How To Read Multiple Books At A Time

Every time I walk through the living room, I see a stack of books marked at various stages with bookmarks made from my old business cards. I look longingly at this stack, as even though I reclaimed my wasted time and have made more time to read, I wish I were doing so right now. Some of you I’m sure wish you were doing the same, and some of you are right now thinking that this is crazy talk, this reading a big stack of books at once. In some part, I do agree that perhaps the current stack of 5 (plus 2 by my bed and 2 in my office) may be out of control, but I have been enjoying it immensely.

First the why. It’s simple. I read a lot and about a variety of things.  Some days I am not in the mood for particular books or subjects. Some days I am wanting to read about people or events and some days about more abstract concepts. Then there are the books themselves, some books, like the mega Infinite Jest, or the big and heavy political and historical books that I have been starting to enjoy, are intense and my brain is not always feeling up to the task of taking in so much information. Some days the last thing I want to read are biographies, and some days, that’s all I want to read. If you think about it, the concept is rather logical and very similar to how we do many things, like how our kitchens work. You don’t always want to eat the same food, so you buy a variety and eat a little of each thing throughout the week. The milk is, for the most part, not consumed all at once, neither are the carrots.

Now the how. Books of the fiction and literature genres are known attention grabbers. They draw you in and wrap you in their web of words and you are entranced as they weave their stories. I could not handle reading a large  stack of fiction at once, I’d perhaps loose sight of plots and confuse characters if I switched too often. So I typically save the more story like aspect of fiction for the end of night, when I’m trying to check out, get away from screens and clear my head or fill it with something else before bed. More often than not, I keep it to only one at a time by the bed, but there are exceptions. Usually it’s due to something I ordered showing up and that I can’t wait to dive into, so I put whatever I was reading aside and will come back to it. That is the exact scenario which led to the current two by the bed.

The books in my office are usually business books that I need to focus on and perhaps take notes while reading. Usually these are on a hyper specific topic, like productivity, seo or marketing. I pick these up when I have time to get in a few chapters and can give them some attention. I’m this way with blogs and podcasts too. I have them in their ques and when I have a chance, I catch up. These are all great ways to spark the brain, so as long as one of them is being done at some point each day, I’m happy. The books I read in my office can take months to finish for this reason, so if it’s something I want to finish reading in a more timely manner, the moves either to the living room, or I assign myself reading time with a notebook at the dining room table.

Now for the stack in the living room. I usually have 3-5 going and there is almost always a memoir style business book (right now it’s Martha Stewart), something about food production or health (often by Michael Pollen), something I need to be focused to read (I’m sure for the next month that will remain Infinite Jest), a history or political history book (I’m reading about the history of New York right now) and then a book or two for book club (because I am in three of them and the books are often new releases and therefore hard cover, which I prefer to be sitting to read). I find that the books I have in the living room are more for picking up whatever interests me when I sit down. Similar to magazines or blogs, I sometimes dig in and read for hours in one book and sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat and go from one to the next and back and forth. Sort of like having a book stack version of your blog reader. Except instead of posts in a blog, you can read a chapter or two from one book and then switch to another. Which is again why I mainly do this with non fiction, memoirs and short stories, they are easier to move in out of.

Now because we all love lists, I’ll break it down:

How to Read Multiple Books At A Time

  1. Select a variety of subjects and styles.
  2. Try and keep the fiction to a minimum, choosing mostly from assorted non fiction genres.
  3. Keeping different books in the different places where you read can help you remember things about that book when you’re sitting in the same spot.
  4. Don’t push it. If you’re only feeling one book, go with it. If you can’t stay focused on more than a few pages before you want to switch books, go with it.
  5. If you are stumped for how to come up with that many books to read at once; keep a list in your phone or Amazon with suggestions. Also browse used book stores, goodwill or library book sales as the selection is usually smaller so it’s not as overwhelming often will have you choosing books from sections that you’d never think you’d like. For example, I realized that I was buying a lot of books from library sales that were from the travel section, an area I had never thought to buy books from.

Happy reading!

 

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Planner People

With many things in life, there are two types of people. In this case I’m talking about planner people vs non planner people. In what I’m about to write about, you can even break it down further to paper planner people vs digital planner people. I am a paper planner person, I am also, as of a few years ago, a printable paper planner person. This means that I felt that there was no planner out there that had the exact components I wanted in a planner, so I now print bits and pieces from a few different designs and make my own awesome planner.

