together PANGEA snakedog single

For the last several years, Andrew has been working on and off with his friends, the band together PANGEA (formerly Pangea) to make a record. What started out as a because-we-can project has recently become for real legit.

The album that Andrew produced and recorded is now being put out by Harvest Records, a Capitol Records label. The single is called Snakedog and you can read a review here.

That’s right, I said PRODUCED!! The first single came out yesterday, and Andrew now has his very first Producing credit.

I mean, in reality, he’s been “producing” for years. Every album he records, Andrew gives a little bit of guidance, a little input here and there that a ‘proper’ producer would do.

So exciting that his first official producing credit is on a major label!

I could not be more proud of him! We did a little site redesign for him (see Andrew’s audio engineering site here) in anticipation of this record coming out.

Sidenote: Even if I didn’t know these guys, I really like the album artwork.

If you’re interested, you can listen to the song here streaming from Soundcloud.

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Planning a redesign of this site

I’d love to hear if there’s anything you absolutely love or absolutely hate about the current design … as well as any requests for the future?

Keep in mind, I’m doing the redesign myself so it will be SUPER basic.

Thanks for reading!!



30 Days of Lists returns in September!

Join us in September for another round of 30 Days of Lists. Another quick journaling challenge. Another opportunity to record YOUR STORY.

30 Days of Lists is our encouragement and challenge to you that you CAN journal just something every day- even something as small as a list.

Every day through the month of September 2013 we will be posting a list prompt – anything from weekend goals to celebrity crushes. At the end of the 30 days you’ll have a collection of entries creating a small snapshot of your life right now.

Only 5-10 minutes per day are really needed. While you’re waiting for someone, or when you’re the passenger in the car. You can even download the list topics ahead of time to get a jump start!

There’s no wrong way to do this and if you don’t like a prompt on a certain day, just change it.

Register for 30 Days of Lists - a Creative Journaling challenge

What does registration include?

Once you register you will receive an automatically downloadable file giving you access to the private blog for September 2013’s 30 Days of Lists as well as exclusive discounts from our sponsors and ambassadors.

The #30Lists challenge blog is open immediately (and will remain available for at least a year).

Upon logging in, you’ll have immediate access to:

  • private Facebook Group just for September #30Lists participants
  • printable download with ALL of September’s list topics (for those of you who want the topics ahead of time)

Throughout August, we’ll introduce:

  • tutorial on adding images to the Flickr group
  • tutorial on using the #30Lists hashtag for Instagram
  • tutorial on joining the community
  • introductions to our sponsors
  • introductions to our ambassadors
  • Kam and Amy’s individual 30Lists books
  • ‘your take’ on the #30Lists book covers
  • giveaways from sponsors and ambassadors

Starting September 1st:

  • 1 new list topic will be posted each morning
  • exclusive tutorials
  • additional giveaways
  • list topics hosted by some of our sponsors
  • ‘your take’ posts high-lighting the lists all of you are making

Enroll in this creative writing challenge


coming home

travel - coming home


BUILD ecourse available today

So excited to announce that my BUILD blogging ecourse is now available!

I built a blog that has helped me quit my day job – with fewer than 1000 readers and ZERO advertisers.

The Petersiks from Young House Love built a blog that can employ both of them as well as get them a book deal. Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess built a blog that can employ a whole team, get them a book deal and change their whole career trajectory.

My personal goals have been somewhat smaller, but my blog still has been the driving force behind reaching those goals and quitting my day job.

And I want to teach you to do the same.

Learn more here, check out the full syllabus here … and then:




Henry Miller quote


On my commute: Podcasts I love

I like to listen to podcasts … A lot.. Because I drive A LOT.

My drive is about 1 hour each way. Often more because of traffic. The drive to work is about 35 miles, along one of the most obnoxious freeways in Los Angeles. Which means that is 35-miles-of-potential for car accidents or mattresses on the freeway or road construction.

Almost always road construction.

