Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Budding of a New Hobby - How I became an Amateur Florist

    I have always liked flowers, I suppose.  Who doesn't?  All the same, my experience in arranging them consisted of choosing a vase, cutting a stem, and hoping they survived a few days.  Not all did, by the way.  Tiger Lilies, it would seem, are better enjoyed outdoors.

   However, when it came time to plan my wedding, the price of a florist wasn't high on my priority list of things to budget.  So I started investigating doing my own.  I had friends who had done it, so why couldn't I?  I decided that as long as I would be content carrying a single flower down the isle if anything went wrong, I would be good.  And of course my dearest fiancĂ© was as laid back and unconcerned as I was, so we took the chance.  Now, if you are here because you want to do your own wedding flowers, please heed this one piece of advice.  Have a backup plan.  Know which stores near you sell flowers, or which friends' gardens have flowers.  Or be willing to do without.  Because things can and will go wrong, as I will share in a bit.

  So my first stop in my florist crash course was, of course, Pinterest.  Because you can find everything on Pinterest, right?  I think I already had my flower board full of ideas of what I wanted, so my next step was to see what was possible.  I decided on a bouquet of blue hydrangeas, white roses, and greenery to frame it.  My first concern was how well hydrangeas would hold up.  Thanks to this website, I not only learned some tricks for keeping my flowers fresh and ready to go.  I learned that by cutting them under water, splitting the hydrangea stems, then dipping in boiling water, it would prevent the sap from blocking the stem, enabling my flowers to keep drinking.  Cool, right? I found tutorials on how to wrap bouquets, too.  With some bouquets, you start in the center and work your way out, but with hydrangeas, you want to start with the hydrangeas, about three heads, and then thread in your other flowers where you want them.

   Then next thing I did was start pricing flowers.  Flowers are not cheap. I compared Hy-Vee, where I could order bulk flowers, and Sam's Club.  Even though I had to order more flowers overall from Sam's, it was still much less expensive than ordering just what I needed.  Plus, I knew I would have extra for mistakes.  I also considered doing artificial flowers, but realized quickly that they would be even more expensive.  I did get artificial boutonnieres, though.  I knew they would take more skill, and would have to be made the day before the wedding.  I planned on doing my bouquets two days before, then just keeping them in the refrigerator at the church.  The boutonnieres I found at Hobby lobby looked so real that I had one person confess that they didn't realize they were artificial when they hadn't wilted days later!

 I saved empty water jugs and the boxes they came in to hold my flowers before they were turned into bouquets, and enlisted a friend's help.  I had to flowers come a day before I wanted to arrange them, so they would have time to hydrate.  I figured out what supplies I would need, like clippers, scissors, floral pins, ribbon, and floral tape.  I think I had floral wire, too, although I probably didn't use it.  In fact, I couldn't figure out how to get the floral tape to hold, so I ended up using foam bandage tame instead!  It worked, but now I know to wrap the tape around each flower a couple of times as you add it.  Since then I've also added plumbers pvc tape for boutonnieres and a hot glue gun for ribbons to my supply kit.  I learned about the plumber's tape from a library book I picked up when I did the flowers - including boutonnieres - for my sister-in-law's wedding.  By wrapping it around the stem, covering the cut part all the way to where the wires are threaded through at the top, you seal in the moisture to help them to stay fresh longer.

   Making the bouquets went well, as I said, despite my unorthodox tape choice.  I made my bouquet, a toss bouquet, five bridesmaid's bouquets.  and vases for Our Lady and St. Joseph.  After that the rest of the flowers went into vases for the alter and to have by the guest book and probably a few other places.  I don't remember, I'm just glad we had the flowers because.....

   Disaster struck.  Yup, something went wrong.  I made the bouquets Thursday, and took them to the church when we went for the rehearsal Thursday night, so they could stay safe and happy in the fridge until Saturday.  Only I didn't take into account that they refrigerators had only just been plugged in.  So, when we got to the hall Friday to decorate, and my mom went to start loading the beverages for the reception into the fridge she found them.  Frozen.

  This is why you have a backup plan.  Fortunately, I'm not the type to panic.  Fortunately, there were lots of extra flowers.  Fortunately I think I even had my clippers and pins with, and a local friend had some floral tape.  I was able to rearrange everything into a bouquet for me, my 5 bridesmaids, my vases for Mary and St. Joseph, and even a (slightly more pathetic) toss bouquet.  Or maybe I used someone else's bouquet for that.  Oh, and (fortunately) the church had it's own store of alter flowers, including hydrangeas in just the right shade of blue.  All in all, I think my second bouquet turned out even nicer than the first.
     My sisters-in-law said when they saw how I handled my flower fiasco, they felt confident enough to let me do their flowers, too, lol.  So that's how I ended up with a new hobby.  I've done three more weddings since mine, and I learn a little more each time.  It isn't a hobby I pick up regularly, but it is definitely one I hope to continue for many years to come.

