Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goal Setting and Resolutions

Good morning.  This is it, the last day of 2016.  Over the last week, I've read a lot about goal setting, resolutions, and saying goodbye to 2016.

Just a few days ago I was asked about my goals for 2017.  It's always fascinating to me how so many people are always so gun-hoe about "making a fresh start" with the ringing in of the new year, then as the year goes on many of those "fresh starts" are lost along the way.  Why do you need a new year to make a "fresh start" or to set new goals?  But I digress.

I confess I don't set goals and I don't make resolutions.  When I was in my 20's I used to fall victim to the resolution trap, only to fail by the end of January or at best late February.  Then I felt terrible for days and beat myself up about the failure.  Then one year I stopped.  I stopped setting myself up for the failures.  Since then I've figured out the connection between the world of goals/resolutions and me.  I feel very much the way Susannah Conway does in the first paragraph of this article.  Goals and resolutions make me feel trapped and uninspired.

As a creative person, I need to be inspired by something before I make it part of my daily life.  Inspired to make the change, the commitment and the follow through.  I really think we need to stop tieing so much weight to the beginning of a new year.   Really, isn't starting a new year enough?

So, what about saying goodbye to 2016?  Yeah, not really my style either.  It's a year, not a good friend.  It's time to start another chapter and take one more trip around the sun.  This year was filled with all kinds of emotions for so many of us, but every year is filled with emotions.  Some Years are more emotional than others, just part of life.  Every year celebrities die.  Every year babies are born.  Every year life brings us challenges, obstacles, and trials.

What about you?  Do goals and resolutions work for you?  Do they inspire you?  Or are you like me and feel trapped and uninspired?  Maybe you bid the year goodbye like an old friend.  Whatever you choose to do, may 2017 be filled with more joy than sorrow and more laughter than tears.  Happy New Year to you and yours and here's to one more trip around the sun.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Back From Break

Where have you been?  Oh, wait.  You're probably asking me that, aren't you?  Well, I ran away to paradise for a couple of weeks.  I've been on an island, soaking up the vitamin D, and enjoying 10 hours of daylight.  Did you just read that and think "What?  Who talks like this?"  If you aren't from Alaska and have never lived here then this might sound like some fresh brand of crazy talk, but it's not.  Okay, fine I'll explain.

When you live in the Interior of Alaska, you experience the shortest day of the year, known as "Winter Solstice," in a totally different way.  On this day our area has only about four hours of daylight.  No, don't adjust your glasses or your computer screen.  You read that right.  FOUR FREAKING HOURS - that's it!!  You view this day as a right of passage and begin counting the minutes that will become hours of daylight.  You've survived the darkness.  With the lack of light, comes a lack of vitamin D.  This is the only place I've ever lived, where vitamin D deficiency is as common as old men in a coffee shop.

So, when you take a vacation in December you pick a warm place with lots of sunlight, a place where you can soak up vitamin D and enjoy the daylight for longer than that short, dim, four hours.  Somewhere where you can sit on a lanai and listen to the rain while drinking coffee, barefoot, in shorts.

When we escape the Alaskan winter, it's not just to escape the dark and the cold.  For me, it's also a way to rest, relax, and reset my creativity.  In October, I often find myself running out of creative gas.  By November, I've lost all interest.  Once Dember hits, I've often set myself up for ideas of things to create on vacation, many of which are high expectations that I never follow through on.  This year was slightly different.

I took a knitting project, which didn't pan out quite as planned but, stay with me.  I packed yarn, needles and stitch markers, but the yarn was a bust.  In fact, as I write this, it's sitting on my desk mocking me.  Lucky for me, I found two, okay more than two, but I only went to two yarn stores.  I bought yarn I love.  Four different types, two skeins of each and I set about creating a project.  What's more, I finished that project and started a second, all while on vacation.

It felt so good to knit, and not be judged for making yet another cowl.  First of all, I love making cowls and scarves.  I enjoy making small projects that have a quick end.  This winter I picked my knitting hobby back up after a long hiatus.

When we moved here four years ago, I learned to knit and joined a knitting group at the library.  I made fast, close friends with a fellow knitter but she made big projects, wrote her own patterns, and started a knitting business.  Then it happened.  The judgment.  It came dressed as encouragement, subtle and quiet, with a smile.  The encouragement in sheep's clothing started to drain the fun out of both the knitting and friendship.

