Thursday, January 16, 2020

Five Ways We Stay Productive


As creators, we've got a lot on. In addition to working on Owl's Flower, we both have day jobs and passion projects — and in each of our cases, they're connected to what you already see us do. Ginger is a designer by day, and Kara does news and features around the web.

With all these different pieces floating around, it can be hard to stay focused and grounded. This book needs doing, but so does this shirt design. These articles are due next week, but so is a rough draft for this anthology. And sometimes, thanks to events in our lives or mood or just the weather, we don't want to do anything. So how do we keep rolling?

We each have our individual ways of focusing up at home, the office, or the home office. But here are a few methods we share in different ways. They aren't miracle cures, but they get the job done.


Take a Nap

black and gray owl

Seriously. If you're procrastinating because you're tired and you have the freedom to lie down, do it. Even dropping down for ten minutes of shuteye will yield better results than attempting to push through. Just make sure you set an alarm and put it somewhere where you can't turn it off in your sleep!

Kara takes a cat nap during the work day if she starts to feel drowsy, and just those few minutes makes a difference.


Online Accountability

person using laptop

When you have someone to answer to, tasks can go a lot faster. If you're an artist or do something else that an audience might like to see, do like Ginger: set up a stream! Whether it's one friend watching or 100 fans, you now have people waiting to see what you do. Plus, if you're working on book illustrations or con merch, it's a great way to give people a sneak peek of what's to come!

Rewards, Not Prewards

wrapped gift box

Give yourself something to look forward to... and then don't move it up. Seriously. Leave it where it is: at the end of the day, or the end of the task, or wherever it's meant to be.

Maybe it's a snack. Maybe it's an episode of your favorite show. For Ginger and Kara, it's sometimes a round of Elder Scrolls Online. Either way, stick to whatever it is. Put a little note somewhere where you'll see it, reminding you what you're getting to. Even if it's just a cup of coffee.


Have a Killer Playlist

woman standing watching LED light musical instrument

You know those songs that really make you feel awake and alive and good? Like you want to do something? Like you want to kick the sun? (Don't kick the sun, but you get the idea.) Put those in a playlist. Really narrow it down to the stuff that makes you feel on top of the world... or at least as close as you can manage.

Ginger's aforementioned streams will give you an idea of her taste in music — maybe you'll get some ideas during her next one! And if you're like Kara and can't work while listening to music with lyrics in it, Spotify has plenty of instrumental-only playlists just for the occasion.


Baby Steps and Forgiveness

brown owl close-up photo

One of the hardest things about getting your productivity on is dropping the ball. You make your tidy to-do list, you have your pretty hand-written planner, and your day is all planned out perfectly. But you oversleep, or something comes up, or you fall into your usual habits. That's okay — start smaller.

Pick one thing to make over in your day. Maybe there's one thing you always put off: cleaning, or a certain task at work. Spend a week getting that in check. Don't worry about the rest. Let it slide. Get this straight first. Then pick another thing.

And if you mess it up? That's okay. If you could just be organized or keep your schedule tamed after one go, setting goals wouldn't be a thing. We all have to try. Even the people who seem to be doing a whole lot. Heck, especially them.

Fix one thing about your schedule at a time, and try again if you mess it up. It sounds basic, but it's how Kara tames her writing deadlines, and it's how Ginger stays on track to make her merch and zines happen. And it's the step a lot of self-improvement sorts tend to skip in favor of magical solutions. 


Speaking of accountability, keep your eyes on us over on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We've got more coming this year!

Friday, January 10, 2020

CREATOR WEEKLY WRAP-UP: Who Goodies from Our Creators!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic start to 2020! We're already hitting the ground running with personal projects and writing/illustrating work. Thanks for sticking with us into the new year!

For starters, Ginger has a new shirt in her shop. Inspired by Pip Madeley on Twitter, it's perfect gear for those of you who tried to go home and found that, once again, it's all gone to hell. Get your shirt now from her shop:



Plus, Kara's new book Vanishing Tales of the City is out in print! You've likely seen us mention this a fair bit over the previous weeks. It's part of Obverse Books' Anniversary Sextet, taking place in the City of the Saved and featuring Iris Wildthyme, SeƱor 105, members of Faction Paradox, and more. Get your copy now!