Each night at work, I have to check the Metro website to find out what on ramps are open. Every night. I literally cannot get on the freeway to get home without checking this online resource (which is not always updated correctly).

And then by the time I finally get on the freeway, lanes are closed right and left.

So, yea. I spend a lot of time in the car and have a lot of time to listen to podcasts.

I subscribe to a bunch and then listen to all the archives of one of the shows for a few months, and then switch and listen to a few months of archives for another …. I think I might be addicted. .. I keep subscribing to more and more…. I have marketing and photography and storytelling and science podcasts and on and on and on…

Many (many) of them are not specifically arty, creative, and all …. But I still love them.

Here are my 10 top suggestions for some non-crafty, non-arty podcasts to inspire you in new ways!

This American Life:

I’m going to be blunt. If you consider yourself a storyteller of any kind you MUST listen to this podcast.

Also, I mean, hello? Ira Glass!? In love with him.

This podcast/radio show appeals to my cultural studies interests. They’re such beautiful snapshots of someone’s American life.

In the highly unlikely instance that you have never heard of This American Life, each week’s hour-long show loosely centers on a particular theme. The theme of the show is explored in several “acts,” usually two to five. 2 to 5 stories that each look at different angles of that week’s theme. Themes include ‘Prom,’ ‘Fear of Sleep,’ and ‘Switched at Birth.’

Ira Glass and the other producers are such amazing storytellers. This show genuinely makes me love America. This show makes me want to write. This show makes me want to interview strangers and hear about their stories.

One day I will get up the guts to pitch a story to This American Life. …. and then one day (long) after that, I may actually get my story ON the show!

How Stuff Works:

How Stuff Works is actually a website that produces several podcasts (as complementary to their website content) …. Specifically I subscribe to Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class and Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know. There are also a TON more podcasts from How Stuff Works that I want to look into. I learn so many things I would have never otherwise have found the time to research on my own!

Stuff you Should Know was the first one I listened to … It’s very sciency and fascinating. The hosts (Josh and Chuck) have such a cute little bromance going, they are so entertaining!

Stuff you Missed in History Class is close to my heart – I love history. Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know is a short, weekly video podcast about conspiracy theories – fascinating!

I kind of wish I lived in Atlanta so I could work for


RadioLab reminds me of a cross between This American Life (1 hour program, broken into 3 or 4 different related stories) and Stuff You Should Know (sciency, non-fiction, etc). Super interesting.

The first few seasons need a better editor…. but all-in-all this podcast is quite enjoyable.

I even learned about String Theory and UNDERSTOOD IT while listening to one of these episodes!

Miraculous, I tell you. I am not a science-girl by any stretch of the imagination.

NPR’s Planet Money:

I first heard about this relatively new NPR show by listening to This American Life. The Planet Money staff did an episode called “The Giant Pool of Money” and I learned so much about global economics. …. So I immediately subscribed to the Planet Money podcast.


This is a podcast that started right about the time the entire global meltdown happened (August or September 2008). The brilliance of this podcast is the anchors and reporters were NOT economics reporters when they started, so when they tackle the basic basics…. it really is basic. Learning along with them made economics completely approachable.

I learned about credit default swaps; I learned about toxic assets; I learned about the international manufacturing industries. I learned about the economics of schools in Haiti; I learned about foreclosures in Spain; I learned about Alexander Hamilton’s vision for United States debt.

If you decide to subscribe to Planet Money, I would recommend starting at the beginning beginning. So fascinating!

Travel with Rick Steves:

If you don’t know who Rick Steves is, you probably have never been to Europe.

I’m not exactly his target audience (*cough* baby boomers *cough*), but I still love him.

He has his PBS television show, his guidebooks and this radio show/podcast.

