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Casey Carroll Art

Spreading joy, one piece of art at a time.

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Living Intentionally

At the beginning of 2015 I chose my “word of the year”. My word was presentI wanted to be present in each day and not be so distracted with everything else. Last year I didn’t choose a word. I made anti-resolutions instead. Seemed fitting considering how crazy the previous year was.

Anyhow, I think 2017 needs a word. The word for my year will be intentional. I want to live on purpose. I want to have an end goal with mini goals and prompts along the way to keep me on track. I want to live each day feeling like I’ve accomplished something, even if that something is simply making a to-do list in the morning. I want the vast majority of my time to be spent doing something meaningful, something fulfilling, something enriching… and not just scrolling through Facebook for hours.

I have divided my word of the year into 3 key areas: Health/Wellbeing, Spiritual, and Creative. I found a list of 52 changes for a healthy lifestyle. For the other two, I made my own list. I’ll try to share that in a future blog post. Once I made my lists, I went through my planner and added one from each at the beginning of every week. Then I color coded them – pink for health, blue for spiritual growth, and orange for creative. I also decided green would be for things relating to my kids, and yellow would be things relating to work, but those are just side notes, not weekly goals. Though, my children and job are not side notes. Just realized that didn’t quite sound right. Moving on…

 

 

I also found several quotes and bible verses relating to my word of the year and my goals, and then I wrote those on random pages throughout my planner. I’m pretty interested to see how my life corresponds to whatever weekly goals or sayings I have pre-loaded. I’ve also marked the date when I need to do my fitness assessment to check my progress. I have written reminders throughout the year to make daily lists or schedule important appointments. I’ll likely also try to get all my bills due on the same day so I don’t accidentally forget anything.

I bought myself an alarm clock today and plan to use it instead of my phone. I’ll be putting my phone in another room at night to avoid the tendency and habit of checking my phone first thing in the morning or if I wake in the middle of the night. I’m hoping this helps me to sleep better and start my day better and more productively. If you’re checking Facebook before you greet your family in the morning then there’s a problem. When I get paid Friday I also intend to buy myself a watch so I don’t have to rely so heavily on my phone. I find myself checking my phone for the time and then getting sucked into social media and games and before I know it, 20 minutes has passed just in checking the time.

I’m going to get my oldest in on it too. In the next week I have scheduled time to sit down with her and help her set her own goals. I want to create responsibility and ownership in her. I want her to set a goal and feel the accomplishment when it’s done, knowing that she can do something when she decides to do it and works toward it.

I have big hopes for 2017, and I know that if I want to achieve it then I’m going to have to do something about it. Success doesn’t come from sitting on your butt and wishing something will happen. You have to do something. It may be baby steps each day, but they are steps that move you closer to where you want to be. I’m sure that throughout the year I’ll share what my goals/prompts are for that week and any other relevant tidbits. I’m making a goal to publish a blog post once a week, at least. One step at a time.

 

The new year is just a few short days away. Have you thought about what your goals for the new year are? Share in the comments!

 

 

5 Crochet Tips That Rocked My World!!

I am just having one of those weeks when nothing seems to be going as planned, but gotta keep moving along. I’ve spent a few days this week, particularly Wednesday, feeling absolutely awful. I actually ended up in the ER after work on Wednesday, trying to sort out why I felt so lousy. Four hours and a shot in the tushie later, and I’m on my way to recovery, I hope.

All this to say, that’s one reason why this blog post wasn’t posted sooner. And with taxes and other things going on and needing immediate attention, my blog just hasn’t been a priority. I am hoping I’ll feel better over the weekend and can catch up and get ahead again. But for today, I’m going to share with you 5 tips or techniques that have been invaluable to me in crochet.

 

The first of these magical tips is…

The Magic Ring – I told you it was magical! It even says so in its name!! This technique is also referred to as the adjustable loop method. Whatever you want to call it, this technique is great for crocheting things in the round, such as toys and hats. I feel it makes a tighter and stronger center. CrochetMe has a good tutorial here.

