Finding the time for what we love


I have mentioned before about stolen time, and how I declared that when I wanted to find the time to read more, I did. Today I wanted to elaborate on that and explain how I did it and what inspired me. It started when this past winter, I asked myself why I felt that taking the time to do my favorite thing, read, felt like such a guilty pleasure. My entire life, I have read before bed. But oddly, anything more than that felt like I was not being productive, which is weird as reading is much more productive than for example, watching TV. It became obvious that I needed to both give myself permission to have me time and find the time to do it. Then I thought about an awesome conversation I had had with my grandmother a few years ago.

My grandmother Joanne is an amazing woman. She has done more with her life than most people put together and although getting quite up there in years, she’s still going strong. It started when we were talking about her resistance to facebook. She avoids it as she feel there are only so many years left and so much she wants to accomplish in those years. If facebook entered her life, her fear is that  she would waste so much time on it that her goals would not be met. This was my first deep nugget of awesomeness from this conversation: I spend too much time on facebook. Then she told me about how when she was younger, had 5 kids under the age of 10 and was helping my grandfather run his business, she decided she wanted to write a book. So she found the time to do it. Getting up every day 2 hours before everyone in her family, she wrote her book. My grandmother found the time somehow to get the thing she wanted done and she then kept going. So lesson two was that if I wanted to do something badly enough, I could find the time…I mean really, I already had 5 less children in my own quest!

With these thoughts in my head, I sought out to steal back lost time from myself. First by granting myself the permission to do so. If I want to be happy and healthy, I need to make sure that my brain and body are exercised. So I made it a priority to give myself the time every day to read, work out and cook. Besides giving myself the time to do these things, they do not have to be what I cross off my list when I need extra time. The things that I do that do nothing for me in return are the things that needed to go. For me, these are watching tv (with the exception of during production in the studio) and checking up on things online for hours without actually doing anything. The amount of time I can waste re-checking stats, facebook, email, twitter and on and on is shocking. I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly doing either of these things (and not enjoying either of them) and would consciously get up and go read instead. I scheduled my workouts for 5 days a week and joined a kickboxing gym so I would have to answer to my trainer and my new workout bff (Hi Heidi!!) if I wasn’t there. I set aside time to cook at the very least dinner every night and I started paying attention to when I was mindlessly eating.

You know what happened? I went from reading 4 books a month to 10-12. I lost 45lbs and now have a visible 6 pack. I found a love for non fiction and historical fiction and have greatly expanded my knowledge on a few subjects I was really interested in. I’m still blown away with how much time I have to do these things and I’m not missing at all what they replaced. I’m not writing this to say that you should read more or not watch tv or anything like that. I just wanted to share how I felt like I was missing out on the things that made me happy and with a little tweaking to my life, discovered that I did in fact have the time for all of it. It’s one of the things I’ve done in a long time that I’m the most proud of as it’s made me prioritize what’s important and I feel so much better for it. Thank you to my grandmother (whom I call Ga) for the inspiration. It’s pretty cool what we can do when we set our minds to something!

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The past 10 days have been jam packed with activities. We had two waves of house guests as well as logging in a good amount of hours with friends. Due to the schedules that Adam and I both keep these days, it was a bit outside of our norm and made it feel as though we were the ones on vacation! This also explains my absence from blogging for the past week…when I did get into the studio it was pretty quick and focused on getting orders out the door. I spent more time doing laundry (so many sheets, blankets and towels!) than I did in the studio last week, ha! I oddly took very few photos though all of the fun, and the majority of the photos that I snapped were with my sister Gillian when she was here as I very rarely see her. Regardless, I decided to collect all of my favorite moments right here as one of the best parts about blogging is that you are keeping a record of your life, and I love looking back at past events. So here is our July, 2015 impromptu Stay-cation

Barton Springs
At Barton Springs Pool
At Barton Springs Pool
Sister antics at dinner
Sister antics at dinner
One of many, many wonderful meals out on the town
One of many, many wonderful meals out on the town
Aggressive sister love in 2011 (top) and 2015 (bottom)
Aggressive sister love in 2011 (top) and 2015 (bottom)

We ate all the things, saw all the places, listened to live music, went dancing, ate more of the things, went new phone shopping (4 of us have new phones now, yay!), played board games and ate some more things. In the wake of all of this merriment, I’m a bit exhausted, bloated from eating all the things, and some how haven’t had time to wash my hair in three days, but I had such a fun time!

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Top 5 Happy Moments This Week

Our program from dinner at Barley Swine.
Our program from dinner at Barley Swine.

The minute I created a blog just for Manic Trout, I knew I would end up neglecting this space too often. So even though it’s the holiday madness, I wanted to share a few things that have made me smile this week…because, well, when you are in the midst of chaos, it really is the little things.