If you meet a fellow paper planner person, you quickly become aware of your shared loved. You begin talking obsessively about the big names in planner land, and Erin Condrens name is tossed around like she’s your best friend. You compare likes, dislikes, what the current designs for this year look like, how you use yours and what planners you’ve used in the past. I eve have friends who are super planner people and they collect all varieties of planners, cases, inserts from all different designers and are active in both facebook groups as well as IRL meet-ups with other super planner people.

As much as I love planners, I am pretty utilitarian about it. I don’t carry one around with me, I don’t really care what it looks like, I’m annoyed where there are added frills like quote and inspirational images. I want a super functional system that aids my productivity. Because of these preferences, I tried really hard to go digital, as it just makes sense. I bought all different types of software and apps that each gave me hope and promise that I finally had found the digital system that worked, but I always ended up back on paper. Part of it was that duplication and deletion issues were causing too much frustration with synching between my phone and computer. Part of it was that I could never see a quick and broad enough view on my phone. And then another part of it is that I like to take pen to paper and I find that list making is a big part of how I use a planner and it was too much text for digital. In general, I really prefer writing anyway, its quicker for me, and I remember things better when I write them down. The only issue I was having was finding a planner that had all of the things that I like, but not having the things that I don’t like. Which is of course why I ended up being so into the printables. I found Scattered Squirrel a few years ago and for two main reasons, fell in love. One, is that there are so many different styles and options that I can cobble my dream planner together exactly how I envision it. Two, that I can try something new and print out a few weeks of pages (which is only a couple of sheets of paper) and if it doesn’t work for me, I can print something else out swap it out in the binder without having to switch planners, transfer content or waste paper. So good.

I will however be the first to admit that this is a bad idea for those who are not hyper organized. I imagine you would be overwhelmed with the options. Remembering to print out ahead of each month or whenever, could be overwhelming and figuring out the order to print the pages can get tricky. I love it though and find that it works really with the GTD system. That is another awesomely obsessive topic…who else swears by David Allen and GTD?? I tend to fall off course with it from time to time, but I still find that even when I am not my most productive and focused, just the basic knowledge of the system means that I get everything done that has to be done. The brain dump concept is one of the best things to happen to my mental state and something we should all do to clear the mental clutter often. If you are unfamiliar, the idea is to spend a little time, ideally once or twice a day or when feeling overwhelmed and just start writing/typing everything out that’s on your mind. I think it’s mean to be done in list form but I have started to write a few pages free form in the morning before I start my day to just get all the chatter out, then I brain dump a list of to-do’s. During the day, I am more of a random, jot down when I think of it person so I typically do one brain dump a day, but at night I sometimes will use my phone when I’m lying in bed to type up a brain dump and send it to myself. This is really helpful if you are the type of person to lay awake at night over-thinking. The brain dump concept is brilliant in that it really allows you to “let go” of all the stuff you are focusing on that is unnecessary. For example, that I need to buy a lightbulb for over the kitchen sink, order the new book for book club and lower the feet on the dryer are things that are bouncing around in my head right now as I have not written them down. As soon as I note them on paper, these things quiet and I can focus on say, the ideas I have to write here. The most important thing to remember with this though is that you have to make sure you do gather up and create action with all of these brain dumps, not just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them. Which is why of course we GTD people are also planner people.

The only downside of my current planner usage is that I like a large planner and I like to keep it in a 3 ring binder. This almost always lays flat and open, on my desk. I do not take it with me ever. This meant that keeping track of meetings and appointments when I made them out of the house was getting tricky. I dislike ical enough that I was not using it so I was taking photos of a couple of months of my planner and trying to reference them when I was making an appointment but that sounds useless even when I am writing it. It was obviously not something that worked. When I started doing the tv project, I needed some way to have at least meetings and events entered in my phone that I could see a month at a time without clicking on the day for details. I eventual discovered the app Fantastical as it has a feature that I especially enjoy. When you rotate your phone horizontally, the calendar turns into a block view, similar to what a printed calendar looks like, and gives a quick and effective overview. So now I just have to make sure I have things entered in both the paper version and the phone. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.

Sooooo, are you a planner person? If you’re a paper planner person, what system do you use? The beauty of this world is that there is something for everyone, share your system in the comments!

