10 things I want to do in 2016

 

Tomorrow is 2016! Can you believe it? And as always, it’s time to share the things I want to do in the new year. Resolutions, if you will. These will probably be pretty similar to last year’s resolutions (of which I accomplished about half — pretty good, eh?), only I have much more specific plans to help me accomplish the things I want to do in the coming year. Here’s to making 2016 the best year yet!

10 things I want to do in 2016 | www.eccentricowl.com

In 2016, I want to:

  1. Read 52 books.
    I know. To some of you, that may seem like a ton. To others, not very many (I’m looking at you, Sara Lily!). To me, it’s a fair amount. Considering I have a toddler and a newborn, finding the time to read can be tough. But I have been evaluating how I spend my time lately, and there are a lot of moments when I could be reading and instead… I’m uh… let’s just say I discovered Buzzfeed this year. It hasn’t been productive.
    Thanks to Sara Lily, a list I found on Buzzfeed, and a few books I own in my house, and some recent Goodwill finds, I have around 30 books on my list to read next year. But if you have suggestions — no book series, though — fire away! Otherwise I’ll be wandering my local library when I run out of my list, picking books for their covers. I like fantasy, fairytales, romances, mysteries, and biographies. And sometimes YA, but not much any more.
    To go along with this goal, I want to write 52 book reviews with accompanying outfit posts. I think my book review/outfit posts are always my favorite things to write, and it’s so fun coming up with outfits to match book covers.
  2. Write a book, or finish writing a book.
    A lot of you know that I used to write novels. But with the business of marriage and babies, writing has been on the backburner for about four years now, and I feel like it’s time to bring it forward again and put more time into writing the stories I love! To help myself finish or write that novel, I am going to commit to writing for 30 minutes a day (unless it is absolutely impossible). I will probably use the site WriteOrDie, which is a GREAT way to set yourself a timer and not get distracted by the internet!
    And to go with that, when I’m done I want to publish a book, or get the ball started towards publishing.
    This is by far the scariest goal I have, and the most exciting. I’ve wanted to publish novels for at least ten years, if not fifteen. I love writing, I love sharing my stories, and I want to make it happen. But I don’t know if I will self-publish, or pursue traditional publishing. The former is probably easier, but the latter feels more legitimate and much more gratifying.
  3. Begin the health journey to reaching my goal weight.
    Right after having set a goal to lose weight last year, I got pregnant. So while I did try to keep pregnancy weight gain to a healthy level, I did not do anything to try to lose weight this year. But I do not plan to be pregnant next year at all, and I hope to have lost at least half of what I want to lose before I get pregnant again! All of it would be ideal, but I’m trying to keep my goals easy and doable.
    I will hopefully be taking walks as often as possible, doing yoga or pilates, exercises to help my core and close up the minimal diastasis recti from pregnancy, and eating a 90% Paleo diet. (I say 90%  because I think balance includes having treats every once in a while! Junk food is good for your mental health.)
  4. Cultivate the relationships that matter, and be okay with not being friends with everyone.
    For me, these are: my relationship with God, my husband, my kids, and certain friends. I have realized three things regarding friendships over the last few years – one, I like everyone to like me, and I want to be friends with everyone. Two… I get stressed making new friends, because I am a social introvert, and while I love people, I need my space. And three, I don’t have to be friends with everyone. This isn’t to say I don’t want to be friends with everyone, but some relationships are stressful. Maybe we don’t click, maybe they’re not as invested as I am, maybe I’m the one doing all the connecting, or maybe it’s a friendship that I’ve been holding onto that is no longer worth pursuing ardently.
    Whatever the case, I want to let go of the relationships that stress me out, and put more energy into the relationships that matter most.
  5. Meet more bloggers!
    I had this same goal last year and I met Hilary in person! It was super fun, and she is now on my list of friendships to cultivate. 😉 I also added a ton of blogger friends on Facebook, which might not seem like a lot but for me it’s huge (I’m not super private, but I’m pretty shy about invading peoples’ internet spaces). I hope to meet Mariah someday since she lives in Washington, and then if bloggers ever travel this way, I want to make an effort to meet them. Sadly, Sara Lily came to Washington but we just couldn’t make it work. Maybe next time!
  6. Less internet, more life.
    This mainly applies to how much time I spend on my iPhone. I only have Instagram and Facebook, but some days I get too addicted and I really want to be more present and less hooked on social media. I want to play more with my kids, talk more to my husband, and worry less about documenting every single thing in crappy iPhone quality pictures. 😉
  7. Create more things.
    This year, I made four skirts, which I am pretty proud of! And next year, as I mentioned in my roundup post, I really want to move on to dresses. My local Goodwill often has really great fabric for really good prices, and I have a stockpile of fabrics just waiting to be made into something. I even have one fabric that is enough for a dress for me and a dress for Evie. So hopefully that will happen without too many mistakes (although given my skirt history, the first few dresses will probably be a bit wonky.)
  8. Blog better.
    I realize this might seem counteractive to using less internet, but blogging is actually probably what I spend the least amount of time on when I am online. (I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed) I want to start utilizing a schedule with my blogging, or a checklist, or something to help me streamline the blogging process and create better content. Not that I’m looking to make huge changes to what I post, because I like my blog pretty well, but I want to improve how I post. Because sometimes I take the pictures, edit them, and write the post all in one day and it comes out a bit haphazard.
    I also want to get re-involved in the blogging community; respond to comments, read blogs, share blogs, etc. I’ve been letting that slide lately — understandable with a newborn — but I am hoping to structure my day overall better to where I have 30 minutes or so to spend responding to comments and reading blogs. I miss that interaction!
  9. Make videos.
    I used to do vlogs, songs, and beauty videos back it the day, albeit sporadically and with a bad camera. And then I got better at photography and less confident in my video skills, and stopped. So next year I’m hoping I can share more videos, because I really love doing them! While I will be sharing makeup and hair looks, likely they won’t be actual tutorials because I don’t think the beauty guru life is my thing. I want to share era-specific looks that transform me from a modern day woman to a 50’s vixen or, as I have done already, a 20’s flapper. Or a Disney Princess. Or a Hollywood star. And, I want to obviously do more thrift hauls. Outside of those two things, I’m not sure what my videos will be yet. I’ll just have to try things and find what I like doing best!
  10. Lastly, save money for vacation.
    Because we need a good vacation, and I’m finally getting the hang of our budget to the point where I think I could start putting away a bit of money here and there.

