Small Talk: What’s On Your Plate?

In February, I ran a little exercise titled Small Talk, which remains one of my all-time favorite posts. Not because of the content, but I love going back to read the tiny details of your lives…the kinds of things we often skip over in blogging.

With today marking my first day of self-employment, my to do list is looming large. And, I thought, what a great candidate for a follow-up small talk.

We all have a lot going on, much of which falls outside our blogging relationships.

So, I’ll share my plans for the summer, and then hopefully you’ll share yours in the comments.

To Do List
The to-do list above may be a bit of an oversimplification, but I’m keeping it real. :) With a big move in September and a business to get off the ground, I have a lot of planning to do. But beyond all that, I’ve got a pretty rad summer in the works.

    • Today, I start as a volunteer mentor in the June program for 30 Days of Yoga (yep, that’s an affiliate link). I’m pretty much ecstatic about it.


    • On Friday, I leave for Portland to attend my first blogger/entrepreneur/change-maker conference, the World Domination Summit.


    • Next week, my sister-in-law is visiting, and the husband is taking a much-needed break from work, so we’ll get to spend a lot of time with her.


    • I’ve signed up for a second round of Get Your Paint On, and the course starts June 12. I really felt that I needed a creative challenge to keep things fresh, especially since I’m a little worried about being home all day/every day.



    • I also contracted with my former employer to work on 2 projects – script writing and an annual report. On top of that, I’ve been working on web copy for my first solo client, so I’ll be wrapping that up.


  • And, oh yeah! Spending crazy amounts of time creating my packages/services and getting ready to move to Sacramento in September.

What does that mean for Unfettered Ink? Not much, although I’m going to increase my post schedule to 3-4 days a week. And I’ll be playing around with images to amp up my layouts. Today, I used a combination of the freebies offered by Pugly Pixel to create the to do list image in this post. What do you think?

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your plate in the next 3 months?

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Hearth to Hearth: Monica McCarthy


I’m excited to be back to a regular schedule for Hearth to Hearth. Two weeks in a row! Yay consistency.

This one is special, in that it exposes a secret shame of mine. I’ve never been to the host city. Yes, I’ve traveled to Lima, Cuzco, London, Mexico City, San Francisco…and a host of other amazing cities. No, I’ve never visited New York.

Until today, that is!

Monica McCarthy, take it away!

Let’s start with first impressions. What is the personality of your hometown?

New York City personifies just about every lyric ever written about it, from “I’m in a New York State of Mind” to “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” and everything in between. Bring born and raised in sunny southern California, I have always been attracted to the intense energy of the Big Apple. I love being surrounded by inspiring culture, people and arts. However, I’m also learning to recognize my need for escapism from Big City Life. If I could have a Brownstone here, a flat in London, a farmhouse in Maine and a vacation share in the South of France, I’d be one happy girl!


That would be the life. What is your favorite spot to take out-of-town visitors?


I am a Central Park groupie. On a nice day in NYC, there’s just nothing that beats it, especially if you avoid the touristy section near Columbus Circle. Depending on the guest, I also love grabbing a scone and a pot of tea down the street at Alice’s Teapot, walking across Central Park to the Met Museum, or heading out for a Pub Crawl complete with delicious vegetarian food in the East Village.

How did you choose the location you live in?


Anyone who has ever lived in NYC will tell you that apartment hunting is one of the single most stressful experiences in your life.

My fiancé (boyfriend at the time) was moving cross-country to be with me, but he had two stipulations: we had to live together and the apartment had to be in the city (as opposed to a borough like Brooklyn or Queens). We both loved the Upper West Side, (we have Central Park, Riverside Park, museums and restaurants in walking distance and it’s super safe) but we thought there was no way we would ever be able to afford it. Long story short, the owner of the apartment happened to be around when the broker showed it too us, and he thought we were “good people” so we got the place. I loved the large space (hard to come by in this town), wooden floors, lofted storage and sunlight. I also really adore Brownstones over huge skyscraper buildings in general.

When guests arrive at your home, what is the first thing they notice?