I quit.  I stopped knitting because I had no interest nor desire to knit a sweater, not because I couldn't, but because I wasn't interested large projects.  I stopped knitting because I let her make me feel bad about what I chose to knit.  I let that feeling steal the joy out of the yarn and the needles I'd grown to love.  I put down the needles, stuffed them in a drawer with the yarn and forgot about it.  I walked away from knitting.

When October rolled around, I opened the drawer pulled out a set of needles and some yarn.  I started making cowls and scarves again.  What's more, I found the joy in again.  It was always there, but I let someone else convince me it wasn't enough.  In reality, it is.  It's enough and I'm enough.  I'm happy to be knitting and loving my yarn and needles again.

This was a big revelation for me when I was sitting on the lanai knitting and pondering why I quit in the first place.  It's very healing to admit this kind of thing to yourself, to find your strength and take back your life and your joy.

The moral of the story - Don't ever let anyone crush your happiness, just because it isn't their happiness.  You do you and I'll to me, it's that easy, and if we support each other's happy that'll make twice the happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Currently December 2016

The flu!  Is there anything worse?  Yeah, I can't think of anything either.  I got sick over the weekend, spent most of two days in bed.  I finally feel human again, after three days!  The only upside, I lost 3.6 pounds.  It's a hell of a way to lose weight.  I'll spare the details, but this little bug sucked.  I'm thrilled it was just a few days of hell.  I'm not a good sick person, not that anyone is a good sick person, but I'm a terrible sick person.  I'm whiny, hard to be around, and unable to make decisions about anything.  I also spend a lot of time apologizing for things that I really can't control.  These are all things that are not a part of my natural personality, but we'll save that discussion for another day.

So, now that the flu is over where do I go from here?  Moving past the flu, I've added a couple of new blogs to my reading list:

  • Against All Grain - really inspiring to me, as of late I've been giving a lot of thought to cutting back on the amount of bread/carbs/gluten I consume.  Ok, let's be honest, I've been considering changing a lot of things about my diet, but I need to pick one thing to start with and go from there.  I just can't do a complete revamp/purge.  This blog has some great recipes that are easy to make and sound delicious, a healthy place for me to start.
  • Love, Laugh, Leap! - I stumbled upon this blog through my Facebook feed this morning.  If you'd like to read about living off-grid in Alaska this could be a good fit for you.  I started with the Dutch Oven post, which isn't my typical kind of blog reading, but I like her style.  I'll follow along for a while and see where her writing takes me.  
In other thoughts and things.  I've been trying to do a photo a day, following the Capture Your 365 Photo Prompts.  Photo a day, was totally doable when I set my mind to it before getting sick.  Using the prompts, not so much.  I think I'm starting to see a pattern here.  I've tried about three other "prompt based" daily things and I quit all of them.  Can we just say prompts aren't for me?

What's happening on your end?  Hopefully, you don't have and won't get the flu.  Are you ready for the holidays?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Alaskan Winter December 2016

Winter storm warning, it's started snowing since 5:30 am yesterday morning.  It's more of the fine, dry snow.  The kind that limits visibility when a car passes you on the road.  The temp has risen to five below zero.  Regular heat wave here in the Interior.  I'm guessing when I say we got about four to five inches.

I've officially reached an age where the cold bothers me.  This is the first winter where cold has really bothered my hands, as in my hands hurt and I'm still looking for the right gloves kind of hurt.

Up until now, I've always been loyal to Isotoner gloves.  I love them.  They were the perfect gloves, warm enough, yet still great for functionality.  I own a pair of what I'll call ski gloves for lack of a better description, they're the big bulky kind.  Super warm, but totally dysfunctional for handling anything but ski poles.  Currently, I'm wearing a pair of Hubby's mittens with the flip-top, that exposes fingerless mitts.  While these are warmer and more functional, I'm still not sure this Goldilocks has found the right gloves.

Should I mention that these mitts have magnets in them that help keep the flaps folded open and in place?  This is the weirdest part of wearing these mitts.  Anything metal, yep you guessed it, I can stick to it.  Which is completely weird!  These magnets are on the back of the hand when the mitts are closed it can make opening the car door interesting.

So while I search for the right gloves to provide both function and warmth in below zero temps, please enlighten me to your favorite glove choices and why you love them.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Do Your Friends Know You Love Them?