If you want to see more from both of us, be sure to follow Ginger @Kataoi and Kara @RubyCosmos on Twitter. We've always got something on, and will definitely have things of interest to our readers!

Friday, December 27, 2019

New Year's Resolutions from Owl's Flower

firework display over the city

A new year — and a new decade! — starts next week. And with new beginnings on the calendar come an attempt at new beginnings for each of us. You don't have to wait until January 1 to make resolutions, but something about the feeling of a fresh start makes it easier to set your mind to it.

With that, Owl's Flower is making its own sets of resolutions! Here's how the characters are hoping to kick off the 2020s in a good way:

Herne

"I've never made resolutions myself until this year, but I've had time to see what works and what doesn't. It seems like big changes don't do as well as clear, personal ones. So in my case, I'm going to try and improve communication. Say things before they need to be said, so they're easier to talk about. That's a lot of ground to cover when I've had 400 years of life, but I can make a start."


Iris

"Better business! I've been researching trends to improve the company, and I'm making two major changes. For one, I'm going with American-made coffee. I've found a great company that I'm hoping to work with exclusively. And I'm trying to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, so look for us to use 100% recycled cups. (I swear that isn't because I'm dating a nature god. I came by it honestly.)"


Stormy

"New year's resolutions don't work. But if they did, I'd resolve to cut my spending on Domo Octi GachaGacha Matsuri. Not entirely. I'd still drop real money for major events and collabs, but not weekly deals."

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Speaking of the new year, both Ginger and Kara have good things coming... including the next Owl's Flower book! Keep your eyes on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and sneak peeks of what's to come!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

RECIPES: Hot Cocoa a la Owl's Flower


It is really cold right now.

Kara's in Virginia, Ginger's in Illinois, and neither is warm. While we have our own preferences when it comes to warm-up drinks (Ginger prefers coffee, Kara prefers tea), we do agree on one thing: hot cocoa. As Ginger pointed out, it's sort of the happy medium between the two.

So while we're trying to regain some body heat, here are a few suggestions for hot cocoa variants you might find at Owl's Flower on cold days.

Herne's Honey Hot Cocoa

opened yellow ceramic jar beside pine cones

We already know from the first book that Herne loves Owl's Flower's specialty honey cookies. Mix in a spoonful of honey and a few drops of vanilla for a sweet variant. Bonus points if you use local honey: save a little for spring to help fight off allergies when the flowers start blooming again!


Gingerbread Hot Cocoa

gingerbread near bowl with liquid

After baking up sheets of gingerbread cookies for the shop, Iris gets a bit of a craving. There are a couple ways to go about this, the easiest being to use store-bought gingerbread spice. Mix a tablespoon per cup into your favorite hot cocoa mix. Alternatively, you can mix up equal parts cinnamon, ginger, and allspice for a do-it-yourself version. A little maple syrup or molasses really makes it work.


Peppermint Mocha

white ceramic mug with chocolate and candy cane

For the nights when you want something seasonal but also want to stay awake a little longer. Instead of water or milk, mix your cocoa of choice with coffee and a dash of milk. Then drop in a mini candy cane and let it melt for an extra dose of Christmas flavor.


Will you be trying any of these? What's your favorite stay-warm drink? You can always chat with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Herne and Iris's Guide to the Perfect Christmas


Christmas is just a couple weeks away! We're all scrambling to be prepared, find gifts for family and friends, and be good to ourselves in between errands. So how does William's Grove's favorite paranormal romantic couple keep their heads on straight during the holidays? Here are a few tips from Herne and Iris... they may not be applicable for more standard families, but you'll probably find some points of commonality in there somewhere.

1. Always defrost your nature god in the morning. If you're in a region where winters are especially cold, don't fret if your local nature-connected deity is a little chilly first thing. Blankets, heating pads, and a hot beverage of their choice will help thaw them out.

