Posted in bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, fitness, goal setting, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Setting up my Bullet Journal for April: Honey Bee Theme

Hi all, I hope you’re doing really well and enjoying the Springtime with its (slightly) warmer weather, bright and cheerful daffodil displays on verges and in gardens, morning bird song and emerging butterflies and bees appreciating the sight of the first flowers. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing my bullet journal pages for April in which I had great fun creating bright and colourful bee themed spreads. I’ve seen quite a few insects over the last few weeks including ladybirds, butterflies and bees and I love to watch them exploring our garden so this is where my inspiration came from for the upcoming month. I’m really pleased with how the pages turned out and I hope you enjoy looking at them too. I’ve provided minimal explanation but if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.

Cover page

Now I’m feeling better, I’ve gone back to creating cover pages for each month and decorating all of the spreads. This one uses two different yellow colours of Tombow dual tip pens (055 and 985) and a Crayola Supertip. The hexagons were drawn using a Helix stencil so it didn’t take me too long to do lots and colour them in. As I’m not too great at drawing, I went for a cute cartoon style bee!

Monthly Calendar

This is my usual layout with 6×6 boxes which leaves plenty of space for decor around the edges. I also added some flowers to go with the bees and honeycomb, filling in a few bits of white space nicely.

Workout log

As one of my current goals is to work on toning by body, I decided to keep a record of all of my different workouts. At the moment, I’m doing cardio at the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, plus one session a week using the strength and muscle toning weight machines. I’m also continuing to do yoga five days a week and have put myself on the waiting list for Iyengar yoga and Pilates at the wellness centre (it’s proving to be really hard to get onto the classes as they’re so popular).

I’ve created a small calendar spread which is big enough to record multiple workouts per day. I’m going to add a coloured dot each time I do a particular workout. In May, I might also track the time I spent doing each activity but for now I’m just going to log each kind of exercise I do.

Body Tracker

Earlier this week, I mentioned I was using the SMART goal framework, to help me come up with detailed plans of my current goals. As well as measuring my weight to see how many pounds I’ve lost each month, I’m also going to take my body measurements regularly so I can see progress in this area too.

Missing spreads

I’ve chosen not to include a gratitude log and yoga session tracker for April as they’re time consuming to set up and I want to focus on my gym workouts and improving my fitness levels. When I’m well (not too high and not feeling low), I tend to spend time reflecting on what I’m grateful for anyway so I figured it’s okay to take a little break from writing things down. Also, I can see which online yoga workouts I’ve done recently by checking my YouTube history. It won’t be as easy to see the variety of sessions, to make sure they’re well balanced, but it will still give me some idea of what I’ve done. I can always put them back in place in May if I miss filling them in.

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my BuJo spreads for April. They’re certainly bright and colourful and better to look at than today’s grey skies and snow showers! Let me know in the comments what theme you’ve chosen for the upcoming month and if you’ve shared your pages on your blog, I’ll be sure to check them out.

Posted in art, bullet journal, creativity, Planning and journaling

Setting up my bullet journal for June: Summer fruits theme

This month I’ve gone for a bright and colourful Summer fruits theme and have included my own little fruit watercolour paintings which I scanned in and worked on using Photoshop on my computer and then turned them in to little stickers. I’ve not totally got to grips with all of the different things you can do on this program but I followed a great little tutorial which I’ll share below.

For my front cover, I created five different fruits, namely papaya, orange, kiwi, cherries and pineapple. I started by sketching them with pencil and then when I was happy with how they looked, I went over the outline and some details using a 0.2 UniPin fineliner. I then mixed colours from my Daler Rowney travel set and used a tiny brush to paint them. Each one is less than 4cm so I really took my time to ensure accuracy and it was a great mindful watercolouring activity. After scanning the paintings, I edited the background to make it white and removed some minor blemishes. Check out this great tutorial on YouTube for how to do this.

For my month at a glance I used the same kind of layout as usual with 6×6 dot boxes and again made my own stickers from some fruity artwork. I successfully covered up part of the date using some paper washi style stickers as I accidently wrote the beginning of the year as 200 instead of 2020. I did the spread late in the evening and think I was overly tired and that’s when I tend to make lots of mistakes. I also messed up on the next page too with is why I have a red paper background to the words ‘exercise tracker’.

As you can see, there’s a distinct lack of things happening in June due to the continuation of lockdown restrictions! My husband and I have started to go out to places but we tend to go on a whim rather than pre-planning.

I’m continuing to monitor my workouts in June and have just made a few small modifications and changed the colour scheme to fit with the Summer fruits theme. I’ve decided to make the steps tracker larger and have changed the scale on the graph to make it easier to fill in.

Finally, this month I’ve decided to make a record of the plants we’ve bought at the garden centre this year and include key information from each of the labels that came in the pots. I’ve also added a small drawing and coloured it in for each entry so that I’m also practising my drawing skills. The art work isn’t perfect but I’m getting better the more I give sketching a go. The layout of the spread is inspired by Emma at emusing-emma.blogspot.com who did something similar for her houseplants a few years ago in her bullet journal.