Do your best friends know you love them?  No, I mean it.  The friends you've had the longest, the ones who could tell your secrets.  When was the last time you told them you cared?  I know there are zillions of people who've had the same best friend for their entire lives.  I'm not one of those zillions.  My best friends are the people I've picked up along the road of life.

My oldest friend and I knew each other before we were born.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but it's true.  Our mom's bowled together, were pregnant at the same time and we were born days apart.  We grew up together.  We went to church together.  We teased each other through junior and senior high.  We haven't seen each other in over ten years and we live thousands of miles apart, but we stay in touch on Facebook.  He's a cop and I pray for his safety every day.

In junior high, I met an upperclassman that took a liking to me.  I was in the eighth grade.  We've been friends ever since, even with a time gap where we didn't stay in touch.  Our memories are filled with laughter, dancing, and stories.  We both have lives and are married now.  We also live thousands of miles apart, but I know if I need anything he'd be there.

One of my best friends came into my life when I was 22.  Oh, the stories he could tell if I'd let him.  We're not as close as we once were, but there's still a little line of connection there.

Girlfriends are harder for me to stay connected with, but there are a few.  One of them has been my crafting bestie for ages.  We've stayed in touch across the miles and through all the moves.  She's probably the only gal pal I have that gets the crafty chatter and excitement that happens when you create something you're so tickled with.  That's a bond that's hard to beat.

In recent years I've bonded with a woman that's twice my age.  She's full of spunk and life and laughter.  She's Alaskan born and raised, filled with tales of what it was like to live here when the pipeline was built and when the wild buffalo still tormented the town of Delta.

These are the family you build as you travel the road of life.  These are just a few of the friends I hold dear.  Some friends don't stay in our lives, but those that do need to know how much they mean to us.  Tell your best friends you love them.  Life's short, stay connected.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Cabin in the Snow

How's the weather there?  The cold is starting to settle in.  It was below zero for a few days in a row.  Snow on the ground, cars plugged in, people nestled in cozy houses.  Winter has finally arrived in Alaska.  Today the wind has picked up and will blow away much of the powdery snow.

The past couple of years we've had "mild" winters.  Temps dipping down to 20 or 30 below, but never staying there very long.  Limited snowfall, mostly of the dry powdery variety.  We haven't seen a really cold "traditional" winter since 2012 when we moved to Alaska.

I'm pushing myself to take more winter photographs.  For help on this journey, I'm using the Capture Your 365 photo prompts.  Sharing my perspective of the world through the lens, any lens.

This shot of a cabin I pass nearly every day, on my way to work.  I've played with a few editing effects, adding the border, the snow falling, and the focal blur, along with a little color adjustment.  Playing with the artistic part of photography.  I enjoy good classic photography, but sometimes a photograph just begs to be played with.  I don't use any fancy software.  I'm a Picmonkey lover.  I pay for the royal membership, but you can use fewer features for free.  You should try it.  , o they aren't paying to say that.  I just love it that much.  You can see more of my photography in my online portfolio - Stacy Petersen Photography.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Life Snapshots November 2016

Good Morning,

Are you ready for your day?  Did you start with a glass of water?  Have you had your coffee?  What about breakfast?

I don't know if I'm ready for my day just yet.  I did start with a big glass of water and enjoyed a smoothie for breakfast.  I'm enjoying my third cup of coffee as I write this.  Yes.  I said third.  There's something about hot coffee on a cold morning.  It's 26 below again this morning.

We had a bit of snow last night.  It's the dry, fine powdery snow.  The kind that blows away the minute the wind comes up.  We need a good, heavy, wet snow to insulate the ground and provide moisture.  It's been pretty dry in this neck of the woods.

What are you reading?  I'm trying to finish Lady at the OK Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp.  It's not a bad book, it's just that I keep picturing the cast from Tombstone while I read.  I've seen the movie a dozen or more times.   Don't judge.  It's one of my favorites.  There're some great one-liners.  One that pops up in our house all the time - "I'm your huckleberry."  Back to the book.  This is an interesting read painting a more vivid picture of the wilds of Tombstone.  lending more insight into the corruption of the wild west and the hardships of life there.  I'm a little more than halfway through, hoping to finish the book by the end of the week if I stick with nightly reading.

Not gonna lie, I'm not excited about venturing out into the cold today.  It's not cold enough to close anything, but still not a fan of the weather.  Wearing long underwear daily.  Bundling up to battle the chill.  Searching for gloves that are just right.  Yes, I'm that girl.  This pair's too thin, this one too thick.  I have yet to find just right.