Some Useful Links:
My Flower Pinterest Board
Some terrific tutorials
Where I learned about hydrangeas
The starting point for my bouquet
Guidelines for how many flowers you need

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

You Don't Have a Time Management Problem - Part 3

     If you've read Part 1 and Part 2, you know that this post is my take on how to deal with an Energy Shortage.  No, I don't mean running out of oil. I'm talking about your body.  What can you do if your "battery" runs down quickly, and takes forever to recharge?

My stress list. I didn't think of spaces, lol.
     Everyone deals with this problem at some point or another in their lives.  Whether it is a cold or a chronic illness, our bodies aren't going to run at 100% all of the time.  Of course if it is a short term problem, like a cold, you probably don't think much about it.  But I think there is a very large percentage of the population who are perpetually running on low battery, and many of them don't even realize it.  They just think they have too much to do, and not enough time.
    You probably have an energy shortage if:

  • You are dealing with chronic pain or illness
  • You are pregnant or nursing
  • You have children, especially under the age of 8 or so
  • You are sick
  • You are caring for someone who is sick
  • You have suffered a loss recently
  • You have had surgery in the last few months
  • You are under a lot of stress

    I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my work done.  I'm home all day.  I don't have any children to make messes.  My home should be clean.  My dishes should be done.  I was really getting frustrated with myself.  Then I discovered I have PCOS.  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome isn't a reproductive disorder - it is an endocrine disorder.  Why means the hormones it affect aren't just the ones that determine if I will have a baby or not.  They also determine if my skin will be clear, and my metabolism, and stress levels, and sleep, and ultimately my energy.  It's something that can be managed, but it isn't going to go away and stay away on it's own.
    I think I knew that time wasn't my problem.  And I knew I wasn't (always) being lazy, yet I also knew that somehow I needed to do better.  When Paula pointed out that time wasn't the issue, rather that energy was, I realized that while everyone has the same amount of time, and it is out of our control, my energy was something that I could actually work with.  In fact, it's something everyone can work with to a certain extent.  Now I know I have it pretty easy - It's just my husband and I, and I don't work outside the home.  Kids, as much as I can't wait to have them, do have a lot of demands, as do jobs.  

   With our low batteries, we need to go a little more in depth than what I talked about in the last post.  Knowing what gives us energy and what takes extra amounts of energy is really important.  It's also important to know what causes stress in our lives, since stress really drains our batteries quickly.  Chances are, we won't be able to get it all done.  And that's ok.  It is more important to give our bodies the chance to heal, and that means getting plenty of rest and not overdoing it.  Ever notice how if you let your cell phone battery run down, it takes for ever to come back on again?  I don't know about you, but my body is the same way.  I'm learning (slowly!) that is is much better to accept my limitations and do what I can, rather than plowing through and crashing.  It's a terrific lesson in humility.
   Let's start with food.  Of course healthy food is better than junk food, as tempting as it is to just pop in a frozen pizza.  But more than that, make sure you don't have any food allergies or sensitivities you are accidentally aggravating.  What is good for you may not good for me, and vice versa.  Right now I am avoiding all grains, because I notices that even rice makes me feel more hungry after eating than I was before.   Because of my insulin resistance, it made sense for me to cut carbs, and it seems to be working. Food sensitivities and allergies may not look the way you expect them too.  My brother is allergic too milk, but instead of digestive upset, his sinuses go crazy and he ends up sneezing all night.   Instead of getting migraines from MSG like most people with that sensitivity, I get heartburn.  So figure out what food is good for you, and do your best to avoid foods that aren't good for you.  Sometimes these changes are only short term, while your body heals.
    Also make sure you are eating often enough.  If your body thinks it is starving, for whatever reason, it will try to store everything you put into it.  So not only will you have lower energy, you will also find yourself gaining weight.  If I don't eat every 2-3 hours, I get tired a lot faster, plus find myself more likely to get angry or cry over silly things.
   The only thing I have to add on the subject of sleep is that after I got my appendix out, my surgeon told me that 45 minutes is the ideal length for naps, because you get enough rest to make a difference, but you don't fall into that deep sleep that will make you groggy if interrupted.  Which is great if you fall asleep quickly.  If anyone has any tips on that, they would be greatly appreciated.

  Have you written down your daily grind yet?  Include everything you need to do - even brushing your teeth.  Figure out a raking system for each item.  You want to note how much energy the task takes, how stressful it is, and whether you get a "boost" from doing it.  I ranked everything from 1 to 5 in each category.  Also make a list of weekly, and even monthly tasks.  You could also add a list of things like "Visiting my family," "Having Company over," "Visiting husband's family," etc.  The idea is to have a good picture so you can easily see that, for example, you might want to eat leftovers the day you go grocery shopping so you don't have to cook.  Now is a good time to ask yourself why some of these tasks require more energy or are more stressful than others, and if there is any way to make them easier.  For example, even though it's just my husband and I, I've switched back to using paper plates for now, since we don't have a dishwasher.
  Next write out a list of Relaxing and Energizing activities - and give them all a score on both categories.
  Finally, write down everything that causes stress, leaving enough space between to come up with ways to reduce or avoid that stress.

  Finally, it is time to prioritize.  Figure out what absolutely has to get done everyday for survival.  (Hint: Food, sleep, and clean clothes should probably be at the top of the list.) After that, look at you stress list.  What causes the most stress?  Is there anything you can do to prevent or reduce that stress?  Those are going to be your next priorities.  The more you reduce the stress in your life, the more energy you will have for other things.  Do you have the energy for that much?  If not, that's alright.  That just means you need to find more help, and maybe different ways to do things.

     I know that for a lot of people, asking for help is hard, especially when it is for help with things you used to be able to do.  It's easy to mistake your limitations for laziness.  But if we are trying to do better, and are doing what we can, you aren't lazy.  We can't do it all, no matter what "all" entails.  And while my husband probably doesn't love doing dishes, he does love me, and I shouldn't feel guilty if he's doing something for me.  This goes for other family members and friends, too.  Don't waste energy by feeling guilty when someone is helping you.  Be grateful.  And remember to lift up others in need, even if all you can manage right now are kind words and prayers.

  What do you think stresses you out the most?  What solutions did you come up with to reduce or eliminate that stress?


Saturday, June 3, 2017

You Probably Don't Have a Time Management problem Part 2

     Ok, so we realize we have an energy management problem, but how do you maximize our energy?!?! Because really that's what we all want to do, right? Just like wish time management, it can be helpful to sit down, analyze, and make a plan. We'll just be looking at things a little differently.
  The first thing I think we need to do is figure out which task are energy draining, and which are recharging.  And I don't just mean food and sleep charge, everything else drains. There is a lot more to it than that! So grab a notepad, pen, and a delicious beverage, and let's get started.

     Yes, food is our source of energy, but not all food is going to make us feel good.  How often is also really important.  When I don't eat properly, I crash big time, and it tends to be a crash that lasts much longer than the few minutes I thought I was saving by skipping a meal or a snack.
     Consider how much sleep YOU need.  Do you need 8 hours a night?  10? Or are you better off with 6? If you don't get enough sleep, your body doesn't have the chance to do a lot of important repairs. If your sleep is frequently interrupted, it's going to take more time in bed to get the sleep you need.

     What about hobbies?  Knitting and other crafts help me unwind and relax.  Writing recharges me, too, as does working my Lilla Rose business.  Rest is good.  By taking the time for yourself by doing the things you love, you can prevent burnout.  Don't forget - you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.  If you don't "keep Sunday" already, start*.  I have a post on that here, but this one from Like Mother, Like Daughter is MUCH better, plus it has the voice of years of experience behind it.  (By the way, I will probably be sharing a LOT from LMLD.  I can't think of a better blog for a new bride - or any wife, really.)

     Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Introverts are going to recharge best alone, or maybe with a small group.  Extroverts recharge best with people!  So an introvert who works with people all day are going to need some quiet time in the evening, and an extrovert will probably want to spent time with friends or family, especially if their job isn't very social.

     Next lets look at the daily grind.  We all have tasks that we have to do.  Some we enjoy, some we hate, and some are just there.  Figure out what falls into each category.  Usually it's best to get the hardest tasks out of the way first, then you don't have to spend the day dreading them.  Also, it doesn't hurt to take a look at why each task is in a category.  If you hate to put laundry away because you hate drawers (yup, that's me) then pick up some hangers for your clothes instead.  Move things around.  Find new ways to do things.  I'm not a big fan of washing dishes, but I'm always surprised how quickly they get done when I'm listening to a good audiobook.  I love my Norwex clothes for cleaning windows and dusting - I don't get a headache from fumes, and it kinda feels like magic how well they clean.  Find out how your family feels about their chores, too.  Someone else in your household might not mind that task you dread.  Go ahead and delegate it out. (And for all things housekeeping, I refer you again to LMLD.)

