Sunday, May 29, 2016

Craft Time with Crazy Cat Lady

I have been kicking around the idea of starting my own business for the past few months.  Well, actually it's been for a few years now, off and on.  I think of great ideas and they fall by the wayside.  I wish the business I'm thinking of could be to sell ideas to people.  I have ideas growing out my ears.  Like corn.  Sigh.  Maybe someday.

About a month ago, at the end of April, I had an incredibly successful program.  It was called "Fairy Time!", for young kids aged 3 to 6 (only girls signed up, of course) and in it, we painted and decorated small craft birdhouses (fairy houses), left them to dry and went for a walk in the woods to look for fairies.   

Example of one of the fairy houses, painted by the lovely lady who assisted me with this program.
When the girls came back, they had some teensy, tiny trolls waiting outside their homes, "Fairies came to visit, and it looks like each of you get to take one home!" I said.  They were so. damn. excited. 

Teeny tiny troll fairy in his new house.  Quarter for size reference.  Excuse my hairy carpet!
I feel like this would be a great idea for a launching point.  I could probably figure out something to do for boys' (Viking party maybe?) birthdays.  I could also expand upon what I actually did at Fairy Time and create a mini fairy tea party in the woods that we could stumble across, and then maybe have some pre-made wands that the fairies left for them to take too.  Add in some different themes (like "natural" and "glittery" and "under the sea" or "flowers") for different decorations on the houses.  Finish everything off with cake and ice cream and opening presents.  Not only could I still educate kids (what do you think we do on a nature walk?!) but they would have a fun birthday party.  And heck, it doesn't have to be a birthday party!  It could be fun, creative, educational programs.  We could have a small wooded area, but also a garden out back for other kinds of programs.  There could be a "gallery night" where kids can create artwork in the shop and the parents pay whatever they think it's worth to donate to the facility and the community.  I could team up with local artists and other vendors and sell artwork or jewelry in a small part of the space.

Then I expand.  Craft nights for adults.  Bohemian birthdays.  Wine and painting. Pinterest Win or Fail programs.  These ideas aren't quite fleshed out yet.  But here are some examples of things we could do!

Polymer clay figurines.  This owl is the cutest thing ever!

I made these for everyone for Christmas.  I am probably going to do it again this year!
 Polymer clay is relatively cheap, and sculpting with it is pretty easy.  I am good with my hands though... not so good at teaching others how to use it.  These, pictured above, are little "desk buddies" that I made for my friends this past Christmas.  They're for those times that your internet connection is slow and you need someone to listen to you complain about how those cat memes need to load faster.  And they're tiny, which makes them all the cuter.

The next is my favorite, because the possibilities are so endless.

Sharpie + mug + your imagination = endless possibilities
 Sharpie mugs.  This one is a small teacup that I created.  I made mugs for my friends for Christmas two years ago.  Then the Dollar Store ran out of white mugs, and I panicked, bought different colored mugs.  They worked.  My Mom had glitter sharpies that I borrowed, which looked amazing on black mugs.  Seriously.  I wish I had taken a picture of all of them.

Then I made personalized birthday cards for my friends' kids.  I was going to buy them, but I was feeling crafty that day.  These aren't hard to make, just a little cut and assembly and you're done.

Have a monstrously good birthday!
Oh, and of course, a good birthday card pun to round out the occasion.

I guess this could also lead in to scrapbooking, but I don't do that.  It seems like a giant waste of time, especially nowadays, with all of us taking 3,000 digital photos and looking at exactly two.  

I'd also need a die cut machine, which are super duper expensive.  And probably some better paper than construction paper, especially for adults.

I make (well, used to, before this new job started sucking the time away from me) new wreaths for every season.  I have Halloween and Christmas and V-Day and spring, summer, and fall wreaths.

Guess which holiday this is for?
Wreaths don't have to cost $40 (or more) a pop.  They're actually really simple to make.  I think this one cost me about $10 to make, but then, I got the base from a craft store instead of the Dollar Store (where I got everything else).  I can whip these out for about $6 in supplies.

 Another seasonal holiday thing I did this year, which was a successful experiment, was to take puffy paint and trace over outlines of snowflakes on waxed paper.  I let that dry overnight, peeled them off and voilĂ ,  homemade window clings. (Unfortunately, they have dried out due to improper storage and no longer cling.)  I had some scrolling hearts that I was going to do for Valentine's Day, but I never got around to it.