That’s all my spreads for this month. I have more plants to add to my record but won’t get them drawn until later on. If you would like to see more of my plant information, let me know and I’ll add them on to my BuJo set up for July.

Take care and stay safe everyone,

Posted in Blogging, Planning and journaling

Currently… a little update on what I’m up to right now

I know I’ve been absent from my blog for a while but, as I’m now back enjoying writing again, I thought I’d do a little update on me and what I’m focusing on right now. It will be a useful reminder for myself to show how productive I’m being now I’ve got over my bout of poor mental health and it might also inspire you to do a currently list in your bullet journal or notebook or even on your blog.

Currently adjusting… to the situation we find ourselves in right now. Every day there are new recommendations advising of changes we need to make to help stop the spread of this awful virus. It’s stressful for everyone but we need to really focus in on all the positives and take extra good care of ourselves and others. Now is a time for solidarity and I’ve seen many examples of this over the weeks.

Currently buying… the essentials only. My husband and I haven’t done any panic buying and for a while I thought we were going to run out of toilet roll but for now we’re safe on that one! Phew! I’ve also bought a pair of yoga bricks and a strap to go with my yoga mat as my class has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I’m determined to keep up my practice but as a complete beginner, I need some equipment to ensure I can do the poses but not over exert myself.

Currently cleaning… door handles, light switches, our stair rail and anything else that might help to get rid of germs. It’s worrying to note that COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to 9 days but luckily there’s plenty of advice online about which surfaces of the home to pay attention to including this one here.

Currently enjoying… being able to get out into the garden to see the first few glimpses of Spring. I’ve been able to hang plenty of loads of washing on the line as it’s been breezy but sunny over the past few weeks. Lots of shoots are popping up and our daffodils are in full bloom right now. Unfortunately, the warm weather has helped the weeds to grow too so I now need to spend some time getting rid of them!

Currently exercising… to improve my fitness levels and strength. My weekly gym session and my yoga classes may be cancelled but I’m still trying to fit in lots of exercise. I’m currently going for a 30 minute walk each day and using YouTube videos to develop my yoga practise with the aid of my new equipment.

Currently learning… new brush lettering techniques whilst still practise the basics. I’ve turned to a copy of Simply Lettering that I bought a while back which includes a 20202 calendar with quotes for each month to copy. I’m a bit late with it I know as it’s nearly the end of March but I just finished it this morning and better late than never eh?!? I found the flourishes really difficult with being a leftie so if any of you left handers have any tips, I would welcome them!

Currently feeling inspired… to draw florals. Whilst perusing YouTube, I found a wonderful artist called Shayda who shows, step by step, how to draw a range of flowers. I’ve been having a go in my sketch book and, although my efforts don’t look as good as hers, I’m getting better with practise. You can find her YouTube channel here. She’s also a keen bullet journalist too and choses a floral theme each month. I also went with a flower theme in my BuJo for April with hibiscus.

Currently organising… my sock drawer! I’ve been a fan of the Konmari method for several years now so I’ve been folding and standing my clothes up for a long while now but I’ve always struggled with getting my socks to sit right. I’ve found a new way to fold them so they lie flatter and fold up more easily. I’ve even taken to giving them a quick iron although how long this will last I don’t know! If you want to know the secret to my perfect folding which differs from Marie Kondo’s suggestion, let me know in the comments and I’ll oblige and maybe even take a photo or two!

Currently planning… and setting goals. I kind of fell out of love with using my BuJo when I was poorly but I’m back to loving it all over again. Previously, I was just doing a monthly calendar, completely undecorated and then writing a very short to do list for each day on a piece of paper or in the notes App on my phone. Now, I’m doing a properly daily plan for tomorrow the night before and making lots of notes on future projects and things I’d like to try. I’m also setting a small number of goals for the month. It feels good to be back!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about what I’m currently up to. Let me know in the comments what’s taking up your time right now. Maybe you’ve discovered something new or gone back to something you used to enjoy doing now that social distancing has affected many of our routines.

Until next time, keep safe and well,

Posted in mental health, wellbeing, wellness

Monday Matters: Over 60 self care ideas and activities to keep you busy and mentally well when self isolating or social distancing

Photo credit: Samantha Gades, for Unsplash

The current UK government advice is to practise social distancing in order to minimise the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). With this in mind, I present over 60 ideas and activities to help you make the most of your social distancing or isolation time if you are still feeling fit and well. Hopefully, these activities will keep you safe but productive at the same time and encourage you to support yourself in staying mentally as well as physically well. Of course, some of the suggestions will be more suited to your lifestyle than others and some may just be completely inapplicable but hopefully you can use at least half of them so that’s over 30!