2. You don't have to make Every Cookie. It feels good to bring variety to the table, and baking is super fun. But if you're going to a cookie party, regular party, or just having a friend over, it's okay to stick to one or two types if you're already short on time. Iris has some sweet honey cookies that go over really well with Herne — the recipe is in our first book!

3. Consumable gifts are great gifts. It's nice to give things that last a lifetime, but things you can use up are just as appreciated! Consider gifting a favorite coffee or tea blend, a gift card to their favorite restaurant or shop, or tickets to a show they'd like. (Have we mentioned how great cookies are?)

4. Start a new tradition. Are you accustomed to taking trips out of town on the holidays, but currently dating an immortal demigod who needs to stay close to home to ensure the smooth change of seasons? Try a festive event closer to home! As fun as traditions are, times and people change; and integrating new festivities in with the usual can be just as fun.

5. Take time for yourself. And your loved ones, of course. If getting everything Absolutely Perfect is cutting into the time you actually get to spend with family and friends, it might be time to take a few hours off. Watch some movies, eat some cookies. Eat a lot of cookies.

6. Ghost stories are totally festive. No, really. It used to be much more of a thing. When you're looking for something to do on a dark and chilly evening, share your favorite scary stories with a friend!

7. Remember what comes first. You don't want to be exhausted, angry, or stressed when the big day rolls around; you want to be able to enjoy it. If that means sitting at home with your SO watching Hallmark movies and drinking hot cocoa instead of having an elaborately decorated tree, so be it. If that means buying ready-made dinners instead of working in the kitchen, go for it. What matters is being together in the darkest part of winter and making it a happy time!

Friday, December 6, 2019

An old Christmas story... and things to come?


When we were first kicking off Owl's Flower, we wanted to give readers a little extra something between the first and second book. Christmas was incoming, so over the course of that December, we did a three-part story about Herne and Iris's first Christmas together.

If you missed it, no worries! You can still read it here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

As we move toward Book 3 (and there will be more news on that soon — follow our Twitter for potential sneak peeks!), we're also looking at the future of the site, the shop, and how we do things in general. The first book will always be free to download, and future ebooks will always be at pay-what-you-want pricing (albeit more conveniently before long!).

Eventually we'd like to do more in-between short stories (as in short-short, like what you see above). If that's the kind of thing you'd like to see on our blog for special occasions, be sure to let us know! In the meantime, we're looking forward to Christmas and hope all of you are, too. Stay warm and toasty!

Friday, November 22, 2019

BONUS RECIPE: Potato Stuffing


If you've read our first two books, you know that they come with recipes in the back. (And if you haven't read them... they come with recipes in the back!) The first two feature custom-made dishes by Angela Pritchett, but our third will will have something a bit different: a recipe that, in the story, comes from Iris's cat-having neighbor Ms. Waters.

In reality, the recipe comes from a Lebanese cookbook made by the women of St. George's Orthodox Church in Charleston, WV — in other words, the church built by Kara's family! We're looking forward to giving this family recipe (and perhaps others) a new life with new people. And today, with Thanksgiving around the corner, we thought we'd share another recipe from Kara's family.

This is an old favorite: a mashed potato-based stuffing whose recipe was passed down from Kara's great-grandmother. Does that mean it's a traditional Lebanese dish? Not quite... that's the impression we got at first, but it turned out great-grandma got it from a New England cookbook. Regardless... it's a family recipe, it's delicious, and you should all get to try it.

Here you go!

Ingredients
- 4 lbs. potatoes, peeled and mashed
- 3 cups cracker crumbs*
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 chopped white onion
- 1 egg
- Dash nutmeg
- Salt to taste

Directions

1. Add cracker crumbs a bit at a time to mashed potatoes in a large pot.

2. Add butter, celery, onion, and egg. Mix well.

3. Add nutmeg and salt to taste.

4. Divide the mixture. You should have enough to stuff a decent-sized turkey and to bake in a casserole dish.

* If you're crushing up the cracker crumbs yourself, use unsalted crackers.