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Right Here, Right Now: 10 Manageable Goals I’m Focused On in 2018

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Manageable Goals in 2018

How’s the new year treating you so far? I wish I could say I did something fun and exciting over the holiday break but truthfully, December was one big blur of finishing a handful of large projects, cleaning up my books, shredding old paperwork and finishing up my revised portfolio. Not glamorous…but totally necessary.

I’ve been struggling with feeling behind on a bunch of important tasks for months now and that’s one of the reasons I’m hesitant using word “goals” in the typical sense. To me, the 10 things outlined below are more of a work-in-progress and a simple reminder of the changes I want to keep charging towards.

Pre-P.S. Do any of these resonate with you? If you have anything you’re working towards, I’d love to hear in the comments below – let’s keep each other accountable!

Goal #1: Live more in the moment.

In the past, I was guilty of dwelling too much on what was next and trying to plan my future in excruciating detail. But, we all know what happens when you micro-manage your life! The universe laughs in your face and throws you a curve ball. 😉

These days, I don’t have a five year plan, let alone a one year plan. Why? Because I have confidence that things will always work out and I know I’m on the right track, spending my days doing what I’m meant to do. I’d rather not chase after more, more, more and put myself on a nonstop treadmill of busy-ness (that was my entire last year — and it’s not fun or inspiring). Growth is good but also, I’m conscious that right now, right here, I do have enough.

Goal #2: Take more field trips.

Last year, I spent so much time sitting at my desk, being super regimented, mostly out of habit. It’s a weekday, therefore you must go into the office, sit at your desk and refresh email. NOT. Sure, there’s plenty to get done on a daily basis but there will always be more things getting tacked onto your to-do list. Taking an afternoon off to wander through the art museum will not kill you!

Goal #3: Take more photos.

One thing that made me sad in 2017 was glancing over at my camera as it sat around untouched for weeks at a time. I’m not a professional photographer but I’ve always enjoyed documenting the world around me as a creative outlet. What I realized is that hobbies like taking photos don’t always need to have a specific end goal – not every photo needs to be blogged or shared on social media. Do something because you enjoy it, pure and simple.

Goal #4: Make time for non-client projects.

As Branch continued growing in 2017, I felt the squeeze with keeping up on my own projects which led to me feeling like the cobbler who has holes in their shoes. The longer I put off my own work, the worse I felt. Ugh.

If you never allow yourself the whitespace to think through what you do, why you do it and explore new ideas, you’re only going to hurt yourself in the long run. I know it’s hard to find the time to add your own projects on top of everything else and there are nights I stay at the office till 3 am just to have the space to work through ideas, uninterrupted. It’s not ideal…but if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Goal #5: Hit inbox zero every week.

You know what stresses me out? Unanswered email lingering in my inbox. I feel immense mental clutter when I feel like someone is waiting on an answer, especially a client. If I can resolve something quickly right when I see it and get it off my plate, awesome.

With the longer, more in-depth emails, I try to batch tasks. For instance, if I get 5 inquiries for new projects, I’ll answer those all at once. For estimates, I’ll complete those all at once since a lot of the requests are very similar. Going forward, I’m going to try to wrap up whatever hasn’t gotten answered before 6 pm on Friday so I can start the weekend with a clean slate.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Manageable Goals in 2018

Goal #6: Think before buying more stuff.

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten rid of so many things — clothes, objects, dishes, old food in the cupboards…you get the point. What I realized is that the more stuff I was surrounded by, the more foggy I felt. After a few long trips in 2017, I’d come home and think, “I forgot about all this stuff for 3 weeks. I lived without it. Why do I need it?

I’m not an anti-shopping saint. I still buy things but now, I think harder about them. Buy what you need, sprinkle in a few things that make you happy as you have the budget and then cut out all the mindless money wasters. It’s all about balance.

Goal #7: Move around more.

I have have always struggled to fit exercise into my schedule but I’ve found a fairly easy solution with the Sweat With Kayla app. The exercise routines are less than 30 minutes and the equipment is fairly basic, no gym membership needed.

I’m not super regimented because some days, I just don’t have the time but I try to get in 3 workouts in a week. Sure, it would be great to follow the exact schedule but my take is that you should do your best and making a regular effort is better than not trying at all.

Goal #8: Share more.

I’ve always enjoyed blogging and using social media but most days last year, there wasn’t room to make it happen. Over December, I mostly stayed offline and made a lot of progress – things are finally getting more balanced and ready to share more again.

