Evil Artwork – “Background Orc #6” and getting stuff done a little bit every day

January 30th, 2015
Handsome Orc!

Background Orc #6

Feast your eyes on this beauty! Isn’t he adorable?! He’s an orc, but not one of those big, bulky hero orcs that look all intimidating and muscle-bound. Sadly, this cutie is one of those guys that gets stuffed into the background in fantasy movies because he’d totally steal the scene from those insecure alpha-male type orcs. That’s why I decided to draw him. He deserves to get a spotlight all to himself!

And all of this is my way of saying that I’m still working on drawing every day, though this past month I dropped the ball for a while. Drawing is something I need to work into my schedule every day, and that can be tough. I work on the webcomics first thing in the morning (unless I’m overwhelmed by some other project, like I was last week). I spend my afternoons handling email and office admin stuff (and there are plenty of both right now, thanks to Girl Scout cookie season). And I spend my evenings just trying to keep up with the house and the kids.

But I think there may be a time when I can do a little drawing. The trick is to figure out how to remind myself every day.

I came across an article on Lifehacker this week entitled “Encourage New Habits by Stacking Them On Top of Preexisting Habits.” The basic idea here is that you create a new habit by building it on top of something you already do, and then you reward yourself for doing it. This is something that I have been playing with for a while. For example, I like to grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon before I sit down at my desk to work. Between grabbing that cup of coffee and heading to my desk, I walk right past my purse/giant-man-eating-bag-of-DOOOOOOOM, where I stuff all my receipts. As I walk past it, I have begun prompting myself to grab the bag and take it upstairs with me, so that I have all my receipts right by my desk. And doing that now triggers me to scan in the receipts as soon as I sit down to work, so that I now have all my expenses recorded and I no longer wonder what the hell I spent all my money on.

It’s a simple idea – set up one habit to trigger another I want to encourage. And since it’s worked so well for receipts, I’ve decided to use the same technique to get me to draw more as well.

First, I need to figure out what habit could trigger me to do the drawing. Since I do so much of my drawing on the iPad, I’m thinking that the trigger should be something I do every day on the iPad. I’ve gotten into the habit of scheduling the next day every night before I go to bed. So I’m thinking that once I’ve finished doing that, I can simply switch over to one of my drawing apps and do a short bit of sketching.

It’ll take a little while to set up the new drawing habit, but I’m hopeful. And to reinforce building this – and other – new habits, I make sure to reward myself using Habit RPG . Habit RPG lets me set up a check list of habits and daily tasks and assign a certain amount of virtual gold coins as a reward for completing them. When I collect enough coins, I then spend my REAL money on a REAL reward for myself, like a new book, yarn, lunch out, a day off to do nothing but watch TV and crochet, etc. I keep the rewards small/inexpensive to keep from breaking the bank, but still, I make sure I reward myself.

But the real reward is in setting up these new habits. Because more drawing means more finished artwork, and more artwork means more fun/weird products on Zazzle and that could mean more money! Yay!

But for now, I’ll settle just for getting more drawing done. Especially if I get to draw cuties like the Background Orc #6.

WIP!

Original sketch done in Sketchclub on the iPad

Sketch imported into Adobe Illustrator Draw for the iPad.

Sketch imported into Adobe Illustrator Draw for the iPad.

Pretty colors!

What pretty eyes he has!.

ACW Episode 259 – Relaaaaaaaaaax…

January 21st, 2015
Webcomic!

Click on the pic to see it bigger.

I don’t know exactly why, but right now, I’m not that stressed. Cookie season started on January 10th, and so far, I’m feeling… okay.

It may be the meds. Of course, I’ve been taking the same subscription for the last three years. It’d be kind of strange if they started to kick in a little extra after so long.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m scheduling everything and that makes me feel more in control of my time.

Or maybe, I just decided not to get wound up about things this year. Whatever it is, I’m feeling pretty chill so far. We’ll see how I feel in another couple weeks when cookie booth sales start.

Evil Time Management – Scheduling EVERYTHING!

January 16th, 2015
MINE!

I’ve become very protective of my time…

Did you make New Year’s resolutions? I did and did not make resolutions. I don’t like making year-long commitments to anything other than to the Hubster, my kids, and the cats, and the only reason I make such lengthy commitments to them is because they’re living, breathing creatures capable of making my life miserable if I don’t do what I should do for them. Seriously, if I fail to feed someone, they might poop in my shoes. And no, I refuse to specify whether it’s the cats, the kids, or the Hubster who does the pooping.