This leads well into our next tip…

Hat Sizes – This bit of info has been a game changer! I make a variety of hats in my Etsy shop and wanted to make sizes other than ones that fit me or my daughters (the only heads I have at home to test on). This size chart has enabled me to make sizes for anyone and everyone! No more strangely asking someone to measure their head so you can make them a hat as a gift. I have done this. haha! Crochet Crowd has a great chart online.

The next few tips have to do with finishing. The first…

Invisible Join – Anyone else hate that pesky bump when you tie off at the end of a project? This sneaky little tip will get rid of that bump! It doesn’t take very long and looks great! Gleeful Things has a how-to on her blog. She also has some really great crochet patterns. I love her Waffle Cone Slouchy Hat.

Blocking – What a difference this makes!! When I first started crocheting I wasn’t a blocker. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but it does!! It SO does! Blocking really makes your stitches (aka All that hard work!!!) stand out beautifully. It helps garments and shawls to lay better, and it’s a must for afghan blocks. This photo tutorial will show you the difference between blocking and not blocking.

Invisible Stitch – We had invisible join, and now we have invisible stitch. Piecing together afghans is tedious, and I want it to look seamless. I don’t want the seam to be super obvious, which is why invisible stitch is awesome. Take a look at this great photo tutorial.

I hope these tips help you, especially if you’re just starting out in crochet. Not a crocheter? Maybe you’re a knitter. I have some of my favorite knitting tips here.

What are some of your favorite crochet tips or techniques? Share them in the comments.

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Tips for Managing Your Time

GOOOOOOOOD MORNING!! I woke up in a great mood, and I’m trying to sing while I write. It’s not working out well. I keep having to retype things. But my coffee mug is telling me “Dream BIG and Live Happily”!

I hope your week is great so far. It’s been a chilly Spring here, though, and I think this Friday is expected to be cold. At one point there was snow in the forecast. Snow! It barely showed up all Winter long and it wants to turn up now. No. Just no.

With the hopes of warmer Spring weather, I have been planning some fun projects. If only I had the time to get them all done.

 

 

As a full time mom, business owner, employee, and childcare provider, it is HARD to fit everything in. Then add in other activities, meetings with friends, errands, and so on, and things get really crazy. So how in the world do I get it all done?

Well, I’m a queen of multitasking. And when you have a zillion things to do and you’re “just one person”, it becomes a necessity to plan. I have a planner. I rarely look at it. But I desperately need it. Some of the things I do has become routine now, so I don’t need to refer to my planner, but it helped in the beginning.

I’ve shared before about my morning routine and how I get myself (and keep myself) going each day. I’m not a morning person (probably never will be), but having a morning routine has helped tremendously to get my day off to a good start.

There are a few key things I do to help fit things in and keep things running somewhat smoothly…

Start your morning off right 
I really can’t say this one enough. You can get a lot done in the first hour of the morning if you choose to get moving, rather than stare at your phone or hit the snooze button. Although, I’m still guilty of the latter one.

Get out of bed. Make your bed. If your parents forced you to make your bed, thank them for it. Many of the most successful people make their beds every morning. Accomplishing something so early in the day sets the tone for the rest of the day, and it makes your bed look more inviting at night, giving you a better night’s sleep.

I’ve started doing the oil pulling thing, so I put a spoonful of oil in my mouth, and, while I’m swishing, I start a load of laundry (it costs less to do it in the morning or wee hours of the night), make my lunch if I’m working away from home that day, start breakfast, pick up a few things that didn’t get put away the night before, and put clean dishes away. Yep. I do all of that in the 15-20 minutes that I’m oil pulling. On Monday of this week, I even bleached the inside of my cabinets and my kitchen counters before 8am!

And I make my very best effort to not get on social media or check my emails before 8:30am. My mornings have been much better since I started doing this. I also get my first 8-12 ounces of water in during the first 30 minutes of the day, and I try to enjoy a solitary cup of coffee while the house is still quiet.