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Do you make resolutions?

I’m not much of a resolution maker these days, but I do I do enjoy using the new year to analyze and regroup a bit. Part of it is that as a business owner, I do this with finances and the various things I track. I have become in the habit of spending the week between Christmas and New Years Day finishing up that year and setting up all of my systems for the year ahead. There are the obvious: closing/starting out planners, calendars, spreadsheets and files and the not so obvious: reviewing my vision, and where I am with short and long term goals. Usually there is an area where I immediately notice, if I had not realized it already, that needs improving. If I have already been aware of the problem area, I try to start in mid December so that I’m feeling the pressure of the resolution setting chaos.

This past year, I gave up all sugar and sweet things on December 19th. This was following a doctors appointment where the cause of some heath issues were not obvious. I overheard the doctor and nurse reviewing my chart and wondering if weight or diet could be a contributor. Although in the end, the problems were completely unrelated to anything I was doing, that one over heard conversation gave me the motivation I needed to get my out of control sugar addiction in check. If there were going to be issues with my health, I refused to let them ever be caused by own self negligence. I got to work immediately and by the time the new year began, I was free from sugar and had dropped the extra weight it had caused. In December, I also started “reclaiming wasted time“, so I could do my favorite thing: read more. Soon, I was reading an extra 4 to 6 books a month. Yesterday I wrote about the business goals I was working on this past year, which were about defining my skills and building my personal brand.  But I also met my goal to not stop working out when I was the busiest so I was not removing my best stress reliever when I needed it the most. I set out to schedule time 5 days a week that I would not cancel on and commit to giving to myself this time to work out. I hit that one out of the park and think the habit has set in pretty well on it now and the results have been amazing. I was so calm during the holiday season that Adam was actually worried about me. These were all areas that I wanted to improve on over the past year and are now just a part of my life. I thankfully don’t have to work on these things anymore, just be mindful that I am continuing them.

So what do I feel are the areas that need to be worked on this year? The first area that needs to be worked on is that I stumbled a bit mentally with my vision and long term goals this past year. As I have been aware of this, I have been spending the last month working on not only defining these, but on shifting my mind set to work towards them. Interestingly, as I spent the past year defining what my skills are, I now see that there are a few things that overlap what I am good at and what I love to do and yet I have not been doing them. How sad is that??? Hint, hint, that is literally being worked on by my typing this! Another area that needs some help is that I am too often just going through the motions of my day. I’m getting things done, but not feeling excited to seize the day or proud of what I have done that day. Not that I am not proud, but I’m not all “best day ever, go me!!” as often as I would like to be. I think part of it is the lack of vision and with that, the lack of long terms plan, so although I’m getting through the to-do list, I’m not really sure that I’m accomplishing things for the big picture. I have already been working on this though, enough that I am now able to analyze it and put into words what I have been feeling and put into action some of what needs to be done to fix it.

So while I am not setting goals, I am already working on areas that need some help. I am making changes, I am researching (it soothes me to have information…knowledge is power and all) and learning from others who have succeeded at overcoming these things. I am slowly making changes, a little at a time until the change sticks and then I change a little more.

On the subject of of resolutions, goals and intentions…I was flipping through my old sketchbook/notebooks that I used to use jot down notes, lists, schedules and inspirations in (mostly pages of crazy long lists) and saw the 2 pages of resolutions I was making every year. I was overwhelmed just looking at it. I also never accomplished much of what was on those 2 pages. I then thought about on the flip side, I have veered to the polar opposite and had no resolutions or intentions some years, just took each day as it came along and acted accordingly. In thinking about both of these mindsets, the only thing I know is that neither of these work for me. I need a nice happy medium of having defined goals along with their manageable breakdowns but still allowing myself to have flexibility in my daily routine and life goals. If there is too much structure and too rigid of a plan, I freak out when something unexpected pops up and also say no to too much. If for example, I was not in the mind space I was in this last year (sort of floundering, not sure where I wanted to be doing), I never would have said yes to the interview with the tv channel. I would have said that it didn’t fit into my schedule and that I no interest in a future as a DIY host. Because I was trying to figure out some things, I thought it sounded like a fun project and why not at least look into it. I was incredibly surprised to realize quickly that it was something that I was naturally really good and at and I love it! They are great about working with my schedule (we basically took December off) and it has energized me in other areas. So finding the sweet spot where I am feeling proud of my work and what I am building, accomplishing growth personally and in business and having the time and energy to take on interesting projects seems to be what I’m aiming for.

What are your resolutions and intentions?

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A year in review: 2016 Highlights

Like most business owners, one of my traditions at the end of every year is to evaluate the past 12 months.  I look back on business sales, goals set/met and what I accomplished for the year. Looking back and pointing out all of the things that I did that made me happy and proud, as well as sharing it with you is something I like to do as a way to positively recap and celebrate the accomplishments instead of just being critical. I encourage you all to do the same, to make sure you take the time to recognize and celebrate the good. It’s important to not just dwell on what needs to be improved because there is always something good to be grateful for. No living in the gap!! So here is 2016 and all the wonderful things it brought!

January 2016

My friend Jennifer began the book club: Women, Words & Wine. We all had one thing in common, that we’re all friends with Jennifer. I had not met anyone else who joined before and seriously, meeting this group of women was a game changer for me. I adore every single one of them and am so happy to have met them all. Some of these ladies are what can only be explained as members of my tribe and have become incredibly important to me this year. It was an amazing way to begin the year!

February 2016

Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds began wearing my jewelry. This was pretty epic as I started working on making this happen almost a year before. I still get excited thinking about it, she is possibly the most perfect fictional character ever to wear my jewelry.

May 2016

I had been really enjoying running and listening to podcasts while doing so for some time and loving it, when my hip started to hurt too much to do it anymore. One day I brought this up with my friend Cynde and mentioned that besides running, what I truthfully missed most of all, was kickboxing in college. After hearing this, she immediately insisted that I try out her gym and I was sold the minute I walked in the door. I look more forward to the hour a day I spend there, 5 days a week than anything else in life. It’s brought amazing focus to my work as well and as an added bonus, I look and feel great!

5 Rules To Organize Anything

July 2016

I moved my studio (again), this time hopefully for a good long while. It has everything I was looking for: lots of natural light, room to grow, built in storage, a big closet to store things out of sight, a lockable door to prevent distractions, it’s own bathroom and next to the front door of the house so people could easily come by. The only think it was lacking was lighting. Oh man, the first week I was working in it, I couldn’t see. I filled the room with task lights but they just seemed to get lost as it’s a pretty big space.  I decided that as I work so much at night that I needed a solution and a good one, fast. So I had 6 can lights installed in the ceiling, even though the electrician kept saying that 4 would be fine (we compromised and he installed a dimmer switch…that I have never used, 6 lights is perfect for me). This studio is now officially my favorite place that I’ve ever worked and I look forward to going in there every morning.

August 2016

This year began with my freaking out about spending so many years growing a small business and worrying that if I decided to do something else, that all of those years of work wouldn’t qualify me to do anything besides being a designer or maybe something in social media. This freak out made me realize that I needed to focus on more than just running a jewelry brand, that I needed to work on my personal brand as well. This summer I created social media accounts for myself (which are all linked from this blog) and started putting myself out there as a jewelry and style expert, ceo, entrepreneur, writer and not just a jewelry designer. In August, I pitched and was hired for my first freelance magazine piece and realized that I did after all have some marketable skills. I hope to do more freelance writing this year, I really enjoy it and it’s pretty cool to see my name in a magazine for something other than as a jewelry designer!

August 2016

I have been actively avoiding shows and pop ups for awhile, but I forced myself out of my comfort zone and did a pop up at West Elm to debut the FW16 Collection at the end of August. I invited my friend Kelly along to debut her new bag line, Festival Co. as well. I’m glad I did it, but I will probably continue to not not do many of these this year.

October 2016

An unexpected honor came this fall in an invitation to be the keynote speaker at an event for the National MS Society. It’s an organization incredibly dear to my heart and I enjoyed having the chance to speak at their event. It was my first keynote and true to all of my public speaking, I prepared nothing. I just got up there and talked and talked. That is actually the second skill I realized I had this year. So much personal growth happening!

