It always feels as if there is a period of limbo between Christmas and New Year for me. The lead up to Christmas is busy with preparations and parties, then there are a couple of days of family time and food, then… nothing for a few days. We quietly head home, hubby goes back to work usually, and the kids and I have time to just hang out. We’re not big on New Year’s celebrations so it is usually a quiet evening for us with a quiet day following. This year one cherub and I are not entirely well so we’re keeping a pretty low profile and only going out when we have to. All is… quiet.
But I have been smiling at a few things around my home. Little things. Nothing earth shattering. But I thought I’d share anyway.
1. Hubby is a generous present giver and this year he gave me a “nifty fifty” lens for my camera. The proper name is a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (affiliate link) and I have been loving having a new toy. This is a step up from the kit lenses that came with my camera so the quality is better for a start, but it is also taking better pictures in low light and – my favourite part – giving me the bokeh blurry background that I love. I’m still learning to set the focal length to get my whole subject in focus but I’m smiling about having this time to experiment with it. (Check out the camera course where I learned more about my camera here.) That’s my birthday present you can see in the background too – a camera bag from 3Annies in gorgeous aqua.
2. I cleaned my sewing table! I know – shock! But I had a good reason and it really made me smile: a huge new cutting mat – thanks Mum and Dad. My sewing table is a large foldable table that we picked up a few years back. On one end I have my sewing machine set up with my mat and pockets to keep my tools on hand. At the back of the table I have a basket of more tools like scissors and rotary cutter, and now I have my large mat at the other end of the table ready to cut fabric. No more turning my smaller mat each time I want to cut across the width of the fabric – yay!
Find similar on Amazon: OLFA 24″ x 36″ Self-Healing Double-Sided Rotary Mat (affiliate link)
3. My planning for the blog for 2015 is also making me smile. I’ve never planned on a such a scale before but I know this year is going to be busy from the start so I really need to have some idea where I’m heading with my projects and posts if I want to keep up. I’m combining a few different tools for this:
- Online in the backend of my blog I’m using the WordPress Editorial Calendar – a tool I’ve been using for a couple of years and loving. I can drag and drop posts to move them easily. I’m also using CoSchedule to help with some of my social media planning. (affiliate link)
- I ordered Monthly Calendar Pages in huge A3 size from TinyMe to serve as my visual plan. I’m working in pencil in these to outline my big plans across the months. There were so many designs to choose from but I found one that matches my blog theme – love!
- A sectioned A4 notebook from Typo is now my planning book for themes and projects for the whole year and I have added stick on tabs to help me find sections easily. This will serve to keep all my planning notes and ideas all in one place that I can grab and take with me when I’m going to pick up kids or waiting for rehearsals. Hopefully it will mean I’m grabbing the chance to plan ahead when I might have just wasted time.
- Finally I have my trusty Bullet Journal notebook which is keeping all my other plans and lists in one place. This is where I keep track of things I need to do in real life and online. I’m a list girl and this system has just organised my lists so I don’t lose them like I used to.
4. With time to sit and rest, I have been learning lots from podcasts and webinars. Before the PBEvent this year, I signed up to the Problogger Forum and over 12 months ago I signed up to the Authority forum over at Copyblogger. (affiliate links) These are where I learn more about blogging, social media and content marketing. Neither one is cheap but they are an investment in education that I can’t otherwise get in person. I’m determined to use these two resources more this year and keep learning. As I do chores around the house I’ve been listening to podcasts including Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income, Flipped Lifestyle Podcast with Shane and Jocelyn Sams, and most recently Pictures to Profits with Vincent Ng, all about Pinterest.
5. My kids are the last thing making me smile so much. I’m loving where they are at right now as clever 8 and 10 year olds. They are growing into responsible little people who are starting to understand that their actions affect our whole family unit, and they are stepping up big time to help with some new family adventures. They “get it” when I have to spend some time working and they are being respectful of the boundaries around here. A couple of years ago I could not have imagined saying some of these things!
But my most favourite thing? They are old enough to play some great games with! We’ve been playing more board games and card games together and I’m loving it. I have great memories of playing games with my family growing up so it is very cool to start teaching them some more difficult card games like Rummy and Canasta, and to see them have the patience and strategy to play Monopoly and Game of Life. (affiliate links)
So that’s a little about the things making me smile lately. How about you? What is making you smile in your life?
Shop my Camera Equipment on Amazon: (affiliate link)