Once again, sharing content is not about being glued to a specific schedule (that just creates more stress and resentment) but by simply alotting more time for creative exploration though blogging, podcasting, posting to social media, or whatever else that may be.

Goal #9: Spend more time offline.

This is a bit of a contraction to the point above (haha) but one thing I became really aware of last year was how much time I was spending online basically goofing off and how that affected what I was getting done.

I’ve recently gotten a lot better about not aimlessly surfing random sites — I get online, get what I need and get back off. I used to be afraid that not being as present online as much would affect my business but to my surprise, it hasn’t, probably because I’m spending more of my time doing the actual work versus obsessively checking up on what everyone else is doing.

Goal #10: Get better at saying no.

Why is saying no so hard?! Towards the end of the year, I had to say no to a bunch of things in rapid succession and each time, I dreaded it. Through a lot of tough situations, I’ve realized that we all have a limited amount of time and it should be spent doing what we enjoy as much as possible. Of course laundry needs to get done, bills need to get paid and work needs to get finished but the limited time we have left should be spent in enjoyable ways.

The more things you take on that you secretly dread, the more resentful you’ll be…and nobody wants to deal with that! ;).

When you do have to say no, be polite but firm, own it fully and most importantly, always offer a helpful alternative.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Manageable Goals in 2018

Wow, that was long! But all these things have been on my mind lately and what I’ve found is that the more clear you are about what you want to achieve and where your boundaries are, the sooner it will transpire.

What are some goals you’re working on this year, big and small?

Do you have any tips for staying accountable?

I’d love to hear!

Photos: Monica True
Creative Direction: Public Persona
Makeup: Rachel Lane

Tiki: The Squirrel Saga

Nubby Twiglet | Tiki: The Squirrel Saga

You may remember Tiki from a few months back. Quite suddenly, after a text message, I found out that I was the proud mom of a baby squirrel who was very, very sick. Read the full story here.

After Tiki made it and began to get stronger, we weren’t sure he would bond with Chubs but I held out hope. Usually, squirrels are pretty territorial and after doing some reading, we knew the prospects weren’t great.

Nubby Twiglet | Tiki: The Squirrel Saga

Chubs is our pet squirrel (yeah, my family is weird) who literally fell down our chimney 3 years ago. The funny part is, our dog Rocky and Tiki bonded right away and spent many afternoons cuddling. There’s nothing cuter than coming home to see a little white dog and a baby squirrel waiting for you at the top of the stairs!

Anyway, as Tiki grew, bonding with Chubs seemed less and less likely but I didn’t want to deal with the thought of parting with him. After you have a baby animal nearly die in your hands and then miraculously pull through, giving them up is not something to take lightly and I was already super attached.

Nubby Twiglet | Tiki: The Squirrel Saga

Then, while I was in Italy a few weeks ago, Joey called and said the situation was getting much worse — Chubs was being territorial and super mean to little Tiki, who is only about a third of his size. I knew it wasn’t going to get better (we’d been fighting the situation for a few weeks by this point) so Joey found a new home for Tiki with some friends of friends who agreed that we could squirrel-sit on holidays (haha).

It’s been a hard adjustment not having Tiki around but then, this week he came for a visit and looked so happy and healthy. Tiki is absolutely thriving with his new mom and dad so that makes everything much easier.

BUT! As these things often go, there’s a serious plot twist I wasn’t expecting AT ALL. HE is actually a SHE! We just found out that Tiki is actually a girl! Luckily, Tiki is a pretty cute girl’s name, too. At least we think so. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | Tiki: The Squirrel Saga

Giving up Tiki was so hard but knowing she is so happy and thriving with her new family is what matters most. Even though Tiki doesn’t live with us anymore, I will always love her. And hey, is that a semi-smile I’m seeing?!

Meet Tiki!

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Tiki

Even when the experts say the odds are stacked against you, there’s still room to prove them wrong.

Exactly a week ago, Joey called me at the office and mentioned that he had just been at Trader Joe’s. There was nothing unusual about that but the next sentence caught me off-guard. He said that an employee who knew about Chubs (our rescue squirrel who is now healthy and 3 years old!) ran over to him and mentioned that he’d found a baby squirrel who had fallen the day before — it was in his garage in a box and not doing well. He didn’t know what to do with him.