That’s it for my goals! Thank you all so much for reading my blog and sharing your lives with me as I share mine with you. It has been a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to get started on 2016!

Signatured

Bloglovin|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram|Fiction Press|Etsy|Photography

Real life versus blog life

Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.comReal life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.comWe have deer that just hang out in our yard. They were out today. I love them.

Do you ever find that, reading back through blog posts or looking at pictures, your blog life seems much more beautiful than your real life? I read on one of those forums I mentioned earlier (GOMI, if you’re curious, which provides some great insight, a lot of laughter (for me), and maybe some hurt if you’re one to take offense easily) that several people have seen fashion bloggers “in the wild” and they dress nothing like their blogging selves, or act nothing like their online persona.

On one hand, I want to semi-defend bloggers, since the two times I met someone who reads my blog or follows my Instagram, it was a last-minute errand at the end of the day and I had already changed into my yoga pants for the evening. (One instance, I put on jeans and a nerdy tee; the other instance, I was in yoga pants, boots, hadn’t washed my makeup after an emotional episode, and badly needed to wash my hair. Ahem.). Really, especially with the “fancier” blogs, those people probably don’t dress that way every single day. I don’t post outfits I hate, and sometimes I post lazy jeans-and-tees, but only rarely because in a way my style is aspirational to myself. I blog how I want to look all the time.Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.com Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.com On the other hand, though, I try hard to post what I’m actually wearing on a daily basis, with the occasional dream outfits just for fun, because… that’s what this is. I definitely don’t understand consistently wearing clothes for a blog that you wouldn’t wear in real life, unless you’ve stated that you’re blogging purely for the costumery.

As for personality on the blog versus real life, well… I hope I come across the same way in either situation (I am probably chattier and laugh more in real life, which is something harder to convey in blogging…). I do get curious, though, whether people envision my life as it really is, because I have no qualms bringing up anything in my life whether it’s good or bad, or if it’s some softer, dreamier version of how I live.

Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.com Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.comIn my blog life, if you haven’t read far back enough, it looks like I have an endless closet (true), I live in a gorgeous area (I do), I have no issues finding clothes during pregnancy (well…), and life is pretty good (it’s not bad.) In real life, we live in my parents’ unfinished basement (we do pay rent) because my husband’s work can’t (or won’t…?) pay him quite enough for us to survive on our own, most of my clothes no longer fit, and many non-blog days are spent in yoga pants because I don’t have a car and can’t go anywhere anyway.

Put bluntly, life isn’t quite enchanting, but it’s not bad. There are new opportunities for my husband at work that will hopefully give us the bump we need to find our own space again, I get to start a garden here and reap the benefits of home-grown foods, and my parents are really wonderful people. I would love to have my own house right now, especially with the second baby on the way and nesting kicking in, but work is not an option for me, so here we are.  Real life versus blog life | www.eccentricowl.com

Dress, ASOS maternity | cardigan, Target | boots, Kohl’s | belt, from this skirt

Do you find that your blog life unintentionally seems dreamier than real life (or, if you’re not a blogger, do you ever find your perception of a blogger’s life changes when they reveal more about themselves?) I think even sharing on Facebook amongst friends can become an “edited” version of real life.

What sticks out to me the most, though, is that lately I’ve noticed many bloggers (usually more popular ones) who stage so. many. shots on Instagram, or who have an overall color scheme (when you scroll through an Instagram feed and it’s all go the same look…), or who only use images from professional cameras transferred to a device to share on Instagram. I totally understand wanting life to look perfect online, especially if you have followers who expect a certain quality of posting from you. I considered trying to streamline my Insta-shares to have a better “look” at one time purely for aesthetics, but then I thought… what for? My entire theme, so to speak, is real life. I don’t want to be fake. (That’s not to say that the feeds of those whose entire aesthetic melds is fake — some people just live pastel lives –, but sometimes it can be)

And right after I noticed the overall theme of “blogger feeds” on Instagram (and read about it on GOMI), I saw three different bloggers post the “magazine, coffee, flowers, sparkly something” staged picture in a row in my feed. And it made me laugh. And realize that I’d rather be myself than a certain type of blogger.

I may not always have pretty words or perfect pictures to share, but that’s a-ok with me. Someday I’ll make a “day in the life” video so y’all can see just how not-perfect life is, and maybe share yours with me. Because the imperfect people are the ones I like the most. Real life is pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

I’m going to end this ramble before it becomes another blog post entirely. I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday! (I forgot it was St. Patrick’s day. I am not wearing green (yet), but I wore this yesterday grocery shopping, so… here, have an outfit that is not festive!)

(Edit: I see nothing wrong with cultivating what you share online, at all! I forgot to say until someone commented, choosing what you share and what you keep to yourself is fine. I just think when a blog gets to that place where everything is perfect and there’s no more personality in it, it starts to feel staged, and perhaps fake. Not that I don’t enjoy pretty pictures and positive, perfect blogging; it’s just more interesting to me to read reality as well as see pretty things.)

Signatured

Bloglovin|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram|Fiction Press|Etsy|Photography

Sunday Chat: The Farm Life

Sunday Chat: The Farm Life | www.eccentricowl.com

As I have mentioned many times before, I grew up on a farm. (Or perhaps I haven’t mentioned it recurrently, but… now you know.) While my outdoor memories of childhood center mainly around exploration of the woods, climbing the towering pile of chopped branches in the upper clearing — as well as the trees from which those branches came –, embarking of imaginary adventures through the swamps and creeks and the old abandoned barn, and occasionally helping with the chickens, whose Rooster I was deathly afraid of, I feel as though a love for gardening has somehow grown from my upbringing in the country.

So far as I recall, we did not always have a garden. We grew flowers, sure, and many a time I plucked my mom’s beautiful irises or bleeding hearts or daffodils; I was coerced into helping with ripping weeds up; I once turned on the sprinkler without permission and dammed up a flower bed, subsequently killing all of those flowers (for which I was soundly disciplined later that day, as was my cousin, the only time she’d ever been spanked by an uncle). But vegetables? My parents would have to remind me of whether we ate those fresh from the ground. We had fruit trees, grown long before we lived in my childhood home, and in later years a garden overgrown with zucchini and squashes and wild grasses. But, a full-blown garden was, as far as I remember, never really part of my youth.

(Update: apparently, we had a garden every year until I was about nine, but I was never good at telling weeds from plants, so mom didn’t ask for my help. Ha!)

