A Season of Summer Confessions

 a season of summr confessions. crown of lilies blog.

I miss the old days of blogging. The ones when you could draft a post about everything and nothing at the same time.

I miss walking the streets of Portland, ducking in and out of my favorite independent coffee shop with the iced almond milk latte that still haunts my daydreams (because it’s just that good).

I miss getting excited about things. That feeling of anticipation and unbridled enthusiasm has eluded me for quite some time. 

I miss cooler weather. The Summer and I just can’t get along. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships and the value that good people bring to your life. Spending time with genuine and kind-hearted people who are there for you no matter what is like coming up for fresh air.

All the feels today, and I don't like it.

I've been watching old episodes of Martha Stewart Living from the 90’s (on YouTube). As a child, I loved Martha because she seemed so perfect. Of course now, as an adult, I see that she is flawed and human just like everyone else. But no one makes fallibility look better than Martha.

I love the rain. Always and forever. Amen. 

#The100DayProject: 100 Days of Holiday Planning

 #the100dayproject: 100 days of holiday planning. crown of lilies blog.

Today is the last day of The 100 Day Project! If you’re not familiar, it's a project where the intention is to do one thing every day for 100 days. Anyone can join (yes, even starting today!), and you can check out everyone’s work on #the100dayproject hashtag. While I first attempted this project last year, this is the first time that I actually completed it.

So this year, I chose 100 Days of Holiday Planning. I will share more of my actual planner once it becomes relevant (ie. later in the year when it's not the dead of summer), but for now, I want to share my thoughts on the project and reflect on how it’s impacted my life.

 #the100dayproject: 100 days of holiday planning. crown of lilies blog.

The Back Story

Last year's holiday season was challenging. I was stressed, sick (stomach flu that rendered me useless for about 3 days and then immune system issues that landed me in the emergency room), overwhelmed, and tired. Not to mention, what minimal planning I did, produced little to no results. I couldn't even manage to get my packages to arrive despite having ordered ahead and paying extra for "guaranteed" expedited shipping! Even the simplest tasks felt insurmountable. What is usually, quite literally, the most wonderful time of the year for me, turned into something I wished was already over before it began. All of this coming from someone who has intensely adored the holiday season and every bit that it has to offer for nearly her entire life!

I knew something had to change, I just didn't know what or how.

Before April 3rd of this year, when #the100dayproject began, I listened to quite a few podcasts from creatives talking about how life-changing this project was for them. To be honest... I didn't believe it. Still, I wanted to give it another try and, most importantly, finish to the end.

Before the start date, I made a list of possible projects: knitting, recipe writing (again), illustrating, pattern surface design, painting, etc. These are all things I want to try or grow my skills in, but I kept coming back to one thing: the holidays. I wanted desperately to get back from the season what I lost.

The thing is, I didn't feel like I could justify working on a holiday project in the Spring and Summer. I only knew that in a way I can't really explain, it felt immensely important and needed. Rationally, working on a holiday project made no sense. But in my gut? It made all the sense in the world. And my gut was right.

My focus this year was to create a planner that not only helped with the logistics of the holiday season (ie. large-scale meal prep, gift-giving, traveling, holiday events, etc) but to significantly increase the quality of my life at this particular time of year. I added fun activities that I rarely make time for and even decorated/designed the planner in a way that makes it feel like a keepsake or holiday treasure. My goal, especially during that time of year, is to live intentionally and joyfully as opposed to letting the season dictate my every move. We can't always control what life throws at us, but I can make plans to help me adjust when/if life decides to throw me a curveball... or two.

Obviously, I haven't had the chance to put the planner to use, but I can say that it has already lifted a huge burden knowing that I have done a ton of prep work in navigating one of the busiest times of the year. Again, I will share more details when most people can tolerate anyone talking about the holidays without their eyes glazing over. Until then, trust me: this is going to be a game changer!

 #the100dayproject: 100 days of holiday planning. crown of lilies blog.

What I've Learned

For me, it's important to NOT share projects before I've completed them (hence the reason I am just now posting about it). At this point in my creative journey, it creates an unnecessary amount of self-inflicted pressure that is more debilitating than motivating. I imagine this will dissipate over time... or maybe it won't. Instead, the idea of working towards a finished product (ie. a cumulative body of work) was infinitely more inspiring. I realize that everyone is different here, and while I've often subscribed to the idea that progress-based online sharing forges accountability (and community!), I know now that for me, it creates undue pressure... at least most of the time. In order for me to be motivated and pleased with a project, I only need something to "show" for my work regardless of if anyone else sees or is pleased with the outcome.

Last year, I wrote that extended creative projects bring out the best in me. This is still true. Over the past 100 days, a lot has changed in my life. Not to mention, our country is facing its own struggles with school violence, police brutality, and the treatment of immigrants. While I was careful not to use #the100dayproject to "turn my head" away from current events, I was surprised to find a kind of peace in the consistency of this project when everything else felt turbulent.

As far as why I completed the project this year and not last year? Well, I suspect it has something to do with the level of importance and urgency I felt around holiday planning and what I thought it would add to my life. I think all of my creative endeavors are important, but this one was, in my mind, directly connected to an increase in personal peace and quality of life. That being said, even though I never "finished" last year's project, looking back, my skills surrounding technical recipe writing and development have improved dramatically!

I am so thankful to this project for forcing me to bring creativity to the forefront again. For many years, it has been the white noise of my life. I know it’s there somewhere, always crouching in the background. This project taught me that I am capable of consistently good creative work. I learned that it's the habit formed by doing something important to you, whether it be for 100 days straight or once every two weeks, that creates the kind of personal growth that spans across multiple areas of your life. I learned things about myself that have honestly made me a better human, not just a better creative.

