, maybe google a question I have in my head. This will usually strike a chord, even it has nothing to do with what I started writing, what I searched or what the title was. But no matter what, even if I still feel like I have nothing to say, I set my timer, open a blank post and write. Typically, as I’m already warmed up, if I just start typing, the words begin flowing on their own at that point and then after a bit I slow down, review what I wrote, remove the weird tangents and edit. I realize in amazement that there was a blog post in me, even if I didn’t know it yet when I began.

The biggest lesson that I learned in art school was to approach being creative like any other job. You sit down and do it, day after day. No matter what mood you’re in, if you feel uninspired, happy, angry, depressed, whatever, you sit down and write. One of my favorite quotes about this is from Jerry Seinfeld, who has always said that to be a productive writer, you have to wrote every day. His recommends marking an x on the calendar for every day that you write and what ever you do, “Don’t Break The Chain”. The chain concept has become a thing in productivity but it’s incredibly motivating in itself if you are a visual learner. It’s also an incredibly logical lesson, as to be good at something creative, you need a bit of natural ability sure, but for the most part you just have to practice. To do it over and over, day in and day out. Without the daily practice, you will never improve and become great. So do the work, every day. Don’t break the chain.

I have been using the chain with the morning pages for a few weeks so far. My chain has not broken. It usually warms me up and makes me jump right into the blogs, which is great as the blogs are hopefully something that can both get done 5 days a week. As I said, writing is the one thing in my life that is large part in more than one of my long term goals, that I’m good and that I enjoy. I am only hurting myself if I break the chain.

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Top 5 Things Right Now

I’m pretty sure that the more random theses lists are, the more I enjoy them. This one is all over the place, but I really love everything on it. Each item on this list also proves that it’s the little things, and the that the sum of a bunch of little things can make a big impact. What I mean is that it’s not really the item that has made a difference, but the constant use and what it represents. Although I did actually need most of these to do the thing, it’s not the thing that is so great, but what the repetitive action with every single one of these results in. As Chris from Northern Exposure philosophically pointed out in one of my all time favorite quotes: “It is not the thing you fling, but the fling itself.”.

1. The app Productive – I finally started taking turmeric pills much to the satisfaction of my mom, who swears by it for joint pain. She was right, my hip feels much better when I take it, but I keep forgetting to take it. I found this app on a list a month or so ago and started using it as a reminder, it’s free to use for up to 5 habits, and it has really helped! At this rate, I might just be able to run again soon.

2. My Morning Routine – It started off innocently enough. I found myself wanting to make sure that I was doing the things that made my day feel productive even on the days when I had to leave the studio to work at the tv station. I found myself getting up early enough to make sure certain routines were being done and it made a big difference. Then I started to add more things that would make my day better, such as writing morning pages and visualizing my day. I have been tweaking it here and there, adding and removing things to find my ideal routine, I’m really into the act of it. The biggest change in how my day went started when I stopped beginning my day by reading emails in bed. I now do my routine and then sit down at my desk and open the email after everything else is done. It really doesn’t matter that the first email reading of the day has been pushed 45 minutes to anyone but me, and to me, it has made a huge impact. I plan on going into this more in the next few weeks on the blog, so keep an eye out if it interests you.

3. Hard boiled eggs – These are up there on the list of things that make my life so much better when they exist, but are oddly something that I avoid doing. I prepare a dozen at once and eat one during my morning routine as are the perfect amount of food to start my day. In general, I have a problem eating enough protein, and eggs are such a great source of it, so it’s no brainer to have them readily available and easy to eat. I really need to get better at making the next batch as soon as I eat the last egg. I do buy them, I just slack on cooking them.

