Idea Seeds

Things in my head have been chaotic lately. This is a good thing. The chaos is all creative chaos. Some form of creativity monster has taken over my brain and filled it with about 437 ideas that all NEED to come out. They’re bouncing around inside and pushing all the normal, sane thoughts out. I kind of love it.

One such thought has actually been planted in my brain for years. Literally years. And I FINALLY got to pull it out and put it to use when I made the custom coloring book last week. It was a huge hit. Within a few hours of putting the pictures online, I had 4 people email me to ask me if I was planning to do more of these so they could place an order for one. I had people send me ideas for promoting it and a lot of friends and family encouraging me to take a step in that direction.

About 4 years ago, I knew a little girl from church who was as much of a shoe-noticer as I am. When she was in preschool, she walked up to me one day and said, “oh those are beauuuutiful shoes.” My heart melted and my brain started spinning. I thought, ‘I should write a little story about her and her love for shoes. And then I could draw pictures to go along with it and print a copy of it for her mom.’ And then I thought, ‘I wonder if people would pay me to do that?’ And then I thought, ‘this is the greatest idea I’ve ever had.’ And I thought about it and thought about it and looked up printing costs and researched types of paper and met with a few idea geniuses and talked about it and thought about it more. And then tucked it back up inside my head. Because I don’t have the time or the start-up cost, the confidence in my talent or my idea, or the guts to tackle such a project.

But when I made the coloring book last week, I had a new passion for my little seed of an idea. I was loving every moment of putting it together. I loved thinking of ways to make each book completely unique, to make each illustration a refelction of the subject, and all the things the coloring books could be used for. I loved that by making it a coloring book instead of a storybook that the kids would be more involved in it, that printing would be cheaper, and that I would only need about 1/3 of the time for each picture. My little chaotic creativity monster went nuts.

So all this week, I’ve been talking to some great supportive friends and family who are SUCH encouragers and we’ve been discussing my idea and discussing prices and they’ve been trying to tell me that I’m worth more than I think I am and to not be afraid of getting myself into something like this. So yesterday, I FINALLY decided on a price and a package and a plan and I set it free into the world. In less than 24 hours, I had received over 150 hits on the item listing on Etsy.

I’ve got three coloring books currently lined up to get my feet a little more wet. One is mainly a promotional item for the idea. A sample book, basically. One is a fundraising effort for an adoption that is near and dear to my heart. And the last coloring book is a book for grownups that will not be custom – just one that I can print and have on hand.

As shackled as I’ve been by the fear of this little idea I had 4 years ago when a preschooler told me I had beautiful shoes, I couldn’t be more proud of myself for stepping out and actually trying it. I’m still nervous about it. I’m still insecure about the timing, the price, my own talent, etc. etc. etc., but I’m trying to push through that fear and put value in myself and what I can create.

So basically, I just want to say thank you to all of you who said the tiniest words of encouragement to me. To those of you who said such giant and wonderful words of encouragement, and to those of you who just smiled when you looked at the coloring book. I took every. single. one. to heart and stored it up inside of me.

So here it is. My little seed. The project I’ve wanted to tackle for four years. You gave me the courage to do it.


Here’s the link on Etsy: Steph Hagen Art – Custom Coloring Books

Red Lentil Curry Soup

I made soup last night at 10:30. I tasted a little bite to make sure it didn’t need anything else, and it was so good that I ate a small bowl right before bed.

I’m having the leftovers for lunch, and it’s so amazing that I wanted to share it as quickly as I could. Thus, the super quick blog post for the super quick soup.

Super Quick and Easy Red Lentil Curry Soup

2 cayenne peppers, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Sautee in a little olive oil until you can start to really smell the garlic, then stir into:

1 package of red lentils (green will work if you can’t find red)

*I soaked mine in salt water for a few hours, because the last time I tried to make lentil soup, they absorbed EVERY BIT of liquid and I just had lentils without the soup. It worked, but it wasn’t soup.

about a tsp of turmeric

about a tbsp of cilantro

about a tbsp of red curry powder (I love curry!)

salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Cover that with water and/or chicken broth until the lentil to liquid ratio is where you like it. Simmer on medium heat until the lentils are softish. Their color will fade as they cook, so don’t be alarmed if your red lentils end up a kind of yellowy-beigeish.

If you’re adding a lot of liquid – you might need more spice. I don’t know, soup is a very personal thing. Go with your heart.

And that’s it folks! That’s the whole recipe! And… lunch break over – back to work.

Sadie’s Turning Six!

I finished the coloring book!! During the birthday party, but luckily the birthday girl herself was late so we didn’t miss out on the party. What we thought would take about an hour or two in the morning ended up taking about 4 1/2 hours. That was completely maddening. As Dave put on twitter “@stephhagen is as stressed as I ever remember seeing her, and she’s making a coloring book!”

