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Lather, Rinse REPEAT. Staying Focused

The Zen version of me knows that:Life is a JourneyBut Actual-Me is hopelessly focused on:are we there So I’m not really a process-person.  I want to jump right to the finish- the finished product, the end of the book, I want to make the purchase not do the research.  You get the idea.

But my I want it NOW attitude (an approach which lead to the ill-advised Oompa Loompa acquisition of ’72) has not been serving me very well of late. There are lots of steps involved in running this business and I’ve been having trouble really keeping myself disciplined, on task and getting stuff done.

So I’ve adopted some strategies.

It’s so easy to let time slip away when part of your job is to look at other blog posts or scan Pinterest (or answer emails etc). I sit down fully intending to just to a couple of quick things and then BAM two hours have passed and I’m behind for the day.

So I’ve become very friendly with an old (and dusty) egg timer.egg timerI’ll confess I feel a bit like one of Pavlov’s dogs but this simple tool has had an wonderful effect.  If I set the timer for an hour. I’m going to work for a solid hour – no breaks, no wandering away -“just focus but only for an hour I tell myself.” It is AMAZING what I can accomplish in that hour and how energizing it is to “race against the clock.” Not “race” as in madly scurrying around stressing out but “race” as in move efficiently.

My second trick is podcasts.

My business is challenging and quite creative but there is A LOT of tedium – repetitive tasks that always seem daunting and certainly aren’t a lot of fun.

Coaster Back CuttingCutting Coaster BacksSealing Coasterstop coating coastersPainting Blockspainting tea light holdersBecause I have to actually look at what I’m doing having the TV on wont work. Listening to newscasts got a bit grim and music can only take me so far.

Podcasts to the Rescue!!!!

Free! Fascinating! Covering every aspect of life!

My current go-to’s are:

Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s like hanging out with a group of smart, funny and perceptive friends who are all totally into the things that you are totally into. Books, movies, TV, music.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (on itunes) – Always funny and (somewhat) educational.

This American Life Radio Archive – Fascinating stories

Crash Course: Really intense, short lessons in history, science and all kinds of stuff.  The teachers are waaaay over-caffeinated (and funny). They are excellent and often so over-packed with fast flying information that I have to listen to them twice.

School of Greatness – Lewis Howes is sort of a motivational speaker and his podcast has interviews with folks from all walks of life talking about success and their philosophies.  It can be very inspiring.

I find myself actually looking forward to the tedious tasks because I get to listen to the podcasts.

Do you have favorite podcasts? Tips for keeping yourself on task? If so please share them.

On a different note:

I’ve said before how very, very much I appreciate all your comments. I truly do.

I don’t’ often call out comments but I felt compelled to bring this one to the attention of a certain subset of my readers.

The lovely and incredibly insightful Tracey commented recently writing:

Wish……. that I was one of your sisters. You’re fun!

So you see it is as I have been saying for years to a certain subset of my readers: People are lining up to have me as their brother!

Please note that nowhere does the lovely and insightful Tracey use (nor seem to be contemplating using) phrases such as: “Obnoxious twerp,” “you were adopted” or “the mistake from the 60s”

I just wanted to point that out….to a certain subset of my readers.

OK, my timer just went off. It’s time for coasters and podcasts!

 

 

 

 

Wine Charm Tutorial with Free Printables

Free Pintable DIY Mod Podge Wine Charms Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge RocksAs I teased on my Friday Blog Post my latest Mod Podge Rocks Tutorial is up and ready for review.

These wine charms were easy to make (I used Mod Podge’s “Podgeable Shapes”) and I think they’d be a fun project or gift.New York Subway Art Wine Charms Chelteham Road Tutorial available via Mod Podge Rocks

As a matter of fact I’m going to work on making them into an official Cheltenham Road product!

I designed the subway graphics and they are available for a free download over on the Mod Podge Rocks site.  There is a black and white option, a white and black option and then just a set of blanks (all sized for the various Podgeable shapes) so you can add your own text.Tutorial Preview Simple Subway Art DIY Mod Podge Wine Charms Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge RocksBut ideas for other graphics are pouring out of my mind.