Well, the coffee cup is almost empty, must be time to end this.  Enjoy your Wednesday.  Stay warm if you're in the frozen tundra like me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

26 Below Zero

It's 26 below zero today.  Winter has finally made it's way to Alaska.  We've seen it colder many times, but it's always a shell shocker when the mercury drops this low.

We have a slight ground covering of snow, not more than an inch or two.  It's a fine powder and will be gone as soon as the wind brings the temperatures back up.  That's how the winters are here.  You wish for something above zero on the thermometer, you'll be wishing for the wind as well.  Most of us will accept the super cold to avoid the howling winds.

The light is sitting around the five-hour mark.  What I mean is we currently have about five hours of daylight.  The sun rises at about 9am and sets around 4pm.  I could live here for 20 years and never really adjust to the dramatic changes in weather and light this time of year.  Since I am neither a fan of the cold nor the dark, winter in Alaska is a bit of a struggle.

It's that time of year where we put boots on our littlest dog.  She's tougher than she was when we moved here, but anything colder than -10 and she attempts to squat on one leg.  It's sad, pathetic, and funny all at the same time.  Matilda loves her pink boots.  Never a struggle to put them on, she just knows it's cold and boots mean she can go out without struggling to keep her feet off the ground.

Before you ask, no it's not cold enough to shut things down. The school day isn't canceled until the temp hits -50.  Yes, it can get that cold here.  The city offices close at -40, as does the public library.  So, even though it's -26 this morning, there will still be school, I'll still go to work, and people will think nothing about going on about their daily lives.

How's the weather in your part of the world?  Do you live where it's cold and snowy? Or there a tropical breeze blowing?  Is there sun and warmth? Or are you in the middle somewhere?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Midori Traveler's Notebook

Last night I set my Midori up with its 6th journal insert.  I've been using a Midori Traveler's Notebook for nearly a year, and it goes everywhere with me.  I thought I'd share what my setup currently looks like.

The exterior is starting to show some lovely scuffing and wear marks.  I've added three charms to my elastic closer and beads were added to the bookmark you see peeking out the bottom.  The happy binder clip serves to hold my pen.

The first thing inside is the handmade Midori folder, I created last weekend.  In my setup, it hugs an insert.

Inside the folder are a few samples of washi tape and a couple of extra paper clips.  The right side is a generic insert that I picked up at Michaels a while back.  This insert is the one I did some of my InkTober pen and ink in.

This is the back of my folder, the inside pocket is currently empty.  The other side is the grid insert from Traveler's Notebook.  This is the insert you see in many of my daily journal pics on  Facebook.

Back cover of the grid inserts, and pockets of the zipper pouch.  I've got my travel journal prompts tucked in here and my 10th-anniversary writing board.

At the back is my third insert, it's the lined insert and the other half of my zipper pouch that includes my stamps.

Pretty simple set up.  Nothing fancy, no fancy scrapbooking going on, just my daily writing and a space for pen and ink sketching.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Jefferson School

Jefferson School - Missouri ( 28 July 2008)
It’s vacant now; the school at the corner of Franklin and Orchard streets, but that morning as I stood, on what remained of the playground, the laughter of school days gone by could almost be heard.

The blacktop has faded and the markings for hopscotch have paled with the sun, but the L shaped red brick building stands silent and alone. Of what once was a pair of swing sets, only poles remain, the framework from which swings once hung. Were the swings removed for safety or stolen by vandals, I do not know, but I can tell you no children play there now.

Jefferson School - Missouri (28 July 2008)

There is a chain looped through door handles, of a double door, on the south side of the school, locked by padlock. Signs remain telling visitors to STOP, Teachers lounge, go to the main entrance. Many window panes bare the scars of a vandal’s rock thrown. Spray paint mars the walls of the lower level on the north side. Blinds are drawn on classroom windows that once led wandering eyes to the outside world.

This is the fate of a school that once served its students well, but why the vandalism, why did it close and where did all of the children go?

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Osage River

Sunset on The Osage River - Missouri (08 July 2009)
The river, 
she dances with delight and turns for spite, 
a superhighway, 
for speedboats and floaters, 
who troll for fish, 
snaggers with their catch of spoonbill, 
trotlines fill with catfish, 
frogs croak and birds sing,
nature is busy, 
while the water rushes by.

by SLMPetersen

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Alaskan Moose

The Alaskan Moose - big, grand, beautiful creatures.  Big, grand, pain in the tuchus!  These marvelous beauties have done grand things like eat our garden, drive our crazy dog crazier, and hold me hostage in the house while laying in our front yard.

