the haps: the ups and downs


This “the haps” post is going to address a question I’ve been asked a lot recently:
“How is your business doing?”

This question is about Robo Roku, and to be honest, Robo Roku is not getting the love it deserves. Aside from Robo Roku, I work for Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, do client work for my business Travel Bear Bureau (formerly known as Lil’ Pancake), and am board chair for Chula League. I do have a lot on my plate, but generally everything I do is timed out nicely. Client work is usually only accepted during the beginning of the year before we get on the selling show circuit. This year Robo Roku did Printsource, and then things started to go wrong. New Robo Roku goodies were designed and made in the spring, but many have yet to make it online and to stores. Since we were unable to do the shows we were going to do, I took on client work to make up the income. Client work (as far as web design goes) is normally wrapped up in September, it has not wrapped up, yet. I only work 15 hrs/wk for Armadillo (Aug-Oct up to 30hrs/wk) depending on my workload. Other client work I do is social media consulting, and managing of social media accounts and blogging. Between Armadillo and client work that’s not web design related, that’s 30 hrs/wk. EEP! That’s almost a full time job! At least most of it is done on my own time from my home. Starting next month my hours at Armadillo will dip so I can focus on holiday season time for Robo Roku. We have upped our portfolio for our licensing agents, and participated in an art show in NYC, but our site and social media has been barren. Sad to say, especially since one client sent a thank you letter about my social media efforts on their behalf paying off. Now if only I could give Robo Roku the love it needs.

A day in the life for me right now looks like this:
Respond to emails from Armadillo and/or Chula League
Armadillo work
Client work
(repeat the above until I call it a day)
Respond to personal emails
Maybe some drawing

Client work, Armadillo work, holiday show season planning

Nov. 15th. I’m hoping to lounge around all day that day.

Halloween. I’m hoping to go to Fiesta Texas (so long as it doesn’t rain).

John Hughes playlist on Apple Music

Super nice clients, licensees, and stores that have been patient with me not having stock ready for them.

This will probably not be changing for the rest of the year: Holiday season, and licensing shows next year.

Not as much as I normally do this time of year. I normally watch almost everything! I seriously watch a lot of tv, but it’s the only way I can decompress. I haven’t watched Netflix much recently because of the fall shows being back. Doctor Who, House of DVF (LOVE!), The Good Wife, Downton Abbey, Scandal, Nashville, The British Baking Show, and Project Runway (my fave!) — lots of tv.

PS – my calendar in the photo is not up-to-date. I noticed this Thursday was empty, while I have two meetings that day. Oops! Good thing I use my phone and planner to keep track. 🙂


music monday: the get up kids

This week is very full, but mostly full with awesome things! More on my week coming tomorrow. Wednesday is my normal work day for Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, but I’m leaving early because that night The Get Up Kids are playing. I’m SO excited! If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my tweet about one of my besties (Daniel) calling me from the show in SF when they played Woodson (my fave song) so I could hear it. It got me even more excited for the show. Here’s another one of my faves:

I’m really hoping the crowd will be as energetic as in the video (minus the crowd surfing). Ryan (the drummer) is so good. While looking for a vid to post I would get lost watching him play. I remember in college when we would get to bring in “pop” songs we wanted to learn I would always bring in a song by The Get Up Kids. Sometimes when I listen to them I regret selling my kit. Maybe I should buy a new one next year after I move. Hmmm. Things to think about.

meet my TARDIS

TARDIS front
This is my new car TARDIS. When they first came back I looked at them, but didn’t get one because I was the one always driving my friends around and I needed a car that would be easy for that. This time around I could be more selfish in what I was looking for in a car. My dream car is a car I already owned, which was a VW cabrio. I loved that car. They don’t make them anymore. I was looking for something small, with good gas mileage, bluetooth, and ideally a convertible. This car was close enough with a sunroof. How could I pass up this cute car in almost a TARDIS blue?!? With that in mind, this is what came next….

Wobbly Keys
The keychain was originally a pendant I ordered awhile back, but it was too big for my taste. I now had the perfect use for it! And for the big finally….

