Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review + my word for 2015

i feel really weird writing an end-of-the-year post, when 1. i didnt make yearly goals in january, 2. i totally bailed on my monthly themes in like april, and 3. i havent even blogged consistently for most of this year. but im going to do it anyway. 

because, whether i was willing to admit it at the time or not, 2013 was, basically, the worst year ever. if i could compare it to anything it would be 365 of alexanders terrible horrible no good very bad day in a row. 

and 2014 was very much not that. i mean, it started out looking like it was going to be that, but then it wasnt. 2014 turned out to actually be a HUGE year for the meyers family, it was a year of growth, a year of change, and a year of things in general not sucking so bad. and i dont know if it was the low, low, low expectations i had at the beginning of the year, but honestly i am blown away at how this year turned out. i was not expecting all this. and i am very, very thankful to be able to say that. 

i thought about writing a long, emotional post chronicling the challenges we started the year with and how things have changed, but for both yours and my sakes, im going to keep this upbeat and positive by sticking to a list of our accomplishments. because im pretty pumped about what weve done this year, and i want to start 2015 pumped about whats coming next, not being all weepy and nostalgic over how bad things used to be. because nobody wants to read about that. heck, i dont even want to write about it. 

so on we go! awesome things about 2014!

james got a big promotion and worked full time for most of the year! now, promotions are supposed to be a regular, predictable thing with his apprenticeship program, but because of some weird scheduling hangups and having like no work at all for several months, his promotions got messed up, BUT i am now married to a level four carpenter and we are finally past the "this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better" part of him having this job. 

i went back to school! technically this was a decision i made in 2013, but my first classes started in march, and ive now completed FIVE of the classes toward my lifelong dream of a degree in fashion design (only eight more to go!) and i have aced ALL OF THEM! (unfortunately, due to really struggling with most of my important classes the first time i went to college, i probably wont get to graduate with honors. sad face.)

i quit working at joanns and am now legitimately self employed! every year since i was like, 18, ive said, and i quote: "THIS IS THE YEAR THAT I WILL BECOME LEGITIMATELY SELF EMPLOYED". and at 24, I FINALLY DID IT. though, in a surprising twist of fate, not through my own business ventures, but by becoming a jamberry consultant (which, by the way, i had sworn up and down in college that i would never, ever do direct sales again). 

alice turned three and is freakishly, terrifyingly intelligent. alice started this year as a very verbal and observant two year old, and over the course of the year has blossomed into a witty, logical, three year old that can make recognizable objective drawings and WRITE HER NAME. and she doesnt even have an easy to write name. in other news, we have unofficially started homeschooling. 

i did a craft fair (two, actually) and didnt quit the shop or blog at any point even when i wanted to! even though my sales werent great, and i did take a major, unexpected hiatus in the middle of the year (that was only really, really hard to climb out of), i kept the shop running for the entire year, prepped for and did my first craft fair in a looooong time (which meant i was totally ready when a surprise event came up thanksgiving weekend), and kept the etsy shop up and running for the entire year. same with this here blog. 

we still have money in our savings account! last year basically drained our entire savings, so when this years tax refund came, i had hoped and prayed wed be able to keep enough in savings to renew our disneyland passes in full and pay next years car insurance in full (i just like not having monthly bills if i can avoid them, ok?). now its december, and AFTER taking care of some major expenses, way upgrading the disney passes, getting through birthdays, christmas, and the slow months, and going on a real, actual vacation, there is still twice as much in there as i had originally hoped. 

james and i went on real, grown up dates! and a vacation! and not just fancy dinners at actual restaurants without a gift card or coupon, i mean the kinds of things I've always wanted to do but we never had money for, like a concert, and a comedy show. and did i mention our first real vacation after four years of marriage? 

i made some major investments in my business goals. even though running my own business has been a lifelong dream of mine, and over the last couple of years ive figured exactly what that business is, ive always been too afraid (or broke) to make the necessary investments to really get things going. but this year i said NO MORE to holding myself back and invested in: an overhaul on my craft fair set-up, business coaching, a tripod, AND a new macbook. 