Morning Moose - Alaska (02 November 2016)

Outsiders, yes you who watch the "Alaska Reality" shows, think it would be grand to see these beasts from your living room window while sipping a hot toddy and watching the snowfall.  Yes, that a beautiful Hollywood vision, but it's just not reality.

Reality is checking your yard before letting your dogs out, as moose have been known to stomp dogs to death.  Reality is they are 500 pounds and will take on a human they see as a threat.  Reality is they are near-sited animals and who see humans, smaller than them, invading their space.

Yes.  Big, grand, beautiful creatures, when they aren't found bedded down in your yard from the night before, keeping you from getting to your garage, or keeping your dog from going potty in the morning.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Love of Abandoned

Who doesn't fabricate a tale in their mind when they pass a weathered and vacant structure?  I've been doing it since I was a child, traveling across Nebraska on Old Highway 30.

Farm House - Nebraska (23 June 2007)
When you travel the main highways and byways, you often miss the bits of history in small-town museums, roadside fruit stands, and local mom and pop restaurants.  Travel the back roads and you'll often discover a way of life left behind, as just a memory.  Along with local interests, often come a plethora of run down farms with abandoned houses and dilapidated barns.

My mom and I made many trips across the farmland, filled prairie, on a journey to visit family.  Along the way, we had many discussions about how to fix up these abandoned places, what we'd do with the place and what could have led to their demise.  And so was born, was my fascination with the abandoned.

Pair the childhood nostalgia with my love of photography and you get a collection of photographs that tell a story of the forgotten, left behind dreams of a changing America.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

InkTober Completion

October has officially come to a close, which means InkTober has also come to a conclusion.  I thought I'd take the time to reflect on how much I created over the month and be truthful about how this challenge worked for me.

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion

Did I draw daily for the entire month?  Nope, I sure didn't.  I started out strong, but I set myself up for failure by making my art part of my days end rather than the beginning.  I was consistent in a daily journal for 13 days, then it became one more thing I had to do each day.  I didn't enjoy the setting up of a journal for pen and ink like I thought I would.

Did I enjoy the experience?  Yes, mostly.  I struggled with daily drawing, but once I let go of the journal and just drew when I felt like it, in front of the TV, I was more productive with the challenge.

What did I draw?

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
InkTober Day 1

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
"N" Monogram - Custom Order

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
"K" Monogram - Custom Order

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
Inktober Day4

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
"A" Monogram - Available in Etsy Shop

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
InkTober Day 9

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
InkTober Day 10 & 11

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
Tree of Love - Available in Etsy Shop

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
Alaska Sunrise - Available in Etsy Shop

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
Sunset in the Grass - Available in Etsy Shop

The Porch Postscript - InkTober Completion
Wild Grass - Available in Etsy Shop
While I didn't draw every day, I did draw quite a bit more than I usually do.  This is just a sampling of the pieces I created, I drew 24 drawings over the course of one month.  Some more in-depth than others.  I created three custom pieces, along with a few other pieces for My Etsy Shop.

Would I do InkTober again?  Right now,  I'd say no, but the next one is a year away.  Who knows what I'll decide next year, a year is a lot of time and I could be in a different place creatively.

I really hope this encourages you to step out of your creative comfort zone and try the challenges you find interesting.  While I didn't draw 31 drawings, I still feel like this was a successful challenge for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Turning Empty Around

I read a quote the other day that made my mind wander:

Give until your heart is full.

How much giving is that?  Two years ago I started sending happy mail.  Giving away what I made.  Spending my own money on postage.  Daydreaming about the smiles that were happening on the receiving end.  Touting that I was doing this project to make myself happy, and no one else.  

The truth?  Two years later and I felt empty.  I felt like I gave and gave.  The end result was most often a hollow Facebook message that says "thanks for the cards."   Not what I imagined would happen.  This was not part of the daydream.  I had visions of pen pals and letters dancing in mailboxes.  All the returned messages weren't hollow, but the heartfelt ones didn't feel like enough.  I didn't feel like I was on the right path.  So.  I quit.  I quit sending happy mail.    