    Finally you want to look at your normal energy cycle and your schedule.  When you want to schedule things may depend on whether you are a morning person or a night owl.  You might find it easier to do mental work after physical, or the other way around. Ladies, like Paula said you may even want to take a closer look at your whole month to see when the best time to do some things.  And if you know that the end of the month tends to be stressful because of deadlines at work, then you might not want to invite company over that weekend.  Unless of course you are an extrovert.

    Even if you aren't one to stick to a schedule, I think this can help create some habits that will enable you to get more done in a day. I think there is a lot of sense in doing your hardest, most distasteful job first thing, so you aren't dreading it all day. You can also try switching things up - hardest tasks followed by easiest to give yourself a chance to "recharge." Breaking mental work with physical work is also helpful. "A change is as good as a rest."

Please comment with your thoughts on all of this!  I'd love to hear your ideas.  Can you think of any ways you could do better in your energy management?  Any tips? In my next post I will be sharing some ideas for those who feel like they fall into that "Low Energy" category.

* A note on the importance of daily prayer.  It isn't always going to be energizing or restful - especially if you have small children to pray with.  But it is always going to be important.  We can't always feel the effects of prayer on our soul, but they are always there.  Often times it is when we find prayer the most difficult that we are gaining the most graces from it.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Why you probably don't have a time management problem...

   First off, I'd like to thank Paula from over at Coastal Conservatory for bringing this to my attention.  Head over to her video on Facebook to hear her very wise words on the subject.

   I have to agree with her. I really think most of us do not have a time management problem.  Now I'm not saying that most of us are organized, or that we get everything done on our to-do lists, or that we don't all wish for a few more hours in the day.  But ask yourself - what would you do with those hours?  Would you wash more dishes?  Work more hours?  Or would you really just want a little more rest?  Given the choice I think most would say more rest, right?  No, my friends, we do not have a time management problem.

    I'll tell you what we do have, though (as Paula pointed out.) We have an energy management problem.  Isn't it just so true?  I can get a lot done in 20 minutes when I have the motivation.  I only have an hour to get my house clean for company? No problem!  But without that motivation...ugh.  I know its not the right way to look at it, but it is so true.

     Now, I think there are three different kinds of "energy mismanagement."  And each has it's own set of solutions.  The first is just plain having too much to do.  Now I don't just mean the feeling of having too much to do, I mean actually overbooking yourself.  If you are so busy that you have to time everything perfectly so as to not be late for your next activity, and no time to sleep it might be time to cut something out.  Do you (or your darling offspring) really need to take that painting class this month?  Or can it wait until tap is over?  Is there someone else who can manage the church bake sale?  After all, you are all ready in charge of the spring social AND you are teaching 3rd grade religious ed.  No dear, it really isn't as easy baking 12 dozen cookies as it is baking 2.  Slow down!  Delegate!  Learn to say no!  Once that is done, make sure you don't fall into category two or three.

      The second kind of energy mismanagement isn't really mismanagement at all.  It is an energy shortage.  Maybe you are getting over the flu, or a surgery.  Maybe you just had a baby - or are working on it!  Maybe you've suffered a loss, or are going through some other stressful situation.  Or maybe you have a chronic illness that your body is constantly battling.  It's no wonder we don't have energy for everything outside - our bodies are too busy healing what's inside.  Whatever the reason, your "battery" doesn't charge like most peoples.  This is where I am right now, so I think that's why Paula's words hit me so hard. It was that spark that made me realize that maybe there is something I can do to make my household run more smoothly, and to actually accomplish things during the day, despite my low energy.  While my general tips (in my next post) will apply, I know it is going to take a lot more "working smarter not harder" to get to were I want to be.  That will be a post of it's own.

     "That's fine and good," you say, "but I know I'm not overbooked, and I'm not sick - I just can't get everything done!" This is probably where most people fall.  You know you should be able to get it all done, but how?  You look back on your day and wonder what you really did - and why it made you so exhausted.  Stay tuned for Part 2, where I hope you will find some good suggestions!

    I'd love to hear what you think of this idea!  Which category do you fall into?

I love this journal...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Lilla Rose Journey

     My Lilla Rose journey started long before I ever heard of Lilla Rose.  It started when I was 8 and chose Kirsten when I bought my very own American girl doll 'because I could do the most things with her hair."   It started when I was 12 and started selling baked goods to my dad's coworkers.  But mostly it started that summer, when Pinterest began to inspire me to try to do more with my hair.