His shows are all about an hour long and usually cover 2-3 topics. He’ll have his guide-friends on for an interview, or take calls from listeners with questions or even interview writers of travel-type books (like Road Trip USA which I love)

The only problem I have with Rick Steves’ podcast, every time I listen to one of these shows I have to add another vacation or trip to my “one day” list. :)   It’s an OK problem to have, though… I never would have thought about going to Slovenia without Rick Steves!

the moth

The Moth

The tagline is ‘True stories told live’ – and while that does describe it, it can’t really encompass the breadth of humor, self-reflection and heartbreak that you will find in these true stories.

Some told by celebrities. Some told my everyday people.

One of the Moth favorites (that they publish often) is a NYC cop, in fact.

Molly Ringwald, A.E. Hotchner (fantastic story), Damien Echols and Edgar Oliver are just some of the more recent names you might recognize. But also an artist haunted by Montgomery Clift, a daughter tells about her immigrant father building an empire from nothing, a teacher faces an ethical dilemma when a student steals LEGOs, and a father details his daughter’s cosmopolitan imaginary friend.

This is a fantastic podcast that I listen to for the entertainment value, but also for observing quality story-structure in action.

WTF with Marc Maron

The bulk of each episode of WTF is a 45-minute+ interview with a comedian/actress/musician/artist. Most frequently comedians. And a whole lot of stand-up comics who I don’t know much about.

And that interview is the BEST part.

I’ve listened to a year or so’s worth of episodes – 2 each week. Maybe fewer….. Interviews with everyone from Michael Cera who I just love to Todd Glass who I have never heard of and know nothing about ….. I have such a fascination with most (all?) aspects of the entertainment industry … Listening to interviews with working actors, writers and occasionally musicians is so fascinating.

Sometimes the conversation is light-hearted and teasing (as with Jeffrey Tambor), sometimes it’s more reflective (as with David Cross) … and sometimes it’s downright intense (as with Todd Glass).

You really never know. There’s no SET structure to interview questions – clearly Maron has been doing this a long time and has excellent interviewing skills. Much of the interview just comes from the guest’s personality and what they end up sharing.

Profiled in detail here.

Here’s The ThingHerestheThing_web_header_01_long_image

Alec Baldwin’s twice-monthly podcast interview with various celebrities. My favorite so far is definitely Billy Joel.

This program is produced by WYNC – who you might recognize as the producers of Radiolab and Freakonomics and SO MANY other great shows!

Baldwin just has this gift of engaging conversation, intuitive questions and genuine curiosity that really draws out his guests and makes the whole interview seem natural and intimate. I love Baldwin’s approach to these interviews. … he has definite opinions on things like politics, and the entertainment industry and being a parent … and he is not afraid to turn his interviews into a 2-sided discussion, rather than just softballing easy questions to his guests.

Profiled in detail here

Writing Excuses

My brother introduced me to this podcast.

It’s basically a panel of 4 professional writers discussing various fiction-related topics over 15 minutes or so every week.

I admit, at least 1 of the writers (the main one it seems like) is kind of difficult to like at first – but they all know what they’re talking about. I look forward to every new episode now that I’m trying to do this thing for real.

The Nerdist

I got into The Nerdist on their Tom Hanks episode (who I worship). I’m not in love with the interviewing style of the guy(s) that host this podcast, but they get some pretty great guests so I’ll put up with it.

Interviews with actors/artists/musicians always inspire me to create on my own. I’ve been loving having another source of these interview to listen to.

What do you listen to while you commute?

P.S. Also: iTunes University and other free online classes

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Thoreau quote


reading is everything

reading is everything - nora ephron


So I learned over the weekend that my library only allows you to request up to 50 books.


I’m addicted to books…. I get the same little rush/thrill out of requesting/checking out/reading (library) books that other people get from buying clothes or furniture or something. I’m on track to read 100 books this year (approximately). I make sure I find time to read for at least 20 minutes a day to keep my sanity.

I also have this thing where I want to know everything. Truly.  I want to be the smartest person you know …. Working on that by reading a little bit of everything …. from crime novels to U.S. History to marketing to nutrition to the classics and on and on.