This isn't the first time I've felt this kind of empty.  I'm a giver, I give and give and give.  Always feeling like I'm receiving much less in return.  When I start to feel empty, I retreat.  I recharge by being alone.  Yes.  I know there are some of you who won't understand that.  I'm an extroverted, introvert.  Yep, that's right.  Spread too thin, I often run out of energy.  I also internalize things too much and the only way I know to recharge is to retreat from the world around me.  In the words of Yoda - Retreat I did.

I tossed the daydream and picked up my sketch pad and micron pens.  I poured myself into drawing.  Drawing is something I recently started doing when the stress starts to cripple my mind.  I needed to do something for me.  I stopped doing it for other people and focused on my art.

I started posting pics of my work on Facebook and Instagram because that's what I do.  I take photos and post them.  One of my pieces sparked a request for a custom order.  This, this made me change my focus.  This encouraged me to embrace my art.

The art kept happening and I started focusing on a different type of giving.  Pouring my talent out into the world and giving it life, filling my heart and helping me turn empty around.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Personal Shift

Getting personal really wasn't my plan when I started blogging again, but it's just kind of started happening.  More of an evolution if you will.  If I'm going to be true to my heart and mind with my desire to write more, this blog has to grow and expose more of who I am.

The Porch Postscript - a place to hang around, sip coffee, chat with a neighbor and enjoy the summer sun, even in the dead of winter.  

If I really believe that, then I need to move forward, change my writing style and create more post that are more porch chats and long visits with friends.  I think most of you who are reading this blog are people I know personally in my daily life.  Some of you might be strangers, but new friends are always welcome.  While it's only 5 degrees this morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle into a comfy chair.  Let's get real and be personal here.

My claim to fame is being born in Wyoming.  I lived the first 28 years of my life there.  I wear that as a badge of honor.  Wyoming Cowboy fans will understand when I say I bleed brown and gold.  While I may never live in the great state of Wyoming again, I will always be proud to be from there.

Lake Marie - Snow Range, WY

I left a piece of my heart in Missouri.  There were so many great things about the two years we spent living there.  Secondhand shopping was AMAZING!  Abandon buildings and graveyards made my photographers heart skip a bit, as there down every country road.  Speaking of country roads, there are zillions of them that lead all over the state too little towns.  Little towns that hold some of the best barbeque restaurants you'll ever eat in.  This was the first, and so far only, place I'd ever lived where there were genuinely four seasons.

Farm Land - Central Missouri

Texas, they can keep it.  We spent two years living through sandstorms, on the border in El Paso.  What I loved most about living there was our discovery of Gila Hot Springs in New Mexico.

Gila Hot Springs - New Mexico

Living the Alaskan dream, or at least that's what many of our friends and family think.  The reality, we moved here for a job.  Plain and simple.  We're still here, five years later, but not for the reasons so many would like to think we are.  Alaska is a beautiful state, but it hasn't captured our hearts.  We've learned that we love a small town life, there's beauty in being a six-hour flight from Hawaii, and the summers are amazing.

Alaskan Range - Interior Alaska

So what's the point of all this?  It's called the build up.  This is a little bit of who I am, testing the waters of opening my heart and sharing more about me, getting more personal.  Are you wondering where we're going to go from here?  Yeah, me too.  Stick around.  This could get very interesting.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

5 Reasons to Use a Feed Reader

What is a feed reader?  Simple answer - a feed reader is a place to gather and display RSS feeds or web feeds if you will.  Translation - This is one page you can visit daily that will contain all of the blogs you don't want to miss stories from, and it eliminates the need to visit each individual page.  There are dozens of feed readers out there - Feedly, Bloglovin', Feedbin, Flipboard and many others.  There are even extensions for Chrome users to add to your toolbar.  Do some research, experiment, you'll find the one that fits your style and needs.  I'm a Feedly user, more on that later.  Let's talk about why I use a feed reader first.

1. All Your Blogs in One Place

I don't know about you, but I don't have the desire, nor the attention span, to click and read dozens of different blog pages.  I follow 53 blogs.  Don't judge.  By putting it all in a feed reader I open one page and read all my blogs in one place.

2.  Full Article Feed

Now, personally, I don't care if you visit my page directly or read my content in a feed reader.  That's because I'm not here for the numbers.  I'm here for the writing.  There are other blogs that do care about numbers and therefore will limit how much of the post shows in a feed reader.  If you want to read the full post you merely click a link that says something to the effect of "continue reading..." to finish reading the article on the actual blog page.

