Monday, December 29, 2014

Hallettsville, Texas

Lovely little Hallettsville is very festive for the holidays!  By day....

And by night.  There is also music being played in the tower.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Recycled bench


Stoli would like to show you my new bench.  There is a 10X10 covered deck space out back - like a square gazebo.  All sides are wide open.  On one side, I built this bench.  I just used two 10 foot 2X6s that had been previously used in a concrete project on someone's home.  I topped those off with 30 pieces of 2X4s from leftover jobs around the ranch.  Cut them all to the same length and sanded the edges.  I have plans for two more sides of this gazebo space.  The space should be much more sociable soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cool Cat

I don't always steal all of the pillows....
but when I do, you think it's cute and take my picture.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ranch Progress

This place has gone through so much change.  The clean up process is never ending, but so much better than when I first got here in March 2013.  With ten acres, there are always dead trees, scraggly thorny weeds or building maintenance.  I feels good to take care of things and relax by the fire pit in the evening.
Ahhhhhh....  wine by the fire.
The horses have moved off of the property and closer to where their owner lives.  This is excellent for the owner's time and family life.  She can spend more time riding and less time driving.  This does change the situation here on the ranch, but not necessarily in a negative way.  I have restructured the financial plan to accommodate this change.  I have already begun a structured scheduling and work plan for the year 2015.  December has been a trial run of that plan and things are looking very good!

Friends are welcome to visit and even stay awhile.  There is work or relaxation to be done all the time.  I now have a private guestroom complete with queen sized bed and a set of bunk beds.  Bring your friends, kids, and enjoy a little time away from the TV.  I also have a closet full of crafts that I gladly and freely share!!

Stoli welcoming you to relax and stay awhile.
This year, friends visited and helped with some of the things that needed a bit of extra strength or specific expertise, like wiring.  Other friends visited for a relaxing brainstorming self-employed-women's retreat.  Another group of friends came out for a four day craft-a-thon.  We crafted until we couldn't see straight - it was great!

45 foot HC container will be my house!!!
The new container is here and plans are in place to see some building done this year (VERY EXCITING!)  Bench swings and hammocks are in place.  There is a tiny tree frog living in the bathroom.  Life is GOOOOOOD!!!
Mel, a 1.25 inch green tree frog, in the bathroom catching tiny bugs at the nightlight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why I don't have a microwave

I don't have a microwave.  I don't want one.  If I had one, I would eat the following:

Popcorn with REAL butter, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper.
Photo courtesy of http://www.diet-blog.com/07/61_calorie_popcorn_recipe.php
Baked potatoes with more STUFF than potato.
Photo courtesy of http://www.sodahead.com/fun/baked-potato-yay-or-nay/question-2118817/
Microwavable frozen macaroni and cheese.
Photo courtesy of http://archives.quarrygirl.com/2010/02/11/amys-mac-and-cheese-with-daiya-frozen-dinner-heaven/

The end.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Techno-personalization

To personalize something is to make it (more) personal.  In today's world of technology, personalizing cards, for example, may be making the card personal or it may be making the card LESS personal.

I received a Christmas card from my insurance agent at Texas Farm Bureau.  Very lovely, very sweet, very nice.  The card had my name on the front, er, rather, it had "Green Family" on the front.  This, my friends, proves that this card took absolutely no time or thought.  There is no Green FAMILY.  In this technologically filled world, how can the folks who created this sort of program not include a field for whether this person is a family or single individual.  Because this is my INSURANCE agent, she should know this!  The fact that I am a single person is on my insurance information.  Couldn't the technology geniuses that run this card creating software include that detail?
We all know when we are getting a card that is real and when we are getting a card that is mass produced and printed and sent probably without a single human eye or finger ever touching it.  When a company attempts to make this card appear personal, it's not really any better.
Quite pretty.  A lovely design.
How many clients does my agent have?  I sent out 75 Christmas cards this year each with a handwritten note, often no more than "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year," but many of my cards included longer notes and all included my very own handwritten signature and all were addressed by hand.  This task took me approximately 6 hours.  I will admit that for someone who is already working forty hours a week, to add this task seems rather like adding a day to your week, but maybe that effort would be worth it.
I only have one heart, thanks...  and this card just blew a chill through the room.
I went to this insurance company because there is an actual real-life office only a few miles from my home with actual real-life humans in the office.  In other words, I chose this company because it seems to provide a more personal service than the company I used before with a certain lizard as its mascot.  I am actually willing to pay a little bit more to have a real-life person handling my affairs.  However, this card (and a couple of other examples) prove that there is no personal service when it comes to insurance.  This will be remembered when it comes time to renew my policies. I might as well save some money and go with the obviously impersonal big company.
Dear Service Providers,
Consider simple cards for your agents to physically write the client's/customer's name and to physically sign themselves.  That's it.  Simple as that.  You can still pre-print the envelopes, just personalize your correspondence in a REAL way.  Even a simple connection is better than a fake one.
Sincerely,
Abby

Friday, December 12, 2014

Roommates

I come home from a few days of hard work in Austin, and what do I find?  My roommate is drinking my beer.  From the looks of things, this isn't his first of the evening.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Time Management

Self-employment requires several independent skills.  One of the most important skills is being able to manage your own time.  No one is going to give you a list of tasks and duties to complete each day. No one will make a plan for long term goals.

In the music business, bringing something new to your audience is critical.  Musicians must build all the time.  No time is really down time.  But it is very easy to put off that new song or CD idea when you know you have a month until the next gig.

A friend of mine recently told me that she gets up an hour before the rest of her family just so she can have one quiet hour to do her crafts, otherwise she never gets anything done.  The first hour of my day is usually wasted.  I don't have the energy, the brain power, the caffeine to process things, so I waste the time surfing the internet and then another hour is usually wasted just trying to figure out what I SHOULD be doing.  What if I tried a crafting hour first thing in the morning like my friend?  I was frustrated with the lost hours and the lost goals and the lack of focus.  I had tried scheduling my day with very little success....  but this craft hour rang in my brain as something different.  Rather than trying to schedule real work which required brain power, what about warming up with a craft AND staying off of the time-sucking-computer.

8AM  Crafts and Coffee
9AM  Music - Songs and Bouzouki skills
10AM  Breakfast  - Sometime in this hour, 10 minutes on Mandolin
11AM  Writing - poetry and book chapters
Noon  10 minute Fiddle & a walk to the mailbox
12:30  Irish lessons
1PM  Lunch & Computer biz
2PM  Blog
3PM  Property work (mostly outdoor)
5PM  Dinner & dishes
6PM  Clean-up, prep tomorrow's craft & schedule

Each task has a line so that I can plan the specifics the evening before...  much like a kindergarten teacher.  I check things off as I do them.... much like a kindergarten teacher.  And I get a sticker if I do everything...  much like any 40 year old time-management genius.

I decided the tasks based on what I feel is truly important right now.  I keep saying I want to work on this and that, but I never get around to it.  Either make time, or shut up!  Ten minutes a day devoted to anything can make a huge impact over time.

An important detail to note:  I do not allow myself extra time.  When time is up, time is up.  I don't want to steal from my other goals and I don't want to burn out on that goal.  An interesting side effect has occurred.  My brain stays with it all.  I look forward to working on that unfinished thing tomorrow.  I am humming songs that are in the works all day long.  Rather than a feeling of denial, stopping at the given time is having a very positive effect.

My goals are not things that can be accomplished all in one week.  For example if I wanted to learn ten new songs, I couldn't just cram down ten songs in one week.  It takes a chomp each day for a couple of months to achieve that sort of goal.  The only way to achieve these long term goals is to schedule and make specific time for them.