Lately, however, I have been feeling a yearning to tend the earth, to grow my own foods, to plant seedlings and lovingly coax them to bloom fully and offer up their fruits for us to enjoy as the summer wanes on.

So this year, as we are moving back in with my parents, whose property offers up a very large garden space that has already been fenced in, and already boasts two rows of grapes that grow quite wild, a strawberry bed that yields small, sweet berries — but needs clearing up of its choking weeds –, and a thicket of what I think may be loganberries (as well as the ever-overgrowing rush of large, juicy blackberries as well as the smaller, wilder, sweeter variety), I am going to start a proper garden.

My mom, who has always loved gardening, will be joining me in this endeavor.  She grew the year before last, but without help, her efforts became a space overtaken by grassy weeds, brambles, and voracious zucchini. Today I told her I wanted to garden, and we discussed what we will grow, and how. She recently read about square foot gardening, a great organized way to plant gardens in smaller spaces while utilizing all of the space you’re using (although we have quite a large space to work with), and we will be building raised garden boxes to house our vegetables as they grow.

I hope to raise so many things this year, but I expect some will fail, this being my first real attempt at exercising my gardening skills (which are really unknown.) In my ideal garden, there will be several types of crisp lettuces, fresh spinach and perhaps green or red cabbage; carrots and onions and beets and all varieties of potatoes; candy-like cherry tomatoes and fat beefsteak tomatoes; tender green beans and sweet snap peas; zucchini and yellow squash for frying and cucumbers for refreshment on hot days; perhaps a pumpkin or two to can for pumpkin pies later, and a lot of pickling cucumbers for the now-yearly tradition of canning our own pickles. And, perhaps, some sunflowers purely for their prettiness (and seeds.)

And then, on the deck in the wooden planters I’ve already made, I hope to re-start my herb garden, which was thriving until I left and it became neglected with no-one to tend it. My mouth waters at the thought of having fresh herbs ready to pluck at every need; of oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage for savory roasted chickens or Italian- and French-inspired meals; of basil and parsley and cilantro in practically everything (and freshly plucked basil on a luscious slice of sun-warmed tomato, topped with balsamic vinegar… oh, joy); of chives and garlic to give depth and spice; and mint, to make tea, to throw in lemonade, to simply rub between my fingers and breathe in its sweet, refreshing scent.

Even as I write the list of what I hope to grow, more things come to mind and I feel a rush from planning and dreaming, and an impatience to begin. Wait, I must, until the season is right to coax those first seedlings from the ground with love and water and sunshine, though I may be able to convince a few herbs to grow early indoors.

It will be a lot of work, I know, but it’s work that, as I grow older and dream more and more of my own home and how I truly desire to live, I look forward to. There will be days of ripping up wild grass and clearing out ground long neglected that I will retreat indoors feeling defeated and ready to give up, but for the promise of home-grown goodness, I will make myself carry on. And then, with my fingers in the warm dirt and young tendrils rising from the ground with promise of strong plants to come, I know I will not regret the hard days of struggle against the earth to raise them to this point.

I hope to garden every year, when we are able, to raise my children as I was raised, with an innate love for the country. If not for the gardening, then for the exploring, the land, the varieties of plants and fascination with bugs and living things and a rampant imagination to keep them busy for hours in the woods or up the creek or in the fields of grass. I hope that they, too, can look back on their childhood one day and remember fondly the hot summer days spent soaking under the hose, running through the trees, and occasionally fighting off bees whose nests had been unfortunately disturbed.

And in all of this, I hope they, as I do, will cultivate a growing wonder of the earth and all it contains, and a love for the One who made it all. One can barely think of creating life, whether it be gestation or gardening, without marveling at creation.

At least, not me.