The other day I was discussing with a co-worker how I decide what to read next…. I’ve developed this little “system” over the last few months and I LOVE it…


Spend a ridiculous amount of time browsing Goodreads recommendations and add about a million TO READ books to your list.

Currently I have almost 700 books on my to-read list….. This is a combination of browsing Goodreads and adding specific books I hear about on blog posts or podcasts or from friends.


Sort your TO READ list by highest average rating.

Obviously there are some outliers…. In the screenshot below, I bet The Birth of NASA only has 1 review and that’s why it’s 5 stars, but in general I find this to be a decent guide.

goodreads1 goodreads2


Scroll through your TO READ list and pick out 3 or 8 or 14 books that you want to read next.

(Note: Because I’m reading U.S. History in roughly (roughly) chronological order, I skip over all of the after-1830 U.S. History books at the top of the list)


Add those selected books into your requests list at the library.


Most important! Our library allows you to request books for the future. ….

So when I put in a request I (almost always) choose a date sometime the future. Mostly randomly.

For example, I read a Gore Vidal book, decided I liked it and went and added a bunch more of his books. I spaced them out randomly for dates in May, June, August and October.

library1 library2


Wait for the library to let you know your books are available.

Since I am *mostly* choosing random dates weeks or months in the future AND sometimes I have to wait on a list in addition to that future date, it’s almost always a surprise to see what book/books are available for me to pick up at any given time.

Our library emails when books are available, so I never have to log on to check if I don’t want to.

ALSO: I have this thing where I don’t like to renew books. It’s a point of pride to be able to read each book in the 3 weeks I get it the first time.

*One exception to this method: When I’m REALLY busy, I do log in and move the dates back for some books if I know I won’t have time to read the book when it’s available to be checked out.

How do you decide what to read next?


The Hobbit at midnight

We only go to the movies once every year and a half. It’s so much money that we really only spend money on seeing movies in the theater that we already know we’re going to love.

We love going to midnight movie premieres – everyone in the theater REALLY wants to be there, is quiet during the dramatic parts, cheers when appropriate. SO much fun.

The last movie we went to was the last Harry Potter midnight show.

Then we more or less made plans immediately to see the midnight show of The Hobbit.

It came out on a Thursday night …. and because of driving time, it was just easier for me to take the whole day off. I’m not complaining.

We went and got our Christmas tree that day, then went home to relax, take a little nap and head out to the theater for the midnight show.

treeHobbit  078

We went to a theater in Sherman Oaks with assigned seats so we didn’t have to worry about waiting in line for hours ahead of time.

treeHobbit  079

treeHobbit  082

The movie was about 3 hours long… which means we got home around 4a. And both had to get up in a few hours to get to work.

SO fun – and totally worth it.

I mean, yes, it was totally self-indulgent and ridiculous for a 3-hour movie to be made out of a third of a children’s book. But Peter Jackson chose to make more of a Lord of the Rings pre-quel than a Hobbit movie.

But we still like it :)

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Now’s the time!

We’d love for you to join us in March for another round of 30 Days of Lists. Another quick journaling challenge. Another opportunity to record YOUR STORY.

Not everyone can make a mini scrapbook every week or an art journal page every night.

30 Days of Lists is our encouragement and challenge to you that you CAN journal just something every day- even something as small as a list.

Every day through the month of March 2013 we will be posting a list prompt – anything from weekend goals to celebrity crushes. At the end of the 30 days you’ll have a collection of entries creating a small snapshot of your life right now.

Only 5-10 minutes per day are really needed. While you’re waiting for someone, or when you’re the passenger in the car. You can even download the list topics ahead of time to get a jump start!

That’s all.

Just write.

There’s no wrong way to do this and if you don’t like a prompt on a certain day, just change it.

honeysuckle click here


The Book of Mormon at the Pantages

Andrew and I don’t really buy each other gifts very much – we prefer to save our money for big things like vacations and job-quitting.

That said, I turned THIRTY this year. Big birthday. Big gift. When Andrew turned thirty he got a tattoo. For my birthday, I decided I wanted theater tickets (!!).

