Category Archives: Tips

How to Create a Cartoon Post

The question I get asked the most in relation to blogging is definitely something along the lines of, how in the name of pizza do you draw your cartoons?

When Paula posted this on my Facebook page

I was instantly down.

This morning someone asked me where I find the cartoons I include in my posts, because they go so well with what I’m writing about. I was all “No no, silly pants, I draw them!”

So I guess this needs some clearing up. Here we go.

A lot of other people who use illustrations on their blogs use MS Paint (or the Mac equivalent) to draw them (Hyperbole and a Half, for example), but I prefer to use Adobe Illustrator (like The Oatmeal).

(source) and (source)

The end result is similar, but you can see some differences. Illustrator is a little smoother, and a bit more polished looking.

Illustrator is more of a graphic design program, so I’m familiar with it because I use it a lot for work. For doing posters and stuff though…I don’t get to draw random pictures of myself doing stupid things for work. That would be nice.

Well, I did once:

The first “drawing” I ever did. It includes all my coworkers and myself, and it was a gift for my coworker Brian (Lord Byron in the front there. Holding the cheese because he is cheesy.)

Anyway, Illustrator is similar to Paint, but it’s a bit more complicated, and it has a lot of options that Paint does not. Honestly, the reason I use it over Paint is because I find it to be a bit more forgiving. When you draw an image, it’s made up of lines and curves, which can be manipulated. You can fix things easily, and select different things like a hand, or a shoe, and copy and paste them, or move them around.

So if you notice in my drawings, most of the characters are wearing the same shoes because I’m too lazy to draw them again and usually just copy and paste them.

In Paint, you can’t manipulate something you have already drawn, you have to erase it if you want to change it. You can’t copy and paste things. Kind of like drawing in real life…

Anyway, I’m sure no one cares about that, so moving on. It’s basically the same result no matter what program you use.

For a story I’ll usually write it out first, and then draw some sketches and make sure it’s going to work illustrated, and then I get to work.

I start with a blank page.

I select my little paintbrush and my stroke size, and then I just start drawing! If I’m drawing myself, I use the shape tool to make a circle for my face, and then I fill it with colour.

I draw my hair next, using the freehand paintbrush.

(you can see the little nodes along the line. Those are vectors, and can be moved around and manipulated, so I can fix it if it looks off.)

I again use the circle tool to make my eyes, which I colour in. And then I draw my mouth and make it rouuuuuge.

Next I need a body! I use the paintbrush to draw my dress.

And then I fill it in.

But obviously that looks weird in front of my face, so I select my whole face and bring it to the front, but leave my hair in the back.

There. Easy-peasy.

Oh, but I need arms, obviously. So I use the paintbrush tool and draw those puppies.

Donezo.

I think crappy drawings are funny, so I don’t try to make them even close to perfect.

And if I want to change the direction of one of my arms, I can easily select it, and flip it.

And delete my smile and instead draw a frown.

And rotate myself.

And duplicate myself!

Sometimes I will copy and paste my body and head into another drawing of myself, and just re-draw my limbs and facial expressions to save time (again, because I am lazy).

You can draw anything!

Here is a kitty cat.

But his body looks a little small for his head, so let me just adjust that…

Better.

And here is a unicorn that I drew.

And here is a cat riding that unicorn.

This is a more complicated drawing I did in Illustrator (for this post):

And what it looks like when everything is selected in the program…

For my subway story, I had to draw a turnstile door. It was a bit complicated, so I looked at a picture of a real subway turnstile door as I was drawing it so it would look like the real deal.

And when it’s selected in Illustrator, here is what that looks like, so you can kinda see how I drew it:

A lot of using the rectangle tool.

I just use the trackpad on my MacBook to draw stuff. No fancy drawing tablet or anything, and I don’t usually use a mouse, even at work.

And that is that! The mystery is solved. So may you go forth and create your own cartoons!

And here is a picture of a cat riding a unicorn into the sunset.

And yes, I drew that.

For the Love of Being Active

Allo.

So yesterday I wrote about how to not hate running, and I feel as if it may need a little follow-up. I had a couple of comments that made me go “hmm, that is a good point,” and although I responded to them, I want to address them here as well because I feel they were valid with their concern. So today is yesterday’s less funny follow-up.

A couple people commented along the lines of “why force yourself to do something if you hate it?” and I AGREE, but I feel like that maybe didn’t come through in my writing.

Hate is a pretty strong word, and one that I try not to use often. When I use it to describe something like running, I guess I am trying to use it in more of a jokey-jokey manner.

I don’t think that I would ever do something if I really, truly hated it. But with running, I just thought I hated it. I never stuck with it enough to give myself a chance to like it. I assumed I hated it. I went into every run with thoughts of “I hate this” instead of being open-minded about it. Once I really gave running a chance, I discovered that fine, it’s not easy, but it has okay moments.

The other thing is, I have never exercised just to exercise, and I thought running was essentially exercising just to exercise.

But those comments made me think all day today about what activities I actually love.

Growing up I was active because I did a lot. I swam every day in the summer, did a lot of waterskiing and wakeboarding, skiing, skating, hiking in the forest, and played a few sports (I especially love volleyball even though I’m not great at it). I was outside doing stuff all the time. But the difference for me between those activities and exercising is those are all fun and I genuinely love them, and I have never found “exercising” fun.

But I don’t live on a lake anymore, so swimming, water sports, and skating every day are all out for me as ways to be active. I don’t live near very many hiking trails, so that is not really feasible either. My skis mysteriously disappeared after I left them in my Dad’s garage while I was moving (I am not blaming you Dad, but I’ll admit you are a suspect in their disappearance), and since there is no snow most of the time, that means skiing is out.

As for playing sports…sure, sometimes, but it’s not an every day thing. Office Boccia isn’t a very good workout (though it is fun).

I want to be active, and to maintain a healthy weight I need to be active, but all the activities that I truly love are not ones that I can do every day. The exercising just to exercise is a mindset thing, I know that, and my way of getting over it is to trick myself into liking activities that I previously thought were not fun. Or make activities that are typically not fun a good time.

Enter running. I love running because all I need to do it is a good sports bra, and a pair of running shoes (I do need new shoes though, mine are pretty old). I don’t need any other equipment, I don’t even need a treadmill. It gets me outside and active with minimal prep.

When I am running, I am still not thinking “I love this, this is so awesome!” but I have come up with little tricks to make myself like it. I like listening to music, so it helps me to like running. I like being competitive with myself, so I make up little games like “I WIN” to play while I am running. I like wearing new clothes, so new clothes for running make me excited to run. Those sorts of things.

Also, and I keep mentioning this, but I cannot get over how I feel after a good run. I don’t think there is any other activity that could make me feel any better. I also really like how motivated and excited I get after I make any progress. I just love how running makes me feel, as cheesy as that sounds, and that is probably the closest I will ever get to loving it.

So that’s why I run. I want to be active, I can trick myself into liking it, and I love the way it makes me feel afterwards. If you just hate it, and you can’t find a way to make yourself like it, then definitely do not force yourself to do it. Walking is way cool also!

There are so many serious running blogs that talk about running marathons, what to eat, what to wear, etc. but I know there are people who, like me, just want to be active and find a way to like running and maybe one day run a 5k. I hope that my post was helpful in that context.

And now I am curious…

  • Why do you exercise?
  • Do you exercise just to exercise?
  • What is your favourite way to be active?

How to Not Hate Running (not that I’m an expert)

A couple of weeks ago, Jane (who leaves the best comments ever on my blog, I live for them) asked me if I could write a post about how I got over my fear of running.

After thinking about it for a bit, I decided this would be a good topic for me to cover because I still do not looooove running, but I used to really, really hate it.

I’m still a novice runner, and I’m not knowledgeable on increasing your speed or distance, but I’m not afraid of running anymore. I have now run three 5k’s and hope to complete a 10k in the spring. I never, ever thought I would say that.

None of my close friends are serious runners, and I feel like a lot of them feel the same way as I did about running…which makes me think that many people feel the same way as I did about running: hateful and afraid.

So here is my running story, followed by what I do to help myself not hate it. Kind of serious talk, so I’m calling on Wayne’s World, one of my very favourite movies, to help balance that out.

I avoided running as much as possible all throughout elementary school and high school. I would run if I had to while playing sports, and of course if someone was chasing me in manhunt (I would run for my life, and into fences), but I remember dreading events like the Terry Fox Run and gym-class running.

I wasn’t terrible at running, I just hated it. I told myself that I was just not a runner and was never going to be a runner.

I couldn’t imagine that anyone ran because they actually liked it. I had no idea why people would want to run track, and I didn’t think people who ran marathons were real people. I don’t really know how else to explain that, so hopefully I am making sense.

When I first started going to the gym, I dabbled a little bit on the treadmill. But I continued to hate it. I only did it for exercise purposes, and watched the time and calorie count the whole time.

But I wanted desperately to like it! When I heard about people running, or saw runners while I was driving, I was jealous of them!

I can remember one day in my early 20s I decided that I was going to try to like running, so I laced up my sneaks one morning before class and hit the pavement. I was back home within 10 minutes. I barely gave it a shot. These times of “I’m going to be a runner today!” and then failing continued for a few years.

But within the last couple of years, my thoughts on running have been turning around. I think the real running turning point for me was when I discovered running blogs.

I saw real, regular people who were out running all the time and they actually liked it. I saw girls that I could relate to, just regular people like me, running marathons!

My attitude about running started to change. Maybe running wasn’t evil. I decided to try again, for real this time.

I started the Couch to 5k program, and I loved that it really eased me into running. Before that program I could barely run steadily for a couple of minutes without thinking I was dying, and all of a sudden I could run for 20 minutes without stopping?

It was so motivating to see my progress, and I felt like I could notice progress quickly, which is always helpful.

I also loved how I felt after I ran – so good about myself, like I accomplished something that day even if I just laid around and did nothing for the rest of it. I started making myself just get out there and run, run through the hate. It didn’t matter how fast I was going, or how far I was going, as long as I was out there doing it.

My goal for my first 5k race was just to run without stopping, and I did it, and I ran it with a time of 32 minutes! And I actually had fun! I was so proud of myself afterwards, because I did it on my own. I never thought I would be a runner, and suddenly I was! In my next 5k, I ran it in under 30 minutes, which is actually a decent time. I wasn’t even aspiring for that kind of time because I didn’t think it would have been possible for me. It was a motivating little surprise and I was pumped.

I don’t know that I will ever run a marathon. That is a lot of running and I still don’t love it. It isn’t something I am currently aspiring for. I run mostly because it is a way for me to be active and feel good about myself. It makes me feel healthy and strong. And obviously I like how it makes my body look.

I have also discovered what great “me” time it is. I do not have to worry about anything while I am running. I can just zone out.

I am convinced that running is so much more mental than physical. I didn’t run because of my mental barriers, not my physical ones. I was able to run, I just didn’t want to. As soon as I started running I would just be thinking “I hate this. This sucks. Why am I doing this to myself. I can’t go on.”

I was talking myself out of it before I even got into it. But now I make a point to talk myself into it.

So from someone who used to hate running, here are some tips on how to not hate it:

Don’t worry about what you look like.

One of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to run was because I assumed I looked ridiculous. I figured everyone in their car who drove by me was pointing and laughing at my silly attempt at running.

I didn’t really know what shoes to wear, or what clothes I should be wearing. I was so self-conscious of how I looked and if I was doing it right.

I didn’t know what I was doing, and I felt like every other runner did.

It also didn’t help that I have quite large nungas that were not properly strapped in (see this post on sports bras if you have that problem), so I was self-concious about that as well. I hated getting any sort of attention when I was running.

I’m not sure how I got over this, but now I don’t care. If people want to look at me, fine. If I get honked at or yelled at, I turn my music up and ignore it. Why would I care about what strangers in their cars are thinking about me? I am doing something to better my health. If I look ridiculous, that’s cool, snark on it if you like.

But, more likely, no one is looking at you. When I look at a runner on the side of the road, I usually envy them more than notice how fast they’re going or what they’re wearing (unless it’s nice and I want it).

Make a playlist that will pump you up.

This is huge for motivating me. I am always making new playlists and including my favourite songs of the moment. I also try not to listen to those songs at any time other than when I am running. This makes me excited to run because I’m excited to listen to those songs.