1. Adam is home for the week before he heads off to Chicago and then Las Vegas for work, we’ve been cramming in as many things as possible as we see other once a month right now. This basically means that we have been eating all of his favorite foods both at home and out and about. Its been a very yummy week.

2. One of the culinary highlights was completely unplanned but due to holiday parties taking over restaurants on a night when our plans were cancelled last minute. We we able to snag a table at Barley Swine, and made the happy discovery that they have switched over to a prix fixe tasting menu (I’m really into tasting menus right now). It was amazing and I highly recommend it! They provide you with a program of your dinner, and that’s what you see above…yummmmm!

3. After a wonderfully awesome Cyber Monday, Adam agreed to let me go to Big Top (I say let me as my candy addiction got out of control again this fall and I need someone to be the voice of reason). I have sacks of candy now to fuel me through the next 3 weeks. The highlights were of course gummies: army men, mustaches and spicy chilli peppers!

4. When visiting with our niece and nephew the other day, 4 year old Olivia was telling me about her recent meeting of Elsa at parade. She told me that when Elsa went by, she yelled “Hey Elsa!!!! I’m you’re 4th biggest fan!!!!”.  As you can imagine, the cuteness of this caught Elsas attention and Olivia received both a hug and a peck on the cheek, which pretty much made her whole year. Her telling me this story made mine 😉

5. I have finally figured out the winter weather here in Austin and have been shopping a lot to make my winter wardrobe both less NY and less “summer with a sweater”. Somehow this created a weird, dancer ensemble going one evening with tights, leg warmers, hot pants and a black sweater…I don’t how that happened but I liked it, ha!

What has the highlight of your week been?

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A Night Owl Sharing A Bed With A Morning Lark


I love being in the studio late into the night. Its quiet, there are no emails, texts or phone calls coming in after about 11pm and as its dark out there’s a cozy feeling in the room. I have been a night owl since before I can remember. I have never wanted to go to bed. Not because I think I’ll miss out on anything, simply because my brain works better late at night. I’m at my sharpest, work comes easier and I can focus the best from about 9pm until about 2am. When I do finally force myself go to bed, I still can’t go to sleep but read for an hour or two. Only when I have been working really, really hard, such as working on a huge deadline for orders do I fall asleep quickly. As you would assume, I don’t think I have ever woken up and jumped out of bed all excited to go. I drag myself out of bed. After I read emails and check in with social media for a while. Which is after I have hit snooze 10 times…and then just shut off the alarm clock and gone back to sleep.

When I first met Adam, we were both under the impression that he too was a night owl. Then we got engaged and moved in together and we saw how different our natural rhythms were, we realized that was false. The biggest difference is that at 1am, I want to talk about all of the big things. Plans, money, worries…you name it, my mind is ready to discuss, solve and make some lists. Adam not so much. He gets really stressed out when I do this. On the other hand, 8am rolls around and Adam jumps out of bed if he has not done so already at 7am and wants to talk about all of the things, he feels that the time to start the day is NOW and runs out the door to tackle his to do list. I am still sleeping with a pillow over my head until he shuts up and leaves already. When I do finally force myself to get up, it is to get a cup of coffee and read blogs until my brain can process that it needs to function.

There have been some struggles with these difference as we like to go to bed at the same time, but we have some pretty good compromises going:

1. I promise to not talk about big issues after midnight and Adam is not allowed to whistle from midnight to noon.

2. I leave the studio at midnight to have an hour of wind down time in the living room before bed, which we try to go to by 1am, 2am at the latest.

3. Adam is a watch tv in bed while he falls asleep type and I am a read in bed in complete silence in order to be able to sleep type so he watches tv on his phone in bed with headphones while I read.

4. I am trying to get up by 10 every day, and on the mornings he’s still home when I wake up, Adam is trying to not come into the bedroom and ask me when I am getting up every ten minutes.

Do you share a bed with the opposite of you? How do you deal it?

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Fare you well


One of the hardest parts about blogging is deciding how much of your personal life should be made public. The second hardest part is deciding how much of your loved ones lives should be made public. For the most part, I feel that the “if it’s not my story, it’s not mine to share” way of thinking is the best approach. Although that has made for a great deal of vagueness over the past year. So maybe that only works in theory. Anyway that’s not the point. The point is that yesterday my father in law, Kenny, lost his battle with cancer. It’s been a tough year and a fast one. Too fast. I am thankful for the time we did get to spend with him and the chance to say goodbye, but the last few month have been heartbreaking.

Kite boards, South Padre Island

Although my time in the family has been the shortest, it was honor to be your daughter in law. I learned something whenever we sat down for one of our chats and will miss those moments most of all, especially when everyone else would get bored of the conversation and wander off and we were free to chase the tangents of minutiae. Every time I see the sun sparkle on the water, I’ll imagine it’s that wonderful twinkle in your eye as you smile when we make you proud. Fare you well, Kenny.