3. Customizable

The feed reader I use, lets you choose your desired feed reading style.  I use the Full Articles layout, but, other options include Cards, Title Only, Magazine, or Grouped by Feeds.  There are also customizable categories to sort the blogs you follow.

4.  There's an App for That

Yes, there sure is!  Most of the feed readers I've checked out have an app so you can read your blogs anywhere on anything.  I have an app on my phone as well as my kindle.

5. No Ad Assault

Nothing will make me leave your blog faster than a pop-up asking me to subscribe to your newsletter.  Except maybe the mystery noise of an ad that automatically plays when I visit your site.  I know not everyone blogs for the joy of writing.  There are thousands of bloggers that make a living blogging, but seriously I can't be the only reader you lose because of these things.  By adding these blogs to a feed reader I avoid all of this and still get the content that I'm  into.

The Feed Reader I Use

When I first started in the blog world I used Google Reader, sadly that reader was discontinued several years ago.  I moved to Feedly, originally for convenience sake, because there were easy steps to pull my Google Reader right over without a bunch of hassle.  I've tried others, but I always come back to Feedly.

Why Feedly?  Honestly?  Because it was the most like Google Reader when I was in the market for a feed reader.  Today, years later, I've tried to use a couple others and always come back to Feedly.  Feedly is simple, gives me the option of a full articles feed with photos, easy scroll and read and customizable categories.  It's also fairly easy to add a new blog to my reader, as long as they have an RSS feed.

Do you use a feed reader?  Why or why not?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Currently October 2016 Part 2

The Porch Postscript - Currently

Struggling with:
  • My Weight - Yes, I'm opening that door.  I started this battle, and yes I see it as a battle, in January.  It's  now October and I've yo-yoed my way to a total loss of 7.6 pounds.  Hubby and I are working on this together, and I think many days that's the only thing keeps me going.  I will continue to move through this battle and move toward my goal.  I will also accept that there will be bad days and maybe even bad weeks.  

Blogs I'm Loving:

  • The Healthy Maven - I read this post first, which hooked me, and then this morning I read her post about Knowing Your Value.  Loving this blog.  Lots of foodie goodness, but also a good bit of real life too.  
  • Shutterbean - I stated following Tracy when I first started writing my own blog in 2008.  I love her recipes, her photography and her unapologetic writing style.  You know if I've been reading for eight years, and I'm still reading, she's got it going on.

Recipes I Need to Try:

Happening in the Studio:

  • I'm listing my original art in My Etsy Shop.  This is a big one for me.  I'm putting my art out there in the world, not just handing it to people I know as a special gift.  
  • I'm spending more time sketching, what an amazing stress reliever this has been the past couple of weeks. 
The Porch Postscript - Currently

  • InkTober, yeah, about that.  I did really good for the first 13 days, I'm officially behind four days.  What's more is I don't care.  It's been fun, I've been drawing daily, but it's all been on works in progress, not a daily drawing.

What's on My Mind:

  • Black and white photography has been a reoccurring thought traveling through my mind lately. I need to take more black and white photos.  I love the story they tell when the color isn't there to guide the eye and tell the brain what to imagine.
The Porch Postscript - Currently

  • I've been questioning myself, wondering what happened to the 11 years I spent devouring everything foodie I could read.  As of late, I don't even feel the pull to cook, let alone read about food.  Did I burn myself out, or has this been a result of the constant challenge of trying to find ingredients in this remote part of the world?

Goals this Week:

  • Be kinder to myself.  Focus on where I am and go from there.  
  • Journal more, write more.
  • Focus on self-care and letting go.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

3 Thought Provoking Quotes

Our everyday lives are so full of negative.  We're conditioned to focus on the negative, the can't, the not enough.  Think about it.  You're standing in line at the store, reading the magazine covers - Lose 30 pounds fast, Look younger, Look sexy now.  What does this do?  It paints the picture that you, as you are, isn't enough.

The news media spends most of their time focusing the stories that talk about a torn world; if it bleeds, it leads.  There's political mudslinging on the TV and radio.  Don't even get me started on the condescending, mean memes on social media.

I've been fighting my own battle in my head, focused too much on how hard it is to make the changes that I need to make to get to where I want to go.  Over the past couple of weeks, the universe has been dropping some subtle messages, which I've been hearing, but not listening too.  These are the quotes that I heard, but silently left standing on their own.  