Window clings made from puffy paint.
I'm sure that with more practice they wouldn't look so much like a child had made them.  Unless this is a parent/child class and that's what we're going for, which is entirely a possibility!

And last but not least, I got into painting vases this Christmas too (word of advice, don't use acrylic paint because it doesn't adhere fully!).  Basically, I squirted acrylic paint into these glass vases and tried to coat the inside.  It was painstaking labor to get the paint allll the way around and looking even.  But, I think they turned out rather pretty. 
About half of the vases I painted.
Perhaps next time, I will find a different paint to use, and add two different colors and some marbles to create a swirled effect.

I only kept this purple one, because it's one of my favorite colors!  And the flowers complemented it well, I think.  (I don't know if you can see it, but there are purple "berries" on the twigs that are the same color!)  I bought other flowers for the vases too, because I like to arrange fake flowers.  And I'm apparently pretty good at it?

Can you find the hidden kitty in this picture?!
Well.  This post went from being my business ideas to being "Craft Time with Crazy Catlady".  Maybe I should just open an Etsy shop and see what happens?  I really enjoy being creative and making things with my hands.  I don't really have a dedicated craft room though, which might limit my production capabilities.

I'm still ruminating on this whole, "opening my own business" thing.  I don't have a degree in business, and have no idea how to run a business.  But I have to start somewhere, and the best place is with an idea.  Because ideas can always be modified, right?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Full Time Blues

Remember back last year when I was whining about how all I wanted was a full time job?  Well, I finally got a full time job.  And you know what?  It sucks.

Now, every day is not the worst, and the paycheck is pretty nice.  But because I work in childcare, I am pretty much working 12 hour days, which does suck.  I leave my house at 6:15 in the morning and I get back around 6:45 at night (if I don't go grocery shopping or on a walk with friends).  I hate that.  I feel like all I do at home is feed my cats and watch TV.  I don't feel like I have any time to do anything productive, like clean my house, read my book, or even write my much-anticipated blog posts.  I haven't played a video game in months (shocking!), and the only friends I see are the ones who go walking with me every week.

I feel stressed out and completely drained.  I know this job is not for me.  I know that I do not want to do this for the rest of my life (let alone the rest of the school year).  Because I am always looking for lessons from my conflicts, I also know now what it is that I am chasing.

Sometimes we don't always know what we want.  Our brains are smart and good at tricking us.  They're all, "You want that full time job!  Go get it!" and we get it and then are miserable and can't figure out why.  But it's because the full time job was not what we truly wanted.  What we wanted was the security we feel from the bigger paycheck, or the freedom we thought we could have with more money.  As it turns out, we didn't really want the job, we just wanted the money, but we weren't open to all the different avenues it could come through (like... for example... blogging?).

I had to sit down with myself and try to think of the real reason that this job is bothering me.  Is it really that I can't manage kids?  That these kids are horrible and they're purposefully testing my limits?  Of course not.  I manage them just fine.  Kids are kids; they test limits, need to know how firm their boundaries are, and forget rules all the time.  That's how they are.  I just can't see the progress they're making under my leadership because I see it every day.  (My boss came in to my site on Friday and complimented me on the progress I've made just by being more respectful and consistent!)  So it's not the kids.  It's not the people I work with.  Is it the hours?  Hmm.

Perhaps if I had a 9-to-5, regular full time job I would feel better.  I would feel busier and more relaxed at the end of the day.  I wouldn't have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning or go to bed at 9:30 at night.  Perhaps I would have more time to do a morning workout, clean the dishes and cook breakfast, to go grocery shopping at the end of the day, to cook dinner and do some cleaning around the house.  Hmmm.  Or maybe, those hours would leave me feeling just as drained and exhausted, and I still wouldn't want to do anything.

What I'm really chasing here, it seems, is freedom.  I desire freedom from worry, from having to do things like everyone else, from having to shove myself into that cookie-cutter that frustrates me.  I value my time, and want to be able to feel productive and proud of myself.  I want to be able to chase my passions and do things I love without having to worry about bills or when was my house last cleaned or do I have time for a nature walk today?  Now that I have figured out that freedom is what I want, comes the trickiest part.

Actually finding things that make me feel free.

So what would someone who loves herself do?