I thought it would be fun to do book covers and The Muse and I began riffing on ideas.

Four wine charms to a set. Classic novels would workClassic Book Coversand then, maybe a fifth one, you know, for the Designated DriverSense and SensiibilityI’m excited about this one and can’t wait to get designing.

In the meantime, if you’re keen on making some of your own head on over to Mod Podge Rocks for the full tutorial.

Busy January

I have successfully taken down my Christmas decorations!

Well, except for that one thing. Do you have that? You pack everything neatly away and THEN discover that one ornament or whatever that you somehow missed. And now it’s a total pain to get all the boxes back out so it just sits there mocking you……all year.that one dang ornament

No? You don’t have that? It’s just me?

Awesome.

So, I’ve moved on from Christmas but I’m always surprised by how busy January is for me.

I tend to think of post-Christmas as a time when nobody would want to acquire anything else.

But apparently that too is just me. I’ve been working on a bunch of custom HOME signs and a family is decorating their new nursery with vintage NY theme (I think I’m gonna like this kid!):Custom Child's Name Sign by Cheltenham Road

On another front, this is what happens to my dining room table when a store decides they need A LOT of subway signs.Custom Subway Art Signs Cheltenham Road

And I’ve been trying to come up with some new designs.

Some are just variations on a theme like these restyled vintage subway graphic tea light holders:Retro Subway Art Style New York and LA Candle Holders by Cheltenham Road

Vintage Subay Graphic Candle Blocks by Cheltenham RoadAnd some are re-designs of current products.

My vintage baseball coaster sets have been some of my better sellers on Etsy.

However, since initially designing them my knowledge of baseball history has grown and I’ve been meaning to revise them to reflect more great Hall of Fame players.

First up is my Chicago Cubs revision featuring the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance triple play (and Mordicai Brown cause, you know….four coasters in a set).Chicago Cubs Baseball Card Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road onEtsy

And then I got to work on my Detroit Tigers set to more prominently feature Ty Cobb and Hughie Jennings.Vintage Detroit Tigers Hal of Fame Baseball Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

This also allowed me to work on my improved Photoshop skills.

You see baseball cards are rectangular and my coasters are square so if you just resize the originals you end up with short, fat baseball players.   Now that isn’t, necessarily, historically inaccurate but still not quite what I’m looking for.  So, every element of the image must be taken apart, resized and then reassembled.

It’s slow going.

Only 10 more teams to left!  Four players to a set…..40 images…….yay!

And, finally, I honing in on a new product that you’ll first see as a Mod Podge Rocks tutorial but here is a little preview. Tutorial Preview Simple Subway Art DIY Mod Podge Wine Charms Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge Rocks

I thought wine charms would be a fun and versatile idea (clearly I’m a subway art kick – the dining room table must be effecting my brain).

I’m thinking these have a lot of potential partly because my mind is exploding with various ideas for graphics and themes. I keep having to stop what I’m doing to write them down or I know I’ll forget.

So, that’s me.  What is everyone else working on?

My Christmas Decorations Are Still Up

Soooooo….my Christmas decorations are still up

BUT!!!

I have a good justification reason!

OK, here’s the deal. The holiday season was great for me business-wise. Busy, busy, busy. So….yay!

However, I seem to be Seasonally Creative -by which I mean the ideas for a season only seem to really flow DURING that season. That’s fine but it always leaves me running way behind. Everyone else in blog-land is posting great Christmas ideas when I’m still eating my left-over Halloween candy

It’s a problem.

So, I decided to use the post-holiday time to get in gear for next year and I left my decorations up so I could snap pictures.

See? Perfectly justified!  It has nothing to do with laziness or a childlike need to make Christmas last forever.  Also a certain sister who shall remain nameless has not yet sent presents and as I’m sure they are coming AT ANY MOMENT I wouldn’t want to open them in a non-holiday setting.  Just sayin’

So now, please allow me to share ideas that I won’t elaborate on for 12 months.

I’ve wanted to test out how my new Lenk tool worked when transferring color images (spoiler: GREAT!) and I thought I’d make a stand for the cake pops I serve each year at my holiday dessert party.