4. Auto transfers – This is one of those really obvious things that I had sort of forgotten I could do and it was game changing when I finally did it. I started this a few months ago and was quickly obsessed with the awesomeness of it. I manage our household finances, and every week, Adam and I each contribute x amount to our joint checking account. That account is used for anything household related or for activities that we do together. So things like utility bills, eating out together, travel or home repairs would all be included. Our savings account is attached to it as well. One day as I was transferring money to our savings, I realized that if I set it up to do it automatically, just like how almost all of our bills are paid, the weekly amount would just go there without my ever forgetting or avoiding to move it over. I set it up so the day after we send money from each of our own accounts to the checking account, a set amount goes right to our savings. I even already increased it a little because I realized we wouldn’t miss it if I did it. Every couple of weeks I give Adam a status report of both the checking and savings amounts and the last couple of times, Adam has been shocked that the savings has consistently been growing, even if it’s not by huge amounts, it still has been going up and up. I was really excited too and was yelling “I know, right!?!?!” a lot.

This is not rocket science, it’s basically just paying ourselves first, which BTW, I read yesterday should be the equivalent of one hour of each of your workdays. I haven’t figured out what that would be for each of us, but I aim make sure the amount is at least around there going forward. I also started doing this with things that are paid annually, mostly taxes. I know some people prefer to open multiple accounts to keep things separate but I find that if I just note the amount put aside in my ledger that it works for me. I do this with our property taxes and with income taxes from the tv station as it’s a contract position. For property taxes, I just have it set so the annual amount divided by 12 is taken out each month, and for my self employment taxes, I manually set 25% aside from each check I receive as the amounts differ.

5. Rubber gloves – Another, duh/a-ha!, moment. I have to pay more attention to the condition of my hands and nails now that I have them all front and center on DIY videos. I am brutal on manicures, but am learning and trying to make them last. One thing I do is get the lightest, most natural polish, so you can’t really tell if gets roughed up and the other is that I started wearing rubber gloves when I do dishes (I love to hand wash dishes, its soothing to me). I started this to protect the manicures, but the extreme dryness and skin cracking around my nails has gotten better too. I also can use much hotter water as my hands are protected, so that has to be a good thing sanitation wise. Win win for rubber gloves!

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3 Podcasts About Productivity

I’ve been spending a great deal of time the last few weeks thinking about productivity. Specifically on using my time the best way that I can to accomplish my goals, both business and personal without burn out. I’m not sure if it is because I am so immersed in this topic that it feels like I see, hear and read about this topic everywhere or that so many others are just as obsessed with productivity so that it IS everywhere. I suspect it’s a combination of the two and am glad that the information keeps popping up and that I’m paying attention. The most interesting part of this is that most of the information is really similar and this is a great thing. It basically means that not everyone is giving conflicting information on productivity and goal setting, they are all saying the same things…so I should probably listen.

I wrote this week about the idea of using the new year as a chance to evaluate and regroup and the areas in which I am doing this. I then wrote the next day about my decision to put pen back to paper and to go back to using a paper planner. For me, there were just so many digital options that I was becoming counter productive and felt a desire to simplify. It was a great personal choice and that step alone has been a huge help on getting a grip on my productivity and to regroup in the areas I outlined the day before. The other huge step has been to keep listening and reading about productivity. I’m almost doing so passively, just to keep it all fresh in my head. I listen to podcasts in the car and when I’m doing things like having breakfast or putting on make up, time when I’m paying attention, but not giving my full attention to it.

Three podcasts have stood out to me this week. They all deliver similar basic messages, yet each from their own unique point of view. The first from an economists standpoint, the second from a master planner view and the third from a more trying to find life balance view.

  1. The economist: Freakonomics Radio – How To Be More Productive. The unique POV is explaining the difference between being busy and being productive.
  2. The master planner: GTD (Getting Things Done) – Making Changes Stick. The importance of not only being productive, but staying productive and getting back on track if you slip up.
  3. The life balance: The Goal Digger Podcast – Goal Setting For People Who Hate Goal Setting. This one gets a little too faith based for my personal preference, but it’s good enough that I kept listening regardless of that.

Have you listened to any great productivity podcasts recently? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to know what they are!



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