Andrew stalked the Pantages website and got us tickets to see The Book of Mormon in September! He was only checking Sunday shows (because of our work schedules), but he had to look through 5 or 6 shows to find 2 tickets together….

So the last Sunday in September we got a little dressed up and headed down to L.A. …

mormon  002

mormon  004mormon  008

Of course, no photography in the theater (sigh), but I sneaked this quick iPhone image …

Our seats were in the very back row of the orchestra section. Really great seats. (Thanks Andrew!)

mormon  009

This show is INCREDIBLE.

I laughed to tears. I laughed so hard that my face hurt from smiling by the end of it.

I’m glad I knew all the music before seeing the show – I can imagine a lot of the funny lines were lost under the sound of everyone’s laughter.

From Wikipedia:

The Book of Mormon is a religious satire musical with a book, lyrics, and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone.

The Book of Mormon tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon, one of their scriptures—which only one of them knows very well—but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty, and AIDS than about religion.

I seriously love it. LOVE IT.

Photos from the touring cast:

And for fun … a couple musical numbers from the Tony Awards (with the original cast, I think):

(one of my favorite songs from the show:)

I love the theater. If you are ever at a loss on what to get me for a you’re-awesome gift …. THEATER tickets. Always.

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Project Dig Deep

I am so excited to share with you a Project Life ebook I’ve contributed to! Project Dig Deep offers ideas and tips for telling even MORE stories with the Project Life structure.

Project Dig Deep – from Ella Publishing – comes out today! You may have already caught a sneak peek on the Big Picture Classes blog, but today you can grab the full book – from Becky Higgins and 7 contributors including me!

Save $3! Introductory price of $6.99 ends November 30. Regularly $9.99.

Becky Higgins’ Project Life system, which is built around the idea of scrapbooking quickly inside divided page protectors, has revolutionized the way thousands of people approach memory keeping.

We’re thrilled to unveil the first eBook to dive deep into the Project Life system, revealing seven amazing strategies that could revolutionize the way you approach Project Life!

This is your chance to join seven avid scrapbookers as they get inspired by their own recent scrapbook pages and then “dig deep” to tell seven types of expanded stories within their ongoing Project Life albums.

Whether you scrapbook chronologically or in a story-based format, you’ll love these concrete strategies for discovering and sharing meaningful stories. You’ll be inspired to expand on a loved one’s personality, flash back to the past, show off a photo tour of a beloved place, create a tribute page to a loved one who has passed on, explore an important relationship, and more!

Meaningful, story-based scrapbooking has never been easier – or more fun.

Buy Project Dig Deep here

Some of my contributions include a photo of my living room before it was cleaned and a photo of my at 15 years old. You know, real winners!

Or check out some more sample pages here and on the ebook’s full description:

Don’t forget to grab your copy!

And check out the sites of the other contributors:


For more Project Life inspiration follow their Pinterest Board, Join the free BPC community or visit


I am hosting a Project Life chat later this morning!

See below for more details…



Big Picture Classes is hosting a week-long BOOK PARTY all this week to celebrate Project Dig Deep! The contributors will be popping in throughout the week to participate in Project Life chats.

You can register for the Project Life Community for free ahead of time to be part of all the chats with contributors, giveaways, downloads and all.

MY CHAT will be LATER THIS MORNING at 10a PT / 1p ET – Please come join me and we’ll chat about Project Life!

Have you grabbed your copy of the ebook yet?


Happy Halloween!

As always, Andrew and watched ONLY scary movies in October …. And since we don’t watch scary movies any other time of the year, we tend to binge.

This year was a littler lighter – just because we had guests in town one weekend and Andrew was out of town another weekend.

This is quickly becoming a favorite tradition :)

2012′s scary movies (in the order we watched them)

This was our FIFTH October watching scary movies, and as far as I know we haven’t repeated any yet.

You can also check out our lists from the last few years – complete with excellent life lessons gleaned from watching: