New Years Resolutions 2018!

2018 is here! 2017 was a year of big changes for me, and I plan to make 2018 a year of even bigger changes, growth, and improvement. I’ve given it some serious thought and come up with a few resolutions to follow in the upcoming year.


Support local businesses

As an owner of a small business, I know how hard it is to compete with the Big Box companies, and how grateful I am for everyone who buys from my shop. Starting in 2018, I’m going to support local businesses in my area as much as I can.


I think the easiest way to do this is food. Instead of eating at chain restaurants or fast food places, I’m going to eat at local restaurants whenever possible. I’ve already tried one new place, a small deli near my home, and the food was great! I’m also going to see if there are small art and/or office supply shops, instead of relying on Michaels and other chain stores. Another plan is to switch my medical subscription from my current chain store to a local pharmacy. (If you have any other suggestions that I haven’t thought of, please let me know!)

This will also be a cool way to explore the city I live in and get to know its unique people and places a bit more. πŸ™‚

Prioritize my YouTube channel

Up until now, my YouTube channel has been put on the back burner when I get busy with other things. The span of time between planning a video and actually creating it is too long, because I’ve let other responsibilities get in the way. That’s going to change!


Starting now, making and posting videos will be a priority. I hope to grow my channel with lots of positive and helpful videos, and grow my subscriber base as well.

Make some real art

Going to art school and being a pro artist is one of my biggest “if I could do my life over” regrets. I love to draw and create, but so far it’s always just been for fun (like my Inktober doodles). 2018 will be the year that I get serious about art! I plan to make some kind of professional work, like making some prints, or maybe a painting or two.


I’ve always been afraid to try to sell my work, because I fear rejection…but this time I’m going to put my big girl panties on and do it anyway. πŸ™‚


I used to do a bit of recycling, but stopped a few years back when gas prices shot up (my city doesn’t pick up recycling; you have to drive it out to a recycle center). But now gas is reasonable and I’ve found a closer drop off center, so I’m going to get back into the groove of recycling!


I’m going to start saving paper, plastic, metal cans, and glass for recycling. I’ve already set out a big plastic bin on my back porch for storing stuff until I get enough to make a trip.

It’s going to feel really good to do my part to keep our planet clean! πŸ™‚


So those are my resolutions for 2018. I’m going to make this a great year! How about you – what are your goals?


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Handmade Christmas!

My family has recently started a tradition where we draw names for Christmas presents. We agree on a price point, then draw names from a hat and give a gift or two to the person we receive. This year, we decided to try a handmade Christmas – everyone’s gift must be made from scratch with their own hands! We agreed that it could be anything, as long as it was handmade.

I was really curious to see what the gifts would be, because most of my family members aren’t super crafty and I didn’t know what they would come up with. The results were way better than I ever expected!

My gift was an egg holder from my father. I keep chickens as a hobby, so I always have a supply of fresh eggs in the kitchen. He found some old weathered barn wood and turned it into a cool rustic egg display! πŸ˜€


My gift to Brother #2 were these felt ornaments; one has Mercy’s rez symbol from Overwatch, with her motto “Heroes Never Die” hand-stitched on the back. The other is the Rebellion symbol from Star Wars, with “May the Force Be With You” on the back. I was glad I pulled his name, so I could make something fun and geeky. πŸ˜‰


One of my sisters was just married over the summer, and she gave her bouquet to my other sister to keep. Sister #2 surprised her by making this awesome picture box displayΒ  in celebration of their wedding.


Brother #1’s gift to sister #2 was this adorable bird house made from a coconut, complete with “Welcome to the Nut House” sign. XD I’m really proud of my brother, because despite being the least crafty out of everyone, he pulled off a very cute and creative gift!


My brother-in-law blew everyone away with his gift to my stepmother – this amazing handmade cedar box! The whole thing is done by hand, including the detailed lid. That’s some real woodworking talent there!


My stepmother made this cool Scrabble memento for my sister-in-law. It has their names, and words like “husband”, “wife”, “forever”, and “family”. Very clever!


Sister #1 and her husband have recently started watching Game of Thrones, so my sister-in-law made this paper cut-out family crest for them. They also have chickens and love to give away the eggs, so she made the family symbol a hen. I think this is so cool! XD *starts humming GoT theme*



Sister #2 made Brother #1 this cool wooden tool caddy. He’s always working on stuff and has a ton of tools, so this is perfect for him! It has jelly jars filled with nails and screws and other small findings.