The first thing guests notice (besides the neighborhood) is the bookshelf we built. I was filming a movie several years ago that had similar bookshelves in the living room of the set, and I decided to copy them. I love books and daydream of having a room lined from floor to ceiling with them. Many an hour has been spent wandering adorable used book shops! Unfortunately, my fiancé  adores sports, so he purchased the flatscreen last year. Naturally, it drives me it a bit bonkers to have it blocking some of the shelves. Oh, relationships…

Imagine you’re giving a first-time guest a tour of your home. How will it match the feel of town you live in, and how will it differ?


The lack of permanence is the first thing that comes to mind. We rent it, and while we’ve loved living here for the past three years, come August (when our lease is up) we are planning to downsize and (most likely) head out to Brooklyn.  The next thing that comes to mind is personality. We have a long wall that’s covered with photos we’ve taken over the past 7 years and framed, another wall has retro records on it, two others have beautiful Indian rugs on them, and each room has a painted wall (deep red in the living room and Morrocan blue in the bedroom.) I love white lights, so we’ve hung some of those around, which I guess you could say represents the twinkling of the city that never sleeps.

When your guests leave, what is the lasting impression you’d like them to walk away with?


Ooh great question! I’d love for people to feel like they are always welcome here while visiting this crazy city. I also hope that guests feel a sense of escapism- like they could pick up a book from the shelf, put a record on the record player, drink a glass of wine, and feel totally content.


A certified Holistic Health Coach, Broadway baby and DIY fanatic, Monica lives in NYC with her fellow-Pisces fiancé and their super-rescue pup. You can check out more on her blog at

All images in today’s post belong to Monica.

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It’s Called Practice for a Reason

Buy it: Breathe by PinwheelDesigns


Last night, I rolled out my mat around 8:30 for a bit of yoga. The hubs and I spent 5 hours in the garden, so my back needed a bit of a release.

I didn’t make it 10 minutes before my head started popping with ideas.

Like a bag of microwave popcorn, first the ideas pinged singly and slowly. Before long, they were coming every few breaths. I reached for my journal, hoping that if I scribbled down the ideas fast enough, I could refocus on my practice. I couldn’t hold them back. I was afraid to hold them back.

This is mostly good. Last night, I developed the seed of a product I’m going to develop for my new business. Awesome sauce.


Yoga is when I get to empty my mind. To practice in the present moment, without judgment. This is the intention I set when I first enrolled in Marianne’s 30 Days of Yoga.

I guess that’s why they call it practice.

Is yoga your thing? Do you want it to be?

Anyone who’s read this blog a while knows I’m crazy about Marianne’s 30 Days of Yoga. I’ve taken her course 3 times in the last year, and although I’m now a Gratitude Ambassador, I influenced half a dozen people to sign up for her courses before I had any incentive.

Marianne’s on a mission to bring yoga to busy people this June.

  • Marianne created a brand new course for people like us. 30 Days of Yoga for People Too Busy To Do Yoga. If you keep waiting for life to quiet down so you can start or get back into yoga, and it never seems to happen, this is the course for you. And, if you sign up on May 25th, you’ll get this new course for the special, reduced price of US$70 (the normal price will be US$100). Note: Marianne is located in NZ, which means here 15th is different than mine here in Chicago! So registration opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and to avoid any confusion, she’s generously keeping it open through midnight Pacific time on Wednesday!

  • She’s also offering a special program for the Standard and Beginners 30 Days of Yoga courses – if you sign up on May 25th (this coming Wednesday) then you’ll get to start with a special group on June 1st. For the month of June, Marianne is offering one free call per week in addition to the typical content. Two of those calls will be live Q&A sessions, the alternate weeks will be bonus live yoga classes (audio only).

I think you know how I try to filter promotions, so this is the final word from me on this enrollment (I promise!). I tried for a decade to establish a consistent yoga practice, and Marianne’s program worked for me. I’m still not the bendy-est girl on the block, but I rarely go 3 days without doing at least a few minutes of yoga, and I’m a hell of a lot stronger than when I started.

Sound good? You can learn a lot more about Marianne and 30 Days of Yoga for People Too Busy to Do Yoga on her site.

In the meantime, I really would like to find another way to invite ideas, so I can get back to my zen space during my yoga practice.

What works for you?


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