(You can check out my playlists here, and I gotta update that page soon as I have some new ones)

Or you could listen to an audio book! I haven’t done this yet, but I could see it getting me excited about running.

Set goals for yourself.

I will admit, I’m not a big goal-setter. But for running it really helps to motivate me, especially when I was just starting out. I felt awesome every time I made a time or distance goal I had set for myself. Achieving even mini goals made me want to keep on doing it.

Get new running garb.

Whenever I get anything new I want to wear it immediately. When I bought new clothes for running, I wanted to get out there and run just so I could wear them.

Track your progress.

I immediately got the RunKeeper app for my iPhone, so I could track my speed and distance. Though I wasn’t competitive about running, I still liked to know how fast and how far I was going. I also liked to save that information and compare it to my next runs, and this gave me little goals.

You do not have to run fast.

You don’t even have to run well! Just like anything, you just have to keep at it. Even if you are moving at a pace that is slightly more than a walk, it’s still something. The more you do it, the better you will get. Just get out there!

And read running blogs!

That’s probably what did it for me. And since I have started blogging about running, several of my friends decided to take up running as well. My motivation motivated my friends, which has now motivated me even more (and I have running buddies!)

It is just a big cycle of inspiration.

Am I missing any good tips?

And can anyone tell me how to not hate the treadmill?!

Conehead Woes

So…it looks as though I may have a conehead.

Every time I try to wear a workout hairband/sweat band (are they still called sweat bands?!) it starts out all good above my forehead and then slowly works its way off of my head.

Every. Time.

I want to wear a band when I work out so badly, and I am so jealous when I see people successfully sporting these bands, but it never works out for me.

I have tried every kind.

The two black bands are just from Goody, and so far those have been the worst.  They slip off my head in seconds.  The green Lululemon band isn’t much better.  I have had mild success with the multicoloured Lulu one, because that one has rubber grip underneath.  I wore it on my 5k, but still had to put it back on twice as I was running, because it also slipped off.  Stupid bands.  Stupid conehead.

One time when our intern Mary was still working in our office (I MISS MARY!!! 😦 She was my partner in crime!), we were about to go take part in lunchtime yoga and she fixed me a band made of athletic tape to hold my hair back.

She assured me that all of the girls on her rugby team wore athletic tape on their heads while they were playing, and she had never seen one slip off (and rugby is ROUGH).

It worked better than any of the previously mentioned bands…but 20 minutes in (and remember this is just yoga), it was sloooooowly starting to slip off my head.  I looked over at Mary while in downward dog and she stared back at me, shocked.  She may have mouthed the word “freak” at me, but I can’t be sure.

Coneheads are severely unattractive, so I’d like to think that’s not why the bands are slipping off my head… although…

But I think it may also be because of my extremely fine and thin hair.  There is just no grip to it at all, and nothing for the band to hold onto.  I thought I was destined to never be able to wear a head band.

Until I heard of the BIC band (don’t get too excited, this story doesn’t have a happy ending just yet).

BIC Band

In following other blogs, I heard all about the BIC band craze.  Everyone, EVERYONE who has tried a BIC band says they stay put…for some people an entire marathon!

The website says:

B.I.C. Bands are headbands that will not slip~ (SERIOUSLY!) They are great for any workout, a trip to the coffee shop, going out with friends, work….
you name it, your B.I.C. Band will keep your hair looking FAB! They are headbands that stay in place and help others win their race!

Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Except for that bit about helping others win the race…shouldn’t it stay in place to help YOU win the race?  Anyway.

I was excited.  I thought maybe I had found the ticket out of my endless searching for a band that would stay in place on my conehead/slippery hair.  I was going to order one.

But then, a miracle happened, and I entered Alyssa @ Life of Blyss‘s BIC Band giveaway, and guess what?  I WON.

Sparkle Bic

I chose the pink sparkly BIC band, and anxiously awaited its arrival, thinking my days of having hair in my face were over.

It arrived, and I immediately put that sucker on and went for a run.

Excited for my Band!

And guess what?  It slipped off.  Not immediately.  In fact, it stayed on longer than probably any other band I’ve ever tried.  But still, it slowly slipped off my conehead/slippery hair.  Son of a…

I was disappointed.