November 2016

This fall, a very large and very cool opportunity presented itself. LC TV, a jewelry shopping channel that is based here in Austin, started looking for a jewelry DIY Expert for their new LC DIY program. I was recommended for the job and after about 2 minutes of being interviewed, was offered the position. I spent the fall working with a team at LC TV creating the program and designing the jewelry kits. We started filming the video tutorials and launched both the website and the live show of which I am the guest host, in November. I’m still shocked by what a natural I am at being on live tv and shooting instructional video. I however am not good at doing anything remotely scripted. Stick a camera in my face and I’m great, ask me to read something or say something that are not my words and I pretty much am a deer caught in headlights. It’s a good thing that I’ll never be expected to follow a script! This will most likely be a pretty constant part of my life this next year and is a side gig I never thought of doing, but once I did it, I really enjoy it.

Other notable things this year that I was pretty of were beginning a partnership with the company Gwynnie Bee, having the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend ever and working with some amazing bloggers whom I loved seeing style my jewelry.

Now onto 2017…I wonder what this year will bring?

 

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Biblio-files for the 2016 months ending in BER

Books I read 2016

I wanted to make sure I gave some love to the books I read in the last months of the year before 2016 came to an end. As there are 4 months to report, I’m putting them all together here in one big list. I also wanted to note that on this last day of the year, it pains me that I am still in the middle of 8 books. Some I’m only a few pages in, some I’m almost finished with, but none of them will be finished this year. I’m doing my best to get over the lack of closure, but oh man it’s hard. There’s just something about the new year that begs for clean slates! Anyway, onto what I DID finish:

September 2016

This was a tough month for reading as I had major surgery on Aug 30th. I assumed I would read stacks of books during my recovery but as it turned out, the pain meds I had to take for the first few days made me nauseous and blurred my vision, so there was no reading. Even the next week or so after the meds were stopped, I was so tired that reading just put me to sleep. I didn’t even manage to read my usual book a week, but I loved the few books I did get to.

1. The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster – I love her books. I laugh so loud at them that I sometimes wake up Adam. In this one, Lancaster decides to “Martha Up Her Life” for a year and try and live life how her beloved Martha would. If you need a good pick me up, I recommend it.

2. Dandelions In  A Jelly Jar by Traci DePree – An engaging, contemporary story about a women in the midwest and her life. I enjoyed it, but 4 months later, the other two books are fresh in my mind still and although I recall liking this one, it’s not as memorable.

3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – An amazing book that I have been wanting to read and it did not disappoint. Following the life of a boy from early teens through adulthood and the epic story of his life, it’s a fantastic story and focuses around a painting, which is double cool. If you have it on your list to read, do it.

October 2016

I had a conversation the other day about what we do when we find authors that we love. My friend said that she immediately buys all of their books and binge reads everything they ever wrote. I thought for a moment and realized that I do the opposite. I like to buy one book every year or every few months and spread them out so I have them to look forward to. This month I read a few books by some of my favorite authors and it made me so happy!

1. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden – A quick little book and self proclaimed bible for the advertising world. The advice of course can apply to most areas of design. Our education never ends!

2. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner – Gortner is quickly becoming one of my go to authors for historical fiction. His writing is wonderful and he weaves vivd tales. I did add all of his books to my amazon list after reading this one.

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – This is one of those books that I really wanted to love. It dragged on for me though. I found myself skimming a lot of it as I just couldn’t get through it without doing so, but I wanted to. It’s a powerful memoir and was a book I that I felt essential to read, but I’m glad it’s behind me.

4. Madame Tussaud by Michele Moran – Moran is at the top of favorite historical fiction authors list. I LOVE her books. This one was wonderful and I wished it didn’t have to end.

5. Plan B by Jonathan Tropper – Another beloved author, he develops characters excellently. A story of love, addiction and friendship, it’s well written and engaging.

6. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp – I LOVED THIS BOOK. It deserves yelling from rooftops. I will even go as far to insist that anyone who is has selected the path of creativity for their career should read this. I devoured it in one afternoon, could not stop or put it down. We read it for a book club and I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did!

November 2016

I’m staring at the stack from this month and all I can think is: meh.

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – Ok this is the exception this month, as it was not meh, in fact the book is fantastic. As expected as it was raved about when it was released. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, it’s amazing.

2. On Beauty by Zadie Smith – I officially give up on reading anything by Zadie Smith. This was the second of her books I’ve read and I had to drag myself through both. I kept waiting for it to get good. It was ok, I didn’t hate it, but I do not enjoy her writing enough to try again.

3. Boomsday by Christopher Buckley – Witty and sassy. A satisfying satirical read. The same author who wrote Thank You For Smoking, it was exactly what I hoped it would be, just not jaw dropping amazing.