I made a design based on a vintage record album cover and used one of those one dollar wood plaques from Michaels.Retro Style Cake Pop Stand Project Cheltenham Road

I maaaaay need to rethink where the holes go. It kinda looks like a sniper took Santa out.

(no I didn’t make those cake pops – Thanks Starbucks! Yes, I did eat those cake pops….somebody had to)

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I keep being tempted by those cheap wooden sleds they sell at Michaels each year and when I found one at 70% off I saw my chance!Tutorial Christmas Sled Project

I wanted to see if I could vintage it up to make a kind of serving pieceChristmas Sled Serving Piece Cheltenham Road

I think it has possibilities.

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Over the years I’ve collected those ubiquitous apothecary jars and, like others before me, filled them with ornaments. They look fine but I was getting a bit bored. I thought, ‘why not use some scrap wood blocks and scrap wrapping paper and to change things up a bit?’A New Idea for Christmas Apothocary Jars by Cheltenham Road

I also cut up a paper bag and some printer paper for that “brown paper packages tied up with string” look.*Easy DIY Christmas Decoration Apothocary Jars Cheltenham Road

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And finally , for some reason, I keep seeing in my head just letters spelling out the word HOLIDAY. (no this is not a “war on Christmas” thing. I just really like the word Holiday. I like the movie “Holiday” with Cary Grant. I like saying “holiday.” I wish I was English so I could, when leaving on a trip, announce grandly that “I’m going on Holiday.” It’s just a great word!)Holiday Sign

I figured they could stand on their own or maybe as a banner/bunting thing.HOLIDAY Bunting Vintage Christmas Style Cheltenham Road

And I have about a dozen more ideas as well although I may not get to those. I’m a little Christmassed out here in January. I’ve reached that tipping point where the decorations go from “how fun! and festive!!!” to “get this crap out of my house!”

Happy 2015 everyone!

 

*when did that “My Favorite Things” song become a Christmas song? They kept playing it on the radio this year. I mean, I get it….mittens, packages, snow on my eyelashes….but I don’t recall it being Christmas in the movie.

Into the Woods! (or Into the Weeds) A Cheltenham Road Christmas Project Journey

Christmas Tree Tutorial Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge RocksMy latest Mod Podge Rocks project is up and viewable and it’s time for trees!

I’ve been wanting to do these and imagining them but unable to get it really done due to Christmas madness.

Of course, those aren’t the trees I initially planned.

I had planned (and attempted) to make these 3D trees.Dimensional Christmas Tree Centerpiece Cheltenham Road

I thought “I’ll use bits of scrap wood! It will be affordable! Easy! Fun!”The woods are made of wood Cheltenham RoadNOPE!

I kept trying different approaches and each one just became more and more complicated. I could hear all of you saying to yourselves “well, David, listen, it’s been a fun ride but you’re clearly insane so we’re just going to step away slowly”

My problem was I wanted to make them without using specialized tools. I didn’t want to be the Norm Abraham of the Glue-Stuff-To-Wood crowd. Did you ever watch his New Yankee Workshop show? Great stuff but totally frustrating:

“let me show you how to make this. You’ll just need wood and about 5 different, highly specialized power tools that no human being except for myself has and I only have them because my sponsors provided them to me”

So I tried and …..

NOPE!

I just couldn’t figure out how to make them without a scroll saw.  Or a really big miter sawChristmas Tree Centerpiece Cheltenham Road

So I came up with an alternate!

I will make them in scrap wood strips and then they will go on a dowel so you could rotate them, spread them out etc!

Well, first I almost cut my hand off cutting the strips of wood.

And then I almost drilled my hand off trying to drill a hole in the center with a handheld drill (trying to avoid using the drill press).

So……

NOPE!

I did come up with an alternate and I think it’s pretty fun.Vintage Wrapping Paper Christmas Trees Tutorial Cheltenham Road for Mod Podge Rocks

But I really do need to figure out how to make any of these ideas without cutting Santa’s face in half.Santa's face

I’ll keep trying!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Easy Illuminated Holiday Centerpiece

Easy Light Up Christmas Centerpiece Idea from Cheltenham Road Well that was a pause. Sometimes blogging makes me feel great and sometimes it makes me feel like the world’s worst pen pal.