So I won’t make any promises regarding anything else for a year. I know better. A year is too long to plan for. But I am willing to make a resolution for say, the next three months. Three months I can do. I can comprehend that amount of time. I can tell you what’s going to be going on in three months. In this case, it’ll be the end of Girl Scout cookie season, the start of spring, planning for the troop camping trip, Easter, warmer weather, etc. I can get my head around that. I’m pretty sure where I’ll be at that point in the year, and that lets me plan out how to handle a resolution for three months.

Plus I’ve read all these articles that say to only make resolutions for three months, because that’s about the amount of time most people can handle for the reasons I mentioned above. (I like being validated by popular science.)

One of my resolutions for January, February and March is to schedule each day the night before. I actually have this in a checklist app on my iPad, so I can track how well I keep up with this resolution for the next 3 months. The idea here is to look at my calendar each night, and assign blocks of times to the things I know I need or want to do. And I decided to get into the details on this. I’ve been scheduling time for things like exercise and work, but I’ve also scheduled time each day for chores and eating and bathing. Yes, I am scheduling when I take a bath. Because with two kids in school, I have come to learn the hard way that if I don’t schedule things, they won’t happen.

Plus, I’ve also learned that if I don’t fill up my calendar in advance, someone else will be more than happy to fill it up for me.

It’s nice for me to be able to look at my calendar when someone asks me to do something and be able to say, “Sorry, I don’t have time for that this week. My schedule is full. I have appointments all day, every day this week.” The trick, of course, is to actually have those blocks of time schedules, but also to list them on a schedule in such a way that it looks like each of those blocks of time is an appointment with someone very important. And really, they are appointments with someone very important. They are appointments with ME.

So yeah, I will schedule my time at the YMCA… with my personal trainer… who just happens to be me. No one will ask me to skip an appointment with my personal trainer. I just don’t tell them that my personal trainer happens to be me. Because it’s none of their damn business.

And yeah, I will schedule an appointment at a local spa… which just happens to be my own bath tub. Spa appointments are an investment in my health, and no one will ask me to give up a spa appointment, because hey, it’s an APPOINTMENT. So what if the spa is my own bath tub, and the appointment is only with me? It’s important that I get to my spa appointment on time!

On my calendar, helping the kids with homework becomes an appointment with their tutor – me. Drawing webcomics and writing blog posts become appointments with a client – me. Doing laundry and washing dishes become appointments with my cleaning service – me. Watching cartoons on TV (hell yes, I’m going to schedule time for that!) becomes an appointment to do research for my most important client – ME!

ME! ME! ME! My schedule, I have decided, needs to be all about ME! My priorities, my needs, my family, my down time, my hobbies, MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

For the next three months, every night before I go to bed I will schedule the next day. And while it may be a pain in the butt to put down every single little thing I need/want to do for myself and my family, it’s much better than leaving a lot of free time on the calendar for someone else to try and steal.

So, did you make any resolutions? Let me know!

ACW Episode 258 – Peace on Earth?

January 14th, 2015

So, Hubster got us a new toy over the holidays, and it’s been… interesting. The Amazon Echo looks exactly like a dark grey tube, and if you call it by name – the default name is Alexa – it will respond. Though it doesn’t always respond the way you would expect. She’s a lot like Siri in that respect, I think.

Of course, it can be hard for “Alexa” to respond when everybody is shouting at her at the same time. But what’s really weird is when no one is speaking to “Alexa” and she starts talking to us anyway. And that’s a little creepy. But… whatever.

But that was the big family gift for the holidays, and it is pretty nice. Especially now that the kids have gone back to school.

Move It Mama Monday! I got a MisFit Shine for Christmas!

January 12th, 2015

Lest you all think I was nothing but lazy over the holidays, I am happy to report that I did a lot of walking to Mordor. I got out every day over the holidays and walked at least 15 minutes each day. I also did a bit of yoga and some Just Dance. We got Just Dance 2015 for Christmas and now Pixie and I are shaking our booties like maniacs after school each day while Princess watches us in ever-growing horror.

Speaking of Pixie, she got a new Jawbone Up band for Christmas. She had been asking for the activity band by Leap Pad, but Hubster and I thought she was a bit older than the target audience for that, thus she got the Up band. She loves it. She’s been asking me to go out for walks and to play Just Dance so she can see how much moving around she can cram into each day. She got in at least ten thousand steps a day over the holidays.

As for me, I got a new MisFit Shine. I had been eyeing that device for weeks. I loved my Up band, but there were some limitations with it. First, it wasn’t waterproof, meaning I couldn’t take it into the pool with me. That made it a no-go for deep water aerobics. The MisFit Shine is supposed to be good in water up to 50M, so I will be putting that to the test soon.