While it's not always possible, I try to design my life in a way that any energy expended offers a return far greater than the investment. This project was one of those cases. I can't wait to see how this year's holiday season plays out. I’ll consider even the slightest bit of progress a huge win!

Did you participate in #the100dayproject this year? If so, what did you make? And more importantly, what did you learn?

My Plant-Based Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping Routine

In the interest of full disclosure, this post features products in my shop and contains affiliate links.

 my plant-based meal planning and grocery shopping routine. crown of lilies blog.

Two years ago, I created a plant-based meal planner and shopping list that has seen many iterations before it became the final product I use today. Finally, I got it juuuuuust right.

Meal planning and grocery shopping have always been a struggle as I strive to feed myself the best possible quality meals within a reasonable budget and without a ton of time. These three things don't always align, and it can be difficult to settle on a plan that feels sustainable rather than exhausting.

Today, I want to share how I personally use my meal planner and shopping list. It's less of a how-to guide and more of a how-I-do-it guide. I won't pretend that the idea of a meal planner is novel, but the layout and design itself adds value to my weekly routine and saves time (#winning!).

Let's get started!

Featured tools & Supplies

Featured recipes

I get ideas for meals from Pinterest, podcasts, cookbooks, Eat Your Books' weekly emails, extensive conversations with friends about food (haha), and my own personal recipe collection. I also look at the Seasonal Food Guide to check which produce is in season at the time of planning.

A Note on "EASE"

One of the things that came to mind often as I wrote and filmed for this blog post was the concept of ease and what we associate as "easy" when it comes to food. For many Americans, if getting dinner on the table doesn't include driving a few miles to the nearest fast food restaurant, it feels hard. Not because it actually is, but because our standards (myself included) when it comes to ease and convenience with food are very low. Not to mention, we are all leading extremely busy lives, and if we are being honest, stretched a little too thin. I understand that sometimes life leaves little room for anything other than the scenario above; however, it is important to note that while being intentional about food is work, it does not have to be hard. Putting in the work over small chunks of time, or by following a schedule that works for you, saves so much stress, hassle, and inconvenience down the line. 

Happy meal planning!

Illustrator CC Beginner Basics Online Crash Course

 illustrator cc beginner basics online crash course. crown of lilies ecourse.

Last week, I launched a brand new ecourse called Illustrator CC Beginner Basics! Adobe Illustrator is my favorite design program. In my opinion, it is one of the most versatile and robust programs on the market. I have been using it faithfully for over eight years, and it's the kind of program that expands as your skills grow. This is great, because your investment of time and energy when learning the program will only reap rewards for years to come.

The best thing about this course, is that I have designed it to take up as little time and energy as possible. There are six jam-packed 30-minute sessions that cover everything you need to know to get started designing right away. In one sitting at your favorite local coffee shop or one afternoon after work, you can learn everything you need to master the basics! Whether you have dreams of designing the cover graphics for your budding YouTube channel or Instagram feed or looking to start a career in design, this is the class for you.

In short, this is the class I wish I had eight years ago. I've combined my years of experience as well as formal training in Graphic Design to bring you clear and concise instruction on how to use one of the most formidable design programs available today.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below, and I hope to see you in class!

2018 Make Nine

 2018 make nine. crown of lilies blog.

2018 make nine. crown of lilies blog.

Remember when I declared in front of the entire Internet and God that I was going to sew nine new items in 2017? Welp. I didn't make one garment last year. And I'm OK with that.

Like many of my creative endeavors, I take a while to think about the meaning and process behind the project long before I ever pick up a tool or supply. My creative thoughts linger and they build on each other in layers and waves. Instead of fighting it, I can embrace it for what it is and... move forward anyway. There is value in every step of the creative process, even when that step requires little to no action at all.

I love that this project is called "a gentle challenge for makers" because it is a constant goal of mine to fully embrace the gentleness of the handmade arts. More importantly, I aim to be gentle with myself when my creative goals don't always match up with reality. I'm still very much a novice when it comes to garment sewing, but I love that this project somehow encourages curiosity and exploration without a crippling level of expectation. It's exciting and freeing all at the same time.

OK. So, on to my 2018 Make Nine picks!

  1. Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen (photo inspiration). A staple dress for sure.
  2. Zinnia Skirt by Colette Patterns (photo inspiration). This was included in last year's roundup, but I still love it and think about it often. Also, I'm loving that lace top in the photo!
  3. Ludlow Scarf by Brooklyn Tweed. Obviously.
  4. Virginia Leggings by Megan Nielsen (photo inspiration). I need a full-length version in black and grey, but I'm also living for these cropped pants in the photo. It's the perfect workout staple, but I really can't wait to bust this pattern out in late November to make some Christmas leggings!
  5. Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet (photo inspiration). Yellow, always and forever.
  6. Esteem Dress by Cali Faye (photo inspiration). To be honest, this dress is a little sexier than my comfort level usually permits, but I immediately fell in love with the inspiration photo when I first laid eyes on it and have been literally daydreaming about it off and on for at least two years.
  7. Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio (photo inspiration by @ebonyh). The perfect sweater. I want one in grey, oatmeal, and something speckled.
  8. Lander Pants by True Bias (photo inspiration by @sewliberated). Stylish and easy. Perfect!
  9. Kalle Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns (photo inspiration). The shirtdress of my dreams.

What's interesting to me, is that all of my picks last year were more inspirational than practical. This year, my picks feel like I'm well on my way to building a capsule wardrobe. All of them, with the exception of the scarf, are things I could see myself wearing on any given day. They are things I want to make just because I love them, but also what I love most is that they feel so "me".