Squeeze exercise in when you can
Unless I’m at work, I always have at least one child with me. Sometimes, I have as many as 5. This makes it nearly impossible for me to get to a gym, or even do a structured workout at home. I have to get creative to get in a little physical activity here and there.

When I get up in the morning, if nothing else, I stretch a bit. I try to get my body warmed up and charged up for the day. It also gives me the jolt of adrenaline I need to get going in the morning. If my children stay asleep, then I’ll do a quick workout routine for a little cardio. On days I work away from home, I’ve been walking on my lunch break or afternoon break. Sometimes both. When I’m home, I’ll take the kids for a walk, maybe even go to the playground. I’ve also started doing squats while doing other things, like cooking, waiting for coffee to brew, and brushing my teeth. And a  couple of friends introduced me to some online activities for kids – gonoodle.com and Cosmic Kids Yoga. Both of those are fun physical activities for kids, but you can join them! Some of the videos are challenging even for adults!


Use your time wisely and efficiently
I’ve said already that it’s amazing what you can accomplish in a short amount of time. Do you have 10 minutes before you have to leave? Take a cleaning wipe and wipe down your bathroom. Sweep your floor. Take out the trash. There are several things you could do that don’t take as much time as we think they would.

Rocking a baby to sleep? That’s when I check my email, post social media updates for my business, respond to messages, and even listen to podcasts. All on my phone.

And don’t ever go from one room to another or upstairs to downstairs without grabbing something from the room your in that belongs in another room. Take it with you and put it where it belongs. Effortless.


Use a planner
Have trouble remembering things? Write it down. I write down and schedule everything. I write a week’s worth of blog posts on Mondays. I have reminders written on the weekends to change bed sheets. I schedule one or two days each month to clean up my email, website bookmarks, my desk, my workspace, and things on my phone. I schedule when I need to write my newsletter, which, by the way, you should subscribe to if you like to get extra things and sneak peeks. I schedule product releases and deadlines for my goals. And, obviously, write down appointments and other events.


Prepare tonight for tomorrow
Before I go to bed each night, I try to get things put back where they belong, have dishes washed and put away, floors cleaned, lunches made or started, things needed for work or school put together, and my top 3 named. I’ll get to that next. Preparing the night before helps me to start the next day with a clean slate. It makes mornings go smoother, and I’m not started a new day with yesterday’s mess.

Pick your top 3
Each night before bed I try to write down 3 things I need to accomplish tomorrow. I write down the hardest, most dreaded thing first, and that’s the first thing I mark off the list the next day. Do it and get it over with. Having a list of 3 top priority tasks makes it easy to see what needs done and it’s satisfying to mark it off when you complete it. Writing these things down the night before helps keep me from lying in bed thinking about them when I should be sleeping.

These are things that help me to have productive days. Obviously, not every day goes as planned, but it’s good to have a plan.


What are some of your best time management tips? Share in the comments below. 🙂

My Favorite Websites for Business Tips, Resources, and Tools

Running a handmade business is hard work. There’s a lot more to it than just making stuff. In a world run by technology and social media, a handmade artist needs to be well versed in online marketing and social media sharing.

The first year or so of having my shop open, I didn’t know these things. It has taken much research to build a following, and I’m still learning something new all the time. It’s an ever-growing and changing facet of my business. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the websites I have found to be incredibly useful in my business.

 

 

Pixabay — I use Pixabay for images when I can’t take the photo myself, for whatever reason. The photos here are fantastic for title photos and others images. When posting photos online you must be very, very careful about copyright laws. Do not use images that are not yours. This can get you into big legal trouble. The great thing about Pixabay is that the images are free to use and alter, with no attribution required.

Picmonkey — This is primarily where I alter my photos and design my title photos. I use the free version currently, but I’m considering the paid version. With this site you can alter color, add text, create collages, and more.