4. The Laments by George Hagen – Another well written story. The month seemed to be filled with strong authors who write well, don’t get me wrong, just not my favorites of all the books I’ve read.

December 2016

Halfway through the month, I was tired from the season and went to the Goodwill to grab a pile of fluff. It was exactly what I needed. I have spent the year moving away from it, but sometimes I need to read as an escape and fluff takes me away better than calgon.

1. Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund – Pre fluff. An amazing book. Reminded me of Secret Life of Bees and the book where the nanny tells the young girl that she is kind all the time. Set in Birmingham, AL in the early 60’s and potent with what is going along the lines of racism and sexism today. I really, really liked this book.

2. The Sea by John Banville – Pre fluff. Beautifully written fiction of the literature variety. This is an incredible book, but it did send me over the edge and straight to the doors of the goodwill for fluff.

3. Alamo House by Sarah Bird – Fluff at it’s finest. I have read other books by the author and I knew she’d deliver. Bonus that it was set in Austin in the 80’s so fun to compare to now and all of that. Such a chick lit book, but a good one.

4. The Beach House by Jane Green – The height of fluff. Another go to of mine for chick lit. It was exactly what I needed. If you ever need a book for a beach, a plane or a bathtub, Jane Green is a good choice.

5. The Cotton Queen by Pamela Morsi – Filled with mother daughter stuff that gets pretty serious and made me second guess if this was something I wanted to read right now, and a bit beyond fluff as rape is a central theme, but a great vacation type read.

Have a wonderful New Year, I can’t wait to share what I read in the coming months with you!

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When Founders Walk Away

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I have been closely watching Sophia Amaruso and how she scaled Nasty Gal after growing such a strong brand and company on her own. As happens so much of the time, when she sought out her largest round of funding, she stepped down as CEO into a lesser position. This is something that happens constantly with the founders of fashion brands btw. This week NastyGal announced it was filing for bankruptcy (though not closing) and Amaruso will most likely step away completely. This is an issue which fascinates me. I am all for selling a company that you build and moving on to the next, but what is interesting are when the founders stay on, how long they last and what it must be like to be an employee at somehting you founded? Especially when you watch that company take a dive. When do you finally decide to let go? I respect her working so hard to create a separate career (her books and the #girlboss community) so at least she has something in place already to move onto but still, it must feel so crazy to her. Well, that and incredibly freeing.

I also want to bring up again the path which Kate Spade took. She and her husband (marketing genius, Andy Spade) sold the majority of her company to Neiman Marcus in 1999 and then sold outright to Liz Clairborne in 2007. She stayed on as a consultant for a year or so, and then walked away. She of course had signed a non compete so when she decided to begin another brand this past year, she legally changed her name to Kate Valentine and began Francis Valentine. Realistically though, how many people still think that she is part of Kate Spade (the brand)? It must be near impossible to separate yourself in the public eye even 20 years later.

Just some food for thought on this subject. As you can imagine, much of what I’m talking about are the reasons behind my decision to start to think of myself earlier this year as a jewelry expert and not just a jewelry designer with my own brand. It’s been a learning lesson in both realizing that I’m qualified to more things that I realized, what opportunities seem to appear when you put words to some of what you want, and maybe even what life would look like without Manic Trout. For now though,  rest assured that I am happily trying to juggle it all and can’t wait to see where this next year takes me!

 

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Top 5 Things Right Now

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1. Coffee. This is a love affair that has been going strong for decades, but it’s in a sweet spot right now. It took me most of the year to get used to drinking it black, but I finally stopped missing the sweet taste of sugar. Speaking of which, I’m just shy off 11 months without candy or sugar. How crazy is that???

2. Shameless. I finally got around to watching the US version and love it. Not the most uplifting of shows, but I was hooked after about two episodes. I’m pretty excited that I’m still watching season 6 and there is one currently on Showtime.

3. Queso. This is becoming problematic. I had it twice on Saturday. It’s just so good though and everyone is always up to get it with me!

4. The gym. AKA, the thing that allows me to eat so much queso. Seriously, I have been anti gym for years but love the little community I have become a part of and crave my hour there every week day.

5. Sleep. I still maintain that my allergies are crazy right now and it’s not a cold. Once I fall asleep though, oh it feels so nice and to get out of bed just feels wrong.