Disappointment

What the frig?

So tonight I am doing an experiment.  I have boot camp tonight and I want to wear the band.  Last night I showered before I went to bed and braided my hair so that it would be “kinky” today.  I even put a bit of mousse in it to help it out.  I am hoping that this gives my hair a bit of texture and therefore more grip for the band.

That is my “I mean serious business face” so it better stay in place.

I am off to boot camp to check this out!  I will report back with my findings.

In the meantime…

I have a recipe for you!

I knew I didn’t have a lot of time tonight to make dinner, so I used my trusty slow cooker to create an easy and delicious dish!

Yummers

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken!  I originally say the recipe on Skinny Taste, but I made some changes to mine so it would be a little more like a soup.  You can click here to view the original recipe, and here is mine with my modifications:

Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (mine had celery and green pepper added)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can low-sodium chicken broth (actually probably more than that for me, I had some in the fridge in a carton that I wanted to use up)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup salsa (I didn’t measure, so I’m just guessing here)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Combine everything in the crock pot.  I put my chicken breasts in frozen and then shredded them when I got home and added them back into the mix.

It was awesome!

I had a whole wheat English muffin on the side for dipping purposes.

Alright, off to boot camp!  Wish me luck!

Questions of the evening:

  • Do any of you have trouble getting workout bands to stay on your head?
    Please tell me I’m not alone!
  • If you do, have you found a brand that works?

Busy but Healthy

Hello lovers from other mothers.

It’s FRIDAY!  I have never been so excited for a weekend, ever.  Working 12+ hour days will do that to you.  But thankfully my stretch of being ridic busy is pretty much over.  I’ll be busy, but not crazy don’t-talk-to-me-or-I-may-roar-at-you busy.  Today at 4:00 was the light at the end of the tunnel!  Phew.

And you know what I’m doing tonight?  NOTHING.  Not a thing.  I’m not even making dinner.  My own lover from another mother and I just ordered pizza, so I am annihilating that and then I am sweatpantsing it up and catching up on leisuring, hardcore.

I hope you guys enjoyed Dawnald taking over my blog for the last couple of days as much as I did.  New Orleans looks like a good time!  Although I will say, veggies looked pretty darn elusive down there.

Oh right, besides turnip greens.

I love healthy eating and the way it makes me feel, but when there is chance to indulge, I take it, so I’m sure I would have been all up in that beignet’s grill and all over those deep fried dishes.

On the reg though, I like to keep it on the healthy side of things.  And something that I have been thinking about this week is that making healthy eating a priority takes a bit of prep time.

I’m sure me talking about being busy is annoying, because everyone is busy, so this is the last time I’ll mention it.  But being busier than usual means things fell by the wayside for me, like house chores (hi dishes, I WILL do you), and keeping my office organized…

Trashed Office at 7am

I am cleaning that sucker first thing Monday morning.

But something that did not suffer was my eating.  Healthy eating is important to me, so I carved out time specifically for food prep and let other things slack.  Priorities.

Luckily I was still at home or at work, and not just OUT, so healthy eats weren’t as tricky as they could have been.  But it would have been easy for me to just eat out after working all day (um, like tonight), or throwing a sodium-packed frozen dinner in my oven, or running downstairs to the convenience store (yes, there’s a convenience store IN my building) at snack time and grabbing a chocolate bar instead of a healthy snack I packed for myself.  It takes a bit of extra time, but for me, it is worth it.

So let’s get to my busy eats!

Yog Bowl

Greek yogurt bowls with fresh fruit and All Bran cereal worked for a couple of breakfasts or a snack! (I made that one tiny box of All Bran last for four separate yogurt bowls.)

Oh, and PS, when the peaches are sliced up like this they don’t hurt my lips.  But since you guys were so darn curious about that, I’ll probably do a post on how the fuzz hurts me.

An easy work lunch:

Bagel Party

Cheddar cheese melted on a whole wheat bagel (broiled in the toaster oven, actually) topped with tomato, and sliced cucumber on the side for yesterday’s lunch.