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We celebrated the end of summer with tacos and ping pong.

Ping Pong at South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery

This past Sunday, I was responsible for choosing the lunch for visiting family. There would be at least 10-16 of us, it was their last day in Texas and they were meeting up with us after walking around on South Congress. I decided that as they had not yet enjoyed the pleasure of dining at a food truck in Austin this trip, or had tacos for that matter, that the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery was the place to go. My beloved Torchy’s Tacos are there, as well as shaded tables and ping pong for Adam and the boys when they become restless during the pre eating family catch up chit chat that was unavoidable with a group of female cousins.

It was the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer, although even with the shade, the 100+ degree temps left us all headed for a cool swim or a nap after we dispersed.  That however is just as much a part of an Austin summer as anything else!

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All I want is to be able to catch my breath…

It may look like I’m living the life…but the reality involves more crying

All month I have struggled with if I should blog about the behind the scenes of the last few weeks, if I should write about how overwhelmed I am feeling with work and life or if it would just be obnoxious whining. Everyday I look at the blog and decided not to write about it and then decided that I have nothing other then this to say though so I walk away. Then I reread this post about where I want the blog to go and realized that the bloggers I admire the most would be talking about it. Also that if I never wrote all this down, there was a chance I would never blog again. So here I am. Part of the reason of why I have not written anything is that some of what has been going on is not my story. I feel ok with talking about anything that is my own tale to tell, but parts may be vague as they creep into someone else’s story, please understand that.

July which is usually filled with slow days and ample downtime to prepare for the busy season has been the opposite this year. I am crossing my fingers that August gives me a week of idle time so I can catch my breath because right now I am in need of it. We just returned from an unplanned, last minute 3 day trip which involved 2 days of driving with one very squished span of time in the middle where I was trying to simultaneously spend time with a sick family member and work. I never even washed my face that middle day and was still texting apologies to the printers at 11pm that I needed everything that sent to them that evening pretty much rushed because in the chaos of what has been going on, I got the deadline wrong by a week so everything had to done asap. This was our second last minute 3 day trip this month and even though there were little pockets of watching the sun set over the water or even getting to walk on the beach for 20 minutes once, I have come home exhausted, behind in work and stressed out to the point of random bursts of crying at random times. There are good and bad parts about being opposites of your spouse in many ways. In my marriage, the good parts always outweigh the bad, but the bad sometimes can be horrible such as when one spouse has emotional spontaneity impulses that win out over the must plan in advance because I own a business spouse when the health of a loved one is in play. Its been a tough summer.

In the two weeks in between these excursions, work took an unexpected twist and I found myself in major crunch time for a monster wholesale order. A bit of back story there, I am one of the top five sellers out of over a hundred designers with one of my wholesalers. When we began working together, they would send me a weekly purchase order of what they sold the prior week and I would ship everything off to them. This however meant that all of the people ordering from us designers (as opposed to what the wholesaler manufactures themselves) had to wait for four weeks to get their orders. A few months ago, the company decided that in order to sell a higher volume of the top sellers, they needed to reduce the ship time. So we switched to traditional drop shipping…which I hated as it meant a great deal more day to day work in the studio and filling all of the orders each day was taking up a huge chunk of time. Luckily the company decided after few months of this that they wanted the ship time to become even faster (this will be key in maximizing sales, especially around the holiday shopping time, which I am all for) so about month ago, another change was decided on and new contracts were drawn up. They would now send a purchase order every ten weeks for ten weeks worth of jewelry and if anything ran out, send mini purchase orders during that time. Sounded awesome, I was thrilled. I assured them that no problem, of course I could fill these orders within two weeks. Then I received the first purchase order for 1300 pieces of jewelry. 957 of these being rings which are made to order and which also happen to be the only jewelry I design that I have to make myself for the wire wrapping to be consistent. So yeah, crutch time.

Fortunately, after the Real Simple gift guide chaos of 2008, I basically began to rebuild Manic Trout with this level of volume in mind so I was ready. I spent two days planning it all out, assessing what I had in my inventory, what materials I already had, what I needed, ordering materials (which required phone calls to suppliers figuring out how to get everything here fast, but not so fast that it would cost a fortune), printing the specific labels all of the jewelry would need to have on it and so forth. I calculated what had to be made each day and then got started on making what had to be made. Renee thankfully spent a few evenings and one very long night offering up her skills and accomplishing the very lengthy preparation of all of the paperwork that had to accompany this order. That alone was such a huge life saver (and why she os one of my favorite people)! It was an intense amount of work as I was still running the normal day to day business as well but thankfully it was July so not as bad as it could have been…well or as it will be when the next ten week order comes in. I think the smartest thing I did in those two weeks though was still fit in a run three days a week. Every time I went for a run, I came back feeling so much better and instantly thought OMG, I’m learning! You’ll be happy to know that I not only survived the order but I actually shipped it off ahead of schedule.

