Making Progress On My 30 Before 30 List

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It's been a week since I created my 30 Before 30 in 10 Days list. I still have a lot left to do, but I have made some serious progress despite an unusually busy week.

Click here to see the full list.

This is what I've accomplished in the last seven days:

2. Call my grandpa - I did one better than that! I got to visit my grandpa when I went back to my hometown this weekend.

4. Visit a local art gallery - when my girls' summer camps overlapped last week, I had some time to myself and visited the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. You can read more about that on my other blog, here.

7. Makes 2 new original paintings - I actually made 3 complete paintings, plus a few others in progress:

13. Go to Fresh Thyme, the new grocery store in town. This was really meant to make me go outside of my routine. It's a pretty nice new local option, and I'm glad I checked it out.

14. Complete a Skillshare class - I have started a lot of Skillshare classes, but never submitted a project to complete the class. I chose to finish Everyday Surrealism: Creating Art From Photos with Chuck Anderson. Here is my completed project:

19. Watch a movie everyone has seen but me - a slight exaggeration, but there are so many films people reference that I've never seen. It didn't have to be in the AFI 100 Films in 100 Years list or anything like that. It was hard to choose, but Stand By Me was on Netflix, and I did enjoy it; although, I probably would have liked it more 15 years ago.

20. Try a new painting technique - I used some birthday money to pick up some new art supplies. I started painting with a Sakura Koi Water Brush today, and I love it! It makes painting script so much easier.

22. Change the design of my art and travel blog - I didn't change the entire design. I decided I did like it, I just tweaked the colors and changed the social media buttons.

24. Update all of my social media profiles.

28. Get in touch with an old friend - actually, an old friend from high school got in touch with me! They moved out of state, and I may get to see them later this month.

Thirty Before 30 in Ten Days

In the most predictable way, I woke up this morning and realized that I will turn 30 in 10 days. Never one to shy away from to-do lists, I came up with a 30 Before Thirty in Ten Days list. This is by no means a bucket list; this is more of a personal wishlist of 30 things that I would love to do, try, ponder, or accomplish in the next 10 days. Most of these activities I could do at any age, but with a significant birthday looming ahead, why not fill the last few days of my 20's with as much awesome as possible?

1. Visit the rose garden on Michigan State's campus
2. Call my grandpa
3. Try a local dessert or macaron shop. There are at least 2 in town that I've never tried
4. Visit a local art gallery

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5. Make homemade popsicles - I haven't done this since I was a child!
6. Read By the Shores of Silver Lake to my daughter. The Little House books were my favorites as a child, and now we're working our way through the series.
7. Make 2 more original paintings
8. Try a different coffee shop in town

9. Paint my nails. I usually do nothing with them - a leftover habit from playing the violin.
10. Email the local community orchestra about starting with them in the fall.
11. (Finally) make a lemon meringue pie. This has been on my "to-do" lists for years
12. Plant new flowers in the backyard (currently flowerless)

A photo posted by Ashley Pahl (@theashleypahl) on

13. Go to Fresh Thyme, the new grocery store in my neighborhood
14. Complete a Skillshare class* that I've signed up for but never started
15. Have dinner at a restaurant I've never tried before
16. Add a new print to my Society6 shop*

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17. Make a list of my favorite songs by year, since birth. I love making lists, and this is just one of those weird, personal things that I want to do.
18. Find a doctor. I am so naughty. I haven't been to the doctor since my 5.5 year old was born. I never found a doctor for myself after we moved back to Michigan, and now I know it's time.
19. Watch a movie everyone in the world has seen except for me. Top Gun; Footloose; Silence of the Lambs; Schindler's List; etc. These are all movies I've never seen, and I get a weird look when I say I've never seen one of them.
20. Learn (or try) a new painting skill or technique

A photo posted by Ashley Pahl (@theashleypahl) on

21. Finish the "Dunk and Egg" series of novellas by George R.R. Martin that I've been reading
22. Change the design of my art and travel blog
23. Have my favorite ice cream from the MSU Dairy Store
24. Update all of my social profiles and bios. There is a good chance they're a bit dated.
25. Make a list of 30 things I am thankful for; keep it handy for bad days

26. Wear a sleeveless dress in public. I rarely wear dresses or tank tops, so this a step out of my comfort zone.
27. Get my picture taken with the Sparty statue. As MSU alumni I have had my picture taken with Sparty the mascot, but not the beautiful statue on campus.
28. Get in touch with an old friend again
29. Re-organize my closet - start my next decade on the right foot
30. Make a list of 30 goals for the next 30 years

To tell you the truth, I am not nervous at all about turning 30; on the contrary, I am quite looking forward to it! Readers, if you've already turned 30, did you do anything special to celebrate it? Did it affect your view on life in anyway? What has been your favorite thing about turning 30?

DIY No-Spill Ink Well Tutorial

In 2012 I published the first issue of Snowed In magazine, a handmade guide to the holidays. One of the first tutorials accepted into the annual magazine was this DIY, no-spill ink well by artist Rachel Anne Jones. At the time, I had never done calligraphy or used a nib. After taking an online calligraphy class on Skillshare* and practicing calligraphy as a hobby, I now fully appreciate and understand the genius of Rachel's tutorial.

With wedding and shower season upon us I know a lot of people are addressing envelopes; just last week I sent out 50 hand-addressed envelopes for my sister's bridal shower. If you're terrified of dumping a whole jar of ink onto a pile of freshly-addressed envelopes, then I know you will appreciate what Rachel will teach you in this tutorial on page 77 of Snowed In Magazine 2012. You can also view the tutorial in the magazine widget below.

Three Things I Love This Thursday

These are three things I am loving this week...

1. These gorgeous watercolor flower graphics are from designer Pepper on Creative Market. I'm using them to create my sister's bridal shower invitations. I arranged the flowers in a wreath on, and I will add the text within the white oval. The bridal shower will have a lot of poppy elements in it, so I am so happy to have found these. Ready-made graphics make a bridesmaid's life a LOT easier.

2. I'm currently a student in Holly Becker of Blogging Your Way's Instagram Bootcamp. I am super late to the Instagram party, and honestly I was having a little trouble getting into the groove of it. I only posted two images in April, and three in May. This e-course is really helping me understand how to better connect with fellow Instagrammers; how to make my photo gallery more cohesive; and how to develop a unique point of view. Instagram is, as Holly says, "Every day life. But better." You can follow me on Instagram here, and if you do, leave your link in the comments below so I can check out your feed as well.

3. Finally, yesterday was National Hug Your Cat Day! Mostly this was an excuse for me to get some cute pictures of my cats; one of them hates to be held, and the other ended up making that face ^. I loved seeing everyone else's "hug your cat day" pictures - if you have one you want to share, leave a link to your Facebook page, blog, or Instagram so we can see!

How-To: Semi DIY Playscaping for the Backyard

This week I've been sharing the how-to's and sources for our backyard playscaping project. Did you miss any of them? Here's a recap:

This is still a work in progress, there are still some things I'd like to build, possibly for next summer. I would love to turn a long, wide tree branch into a balance beam; create a hut built of sticks for a hideout; or make a little table set with big and little logs. 

What do your kids like to do in their backyard? Do they have any favorite activities or playthings that are a must for your backyard?
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