Mailchimp — Another site with a monkey! Ha! Mailchimp is what I use to send out my newsletter, which, by the way, you should subscribe to if you’re not already. (Like what I did there?) It’s free up to 2000 subscribers! Woohoo!

Etsy Treasury Tool — If you have a blog and want to create & share an Etsy treasury, this is a SUPER easy way to do it. All you do is enter the treasury ID and it creates HTML for you to add to your blog. Easy peasy.

MarketYourCreativity.com — I have blogged several times about how fabulous Lisa Jacobs’ book is. This is her website. It’s chock-full of great tips and resources. Truly an asset to bloggers and small business owners.

Buffer App — There are other social media scheduling apps out there, but this is the one I use right now. They have a plug in for the browser on your computer and an app that makes it super easy to add things to the schedule. You can also determine what times and days to post. No need to worry that you won’t be available to post, Buffer will do the posting for you!

Word Swag — This app was worth the cost for it. I create blog titles, promotion pics, and several other things with this app. You can use your own photo background or the ones on the app.

Handmadeology — Another site that has many tips for Etsy sellers and handmade artists. They have tips for selling on Etsy, photography pointers, marketing strategies, etc.

These are the sites I frequent most often. What are some of the sites and apps you’ve found helpful?

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The Book That Is Changing My Life

We are 1/4 of the way through 2016! Holy moly! How are your yearly resolutions or goals coming along? If you’re like most people, you forgot about your resolutions before January was over. If not then, I’m sure all the chocolate on Valentine’s Day threw your weight loss and health goals down the toilet.

No worries. It’s normal. But it doesn’t have to be, and it’s not too late! There are still 9 months left to get it done!!

I bought a book back in January (wish I had sooner!), and I have finally made it all the way through. I’ve been working through it during my lunch break at my “normal” job. I’ve been reading snippets while making dinner and getting soggy crackers smeared on my legs. And I’ve been taking notes in the wee hours of the morning on days I can manage to get a few moments with just me, my coffee, and this book.

(affiliate link)
Your Best Year by Lisa Jacobs  is fantastic! With Lisa’s guidance, I have started a blogging calendar, scheduled product launches, and scheduled vacations. Vacations!!! Since I started my Etsy business, I haven’t given myself a day off. In 5 years!!!!!
This productivity workbook has encouraged me to take a look at my business and determine what is working, what isn’t, and what I want from it. I feel so much better about my blog, knowing that I have blog posts written for two weeks from today. I know what’s coming, so I don’t have to stress about content. I also know when I want to release new product, so I can plan for it. I love this!
 
One of my favorite things about the book is it has a calendar with a section on each month where you write your goals for the month and do a review. There’s also a section every 3 months where you review and halfway through! What a great way to stay on track!!
This book is great for anyone with a small business, creative business, or someone just wanting to keep a better record of what they’re doing, and for those who need a shove in the right direction. The book is loaded with tips and plans to get you going.
 
 
Do you have a way you’re keeping track of your goal progress? Share in the comments. 
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Why I’m No Longer Satisfied With "Good Enough" and What I’m Doing About It

If you’ve never reached that point of “enough is enough”, then I hope you do. Not much else will give you a kick in the pants faster than the moment when you are done with the way things have been going and are ready to make a change.

In fact, I’d venture to say that you can’t truly make a change until you’ve reached the “enough is enough” point.

 

 

When I opened my Etsy shop in January 2011 I had huge hopes. Huge! However, I didn’t realize how much work it would be to start, maintain, promote, grow, etc. It’s a LOT of work. When I didn’t immediately see the success I wanted, I backed off. I decided it was much too difficult to gain headway and that maybe I just wasn’t cut out for it.

My shop went silent for awhile. No new listings, no new product, no new announcements of any kind. Just crickets.

I then began some research. I did a ton of research on online business, Etsy businesses, social marketing, and many other things. I started to implement these things. I took better photos, wrote better product descriptions, actually used the tags on the listings, shared on social media, networked… the works!