And finally, Brother #2’s gift to our dad, also made with paper cut outs! Our father loves Star Trek, so he made a framed picture of the Enterprise zooming past Earth. So cool!


We had a great time opening our gifts! Sister #1 started crying when she saw her wedding memento box, which started everyone else getting teary-eyed, lol.

I’m glad we decided to make handmade gifts this year, and I recommend the idea to anyone who wants to try a unique spin on Christmas! πŸ˜€


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The day Jupiter saved our butts!

I’ve always been fascinated with outer space, and lately I’ve been watching YouTube videos about comets and asteroids, and how they may have affected life on Earth through the eons. Almost everyone knows about the most famous impact, the meteor that slammed into the Yucatan and ended the reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But objects have been pelting our planet for a long time.


Back in the mid 90s, when I was just finishing high school, I remember hearing about a comet called Shoemaker-Levy 9. At the time I was busy with worrying about my GPA and applying to college, so I didn’t pay much attention. Sure, comet passing by, cool, but I have stuff to do!


A couple of decades later, I encountered some discussions of this particular comet in some videos. In July 1994, Shoemaker-Levy 9, which was discovered by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy, zoomed into our solar system, broke apart into 21 pieces, and crashed into Jupiter. The explosions caused by the impacts, which were observed and photographed by NASA, were astounding – each explosion was literally LARGER THAN PLANET EARTH.


Which means if any of the comet fragments had hit our planet, we wouldn’t be here now. Seriously. Earth would have been completely obliterated, leaving nothing but dust and vapor. YIKES.

The reason they didn’t hit us was because of the influence of Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and its gravity is so strong that most comets and asteroids that fly through the solar system are pulled off course. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of instances through Earth’s history when deadly objects that could have hit us were pulled away or deflected instead. Shoemaker-Levy was just one recent example.

So, in other words, Jupiter saved our butts from total annihilation in 1994. And probably many other times too!

So the next time you look up into the sky, give a word of thanks for the largest planet in our solar system. Because of Jupiter’s protective influence, we still have a beautiful, vibrant planet to call home!


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“A New Economy” – Documentary review

What if businesses could be successful, while supporting people, neighborhoods, and our planet? A New Economy is a documentary, currently available on Netflix, that explores this idea.


This Canadian film spotlights several non-traditional, cooperative businesses who are trying to forge a new path toward the future. In Vancouver, urban lots are transformed into living farms by Sole Food Street Farms, currently the largest urban farm project in North America. The farms are tended by employees with a history of poverty, drug use, or other problems, giving them an income and a social network that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. The food produced by the farm is sold at markets and restaurants in the area.


Other spotlighted business include The Red Victorian, a hotel that doubles as a cooperative living community, London Brew Co-Op, who brew small-batch craft beer with local ingredients, Sensorica, tech company that empowers small inventors, Thorncliffe Park, a market established to build community among immigrants in a housing complex, and Loomio, a meeting software that encourages cooperation and opinion sharing. Each business abandons the established corporate model and instead focuses on working together and giving everyone a voice.


This is a pretty cool documentary! There’s a nice variety of different projects, showing some of the many creative ways this concept can be used to create successful businesses.

There’s no denying that the desperate rat race for money has done a lot of damage to our society. This film gives some hope to the idea that we can create a more supportive, cooperative world where cooperation replaces competition. I was particularly moved by the story of one of the farm workers, a heroin addict who credits Sole Food for saving his life. And watching this has made me really want to support my local businesses. πŸ™‚

The only complaint I have about A New Economy is that it’s a bit slow at times. The running time is 1 hr 25 minutes, but I think with a little editing it could have been a comfortable 1 hour film. Perhaps a bit less footage of the string quartet? They are amazingly talented and the music is beautiful, but these sequences bring the film to a halt.

I recommend this documentary to anyone who wants to get inspired to see a better future! You can find it on Netflix, and the filmmaker’s website is here.

Websites for the spotlighted businesses: Sole Food Street Farms, London Brewing, Sensorica, Loomio, Borealis String Quartet


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Do good with just a click!


Some of the biggest change in our lives and in our world comes from the accumulation of tiny, everyday actions. One routine thing most of us do every day is to start up the computer and open a browser. Every browser has a customizable home screen for when the program first opens; most people set a search engine, email, or weather site as the default.