Thank you all very much for the well wishes about my back. It’s much better though it’s still slowing me down a bit.

And thanks too for the votes about the coasters. You came up with logic and reasons that never crossed my mind. Club Ballyhoo seemed to be the least popular so it’s out!!

I’ve been in high factory mode – here is what part of a 500 coaster order looks like (having ice cream close at hand is necessary in these circumstances).Coasters and ice cream Cheltenham RoadAnd here are a bagillion blocks in various stages of done-nessbillions of candle blocks cheltenham road

So now, my mind has turned to getting the house ready for the annual Christmas Dessert party.

I was looking for an idea for the center of the table.

I just took a tiered stand (are they called Egg Baskets?) filled it with some greenery and a somewhat random assortment of ornaments.Hiliday Ornament Centerpiece with lights Cheltenham Road

I liked it! Looked festive. But it needed something more.

So I ran some battery powered lights up through it and hid the battery pack underneath the garland I had wrapped around the bottom.Festive ligted holiday centerpiece - hide the battery pack

Sparkly!!!!Light It Up Holiday Centerpiece Cheltenham RoadWell, you’ll have to just go with me here because I’m not good a photographing things in the dark and not ending up with, you know, this:photo fail

so trust me. SPARKLYLight Up Holiday Centerpiece Cheltenham RoadAnd easy.

OK, onward. I have ideas for wood Christmas trees that I have to make (and a giant LA sign, and 20 subway sign sets, and coasters…..)

A Minor Set “Back”

So, I’m gearing up for the holidays (yes, I should have already geared but I don’t seem to be very good at pre-gearing).  I’m filled with ideas about what I want to do and I’m in full-factory mode churning out tons of coasters (one store ordered 500 and now speculates that they may have underestimated their need).

So all is good!

And then, foolishly, I got out of my car last Sunday.

And that was all it took for  the herniated disc in my lower spine to decide that, after years of dormancy, NOW was the perfect time to totally freak out.

What followed was an entire week of moving veeeery slowly and sleeping veeeery badly and being veeeery whiny.  It was fun!  You should have come over!

Thoughtful friends offered to share their Vicodin supplies which was sweet but made me really wonder why everyone but me seems to have so many drugs at hand.  However, I’d tried Vicodin years ago and it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.  Actually all it seemed to do was make me care a little less about the pain….. which was interesting if not particularly helpful.  So I muddled through with Naproxin.

So, since lifting things (like the garage door!)  was out of the picture I thought I’d catch up on trying some new designs and playing with my camera.

I’m just not a good photographer but I’m trying to improve.  I can’t decide if I need a new camera or a new me but I usually spend about an hour taking pictures and then three hours working in Photoshop to make them not suck.  I am only occasionally successful.

My pics on Etsy of my New York HOME sign left a lot to be desired – I’m kind of amazed (and grateful) that people took the leap and purchased it.New York HOME sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy

I think these are a bit of an improvement.New York City HOME wood sign by Cheltenham RoadNYC HOME sign Wooden Sign by Cheltenham Road on Etsy`

I wanted to find some new, vintage nightclub graphics for Bar Keeper (the store that ordered 500 coasters).Vintage Los Angeles Hollywood Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set by Cheltenham Road on EtsyThere is just something about these old matchbook coversVintage Cocktail Lounge Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

I have no idea if some of these places were greatLos Angeles Vintage Cocktail Lounge Coasters by Cheltenham Road

Or just dive barsVintage Hollywood Coasters by Cheltenham Road

(OK The Hangover Room was probably a dive bar)

But somehow the covers make them all seem fun and exotic.Retro Los Angeles Coaster Set Cheltenham Road

But I now have to make a choice.  ballyhooI have five new images but only need four.  Which should I drop? (I’m honestly asking)

I’m happy to report that my back is much better today – so I’m” back” on track.  Which is great as being waylaid there really did get my mind racing with ideas.  Now lets see if I can turn them into reality!

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