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5 Rules To Organize Anything

5 Rules To Organize Anything

Organizing is never something that I do, it just happens. If I look at a shelf and a pile of items to go on it, there is no thought process that really goes on, I just put the items on the shelf and there they are, all organized. I however think that this happens as I have conditioned my brain over the years to see a pile, break it down in my head of how to process it and then place it accordingly. The basis of the conditioning is to live by these 5 rules which can be applied to an area of your life: your home, your desk, your car…you name it.

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1. Only buy and keep things that are useful or beautiful.

I learned something interesting after my apartment flooded one year and I lost cards, letters, old journals, pads with a few pages of paper left, fabric scraps etc. It felt amazing to not have to store it all and made me never want to deal with any of it again. 3 great reasons to NOT hold on to things. They are purely sentimental (but nothing you ever want to look at again like cards, childhood mementos); could maybe serve a purpose one day (scraps of paper, fabric) or because it was expensive (old electronics, clothes).

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2. Everything in your life has to have a place.

Every single time you bring something new in or get rid of something in a space, take a moment to reorganize and make new homes for everything. The secret to staying organized is to stay on top of it! There should be homes for everything. This means your keys, the milk in the fridge, your toothbrush and on and on. My bathroom was low on storage, so the first thing I did was to buy something to give my stuff a home. Make sure when shopping for storage that do a little planning ahead and include room to grow. I could only fit something small in here without it looking weird, so I reorganized what I needed to actually be kept in the bathroom and moved some things out to a cupboard in the bedroom. Remember that where things live is a constant evolution, I’m always movig things around and rearringing.

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3. When you’re finished with something, put it back in it’s place immediately.

Do not leave the flour on the counter because you may bake again tomorrow or the colored pencils all over the living room table in case you want to color again later. However note that if you find yourself leaving the same things in the same places that are not where they belong, then you need to assign them a new home closer to where you keep leaving them. In my pantry, I keep a big basket for dirty dishtowels. This is due to once upon a time, the towels never making it to the laundry room, but sitting in a pile on the floor. Now the dirty towels have a home and no more pile on the floor! Also note that if it’s an ongoing project, temporary places need to be established for everything involved (like stick all those colored pencils in a pretty cup).

5 Rules To Organize Anything

4. When organizing and storing items, use similar storage containers for ease of stacking and to reduce the visual clutter.

Once you get your matching containers, do not just fill those big bins and baskets with a chaotic jumble of items. Within each storage container should be a system and finding what you need within your storage systems should be instantaneous. All of our photos are kept in decorative, same size boxes in a big closet where we store seasonal decorations, winter coats and scarves (which are in the bins under the coats) that we use mostly when we travel north. The photos are organized chronologically in the boxes, the clothes by item and activity level (snowboarding, NH winter worthy, mild winter) and holiday decor in bins by by holiday and what they are (christmas lights in one box, halloween outdoors in one, halloween costumes, and on and on). I never have to look for more than a few seconds for something in this closet because of this.

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5. Group like items together for both storage and everyday items.

Above I explained how similar items are great to store things, but what about for everyday? A great example is my closet. Sure there are the obvious such as jeans or socks or blouses grouped together, but some areas there are so many of something, like my dresses, that it needed to go deeper. So I started thinking about how I get dressed. I am usually getting dressed for either a. something low key, like errands; b. day time more dressy activities like meeting and lunches; c. dinner or cocktail parties; or d. more formal night time events. Keeping these in mind, I grouped dressed by these categories and within the categories I arranged them by sleeve length (strapless all the way to long sleeves). This makes it so when I am getting ready for a meeting, I am looking at only a chunk of clothes right for that time of day and activity, if it’s chilly, I look more to the right and if it’s super hot, to the left. I do the same with shoes, toiletries (hair products, lotions, face products), food (oils, vinegars, teas, spices, herbs), dishes (china, everyday), studio supplies (findings, gems, glass), and all sorts of other things. The more you break down a selection of items, the easier it is to find things. Add chronological, color or alphabetical orders to the mix and it can get amazing!

 

I hope this list inspired you to flex your organizational muscles, happy organizing!

