Wednesday, July 31, 2013

a summer tradition: The Bristol Renaissance Faire

Jake and I have been attending the Bristol Renaissance Faire for many new years now. It was one of the first things we ever did together as a couple and every year there just seems to get better and better. You can check out photos from my 2011 and 2012 trips if you're interested. Of course this was the first year I was there with an SLR so I was even more excited than usual. I still have a lot of photo editing to do (story of my life this summer, which is a good problem), but here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy.

Does anyone else attend a renaissance fair every year? Share your stories and photos!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Organization Tips

One of the most frequent questions that I get is how I keep everything in my life organized. I have always considered myself to be an organized person, but I had to step up my game in a whole new way when I started freelancing a couple years ago. I love being my own boss and having a lot of projects going at once. However, it also takes a lot of discipline and daily effort to keep it all going. I don't have any magic answers, but there are a number of things that have worked really well for me that I'm going to discuss today.

Daily To Do Check List
I have a daily check list of work related things to do each day from reading blogs to working on at least one HubPages article. I have one list for weekdays and one (considerably shorter) list for weekends. Recently I've also designated a few tasks for specific days of the week (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I don't have a specific order for completing them. It largely depends on my schedule for a given day. I also find that I do better if I mix up my routine frequently and don't stay too regimented.

Weekly Task List
Under my to do checklists for the week, I have space for keeping track of freelance writing work, Etsy treasuries, and additional reminders for myself (which can be everything from scheduling blog sponsor promos to picking up cat food at the vet). Lately I've also found it helpful to leave a blank page on the backside of each week list for further freelance organization. When I have a huge work list, particularly large quantities of short assignments (i.e. 40 product descriptions, each 250-300 words), a quarter of a page just doesn't cut it.

Blog Calendar
If you blog more than 2 or 3 times per week and don't already have a blog calendar, I highly recommend starting one. Free printable monthly calendars are readily available online. Typically I print out a new calendar a week or so before a new month starts and outline 80-90% of my content before the first day of the month. Of course none of this content is set in stone, and I do change a few things throughout the month. Having a rough outline in advance is still a huge help.

Lately I leave a blank page after my calendar page for keeping track of my color combination inspiration suggestions and general brainstorming for the next month. Paper is really cheap. There is no reason to cram all of those lists into the calendar margins.


Sometimes I get large batches of freelance assignments on specific topics (i.e. 10 landing pages for a car dealership), and I find it helpful to create a handwritten outline that I can refer to throughout the assignment. Of course you can type your outline, but I don't like having one more tab to click over to when I already have three or four windows and documents open. I also like to outline the majority of my HubPages articles before I start the writing process.

I stress the importance of brainstorming all the time. I keep lists of ideas for blog posts, HubPages articles, jewelry pieces, and photography shoots. It is important to keep in mind that you don't have to use all of your ideas. Believe me, I definitely don't. Writing down the possibilities as they come to you is a great way to keep the creative process flowing.

A few general tips
  • Keep your lists organized. Some of you may remember that one of my 2012 goals was to organize my lists. I used to keep the vast majority of all of the above lists in a single notebook, and it got cluttered really quickly. I completely changed that in 2012 and have stuck with it. It's made a huge difference for finding what I need when I need it.
  • Find a system that works for you. I love writing by hand and enjoy having these lists and notes in spiral notebooks. There are numerous options for list making and calendars both on and off the computer. There is no one system that works for everyone. Figure out what works for you so you can stick with it.
  • Don't be afraid to make changes. Even the best system is not going to work forever. I have tweaked the format for my daily to do list and weekly task lists a number of times over the past two years. There are things that I used to keep detailed notes of offline, such as Etsy listing information, that I have since streamlined in some sort of digital form.
  • Don't beat yourself up over things that don't happen. Do I accomplish every daily to do list every single day? Absolutely not. Does this mean that I've failed? No. Sometimes I get a huge batch of freelance work all at once and have to let other things slide like HubPages writing. Sometimes I'm really busy with non-work commitments and have to double up a couple days worth of work. As long as I'm getting through the majority of the tasks every week, I don't sweat it.
If you're looking for even more information on this topic, I wrote an article about time management on HubPages a while back.
How do you stay organized? Share your input!

Monday, July 29, 2013

photo share: Old World Wisconsin

Do you remember my preview of Old World Wisconsin from earlier this month? I'm still sorting through my huge collection of photos from that particular outing and wanted to share a few more of them today. Enjoy.

There is something so classic about a white picket fence.

Taking photos like this makes me want to do so much more with food photography.

Still photographing eggs...

There are not many things that I miss about living in Iowa, but one of them is the animals. I drove by cows and horses on my work commute and loved the wide range of baby animals at the Iowa State Fair.

What have you been photographing lately?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Treasury Round Up - 7/28/13

It's been a treasury filled couple of weeks! Did you know that many Christmas in July sales are still going strong on Etsy for a few more days?

If you haven't already check out my Christmas in July sale, get over there and take advantage of one or more of these great deals. Make sure that you check out the other Christmas in July sales that are featured in this post, too.

Sher (ShersPatternShop) included my Button Charm Bracelet - Christmas Trees Red Green in her Christmas in July treasury. Summer is a great time to start thinking ahead about Christmas gifts and decor items for the upcoming season. It will be here before we know it. Check out Sher's Gingerbread Boy and Girl Applique Templates PDF Pattern DIY.

LeAnn (pasqueflower) included my Beaded Cuff Bracelet - Chunky Dagger Fringed - Blue Light Dark Turquoise Navy in her Come Sail Away With Me treasury. I love this nautical collection. It's so whimsical. Check out LeAnn's Oven Mitts 1 Pair Man-Sized Blue Mitts - Gift for Dad.

Rachelle (sordidillusion) included my Button Dangle Earrings - Bright Colorful Multicolored Rainbow in her A Very Colorful Christmas in July treasury. You know how much I love bright collections. This one is no exception. It has a great mix of items. Check out Rachelle's Nursery Art Illustrated Bird Print.

Ramune (LadyinSilk) included my Beaded Bracelet - Multicolored Blue Yellow White Simple Fun in her Summer is fun! treasury. Blue and yellow is a great color combination for summer. Check out Ramune's Touch of Spring Peruvian Silk Thread Earrings.

Linda (lindab142) included my Beaded Cuff Bracelet - Cookies 'n Cream Black White in her White Wedding treasury. This collection has such an elegant mix of items. Check out Linda's White Flower Ring and Earrings.

Deb (storybeader) included my Beaded Bangle Bracelet Purple in her what's new? treasury. I love the mix of items here. There is something for everyone. Check out Deb's elephant and balloons 5x7 matted, mixed media.

treasury round up