There were however a great deal of big projects that were sidelined while I was doing the order. One being that my Canadian showroom had sent me the prep list for the Toronto Gift Show in August and I needed to prep all of the line sheets, post cards etc. I had created the US version of the line sheets already, but all of the prices needed to be changed to CAD and it all had to go off to the printer and be back in time to ship. So immediatly following the shipping of the big order, I caught up on day to day orders and got started on this. Then I realized that I was at the deadline for a great deal of big magazine pitches, so I had to drop everything and get to those and well, I basically jumped right into 50 things like this without taking a breath. Which brings us back to this weekend when I was finally getting caught up and I was given 12 hours notice that we were going. I feel so lucky to have a great deal of opportunity and wonderful things going on with work, but I am really crossing my fingers that next week I can finally catch my breath. I have started to dream about a vacation planned months in advance where I go some where alone, there is no cell service and I don’t have to talk to anybody. I think I may have just described a monastery, that’s where I am…dreaming of monasteries.

So apologies on not checking in this July although usually I am complaining that its so slow and how much I detest the slow time of summer on the blog everyday. So perhaps it was nice to be spared of all of that? Anyway, here’s to August and a chance for us all to catch our breath!

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I’ve got all my sisters with me

Mom, Holly, Gillian, Sierra, Thea in February, 2014.
Mom, Holly, Gillian, Sierra, Thea in February, 2014.

I was in NY this past weekend for my sister Gillian’s Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party. It was a fast trip filled to the brim with activity and so much time spent traveling. There were about 200 photos taken of the four of us together on Saturday and not one had all of us looking at the same camera at the same time. This one’s not even in focus, but it’s my favorite as my mom is in it and grinning at us all. When I was just looking at the collection of photos from Saturday on Facebook, I ended up on the photo below…from I think 2008?

Holly, Gillian, Thea, Sierra in 2008
Holly, Gillian, Thea and Sierra in 2008

We all lived within about 45 minutes of each other back then, and I think my mom made us have Sunday brunch together at her house almost every week. I doubt we’ll ever live that close to each other again…it would however be nice to not be spread out sooooo far apart as we all are right now. Northern California, Texas, Virginia and New York City means there is ALOT of travel and planning to hang out. It’s ok though, when we do, we make every second count!

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The rarity of a 63rd wedding anniversary for my generation


My paternal grand parents celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary this week. That’s them in the photos above with their parents, on January 20th, 63 years ago. I find this to be wonderfully amazing for so many reasons…mostly because as my generation grows older, I don’t think many of us will see this milestone, forget about experience it. For a generation of so many who waited until their 30’s to wed, or like myself, who divorced and then remarried in their mid 30’s, it will be pretty hard to see a 63rd anniversary. I’m feeling pretty lucky though as not only were all three of my great-grandparents still alive and well when I was a kid, but my grand parents are two of the most active seniors I know.  My grandfather (with a few bionic body parts) still walks miles a day and both are sharp as a tack. This gives me hope that maybe Adam and I have a chance of getting close.

As I know that my grand mother will read this…I hope you had a wonderful anniversary Ga & Pa, thank you for being such wonderful role models, I love you!

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What my brain is like when designing


I’m in the midst of finishing up the Spring ’14 Collection, which I’m actually super behind on, but I blame the holidays 100%. Typical of design time, I have cleaned the studio, ironed all of my napkins and cleaned the bathroom today as excellent methods of procrastination. Well, some would call it procrastination, I call it my brain solving the design dilemmas that will keep me occupied all week long. The funny thing is that when I’m in the process of a designing a collection, I am never on pinterest, where normally I tend there throughout the day. There is no more room for inspiration. Right now, I’d much rather clean, organize or exercise…my three favorite ways to problem solve. I get so into these things that my brain finally gets a moment to clear and usually, the final push of designing comes flying out as a result of it. As its so incredibly close to being done, the need for busy work is overwhelming and well…that’s how I ended up ironing stacks of napkins this afternoon. As soon as I publish this post, I will throw myself into a workout and then hopefully tonight I’ll be able to get most of the rest of the designs made into samples. Good times, good times.

The above image doesn’t have to with anything, except being one of my favs from pinterest right now. It reminds me of my moms ball gown crinoline that I used to wear all of the time as a kid. *sigh*, I loved that thing. My goal for 2015 is going to be to attend balls so I can wear gowns. That is all.


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