My second issue with the Up band was the amount of pressure it put on my wrist. I was wearing the recommended size for my wrist (a medium), but while the band had plenty of room around the sides of my wrist, it tended to press into the front and back. Some days, this would cause my wrist to go numb, and I’d have to leave the band off for a couple days.

The MisFit Shine, however, comes with a flexible watch-style band that you can slip the device into. Or I can wear it with a small band that I can attach to my shoe or sports bra. Best yet, I can buy a sterling silver pendant and chain so I can wear the MisFit Shine like a necklace. The MisFit Shine looks really nice – it’s a small, polished disk that comes in a variety of colors – and when I showed it to some friends, a lot of them were impressed with how sleek and stylish it looked. They were also impressed that I finally decided to wear something sleek and stylish, instead of something more along the line of my usually bizarre fashion tastes.

Finally, the best thing about the MisFit Shine is the display. To get an accurate count of steps (or hours of sleep, since it tracks that too), you need to sync it (wirelessly) with the free app. But, during the day, when I’m out and about, I can simply double-tap the Shine and it will light up to show me how close I am to meeting my daily step goal. The Shine has a series of lights around its edge, positioned just like the numbers on a clock face. As you progress toward your step goal, the light display increases to 12 o’clock. And because the lights are set up like a watch face, you can also set up the Shine to show the time of day as well as your daily step progress. You won’t see any numbers or watch hands, but one steady light will indicate what the hour is, and a second blinking light will show you the minutes. It takes a bit of getting used to, but now I no longer have to wear a watch AND a fitness device. I’ve got both all in one.

I’ll continue to post updates on how things go with the MisFit Shine. Right now, I’m extremely happy with it. And Pixie is so happy with her Up band that she and I are planning to do a 5K walk in March. So yay for walking and yay for fitness devices that motivate us both to get up and move!

Holiday Hangovers. Ugh.

January 7th, 2015

So, how were your holidays?

Me? I ate too much, drank too much, slept too much, watched waaaaaaay too much TV, and in general had a really great time. Not something I get to do very often.

It was a very loud holiday break. Usually, the kids are at school and Hubster’s at his office while I stay home to work. But for two weeks, everyone was home and things were very LOUD and MESSY while we baked cookies and hung ornaments and played video games and tore through our Christmas presents. There was lots of laughing, a bit of screaming, and plenty of farting (I’m not going to say who was responsible for that last activity, but I will say some people are not going to be allowed to eat beans for a loooooooooooong time). All in all, it was a very fun, very noisy Christmas break.

But now it’s the first full week after New Year’s and everybody has gone back to school or work. After being crammed in this house for the last two weeks with three other maniacs, I am now all alone. With everyone’s trash… And their dirty dishes… And their dirty laundry.

Guess what I will be doing this week?

I am very glad to get back to my normal routine, but I really wish I had someone else around right now to help me clean up this place. Or at least listen to me bitch about the mess. And maybe help me bake and eat another batch of cookies.

Which reminds me. Girl Scout cookie season starts this Saturday. Glob help me.

Happy Holidays from all of us in the Cynical Woman Family!

December 29th, 2014
Who ate my LEG?!

Happy Holidays!

To all of you out there who read and support this crazy little webcomic, thank you and Happy Holidays!

Krampus Tree continued – What do I deserve?

December 27th, 2014

So, two days later… TWO days later, Krampus finally returns. With a decoration.

“Where the hell have you been!” I shouted. “You said you’d be here tomorrow!”

“So you’re complaining that I’m early?” he said, cocking one hairy, scary eyebrow.

“No! I mean you said two days ago you’d be coming back tomorrow! Which would have been yesterday, only now you’re here today so you’re late!”

“Are you sure about that?”

I went over the whole argument in my head and had to admit, I might not be right. Today, tomorrow, yesterday, two days ago?

“Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been stuck here with this horrible Krampus tree for the last two days, and you said you had decorations for it. So, what did you bring me?”

Krampus stretched his arms overhead until his spine cracked three times. “Oh, this isn’t something I brought you. It’s something Santa sent you.”

Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a Flaming Lump of Coal.

Krampus tree!

A flaming lump of COAL?!

“Oh, that’s… lovely,” I said. “What did I do to deserve that?”

Krampus laughed so hard he started choking. “You have to ask?!”

So anyway, he farted a few times, laughed some more, and made lots more threats to come back… sometime with more decorations.

So yeah, flaming lump of coal. Flippin’ flaming lump of coal. Like I deserved this.

Yeah, I know. I probably did.

coal_20141227b

Isn’t it lovely?!