From the way it sounded, the situation was life or death — this little guy didn’t have much longer to live unless he got food and medicine right away.

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Tiki

Joey met the guy on his lunch break and brought the baby squirrel home. He had pneumonia, was extremely dehydrated and malnourished. The little guy fit in the palm of his hand and his eyes weren’t yet fully open. He was barely moving.

We had some medicine and small syringes left in our fridge from when Rocky was sick awhile back and Joey picked up some puppy formula and Pedialyte, rotating between all 3 in an effort to save the little guy.

Once he was situated, Joey called a squirrel sanctuary for advice but their prognosis was grim — they said that 3 other squirrels who were about the same size had already died that week and since ours also had pneumonia, he wouldn’t make it through the night. Every breath he took had a clicking sound and he was wheezing badly.

As night rolled around, we sat on the couch preparing for the worst when we heard some shuffling in his box. His arm reached up like he was gasping for air and he began making panicked screeching sounds. We thought that was it.

I didn’t want him to die alone so Joey picked him up and we held him close. Blood started running from his nose and his lips began turning purple. It was gut-wrenchingly horrible but we tried to stay calm.

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Tiki

Holding him seemed to be causing him more distress so we sat him back down in a soft mound of t-shirts in his box to let him rest. A few hours passed and he was still clinging to life so we brought his box up and put it on our nightstand. He stayed curled up in his t-shirts (squirrels are used to nesting and babies get cold easily).

As 2 am rolled around, I was afraid to check on him, fearing I’d find the worst. Joey woke up and miraculously, he was still alive so he began feeding him the rotation of medicine, Pedialyte and formula once again. He was too weak to take in much.

When we woke up Wednesday morning, he was still with us. After seeing what bad shape he’d been in the night before, we couldn’t believe it. He was truly a miracle.

The next day, Joey kept up his routine and the squirrel baby went from being listless to having more movement. He began responding when we pet his belly but he was still too tiny and weak to crawl.

By the third day, we felt that he had a good chance of survival and it seemed like the right time to give him a name. Joey named him Tiki.

Nubby Twiglet | Meet Tiki

As of today, Tiki is still very tiny but is now able to eat 3 times more each feeding than when we found him and now, he can crawl. His eyes have fully opened and he’s very alert and playful.

Watching Tiki make such a strong comeback over the last week is like nothing I’ve ever seen. He’s literally beat all the odds and for once, I’m glad the experts were wrong. Tiki’s turnaround has been so swift that I’m taking daily photos just to remember how far he’s come.

We’re not sure where Tiki will live when he’s healthy but right now, I’m less worried about that. I just want him to get stronger, healthier and to a point where he’s able to eat and drink on his own.

This last week has been a total rollercoaster but I hope you’ll keep Tiki in your thoughts. He’s a reminder that little miracles are happening around us each day.

The Month + Links: July 2017

Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017

How’s your summer going so far?

I just flew home from New York last week and enjoyed a quiet 4th of July around the house and it feels like the right time to jump back into blogging.

You know that famous quote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans?” Well, I feel like this year has been one wild roller-coaster of unpredictability for most of the people I know, from family to friends to clients, myself included. I think the unease with the current political climate has trickled into general unease everywhere else — things around us are changing faster than ever, and not always for the better.

Life is good, though and I have so much to be thankful for. When I did feel negativity creeping in due to a few setbacks over the last few months, I took a legit break for some much-needed reflection. In 16 years of blogging (and nearly 10 years in this space! What?!) I’ve never taken this long of a break and for those of you who sent me personal messages, I appreciate your kindness so much.

Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017

Here’s the thing — back in the day, especially in my 20s, when something knocked me down, I pushed through it to keep a routine and momentum. At 35, I know better. Instead of phoning in half-baked content and faking authenticity, I’d rather take time, think things through and come back with my best work.

I won’t half-ass a project when I’m working with clients and I won’t do it here. Life is too short to put things out that you don’t feel 100% awesome about.

So, here’s what happened — sit tight, this is going to be a long post!


Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017


For the past two years, Joey and I have been prepping to buy a condo in Palm Springs to escape Portland winters. Back in April, we put in an offer on what seemed like the perfect place. Here’s a photo from the back yard, complete with a big, fat palm tree. Look at Rocky’s smile!

The process began fairly smoothly, but in the midst of the excitement, there were a few big red flags I should have noticed. We went with a local lender who knew the intricacies of the area well (many properties are on land leases). As the closing date crept up, I got an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t seem shake (always, ALWAYS trust your gut!) which felt weird since I’d wanted this for so long.