     I love my hair, honestly, but like sisters, we don't always get along.  My hair isn't straight or curly, it's more messy wavy.  It's thick and heavy, but fine and slippery.  Finding hair accessories that would hold my hair was pretty close to impossible, and I think that's why, even though I loved styling my dolls' hair, I never did much with my own.  My styles were basically ponytail or half up, with an occasional braid thrown in.  Oh, and hairspray makes me sneeze.  But that summer I was trying a little harder, and discovered the gibson tuck - finally an up-do that would hold my hair that I could do myself!  I remember going to a jewelry party and looking for hair clips or even a brooch that I could use in this new style.  I ended up with a pair of earrings, more to be polite to the hostess than because I loved them.  But I'm glad I went to that party, because it was one of the things that really made me look seriously at Lilla Rose.
My very first attempt with my very first flexi!

     It was a blog post that introduced me to the company - a review and giveaway on one of my favorite blogs.  To enter I had to comment with the flexi I would choose if I won.  How to choose!  They were all gorgeous!  I was still skeptical that they would work in my hair, but it was a giveaway, after all.  I think if you ask my sisters they will tell you I was kind of obsessing over them.  I REALLY wanted one, and all the reviews I found said they would work, even with difficult hair!  But I couldn't buy one at the moment.  I was living off of savings, so hair clips weren't exactly in the budget.  I didn't win the giveaway, but I didn't give up.  The stylist would post on her Facebook page when she was doing a giveaway with a blogger, and I would go enter it.  And finally, on I think my fourth try, I WON!!!  I was very excited.  I think by that time I had already made up my mind - if the clip worked the way they said it did, I was going to sign up as a consultant.

     At first I didn't plan on being very active.  I figured I'd sign up for the amazing stylist discount, and sell to a few friends.  It was October, so I could take advantage of Christmas shoppers.  But there are so many reasons it turned into much more than that.  I think the first was the stylist manual.  Not only did it have a lot of wonderful business advice, much of which I had learned in my Small Business classes, but the tone was unlike anything I had seen in a direct sales manual.  The focus was on my success - whatever I wanted that to be.  And the Facebook groups and trainings were the same way.  Everyone wanted to help me reach my goals, whether my goal was to make back my original investment, or to create a full time income.  Of course the fact that my grand opening party and my first few months with the company far exceeded my expectations definitely helped, too.
Of course I wore Lilla Rose at my wedding!

     I love this company.  I love the products and the people.  I love training people to help them reach their goals.  I really love making money in my pjs.  Over the last 3+ years, I have done parties and shows and Facebook parties.  Some have flopped, but most have done pretty well.  I love having a business that I can work as little or as much as I want.  But mostly, I love having hair clips that not only hold my hair, but are comfortable AND beautiful.  

Please visit my website at

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What is an Amateur?

    What is an amateur? Is it someone new at an activity?  Someone inept and inexperienced? Can an amateur be an expert at their activity?

    I have always been a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books.  When I was younger, it was for the adventure and the mystery.  Now that I'm older, I still enjoy them as a good way to just relax, plus I find it fascinating how they were created, and how they have changed over the years.  Nancy Drew is the classic amateur detective.  But after solving 56 mysteries in the original series alone, one can hardly call her inept or inexperienced.  No, her "amateur" standing comes from the fact that she doesn't solve mysteries because she is paid to do it, or because she has been professionally trained  - she does it because she loves to do it.

  G. K. Chesterton once wrote: "The word amateur has come by the thousand oddities of language to convey an idea of tepidity; whereas the word itself has the meaning of passion. Now is this peculiarity confined to the mere form of the word; the actual characteristic of these nameless dilettanti is a genuine fire and reality. A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.  Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it."  The word amateur is from the french, meaning "one who loves." An amateur may indeed be quite good her craft, but she needn't be.  She need only love it.

   I am an amateur.  I do many many things,  simply because I love to do them, or occasionally because I love the one I do them for.  I say I am the rambling amateur both because I have a tendency to be long winded when I write, and also because I have so many different hobbies that I rarely stay with just one for long.  And I'm always eager to learn something new, whether it is in one of my current interests or in the pursuit of a new one.  If I am an expert in anything, it is in being an amateur.

   It has been a long time since I have posted on this blog, and many things have changed in the last four years.  But now I return, as I so often return to my hobbies.  I come back with new knowledge and new ideas, and I am eager to learn more.  I have more focus now, on what this blog is.  It is the blog of a Rambling Amateur, to share what I learn and discover, and how I discovered it.