so, as you can see, 2014 turned out to be an awesome year for the meyers family. but also, as is plainly obvious by reading back over this list, it was also and absolutely insane and all over the place kind of year. which, yeah, after all weve been through in previous years was exciting and refreshing, it was also exhausting. honestly i mainly wrote this post as a pep talk for myself to remind myself why i ended the year so tired and burnt out, and that it was because of totally awesome reasons. 

which brings us to 2015. more specifically, my goals for 2015. even more specifically, my "one little word" for guiding my goals for 2015. 

see, this time last year, i was too afraid to commit to one word for the entire year. we were very much in a temporary, short term, survival mindset and well, thats changed. one of the biggest developments this year was that weve been able to shift our gears from survival to long term planning. and this time, i have a word for 2015:


2014 was the crazy, all over the place year where we tried a lot of different things and figured out what was really important. 

2015 is the year that we zero in on those important things and make some serious progress in those areas. 

2015 is the year of focus. 

focus on what exactly? well, youll just have to stay tuned for my 2015 goals series to find out!

do you have a word for 2015? let me know what it is in the comments!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

a very meyers christmas.

christmas of 2014 could go down as "the christmas that tried really, really hard but kind of fizzled out", "the christmas that james beat everyone at gifts", or maybe even "the christmas that involved a lot of crying but turned out ok in the end". 

but i think the official title for this year is "the christmas of which we have almost zero pictures". 

see, not only did james work a lot this week (which has not only never happened since he's had this job but also included a million hour day on christmas eve), we also spent our entire christmas holiday dying of the bubonic plague (ok slight exaggeration). so, heres a shot from our christmas card session that you can pretend is a picture of us during christmas festivities:

the irony of this all is that, earlier this year, james decided it would be a good idea to majorly scale back our usual christmas-related obligations and endeavors. you know, so that we could finally take some time to have "our" christmas, and to make things less stressful and easier on his severely introverted wife that typically spends christmas time having nervous breakdowns and panic attacks. obviously being the primary beneficiary of this decision (and having finals totally wreck the christmas spirit for me), i wholeheartedly agreed and we went about our merry way. 

not that christmas was by any means cancelled, i mean, we obviously did gifts and a tree since this was the first christmas EVER that weve had any money for christmas type things, and participated in most of the things we were invited to, we just... kind of ignored christmas until two weeks prior, didnt bother pulling out any decorations, didnt bring anything homemade to any parties, and opted out of christmas eve in san diego. 

at first, the decrease in pressure and expectations was awesome as we lazily prepared for a totally chill holiday. james has been warned that work would be slammed the week before/week of christmas, but it turns out he was home for the entirety of last week and not only helped me with alice/chores/christmassy things, he also took care of a bunch of things that were wrong with my car. everything was pretty awesome. 

until we all got sick. not just slightly sick, like, a really icky cold/flu thing thats still kind of lingering despite my best efforts (yes, by that i mean a combination of essential oils AND normal medicine). all three of us. and in a cruel twist of fate of course i got hit worst/last. meaning, every single christmas prep thing i had been procrastinating on (and by that i mean, all of them) while being unable to breathe/stand for more than 10 minutes without feeling like i was going to pass out. for some reason i thought it was a GREAT idea to go run the last christmas errands in this state by myself resulting in such gems as loosing the bag with all of alices stocking stuffers at target and almost crying in ralphs because they didnt have the gluten free cinnamon rolls that im pretty sure i havent seen at any other store than ralphs. 

then james had to work on christmas eve. now, in all fairness, we had been warned that this would probably happen. and we did plan on not going to san diego just in case this issue actually did arise. but we didnt actually think it was going to happen, let alone with a million hour day at a really far away job. so christmas eve not only involved making food and wrapping gifts (actually, also making one of my cousins gifts right before we left) and getting alice over to my aunts house for dinner while being barely alive, it involved doing all of those things alone. which in all honesty was incredibly difficult but totally worth it. christmas eve dinner was great. christmas eve crying because i realized alices stocking stuff was missing and jamess christmas gift had STILL not arrived (curse you two-day shipping from sephora that actually takes four days!) was not so great. 