I suggest another home page – Greater Good’s “Click to give” sites. These websites represent a specific cause, and each one has a big button that can be clicked every day. When they reach a certain set goal of clicks, money is donated to the cause by sponsors. It costs you absolutely nothing but a second or two and a mouse click! They also have merchandise and other offers that give a portion of the proceeds to charity.


There are currently nine “Click to Give” sites: Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, Veterans, Autism, Alzheimers, Diabetes, Literacy, and Rainforest. I have the Animal site as my default, but you can choose whichever one has the most meaning to you. The sites are listed in a row up above the button, so it’s easy to go through and click the button on all of them!Β 

By setting one of these charity sites as your homepage, you can do a little good as soon as you start up your computer, which for many of us is first thing in the morning. What a great way to start the day! πŸ™‚

Here are instructions to change your home page on a few different browsers:

Go to the top right corner of the screen and click on the three lines. Select “Options” from the drop-down menu. An options webpage will open up. Near the center of the screen is a box where you can paste in the URL of the site you have chosen.



Internet Explorer
Go to the right top corner of the screen and click the three dots. From the drop-down menu, select “Settings”. A new drop-down will appear; near the center there is a box where you can paste in the URL of the site you have chosen.



Go to the right top corner of the screen and click the three vertical dots. From the drop-down menu, select “Settings”. A new webpage will appear; near the center, turn on “show home button” by clicking on the little grey circle. Select the dot beside “custom web address” and paste the URL into the box.



This is just one way to add a little bit of positivity and good into your day! πŸ™‚


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Fun Christmas Traditions

I recently saw the animated movie Coco, with a (long) Frozen short in front of it, and both of them focused on the importance of family and family traditions. Since it’s Christmas time, I thought I would take that inspiration and share some of my family’s unique holiday traditions! πŸ™‚


Christmas Disco

Groovy, man! This record (yes, an actual vinyl record, an archaeological artifact from the prehistoric past) was purchased by someone in my extended family, and ended up in a stack of albums at my grandparent’s house in the 80s. My grandpa made a cassette recording of it, and we’ve been listening ever since. πŸ˜€ Some people hate disco, but this album takes Christmas songs and gives them an energetic, upbeat, happy sound that I love. It’s not outdated, it’s RETRO! /hipsterglasses

Part of my family used to live in a town about fifty miles away, and every year my mother, brother and I would drive up to visit on Christmas Eve. We would play these songs in the car on the ride up, while we looked forward to holiday dinner and visiting with our cousins. My favorite trip was the time we were so behind on wrapping gifts that my brother and I were trying to do it in the car as my mother drove on the way up. Ever wrestled with rolls of wrapping paper in a compact car at 55 mph? XD

I don’t own a turntable, but I actually kept an old-timey cassette player for a long time just to play this tape during the holidays. PS, I listened to this album on Youtube as I was writing this post. πŸ™‚


Whitman’s Sampler

The gifts we got were different each year as we grew up, but there was always one gift that we were 100% guaranteed to get no matter what — a Whitman’s Sampler. This box of chocolates comes in a distinctively shaped box with old fashioned cross-stitch graphics, and has two levels of candy inside. It was always easy to identify even when wrapped, because of the specific size and shape of the package and the grooves around the top and bottom of the box that could be felt through the paper. Even better…my uncle would always cut the cling wrap on top and slip in a $20 bill! We would open the Sampler first, and snack on the chocolates as we opened the rest of our gifts.

At some point the rights were purchased by another company, and the chocolates inside changed. So the family has mainly switched over to the Russell Stover gift box in modern times. But I’ll always remember the joy of finding the Sampler with my name on it under the tree. And I actually get reminded throughout the year; we saved a bunch of the boxes because they make excellent storage containers!


Handmade Stockings

When I was in middle school or so, my grandmother began teaching me how to sew. I was really into it, so when December came around I decided to make us some fancy stockings. My mom, brother and I each designed our own stockings, and I cut the felt and sewed them together. I had recently found a bag of assorted sequins at Big Lots, so I blinged them up as only a pre-teen can do! πŸ˜‰

I still have these stockings, and I display them every year as part of the living room Christmas decorations.

This has been a little peek into my family’s personal holiday traditions, that have brought us lots of joy through the years. What are some of your special traditions? (And have you seen Coco yet…because you really should!)


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