I don’t handle computer problems gracefully.

When the coloring book was explained to Sadie, she said, “Whoa. This is cool.” And then all my hardwork was totally worth it.

So, anyway – here are some of my favorite pictures from the coloring book.

I really had a blast doing this project. I’ve already got two more orders for coloring books and some ideas for more. I’m thinking a coloring book for grown-ups is in order. Who else finds coloring extremely theraputic?

Why I Call Him Superman

My husband is tired. He’s had the most packed season of his career, having been working basically non-stop since early Spring and there’s not really a break until November. (woot woot! beach vacation in November!) Which is great! Don’t get me wrong; we love that he has work lined up. We really do love that. But he is tired.

He is also sore. Some days out at the studio, he and ‘the fellas’ will play baseball or throw a frisbee for a while. In the past couple of weeks during aforementioned game time at work, he has sliced and bruised his bicep by falling on a wire fence thing (funny story about this: when someone asked him how he cut his arm, he said, “I just made a muscle and it ripped open” which still really makes me laugh,) he’s fallen and bruised or cracked a rib, he’s been attacked by a swarm of bees and stung thrice, and who knows what else that he just hasn’t been awake enough to tell me about.

And in his sweet, sore tiredness last night, he made me a light-box. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

Time Hog

I’m working on a project right now that is 1) oh so fun and 2) a super duper time time hog.

All of the moments in my day that aren’t already filled up… you know, those 8 minutes between getting home and changing clothes to leave the house again. THOSE 8 minutes per day are completely devoted to making a coloring book for a very sweet 6 year old and her upcoming birthday party.

I really forgot how much I love drawing. I mean, I doodle. All the time. Everything in my office has a doodle on it somewhere. But drawing drawing. Spending time getting faces and arms and birthday cakes just right. Today, I have roughly half of the sketches finished. And from there we do the tracing and digitizing and printing, etc.

Here’s the first sketch for the book. I’m in love with it. And if you know Sadie… I hope you love her outfit the way I do.

Even though it’s time consuming, I can’t imagine something I’d rather spend my time on.

Overfull on Time

I was listening to the new Ray LaMontagne album yesterday morning. There’s a line in one of the songs that says something normal, but smooth… you know, the way Ray does. And I kind of misheard it and knew that I hadn’t heard it correctly, but I liked what I thought it said anyway.

What I heard was, “hungry for life and overfull on time.” And I thought wow, that’s an awesome line. And I thought that’s so me. I sat down at my desk and looked up the lyrics, and I was way off, but I still love what I thought I heard.

The past couple of weeks at work have been…. difficult? Maybe that’s a good PC word for it. I have been very much hungry for life but overfull on time. I’ve been mopey and that’s not a good place to be.

Yesterday I got a phone call from someone who calls us to chat several times a week. Normally I go along with it, and think really mean things like, “you know… this is my job. I have things to do apart from talking on the phone all day.” Yesterday I thought I was getting one of those calls. He started to small talk for a few minutes, I was in a foul mood, and I just listened halfheartedly until he said, “Steph, I have something I’d like to share with you. I had a spot removed earlier this week and they think it might be cancer. I’m supposed to hear back today or tomorrow; I wanted to let you know so you and the rest of the office can be praying for me.”

That made me pay attention. So, I told one of the ladies in the office that talks with him often so we could both pray for him. About five minutes later, he called again and said, “Well, Steph… I have some good news for you. I just got the call from my nurse, and it’s not cancer!” We talked again for a few minutes, and he began to cry while saying how great God is and how full of mercy and grace He is, how thankful he was for Christ’s love and compassion in his life. And the whole time my friend was talking and crying, I was crying right along with him.

I’d been so selfish and concerned with the junk in my life… so hungry for different life, that I hadn’t stopped to look outward and see that I have time. Sometimes God uses someone else’s issues to bring me to my knees. I forget that too much.

Don’t Mess with Texas

In 2 months, Dave and get on a plane and head to Victoria, Texas. My big brother, Steve, is getting married the weekend of Thanksgiving and we’ll spend a full week on the beach with family.

This is Steve, and his beautiful fiancee, Trysta.

See that little “A” down there by that beautiful blue water? That’s me. I’m the little “A” in November.

Thanksgiving can’t get here soon enough.

The husband has been working crazy hours lately, and I’ve been stressing over work and well… everything else my brain sits on for more than 10 seconds. I’m tightly wound right now. Thankfully, this weekend was a great stress reliever – I got time at home with Dave and time out and about adventuring with him. Our adventure consisted of thrifting in hopes of finding a Nintendo 64… which is serious adventure to us.

But the idea that in just two short months, I’ll be (maybe camping) on a beach with Mr. Hagen has got me looking for the fast forward button.