On Wednesday my building had a hotel tradeshow offering a free Subway lunch, so I abandoned my packed lunch, ran downstairs for .2 seconds, made eye contact with no one, and just grabbed this:

I ❤ Subway

A yummy veggie sub.  Oh, and a cookie…

And I Lurrrrve Subway Cookies!

Because I can’t resist Subway cookies.

And peanut butter smeared on a heated whole wheat tortilla makes a quick and filling healthy snack!

Lots o' PB fo' Me

Fiber + good fats = win.  I folded that baby up to make a peanut butter quesaDILLA.  Add sliced apple or a banana to this baby to amp it up even further.

And a big ol’ salad makes an easy, nutritious dinner.

Here's da Veggies!

Pretty healthy eats all week long!

But I had a big meeting today, and I finally went a little crazy and indulged 😉

Morning snack:

Lil' Pastry Action

x2, whoops!

Lunch:

Ginormous Lunch

Chicken souvlaki + rice + veggies + salad = YUM. FEST.

Annnnnd then dessert:

Dessert Time

I had to reward myself for all my hard work, you know 😉

Well friends, I am outta here!  Let the leisuring begin!

Have a great night!  HAPPY FRIDAY!

Questions of the evening:

  • When you are busy, do you find the time to make healthy eating a priority?
  • Do you have any go-to meals or snacks that you find easy to make when you are a busy beaver?

Why I Like to Run in the AM

Gooood morning sunshines!

My morning today started out with an early run in the dark.

It's Darrrrrk

Last night I set my alarm for 5:30 am, laid out my running clothes, and went to sleep with a morning run on my mind (always easier to get up and do it if I’ve committed to it the night before).  These days it is still pitch-black at 5:30 am, but by the end of my run the sun was almost up and it was quite a bit lighter.

Almost Donezo

I completed about 4.5k in just under 30 minutes.  Not too shabby for first thing in the am!

Why am I doing this to myself?

Some of my friends and a few readers have been calling me crazy for waking up so early in the morning to run, and wondering how I’m able to do it.  I just want to take a moment explain my reasons for being a crazy fool.

Just like with running in general, early morning runs are becoming easier and easier.  I’m finding that the more often I get up that early, the less difficult it is to actually get up.  It is starting to become a habit, and my body is becoming used to it!

Even on days I don’t run in the mornings, I still try to wake up earlier than I used to, just to keep my body on the same page.  I am really liking this because it extends my day and I can actually get a lot of stuff done in the morning (like this blog post) that I would previously leave until my work day was over.  More chores done = more leisure time, and friends, I am alllll about the leisure time!

I am finding lately that I much prefer to run first thing instead of leaving it until later.  I cannot eat less than an hour before a run or I get superly crampy.  I run best on an empty stomach, and when I get up that early I’m not hungry yet.  I can just head right out the door!  I usually feel light and breezy, as opposed to the heavy and blarg feeling that I sometimes get when I run after dinner.

Also, for some reason in the morning I have more energy!  I feel tired and lethargic when I first get up, but after completing a five minute walking warm-up I am usually ready to just give ‘er!

Working out in the morning gives me more energy for the rest of the day as well.  I don’t mind being on the go, and I generally just feel good all day.  It gets my day started off on the right foot!

It’s also a lot cooler in the mornings, which always makes for better running conditions.  Running in the heat is no fun.

And it’s quiet!

No one is around that early.  The streets are empty.  This morning I saw one person waiting for a bus, and four bunny rabbits.  It is the best “me time” ever.  I jam out to my iPod, can sing along, bust into crazy dance moves, even take pictures of myself if I want…and no one is around to notice or care.

I guess that’s all I got!

What time of day do you like to run or workout?  Morning, afternoon, or evening?

Onto breakfast!

Blueberry Green Monster

I haven’t really been into breakfast foods too much lately, and the only breakfast I was feeling this morning was a cold smoothie!

My smoothie included:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (you could use fresh als0)
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 1.25 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla Greek yogurt
  • pinch xanthan gum (optional, to thicken)

I loved this smoothie and slurped it down in minutes!  I was FULL afterwards, that’s a lot of liquid!  Also, spinach AND a run before 7am?  BAM.

Welp, it’s work time!  I have some exciting activities coming up today that I’m pumped about :).

Hope you all have a great day!