And ya know what, I began to see some results!

5 years later… I’m, again, not satisfied. But it isn’t just my shop that I’m dissatisfied with. It’s nearly everything.

For far too long I’ve had the “it is what it is” mentality. That mentality neither propels you forward, nor does it bring contentment. Rather, it makes you stagnant and discontent with where you are. This mentality accepts the current circumstances, isn’t happy about it, but doesn’t see the point in trying to change anything. How depressing!

This year I am making goals!!! Again! And I WILL meet those goals, one way or another. No longer will I be unhappy with my business status, my relationship status, my financial status, or any other status. I have made a plan (it’s on the calendar!) to improve nearly every area of my life. At the end of the year, I may not have a stellar romantic relationship or dramatically increase my income this year, but I WILL enjoy where I’m at.

I wholeheartedly believe that 90% of our satisfaction is mental. It starts there. Change starts in the mind. If you want it badly enough, you will do what it takes to get there.

You CAN make a change and live the life you want. Believe you can do it and then DO IT!!!

Be sure to check out the new Spring/Summer items in the shop and keep a watch for more coming April 11th! ;

 

 

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30 Fun Things to Do This Spring!

It’s March, and Spring is just around the corner! I am ready for budding flowers and trees, Spring weather, thunderstorms, walks in the mornings, and all the other wonderful things that come with Spring… except the allergies. Gotta take the good with the bad, I suppose.

I’m already brainstorming what I’ll do this Spring. I came up with a few ideas. Maybe you’ll want to do them too!

 

 

 

Here are a few of the things I’d like to do this Spring:

  1. Have a picnic

  2. Play in the mud

  3. Plant flowers

  4. Ride bikes

  5. Fly a kite

  6. Build a birdhouse

  7. Go for a nature walk – in the mountains!

  8. Take your art outside – Kids love it!

  9. Visit a greenhouse

  10. Go to the playground

  11. Hula hoop

  12. Go to the zoo

  13. Play croquet

  14. Climb a tree

  15. Attend a local fair/festival

  16. Take photos of nature

  17. Take photos with friends & family

  18. Read a book… outside

  19. Check out activities at the local library

  20. Go for a walk

  21. Grow/Raise Butterflies – Our butterfly project

  22. Build a treehouse

  23. Go geocaching

  24. Visit a botanical garden

  25. Plant a vegetable garden

  26. Wash the car by hand

  27. Start a compost

  28. Make a fairy garden – Our fairy house

  29. Make popsicles

  30. Learn a new skill – Maybe knitting! 

 

 

To download the PDF checklist, click the image above or click here.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas for Spring also. Share your ideas in the comments below or tag me in a tweet (@CaseyCarrollArt)!

Go to the shop to see our new product for Spring!

 

 

 

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10 Things I Do To Take Care of Myself

Awhile back I decided that I really need to take better care of myself. A year ago I was in deep with post partum depression and anxiety. I was struggling. It wasn’t pretty. But I’ll write more on that eventually.

The point is, I realized that I wasn’t taking care of me. At all. I was doing everything but. So what did I do? I made a list. (I love lists!) I made a list of things I can do to take care of myself and my needs. Things that make me feel alive, feel loved, feel beautiful, and feel whole.

We all recharge differently. Some feel alive in crowds and some, if you’re a pseudo introvert like myself, do best recharging with time spent alone.

 

 

 

Things I do to take care of myself: 

# 1 – I Knit Preferably outside. I love to knit outside and listen to the birds and the traffic and children playing. Knitting has great benefits. Don’t believe me? Check out my reasons why I think everyone should learn to knit.

#2 – Read a Book  I really wish I could do this more. Reading fiction allows me to transport myself and think about these fictional characters in places far from my stressful and busy life.

#3 – Getting enough sleep This is a hard one, but lately I’ve been asleep before 9pm. Although, I’ve also been waking up about an hour earlier than usual too. I’m working on becoming a morning person. Here are some tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

#4 – Playing with my kids Playing is something we all need more of. Being present and in-the-moment with our kids isn’t just good for them, it’s good for us too. We all need the freedom to act like a kid now and then.

