Citrusy Mint Hibiscus Tea

October 22nd, 2013

The most wonderful bunch of fresh herbs was tucked into last week’s produce delivery—six hibiscus pods, three sprigs of spearmint, and three sprigs of lemon verbena. The included instructions said to strip the leaves and pods from the branches, pour 6 cups of boiling water over top, and steep for 5–10 minutes. I couldn’t believe the bright pink, citrusy mint tea I ended up with! I downed the whole pot within an hour. So good! I think beautiful + tasty is one of my favorite combinations.

fresh hibiscus tea

fresh hibiscus tea

fresh hibiscus tea

fresh hibiscus tea

fresh hibiscus tea

7 Comments

Productivity Tips

October 17th, 2013

I’ve been self-employed and working from home for the past 4 years, so I’ve gotten pretty good at motivating myself. I still fail sometimes, like on dim rainy days when my dogs coax me over to the couch for a nap, when I feel like I’ve run out of ideas, or when I’m discouraged because things aren’t working out the way I planned. But, overall I think I’m pretty darn productive. Here are my tricks for productive self-employment, and I’d love to hear yours!

productivity tricks

Embrace Routine: Every morning after breakfast I make tea and go down to my studio to ship orders, restock, and do other necessary stuff like that. I reserve my afternoons for creative pursuits like sketching, photography, blogging, and such. Having a general idea of how my work days are going to be spent helps me stay on track.

Make Daily Lists: I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from crossing items off a list. I’ve found that weekly to do lists don’t work for me because I can easily put off the crappy tasks. It’s no fun when the weekend rolls around, and I have a whole list of awful chores left to do. I need short to do lists with 4–6 things I can reasonably accomplish in a day.

Self-Reward: All I really want to do is work in my sketchbook all day, but there are plenty of other things to do around here to keep Wit & Whistle running. I reward myself in small ways when I complete (or while I’m completing) an important, but not-so-fun task. I might binge watch a guilty pleasure TV series on Netflix while packaging a large wholesale order. Or, during busy seasons shipping orders can be quite a time consuming chore, so I’ll get a bag of Jelly Bellies and eat one delicious bean for every few orders I ship. When I finish my taxes each quarter I buy myself a little something I’ve been pining for on Etsy. Self-rewarding keeps the procrastinator inside me in check by making less desirable duties more enjoyable. (I said “duties”… haha!)

Track Time: Keeping track of what I spend my time doing (usually) prevents me from accidentally browsing Pinterest for an hour in the middle of a work day. I use Yast to track what I do all day. Knowing that I’m being held accountable for my time helps me stay on task (even if no one ever looks at my time sheets but me).

Be grateful: Whenever I stop to think about how blessed I am to have the opportunity to pursue my dreams, my productivity levels spike. I don’t want to look back later in life and wonder what might have happened if I had been more motivated. I want to know that I used my time well and reached my full potential!

17 Comments

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

October 15th, 2013

When most people read “flourless chocolate cookies” they probably think “gluten-free” but I think “extra fudgey deliciousness”, and these cookies didn’t disappoint. They have tender crispy shells on the outside and rich gooey chocolate inside. Biting into one is a little bit like munching on a not-so-pretentious French macaron. As an added bonus, this recipe only requires a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard. Simple, easy, and delicious—this is my kind of baking!

flourless chocolate cookie recipe

flourless chocolate cookie recipe

flourless chocolate cookie recipe

flourless chocolate cookie recipe

(The original recipe is from recipegirl.com, was edited by wellsphere.com, and then tweaked and paraphrased by me.)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1–2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract and 1 egg white until well combined. If your dough seems too dry, stir in half of the second egg white. The goal is to achieve a somewhat stiff dough—not too runny but not too dry either. It should hold its shape pretty well. If your dough is too runny, add a little more powdered sugar until it reaches more of a cookie dough consistency. When your dough seems just right, stir in the chocolate chips. Use a cookie scoop to plop the dough onto your lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12–14 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies start to crack. Let the cookies cool before removing them from the pan (if you can wait that long).

Makes 16 cookies.

14 Comments

A fence and a bench

October 11th, 2013

It’s going to be wintertime before I know it, so I have to squeeze in another garden update while I still can!

A few weekends ago Daniel and I installed a fence along our front garden. The wrought iron look compliments our tudor-style home nicely, and it protects my flowers (and shoes) from dog poo piles left by passersby. Win-win! You can buy the “no dig” fence panels and posts from Lowes. They’re light weight powder-coated steel, but they look like wrought iron. We just had to hammer the posts into the ground and slide the panels over them, so it only took us 4–5 hours to install about 80 feet of fencing. I’m going to see if I can get an Eden climbing rose to start growing up the fence next spring!

install a wrought iron fence

We added a bench to the garden, too. It’s great to have a place to sit down, rest, and have a drink in between digging holes. Plus, just having a bench there makes the whole garden seem more inviting.

tudor garden bench

The grass seed I spread a couple weeks ago is sprouting so soft and so green! Is there anything cuter than baby grass? Maybe baby grass with a litter of puppies tumbling around on it.

sprouting grass seed

5 Comments

House Plant Portrait No. 3

October 8th, 2013

I think it’s high time for another house plant portrait! Today I painted my Sansevieria trifasciata (aka snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue). These plants are the best. They are so good looking and practically impossible to kill, but do you know what’s even harder to kill than a snake plant? A painting of a snake plant! The original gouache and ink painting is available for purchase in my Etsy shop right here!

Houseplant Portrait No. 3 by Amanda Wright

Houseplant Portrait No. 3 by Amanda Wright

Houseplant Portrait No. 3 by Amanda Wright

Houseplant Portrait No. 3 by Amanda Wright

11 Comments

 

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