As we reviewed the final paperwork, I noticed some hidden charges. Then, there were demands for a larger down payment right before closing. I’ve bought before so I knew what to expect and this process was….way off. The lack of honesty made me question what else was hidden and after weighing the pros and cons for a few more days, we called it off. Within a few days though, the cloud of disappointment lifted and gave way to a sense of relief.

The reason I’m sharing this story is because sometimes, in a fit of excitement, we ignore the signs right in front of us. Whether it’s a relationship, freelance project or buying a house, if you’ve given the situation everything you’ve got and it still isn’t working, take a step back and re-evaluate it. Is the timing right? Does it align with your goals? And most importantly, does it feel right? Don’t force it — there should be a natural flow.

The good news: we learned a lot of valuable lessons are back to searching for a place to buy before the year is over. We’re now more clear on what to expect and there’s no rush because I know the right fit for us is out there.

Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017


Right as our mortgage process was dragging on, I took on a big project that wasn’t an ideal fit (once again, always, always trust your gut.) Together, these two things were a perfect storm of stress.

Earlier this year, I had an inquiry from a potential client but after a short conversation, the project wasn’t quite right — plus we were booked out a few months. Then, a few months later, they followed up again and our project load had slowed down so we did a call and it went well. Things started out good but scope creep and tightened deadlines soon took over — and the proposal no longer resembled the project, which had nearly doubled in size. After one too many 3 am nights at the office and unmanageable expectations, we parted ways.

I deeply value my client relationships and as a business owner, it’s really important to me to deliver what’s promised so this was a situation I took really hard — and the main reason I needed a time out to regroup. A decade into being a designer and 400 projects down, I learned that there’s still a first time for everything. Bad things will happen. Learn from those mistakes, hold onto those lessons, move forward with grace and let go of any bad mojo.

95% of the time, projects run smoothly. But, the handful of times I’ve chosen to not listen to my gut, it hasn’t worked out.

As a reminder, value your unique talents, never, ever break your creative process (it’s there for a reason), be honest with expectations and set clear boundaries. To deliver the best possible outcome, you have to take care of yourself.

Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017


After what felt like 2 months of nonstop stress, creative block and no time to blog (let alone sleep!), I took a time out and flew to New York to recharge. It was exactly what I needed.

I spent 5 solid days with Gala talking, laughing, eating, shopping, cleaning out 10 garbage bags of stuff from her apartment (organizing is my therapy, weirdly enough) and hanging out on The Wing rooftop eating scoops of Boys Beware ice cream (can you spot me?!)

Besides one work meeting (I have the best clients ever — they surprised me with a bag of fresh-baked cookies!) I focused on one simple goal: having fun. We took tons of goofy photo booth strips, walked through Times Square at midnight to shop at Forever 21, ordered multiple desserts just because, sipped on something called The Pink Drink and wore platform boots and big sunglasses everywhere.

Technically, I flew home even more exhausted than when I’d left for vacation (LOL), but also feeling more balanced, connected and focused than I had in a long time. I’m already planning another summer vacation for next month. Working hard is good but playing harder is better. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017


Now that summer is here, I want to make the most of it and focus on all the good things! Here’s my current happy list:

1. Chubs is almost 3 years old and thriving!

2. Joey just finished building our back yard tiki bar and it is AMAZING.

3. I paid off my last super ancient student loan. WOOHOO!

4. My designer Sam is a godsend — she comes up with the best creative solutions and always finds the coolest fonts.

5. Joey and I are having plenty of dates at Babydoll now that we know they have vegan pizza!

6. I just got a rubber plant at Portland Nursery.

7. Trader Joe’s just started selling the best smelling grapefruit-scented soy candles.

8. I helped Gala clean out her makeup and am enjoying experimenting with new colors and formulas from her cast-off pile. 😉

9. My favorite summer pastime is sipping homemade margaritas on our new deck as the sun sets.

10. I just discovered the coolest photo booth ever (appears to be from the 1950s?) at Dig A Pony.

11. Rocky is 10 and still has the energy of a puppy! Awwww.

12. I re-signed my office lease for another year.

13. August marks this blog’s 10 year anniversary!

I hope you guys are having a great summer and I appreciate you hanging out with me here, even after all these years.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.
What’s new with you?
What are you super excited about?
Any summer vacation plans?