(license plate hidden for privacy concerns)

When I did roller derby my derby name was Bad Wolf. I chose that name because it’s a cool storyline from Doctor Who, and the story arc covered more than one Doctor. I’ve also always wanted to be the Doctor. I’m getting closer, no? 😉

cloud view from the sunroof
The view from the sunroof on the way home. I think this car suits me perfectly, and I’m loving the zip-zoom of it.

Daiso in Texas!

daiso in texas
WARNING: This post is photo heavy (loaded with cuteness).

Whenever I go to the West Coast (which is usually at least once a year) a trip to Daiso is always on the itinerary. Finding out one was FINALLY coming to Texas was a dream come true! Especially since I will not be making a trip to L.A. this year. I need to get my cute fix! With August being my birthday month, Josh agreed to drive me to the Dallas area to have a “pretend we’re in L.A. trip”. He drove my new car (post on that coming soon) so I could “play” with my planner on the drive there. When we got there for their grand opening, we found ourselves in quite the line. I was happy that it had such a turnout, but was a little worried we wouldn’t get in!

The line was outside wrapped into a neighboring empty business, then back outside again! Thankfully the line moved fairly quickly. We were in line for around 30 minutes, but it wasn’t so bad, the staff passed out water to everyone, and there was music playing, so everything was upbeat. This was just what was in front of me, the whole line was over double what you see here!
daiso line

Daiso is a Japanese $1.50 value store. Think dollar store, but with loads of cuteness!
daiso end capdaiso end cap 2 copy

lucky cat daiso
cute umbrellas daiso

I tried to convince this employee to give me his Pocky jacket. I did get a Pocky file folder. YAY!
pocky jacket

Here’s a peek at a tiny portion of some of the goodies I picked up there:
bunny plate daiso

pocky daiso haul

After the Daiso trip we went to Sprinkles (another L.A. fave) for some cupcakes.
2015-08-01 19.34.19

I’m so glad we were there for the grand opening, there was so much excitement in the store. I can’t wait to go back next month! Here’s a tip for artist/maker friends that do shows, you can find super cute items here for your booth displays. Lots of mine come from Daiso. 🙂


motivational monday: break free

Break Free
Long time, no post. It’s been an even longer gap on the “Motivational Monday” posts, too. We’re getting back into the swing of things over here and hoping to resume our normal posting schedule. Baby steps.

This year has been rough for team This Creative Life and team Robo Roku.
I prefer bad news first, so let’s start there.
This year if one of my parents weren’t in the hospital, Josh’s dad was, and then Jen’s mom.
My mom had some seizures, she’s fine now.
My dad broke his neck and was in the hospital for two months, and he’s still recovering. He’s at about 90% now.
Josh’s dad was in the hospital for almost two months and ended up passing away on Memorial Day.
Jen’s mom ended up in the hospital around the same time and passed on last month.

We’ve all been trying to recover from the sadness and catch up on everything we all fell behind on. Life doesn’t stop when you’re going through a hard time, so we all have just been doing the best that we can.

I’m not sure I’ve had a chance to really talk about this, but in April of 2014 I took a part-time job at a print shop working mornings. I had been getting bad cabin fever, and Josh had been complaining about a co-worker that would not show up a lot. At the print shop he worked before this one they had an employee like that, and to get out of my house and mingle a bit I asked to be on call and work when they wouldn’t show up. I asked Josh if he thought I could do that at his new place, and they ended up asking me to work mornings. That was more of a commitment than I wanted, but I did it anyway. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life. I would come home exhausted just because I was dealing with demanding and ignorant jerks on the phone every day. Between working mornings and being tired, I didn’t get as much done as I was used to. Last year was the most unprepared for holiday season I’ve ever been. Licensing deals were working out, but I wasn’t posting on social media and rarely listing new stuff online. I had planned on quitting the print shop before December, but because I was so behind on getting it together for the holidays I stayed on. Holiday sales were down because we didn’t have as many tees as we normally do, so I stayed on at the print shop after the holidays. With all the family members being in the hospital I just didn’t have the creative energy to make and list new things, so I stayed on at the print shop even longer. I finally quit last month.