(The flaming lump of coal was made from bamboo felt, embroidered with DMC embroidery floss. I used a bit of rick-rack ribbon for the hanger.)

Oh Krampus Tree! A bad poem of misery and woe

December 25th, 2014

I came downstairs this morning, certain something waited for me.
Something bright and festive that made me want to flee.

I found it on my kitchen table, as artificial as my hair.
Its pink and spiny branches caught me unaware.

But worse was him who brought it, this awful Krampus tree.
For Santa doesn’t bring such things, they only come from likes of he!

He looked just like Tom Hiddleston, which really ain’t so bad,
until I caught a whiff o’ him. That smell would drive you mad.

He stank just like an aged camel, a geriatric steed
that on prunes and beans and rotted fish too eagerly did feed.

“What horror have you brought me? Oh why this Krampus bush?!
Haven’t I been good this year?! Haven’t I busted my tush?!”

“Oh yeah, you’ve been all kinds of good,” the old goat said and farted.
“But I really like to pick on folks, and be honest, you’re black-hearted.”

“Not me!” I cried in my defense. “I’ve been good this year, I swear!
I swear it on my mother’s grave and the color of my hair!”

“Don’t lie to me,” old Krampus said. “I know just what you did.
You’re a Girl Scout cookie mom. Who are you trying to kid?”

“I didn’t kill no Girl Scouts! I didn’t threaten their mums!”
Then I sighed and confessed my sins. “Maybe I broke some thumbs.”

“But there were extenuating circumstances! Cookie payments were due!
I had seven thousand boxes stored in a garage made for two!”

“So I threatened all the parents and I broke a couple thumbs!
But they finally sold those cookies, each and every one!”

“A few fractured digits does not a Krampus coniferous merit.
Take this horror away from me. I swear I cannot bear it!”

“Nah, broken thumbs is no big deal,” Krampus did agree.
“But I don’t like you anyway, so you get the bloody tree.”

And then he started to sing. Oh gods, he sang a song!
It was all about the Krampus tree, and I had to sing along…

“Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
You are so pink and creepy!
Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
The sight of you brings weeping!
Your branches hold such awful frights!
For horror-days and horror-nights!
Oh Krampus tree, oh Krampus tree!
You are so pink and creepy!”

“There!” he smiled and patted my head. “That wasn’t so bad now, was it?
It’ll be much worse tomorrow,” he added as he farted.

He put a finger up his nose and waggled his left thumb.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, with some deco-ra-sheyuns!”

Then off he flew with a belch and a fart. I wished that I were dead.
Instead I’m stuck with this stupid tree, and a creeping sense of dread.

What horrors will tomorrow bring? And how long must I bare
This miserable Krampus tree? Life is so unfair.

Krampus tree!

Oh, the horror.

Evil Dreams – The Never-Ending Marathon of DOOOOOOOM!

December 19th, 2014

I had a dream last night that I was visiting my aunt in Pennsylvania, but I had to leave because my Girl Scout troop was about to run a marathon all the way back to Virginia. The marathon began in my aunt’s drive way, and the girls had already started running, so I had to race out the door to keep up. We were running up and down in this really hilly neighborhood. I was following the last, youngest girl in the troop when I started to fall behind. She turned a corner and disappeared. When I got there, the road went in two directions, and I saw people running one way, so I followed them, thinking they must be part of the marathon. But the further I ran after these people, the stranger the surroundings got. We left my aunt’s nice suburban neighborhood and entered into a sort of post-apocalyptic landscape that looked like a cross between Mad Max and a camping trip in the Grand Canyon. By that point, I could see that the people running ahead of me weren’t Girl Scouts but senior citizens, which was probably the only reason why I could keep up with them. I realized it was getting colder too, which had to mean we were running north, which was away from Virginia and not towards it. It was getting darker too. As evening fell, the senior citizens arrived at an abandoned recreation center where someone was hosting a holiday party/rest-stop for them. I stumbled in after them, only to be told that I wasn’t allowed to be there. I tried to argue with the hostess, a stern-looking woman in horn-rimmed glasses who looked like a nurse my mom used to work with. If she would just let me use the phone to call my aunt, I knew I’d be okay. But the hostess refused to let me stay and I couldn’t find a phone. I tried stealing a glass of punch and some of the food from the buffet that had been set up, but I think I got caught and was kicked out. I’m not entirely certain though, because at that point, the cats started meowing and they woke me up.

Yes, this is an actual dream I had last night. I have dreams like this every night, and many are even weirder and more detailed than this one. I figured if I shared them here on the blog, you all might get a laugh out of them, or demand I seek psychiatric help. Or both.