P.S. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a link round-up but there’s so much good stuff below! Enjoy!


Nubby Twiglet | Month + Links: July 2017


• How is this year feeling for you? Alex has 10 questions for your mid-year reflection.

• My newest podcast obsession is Missing Richard Simmons. I’ve been so intrigued with his disappearance from public life 3 years ago and as Dan Taberski starts digging, the story gets weirder and weirder.

• Such a good, timely reminder: growth doesn’t always mean bigger, better, or faster.

• So funny…and so true. Don’t light my expensive candles. EVER. “When I go to a friend’s house and she casually has a Diptyque burning unchecked in the bathroom, I think, My God, I have fancy friends…because who has $65 to burn?”

• I love the How To Do Anything series of posts! Always so clever.

• I’ve always wondered about the origins of the popular 80s “Memphis” design aesthetic (think bold color combos and squiggly lines) and here’s the story behind it!

• The secret to small talk.

• You can now do job searches on Google.

• This George Michael print is the best thing ever.

• This is both fascinating and freaky: human engineered organisms.

• Accidental Wes Anderson locations made me laugh!

• If you’re going to be in San Francisco over the summer, check out the Summer Of Love Illuminate installation!

• I love Paul Jarvis’ simple, no bullshit advice so much: Do what you say you’re going to do!

• If you or someone you know are struggling with student loan debt, you’re not alone. Listen to this. And then to this.

• Here’s how to retain your sanity when you work alone.

• Not every creative outlet needs to turn a profit — just enjoy it!

• I loved this story about the squatters of the Lower East Side in the 1980s.

• When I want to understand both sides of a political issue in a level-headed way, I listen to Joshua Johnson’s 1A podcast.

• You know, sometimes you have those days where you chat with Paris Hilton, hang with Kanye, eat Kim Kardashian’s banana pudding and walk over to Drake’s house to play basketball. Totally normal.

• If you’re an art history buff, you’ll LOVE Alexey Kondakov’s series of people from classical paintings inserted into modern photos.

10 Random Facts

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Random Facts

Awhile back, I shared a list of 10 random things I was into at the moment and I thought it would be fun to do a follow-up with 10 random facts about me. Of course, this is way more fun when you get involved — leave a random fact about yourself in the comments!

Here are mine:

1. Even though I’m left-handed, while growing up I was taught to use a mouse with my right so when I’m designing, you’d never know!

2. I was a total tomboy when I was younger and mostly bypassed Barbies for a Mr. T doll. I was so in love with Mr. T that I wore overalls like his character on the A-Team and even had a beach towel with his likeness on it! To this day, when I really like something, I go all in.

3. In middle school, I played the clarinet (of course, I picked the instrument that was all black). I was good, too! During band try-outs in the 6th grade, I got first chair but quickly down-voted myself over the course of the next few months to sit by my best friend in the trumpet section. 😉

4. I’m hyper-flexible and double-jointed! I’m also not very tall (5 ft. 3) so I probably would have made a good gymnast if I wasn’t so scared of heights.

5. I LOVE the German language. I took 4 years in high school and even a few college classes. Someday I’d like to go back to Germany for longer than a few days and brush up on my skills.

6. My first post-high school job was working in an office doing filing. When I say filing, I’m serious. There was a dedicated room in the warehouse full of rows of filing cabinets and the accounting department would let their invoices pile up for months at a time until I was on college break to whip it into shape. 8 hours a day of filing will drive anyone to the brink of madness!

7. When I was younger, I took Taekwondo and learned how to break boards! It was really fun until I got to middle school and decided I was too cool for it.

8. My musical guilty pleasure is Journey (yes, the band). My parents were obsessed with Journey and Steve Perry when I was a baby and listened to them on repeat. When I was in high school, my boyfriend worked at a record store and surprised me with a box of every single album (I still have them!) and needless to say, that won me over. 😉

9. I’ve always enjoyed being organized. As a child, I never had a messy room – everything had its place. To make up for that, my brother was the exact opposite! My mom noticed my skills early on and would pay me to organize her closet. My favorite part was lining up her shoes in color order.

10. Being a teenager was hard but I went goth and refused to conform. When I was 17, I met my idol, Marilyn Manson and that made the rest of high school a breeze. He made me feel like it was okay to be weird and never apologize for who I was.

Did anything on my list surprise you? Now, it’s your turn!

Photo: Made U Look.