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Style Diaries – August 2016

I have been continuing snapping mirror selfies of my outfits before I leave the house. It’s been inspiring me to put a bit more effort in and to notice a few things. First, that I like to repeat outfits and that’s ok. Second, if there is no reason to get dressed and leave the house/studio…I don’t do it. I managed to put some effort into how I look 10 times this month. That’s it…so sad! Luckily, I’m playing catch up and already know that my numbers got much better in September, even with being out of commission for a week post surgery. There’s hope for me yet!

Outfit from Aug 4th, 2016
August 4th, 2016

August 4th outfit: Dress – Milly; Shoes – BCBGeneration; Bag: Fendi; Jewelry: Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 14th, 2016
Aug 14th, 2016

August 14th outfit: Dress – Nanette Lepore; Shoes – Charles David; Bag – Kayu; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 16th, 2016
Aug 16th, 2016

August 16th outfit: Dress – dear creatures; Shoes – Hinge; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 19th, 2016
Aug 19th, 2016

August 19th outfit: Dress – Joie; Shoes – Hinge; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 20th, 2016
Aug 20th, 2016

August 20th outfit: Dress – Ann Taylor; Shoes – Saks Fifth Avenue; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 21st, 2016
Aug 21st, 2016

August 21st outfit: Top – Trouve; Bralette – Pare; Skirt – Trouve; Shoes – Michael Kors; Bag – Balenciaga; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 22nd, 2016
Aug 22nd, 2016

August 22nd outfit: Dress – Leifsdottir; Shoes – Hinge; Bag – Louis Vuitton; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 25th, 2016
Aug 25th, 2016

August 25th outfit: Dress – Lululemon; Shoes – Vince Camuto; Bag – Kooba; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 26th, 2016
Aug 26th, 2016

August 26th outfit: Dress – Ann Taylor; Shoes – Hinge; Bag – Kooba; Jewelry – Manic Trout

Outfit from Aug 28th, 2016
August 28th, 2016

August 21st outfit: Top – Trouve; Bralette – Madame Aime; Jeans – AG; Shoes – Charles David; Jewelry – Manic Trout

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Biblio-Files August 2016

What to read from August 2016

I picked up speed again in August with the amount I was reading. I also started a second book club, which focuses on historical fiction of the non romantic variety. It’s amazing, why did I not do it sooner? Over all, I really enjoyed all six of the books I read…a lot. If you need a book to read, I highly recommend any of these on the list.

1. Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran. Moran is fast becoming one of the authors whose writing I crave. This book was fascinating! It was the first for the new book club and we all loved it. I’ve realized that historical fiction biographies are the crown jewels of what I prefer to read and this is a great one! I will I’m sure read all of her books within the next few months.

2. Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian. This was another fascinating book. In scanning the pile from August, I’m pretty sure I learned more from these six books combined than I have in any other month. This one is incredibly well written and about a man transitioning to a woman. It alternated from the main characters POV to the perspective of those who love her. I read Midwives by Bohjalian recently and loved that as well. Great author!

3. The Secret Lives of The Four Wives by Lola Shoneyin. Set in Nigeria about a man and his four wives. Divided into sections from each wives perspective. Half the time I had to keep reminding myself that the story was current and not one of my beloved historical fictions. Well written and an engaging story.

4. Gulp by Mary Roach. I think this is my favorite Mary Roach book so far. Well, Stiff might still be my favorite, but this is at the very least tied for first. There was a lot of food/eating bits tied in with this subject matter which delighted me. She writes with such a wry sense of humor, making science writing witty…I think that’s a talent very few have!

5. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Read for book club. It gets a bit woo woo, but I liked this one. Whose to say that all of these books I’ve been reading for book club this year have not sub consciously influenced the career risks I’ve been taking? I’m would never read self help books on my own, so it’s been interesting to delve into them. I’m sure they played a bigger part in the changes than I’m giving credit for!

6. Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey. The second I read the back cover of this book, I knew I’d love. It was basically like reading a really detailed version of the show United States of Tara. An interesting story about a woman dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I’m trying to not use fascinating to describe it, but it applies to every single book this month.

You know when you read a book and it makes you crave more knowledge? It’s like you just want to absorb more and more and more of anything and everything all at once because what you’re reading is teaching and expanding your knowledge so strongly. All of these books gave me that feeling. Loved them all! Unfortunately I ended the month with major surgery though, so the anesthesia slowed me down for the past month. I’m happy to share that I’m starting to finally feel my head come out of the fog these past few days though. I have been collecting so many great books to dive into, I think I’m reading seven at once right now!

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