but eventually i composed myself, eschewing stockings in favor of just taping some candy on alices other presents, and jamess gift miraculously arrived somewhere just before 10pm. everybody went to sleep at a mostly decent hour and christmas day was just as awesomely lazy as we had originally hoped. 

we slept in, opened presents, ate pancakes, put on some dr who, and i went back to sleep until about noon. then my mom and sister started asking when we were coming over, and i had to um... make my sisters entire gift and wrap everything else up before we went to my moms for more presents, prime rib dinner, and the dr who christmas special (ok, that was just for me, james, and my brother, but still). sickness aside, it was everything i could have asked for in a christmas. 

especially the part where james got me a beautiful new desk and for the first time EVER i have a functional place to write, sew, AND draw!!! this was a total surprise, because 1. james had already gotten me the new food processor i asked for as an "early" gift, and 2. i didnt even ask for a new desk, he thought of that all on his own. and nailed it. 

was this the best, brightest, most impressive, photogenic christmas ever? no. but was it a perfectly delightful, very, very meyers christmas? yes, yes it was. 

what did your family do for christmas? got any fun plans for new years eve? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

how to DIY last-minute christmas cards for under $10.

who here is a mega christmas procrastinator? oh come on, i know it cant be just me. 

well, funny story: as bad at christmas (and everything) related procrastinating as i usually am, taking way too many classes this last semester (more on that later) has made things about 9000 times worse. its december 19th. i am addressing and mailing our christmas cards as we speak (well, as you read this, since this the internet and all). 

but im damn proud of these christmas cards. yeah theyre maybe a teeny little bit late (but realistically were going to see approximately 90% of our intended recipients in real life before christmas). but they are not one teeny little bit half-assed. actually, theyre awesome, 100% DIY, and cost us less than $10. 

yes, you read that correctly. ten dollars. yes, that includes envelopes. yes, you can totally do the exact same thing right now and have spiffy new christmas cards in a couple hours. actually, writing this tutorial is taking way longer than actually making these cards did. just saying. 

so, ready to make some some legit-looking fast and easy christmas cards? lets go!

1. snap a family picture (or a few). bonus points if you already have a decent photo from earlier in the year. this was actually the most labor intensive step for us because despite my super simple minimalist christmas card concept, james really wanted to take our family picture at disneyland. so while your process might enjoy digging something from your hard drive or having a friend snap a photo at the park, ours involved lugging the tripod and DSLR and toddler that was not having anything to do with this nonsense through disneyland and having everyone stare at us while we took pictures with a timer. i can guarantee that as long as you dont do that this step is super easy. 

2. turn it into a christmas card-worthy graphic. depending on your style, you can VERY easily (even if you have zero design skills like me), slap a simple greeting onto a photo (or collage if youre feeling ambitious) using an app like a beautiful mess or a site like picmonkey. i like a beautiful mess because there arent a ton of options and theyre all curated to coordinate so its really, really hard to make something that looks bad. 

3. print your graphic at target. or walmart, or an office store, or wherever on-demand photo prints are sold. 4x6 prints are going to be the cheapest (i got mine at target for 13 cents each), so make sure you optimized your graphic to print at 4x6 (or 5x7 if youre a big spender). 

4. grab some plain envelopes. obviously, the main advantage for buying christmas cards from a card printer is that they come with envelopes. but this is not nearly as big of a problem as you think it is. joanns sells them in the paper-crafts section with all the other card-making supplies. unfortunately my joanns didnt have any A4 envelopes appropriate for my 4x6 cards, so i got stuck with 5x7 envelopes, but i guess thats not a huge deal since 25 envelopes was $3.99 (and 30% off). 

5. and youre done! seriously, thats it. yesterday, i ordered my prints, ran to joanns for envelopes, and when i got to target to pick them up, they were done. easiest christmas cards ever. and the cost breakdown? 25 prints at $.13 each = $3.25, 25 blank envelopes (on sale) = $2.79. a beautiful mess app = $.99. total cost for 25 totally legit christmas cards? $7.03 (plus tax). 

cant beat that, can you? 

and while were on the topic, merry christmas from the meyers family to yours!