The Porch Postscript - 3 Thought Provoking Quotes

I found the following quote in my Pinterest activity feed this morning.  I posted it on The Porch Postscript Facebook page.  Then I thought about how much this could tie in with my soapbox post from last week.  Is this what's stopping me from embracing the changes I'm secretly craving in my life?  Am I just hyper-focused on what I'd be giving up?  What about you?  Have you been more focused on what you're giving up, than what you could gain?  Does your brain hurt now?  Mine does.

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.
~ Rick Goodwin

I wanted to share some other inspiring quotes I've heard or read over the past couple of weeks.  Quite honestly, the simplest words often pack the biggest punch.

Start where you are and just keep going 
~ Jess Lively
The Lively Show - this episode.

This quote from The Lively show really struck a chord with me.  Starting where you are and moving forward, the simplest advice, but so powerful.  Where are you?  Start there.  Where do you want to be?  Then just keep going until you get there.  I need to focus on starting where I am and moving forward, one small step at a time.

Other people liking you is a bonus. 
You liking yourself is the real prize. 
~Alex Elle
Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life - Instagram post.

This quote from Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life is something we all need to keep reminding ourselves when we get tied up in what society says we should be.  Something to replay in our minds when that well-meaning friend says something about our outward appearance.  Something to remind the inner critic when that internal voice gets too loud and overwhelming.

Today, I'm pulling them together to build a story.  Start where I am, focus on what I have to gain and embrace myself.  Where are you?  Are you ready to start where you are?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Currently October 2016 Part 1

Yesterday's post was pretty intense, so let's lighten things up today.  It's Monday, the day most people like the least.  Let's savor our morning coffee and be thankful for the day.  Spin things in a positive light to set the tone for the week.

What I'm Reading:

  • Woman Code - reading small chunks of this at a time.  Too much of it at once is really overwhelming.  (Kindle book)
  • Rising Strong - haven't picked this up in a few day, but it's on my list of things to pick back up this morning.  (Real book)
  • Present Over Perfect - I grabbed the Kindle sample of this and after reading a few pages last night I'll be grabbing the full book. (Kindle book)
  • Curly Girl - Bought this over the weekend.  While I'm not into all of the "bible" steps they talk about I've been meaning to read this one so I can add some curly coping skills to my bag of tricks.  (Kindle book)

What's Happening in the Studio:

  • InkTober - Daily drawing in pen and ink.  I really love drawing with a pen.  I'm not a sketch person, I'm totally a pen and ink person.  There are no rules to InkTober, just to draw with pen and ink every day in October.  You can follow my progress on my Instagram feed @theporchpostscript.
InkTober Day 1
InTober Day 2
  • Custom Orders - This isn't something I am willing to take on very often, but these are for a good friend who loves my work.  I'll be creating three custom initial drawings for her.  Hoping to have this all finished by the end of the week.
Custom Order #1
Custom Order #2 in progress

What's in My Podcast Playlist:

  • The Lively Show -  This is a great podcast for inspiration and encouraging you to embrace your life.  Jess Lively created this podcast to uplift, inspire, and add a little extra intention to your day (her words, not mine).  She interviews a number of small business people and bloggers asking them questions about what inspires and motivates them, as well as what challenges they've faced getting where they are today.  
  • True Crime Profile - If you love true crime then this is a must listen.  Jim Clemente (retired FBI profiler), Laura Richards (criminal behavioral annalist, former Scotland Yard), and Lisa Zambetti  (casting director for Criminal Minds) discuss and analyze a number of murder cases, including the OJ Simpson murder trial, the JonBenet Ramsey case, the trial of Oscar Pistorius, and The Colonial Park Murders just to name a few.  
  • You Must Remember This - Who doesn't love old Hollywood?  Karina Longworth digs into the stories of the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.  I got into this podcast when she was telling the story of the Manson Murders.  They are on hiatus until the beginning of 2017, but there are plenty of episodes to listen to and get you hooked before then.

Favorite DSLR Photo:

What's on My Goal List for the Week:

  • Get back into reading for 30 minutes every morning
  • Stay on track with my InkTober drawing challenge
  • Commit to morning yoga practice
  • Recommit to morning journaling
What's on your Currently list?  Write it in your journal, your blog, even on a post-it.  Currently Lists help you see where you are and refocus on what you want to do.  Stop spending your day scrolling through your social media drug of choice, hoping for new posts.  Go out and live life.  Take a walk, write, draw, create, use your brain, or connect with friends.