I cannot tell you how great it feels to have my life back! Today was my first day back to the life I had been living since 2006. I ran errands and started working on holiday show prep. There is one small change to my schedule, and that’s that two days a week I will be going into work at a job I started in March working for Armadillo Christmas Bazaar! It’s so awesome having a job where all my past work/life experiences (social media, merchandising, craft show producing + jury, retail, web design, and artist experience) all come into play. I also like that this job doesn’t interfere with my designer life like the print shop did. I leave the Armadillo offices excited and happy about what I’m doing. Something else new for this year is that I’m the new Chair for Chula League. Chula League is the non-profit that is behind Cherrywood Art Fair and Little Artist BIG Artist. I’ve always wanted to do Little Artist BIG Artist, but I don’t know how to teach people to draw. Being on the board allows me the opportunity to give back to the creative Austin community with my strengths.

This month is all about “breaking free” from things that were holding me back. So many good things have happened since the first of this month, that I feel like the good things were just waiting for me to be ready for them. I’ll have a post for you tomorrow showing you how I kicked off my birthday month. I just wanted to check in and let you know that we’re all surviving, and we’re coming back. I wanted to share my experiences this year in case you’re going through a tough time or stuck in a rut and you need a push to break free from whatever is holding you back. We owe it ourselves, to our friends, family, and to anyone else stuck to get unstuck and find the happy that’s waiting for us.


wednesday wisdom: teamwork

When people cooperate to achieve a common goal, amazing things can happen. Even for those of us who prefer solitude to being around others much of the time, the benefits of connecting with fellow humans — both in personal and professional contexts — affect not only the group, but also the individual in positive ways. (Of course, if you are an introvert, this may require a little creativity and a pretty thorough understanding of your boundaries, but there are tons of innovative digital resources these days that make it easy to collaborate with a team on your own terms.)

Working together, at home as well as work, boosts morale and yields higher efficiency when each person focuses on his or her contribution to the whole by offering their respective strengths. Even better? Practice makes perfect, so practicing a specific task diligently (as opposed to handling a whole project on your own, spreading your attention thin) will ideally create new, stronger strengths for you. Practicing teamwork also teaches improved conflict resolution and communication skills. According to research, cooperation can even make you more intelligent!

Together. It’s a powerful concept. We are stronger together than apart, and history has proven the power of organized groups of people passionate about the same causes.


In my personal life, I’ve begun implementing team-building practices into our household routines, and am continuing to seek solutions that seem fun for the kids and easy for me to maintain. The goal is to encourage generosity, solid work ethic, social skills, and balance. We’re still attempting to design the perfect chore chart for my family’s lifestyle, one that makes it easy to keep track of goals and how/when/how much each member acts in the interest of achieving them.

When it comes to art and business, I find myself doing my best work with a team, despite not considering myself much of a “people person.” I’ve found many ways to create awesome things that are integral to their projects without being confined to an environment in which I’m not comfortable enough to thrive. I paint theatrical set pieces in solitude, usually while rocking out to 80s-90s music and getting quite a workout, which are then combined with the fruits of the actors’ and theatre staff’s labor to produce wonderfully entertaining shows. I make custom accessories at my desk at home for clients who are overseeing team-powered projects and events of all kinds, and am always thrilled to see the finished product, once it’s all pieced together. Being an important little part of an awesome bigger picture is exhilarating and inspiring to me, so there’s an effect on my momentum going forward as well.

Even for this blog, Renée and I each contribute posts that highlight our individual interests and areas of expertise. We both have busy daily lives, and have each experienced our share of significant family and personal obstacles that serve as setbacks on the path to some of our professional ideals. If one of us is overwhelmed when life gets in the way, the other always tries to make certain the ship stays afloat.

Knowing we have a caring support system helps soften life’s blows. Having a cohort who shares your vision is an invaluable resource, making it more likely that we’ll get back on track after we stumble. I know there are areas in my life wherein I’d like to be a better teammate, and wherein I’d love to influence those around me to do the same.

Do you manage a team or a busy family? If so, what tips and insights would you say have been particularly motivational or helpful? Leave us a comment below!


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