 

Signatured

Bloglovin|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram|Fiction Press|Etsy|Photography

Asa’s First Birthday Party

Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.comAsa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com On Sunday, we threw a birthday party for Asa (although he won’t officially be one until tomorrow), and it was so. much. fun. It was a Dr. Seuss themed party, and I had a ton of fun creating a menu of appetizers that were taken from the pages of Seuss books. We had Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes, green eggs and ham (deviled eggs with green filling, and ham rollups), Skipper Zipp’s Chips, Fritz and Fred food (little smokies and pickles), and multi-colored goldfish, with Pink Yink Drink (pink lemonade) to drink. It was seriously the easiest party ever to plan; all of the foods were super easy to make or buy, and all the decoration I needed were a few signs, some (homemade) Truffula trees, and all the Dr. Seuss books and animals we have already laying around.Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com I did feel badly though; I found the little signs for the foods in Google Images, and after I saved and printed them I discovered they’re actually from an Etsy shop and weren’t “free” as said by the link I found them. So if you want these labels, get them here! They’re super affordable and adorable!Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com  Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com My mom and I made the Truffula trees from old wrapping paper tubes, two packs of 8-sheet tissue paper, and lots of paint. They were the easiest thing to whip up, and they turned out so, so cute! I would have made more if I hadn’t been feeling sick, and also if we hadn’t run out of hot glue. I also made (with the help of my husband) a cardboard cupcake stand following this tutorial, with circles cut from old cardboard boxes using different-sized bowls as guides. After it was all glued together, I painted the different layers red and blue to match the rest of the decor. It didn’t stick together quite as well as expected, but it wasn’t going to be moved much so I didn’t care. It was also crooked, but the crooked-ness fit the Dr Seuss-ness of the party, so… that didn’t matter, either! Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.comAnd for his cake, I took some inspiration from this cake, and used… basically a toothpick and my fingers to get the desired effect. All of the cupcakes and the cake were just cake mix and storebought frosting — I didn’t feel well enough to make cake and frosting from scratch, although I would have loved to. We gave Asa the top layer of the cake to dive into, and… well, you can see from the pictures (and the video at the end) — he LOVED it.  Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com  Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com

He hammed it up the entire time he was eating his cake (after getting over his initial confusion at the Happy Birthday song), and had no qualms getting as messy as possible.  This kid. I know he’s mine, but I think he’s like… the cutest kid on the planet. Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com And then came the gifts! I made a little sign so people would know where to drop them (I always hate walking into a party and not knowing what to do with the gift I brought!) and we got to dig right in. Asa hasn’t quite gotten the concept of ripping paper yet, so it took some encouragement for him to actually unwrap things, but he was always happy to see what was in the bags and boxes! Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com He especially loved the gifts that contained clothes — I think because he could pull out item after item, which is his favorite thing to do right now. He will literally empty every box and basket in the house at this stage, for reasons only known in his little baby brain. Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com He also loved pulling tissue paper out of bags, probably for the same reason he likes to empty all containers.  Asa's First Birthday Party | www.eccentricowl.com And then, the cutest hat ever happened.

My mom made him the most amazing rainbow-colored elf hat, and I cannot get over it! He continually tries to rip it off, but hey. We got one picture!

Overall, it was pretty much the perfect party! Everything turned out exactly how I’d hoped it would; Asa was satisfyingly goofy and messy with his cake, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and we got to visit with a ton of people that we love!

And tomorrow, for real, my first baby will be a full year old. I don’t know how I feel about this.

Signatured

Bloglovin|Chictopia|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram|Fiction Press|Etsy

The Last of the Holidays

The Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.com  A few shots of our Christmas Eve, which we spent with my in-laws. I made two apple pies (well, actually, three, but one was Paleo for my side of the family), and then we went to a cookie-decorating party at my sister-in-law’s house, where the kids reveled in the amount of frosting they were able to smear on their cookies. Asa had his first Christmas cookie, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and he watched through the window as his bigger cousins played a game of football on the lawn.  The Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.comThe Last of the Holidays | www.eccentricowl.com

I hope you’ll bear with me and I get used to something other than style blogging! I am still very much used to having photo-based posts, but I’d love to share more everyday life (which right now consists of a lot of naps, a lot of messes, and a lot of Asa doing weird things) with you all. I am not used to indoor photography as much, though, because I tend towards using natural light, which is harder to find inside.

Practice makes perfect, though! I understand now why so many bloggers have just moved their entire residence from one site to another under a completely different name when they decide to shift the content of their blog. It’s hard to reconcile the feel of your usual content with the feel of new content while still keeping it sort of cohesive.

I like my blog name, though, so I don’t really want to change that. Do any of you do lifestyle blogging? What has helped you the most to keep your overall posts feeling cohesive?

Happy Monday!

Signatured

Bloglovin|Chictopia|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest|Instagram|Fiction Press|Etsy