#5 – Exercise Whether it’s a walk, a hike, doing the 30-day planking challenge, whatever it may be, exercise is known to lift those feel-good hormones. Plus, when you see your body start to look better and you have more energy, you’re going to feel better too.

#6 – Unplug Electronics and social media takes up so much time. It can be emotionally and mentally draining, and it’s a huge time waster. I gave up Facebook for an entire month, and I really didn’t miss it all too much. I think it’s good when we take a break from those things now and then.

#7 – Shower. And shave my legs!! As most moms of little ones knows, shaving is a luxury. And getting our eyebrows tamed. Doing those things can make ya feel like a new woman. I’m not going to tell you how long it’s been since I’ve shaved my legs, but I’m definitely overdue for some leg pampering.

#8 – Being thankful Sometimes all I need to do is write a few things I’m thankful for, and I’m reminded of how incredibly and abundantly blessed I am, which instantly makes me perk up.

#9 – Spend time with friends Like I said, I’m a bit introverted and I’m a creative person, so I need time to myself, but I also need to make time for friends. Time with friends helps to make me feel wanted, and it’s a place where ideas and lives can be shared, even if my introversion only allows it once or twice a month.

#10 Eat healthy and drink plenty of water I bet you thought coffee would be somewhere on this list! Coffee actually makes me feel worse sometimes though. But when we eat nutritious foods and fill our bellies with food that will give us the energy, vitamins, and minerals we need, we are going to feel WAY better and will have the energy to do all the crazy things on our never-ending lists. Water is also crucial. We need to drink half our body weight in ounces of water every day. Without it we feel sluggish, get headaches, and a host of other issues.


What do you do to take care of yourself?


There’s new Spring items in the shop too! 

 

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10 Knitting Tips That Will Change Your Life!

Knitting can be tricky. And even once you’ve mastered the knit and purl, there is still so much to learn and knitters are often coming up with new tricks of the trade to help a knitter out.

 

 

 

A few of these tricks have completely changed what I knit and how I knit.

#1 How to Relax Circular Needles – I LOVE circulars!!! When knitting stockinette, there’s no need to purl on circulars! But sometimes the needles are a bit fiddly, especially straight from the package. Soften up the cable by dipping them in boiling water.

#2 A Trick to Keeping Your Edges Neat – It’s hard to get pretty edges when knitting on straight needles, and the edges like to curl. This trick is fabulous for keeping those edges pretty.

#3 Frogging Tip – Sometimes you make a mistake and you have to rip it out. Create a “safety net” of sorts so you don’t rip out too far and so you don’t lose stitches while frogging.

#4 Knitting Your Tail – I hate weaving in ends, so this tip is a time saver!

#5 Two-at-a-Time (TAAT) Socks – Game. Changer. I love knitting socks. I started on DPNS then moved to knitting one sock at a time on a circular needle with the magic loop method (another awesome technique). But THEN I learned TAAT on a circular!! I love that I get a full pair of socks done at the same time!! Then I learned Four-at-a-time… End of story.

#6 Kitchener Stitch – Super awesome binding stitch to close up toes on your socks and for seaming. It looks beautiful and flawless!

#7 Knitted Plaid – What?! Yep!!! So easy and looks awesome!

#8 Russian Join – I just recently found a new way to join that I need to try, but this one is great! No weaving it ends! Woohoo!!!

#9 Softening Scratchy Yarn – Okay, so it’s not a knitting exclusive tip, but it’s still pretty awesome for softening that yard sale yarn.

#10 Stretchy Bind Off – This one is so quick and stretchy and looks fabulous!! Great for sock cuffs!

What are some great knitting tips and tricks you’ve found and love?



Be sure to check out the new Spring/Summer items in the shop and get ready for more new product coming April 11th!!

 



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