  1. Paint your nails or give yourself a manicure or pedicure
  2. Give positive feedback to someone (e.g. thank someone at the supermarket for doing a good job or write an email to someone who has shared a great article online)
  3. Wash your car (or get your husband to do it – that’ll be me then lol)
  4. Send a loved one a card through the mail telling them how much you care about them
  5. Organise your wardrobe
  6. Put some food out for the birds and watch them feed through the window
  7. Have a video call with a family member or friend
  8. Light a scented candle and meditate whilst watching the flame
  9. Research a topic of interest online – maybe make notes in your BuJo or other notebook
  10. Enjoy a long soak in the bath
  11. Do a jigsaw puzzle
  12. Start a craft project that you’ve been meaning to do for a while
  13. Peruse Amazon and download a new book for your Kindle
  14. Practise calligraphy
  15. Wash your hair and spend ages styling it to perfection
  16. Create an upbeat playlist of songs you love
  17. Take a free online class
  18. Watch a YouTube video that teaches you a new skill
  19. Walk barefoot on your lawn
  20. Listen to an audiobook
  21. Get out your photo albums and revisit happy times (or flick through old digital images on your mobile phone
  22. Snuggle up under a soft blanket and watch a movie
  23. Have a home pampering session e.g. put on a face mask
  24. Do some colouring in
  25. Shine your shoes
  26. Practise Yoga or Pilates (there are lots of videos on YouTube that show you how)
  27. Re-arrange the furniture in your house
  28. Do an observational drawing of something in your house
  29. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea whilst reading this list and make plans for your day
  30. Write a nice comment on a website or blog
  31. Find a new recipe and try it out
  32. Write in your journal about how your day has been
  33. Play cards or a board game with a family member (or plan an online game whilst being in isolation from others)
  34. Join an online community on Facebook and start a discussion about one of your interests
  35. Buy yourself something nice online for home delivery
  36. Try out some new hairstyles
  37. Find some online journal prompts and do some writing
  38. Make up a poem about how your day has changed for the better since practising social distancing
  39. Learn about your family tree
  40. Savour a bar of chocolate
  41. Do a wordsearch, crossword or other word puzzle
  42. Make a gift for a family member or friend which you can leave on their doorstep
  43. Do some origami
  44. Visit Etsy and support a handmade business by choosing and buying a little treat for yourself or a loved one
  45. Make homemade pizza
  46. Sing in the shower
  47. Massage hand cream into your hands (particularly good if your hands are dry from all the handwashing)
  48. Play games on your tablet or phone (my current favourites are Angry Birds 2 and Candy Crush Saga)
  49. Share a photograph online of something new you’ve tried whilst self isolating
  50. Buy some new stationery from an online shop
  51. Spend an hour reading your favourite magazine with a hot or cold drink
  52. Make homemade bread
  53. Sit in your back garden tonight and do some stargazing
  54. Learn to juggle
  55. Give your muscles a good stretch
  56. Send a text message to a friend checking that they are safe and well
  57. Write a list of all the things that you are grateful for right now
  58. Make a list of reasons why you love your friend / partner and share it with them
  59. Spend time engaging in one of your long forgotten hobbies
  60. Watch a favourite movie and munch on some popcorn
  61. Do some embroidery or cross stitching
  62. Cuddle your pet and show them some love
  63. Enter an online competition
  64. Repair something in your house that you’ve been meaning to get around to fixing for months
  65. Have an indoor picnic in your house (put out a picnic mat or blanket and sit on the floor in your living room)
  66. Make some (virgin) cocktails (don’t forget to drink responsibly)
  67. Do a Sudoku
  68. Close your eyes and do 5 minutes of soothing breathing

I hope you’ve found at least some of these ideas useful. Let me know if you have other suggestions which I could add to the list.

Stay safe everyone and remember, just because you’re practising social distancing, doesn’t mean you need to isolate yourself from the world completely. As best as you can, and in a way that is safe, keep in touch with loved ones and most importantly, look after you!

Posted in Business branding, creativity, Planning and journaling, Selling on Etsy

I made a vision board for my Etsy shop: my brand and its core values in photographs

I don’t know about you, but I love looking at inspirational images and spend many hours each week perusing Pinterest, Google Images and pretty pictures in magazines. I also love using glossy photographs to create my vision board for the year. You can see my board for 2019 which I shared in a previous post here.

A while ago, I spent several days considering brand identity and core values for my Etsy business. My shop has been open for over two and a half years now but I wanted to make sure that my products reflected what my brand was all about. I worked on developing a list of adjectives which describe what I want to be at the core of my business. Then, alongside this, I chose a range of images which reflected my beliefs about what LJ Designs NE is all about. Below is a list of what I came up with (in no particular order of importance!) and a photo story of how I went about making my vision board some weeks later.

  • nature inspired
  • fun
  • fresh
  • creative
  • reflective
  • organised
  • delightful
  • peaceful
  • colourful
  • productive
  • playful
  • simple
  • compassionate
  • efficient
  • friendly
Over 40 images printed on photograph paper. Colour themes, ideas and inspirational messages included.

After spending a good while cutting the above out I had a very sore wrist and a big pile of gorgeous images.

When I’d finished cutting out all of my images, I laid them all out on the floor to see how much room they would need to be displayed. I then popped to The Range and bought an A1 piece of mounting board in a lovely charcoal grey colour and a large Perspex clip frame. I chose a Perspex frame as I’ve had issues with clip frames getting broken in the past and didn’t want a recurrence of this.

To ensure I was happy with the placement of the pics, I started by placing them onto the board with small pieces of Blu-Tak so I could play with the arrangement a little.

I did have the intention of using double sided tape to adhere the images permanently but in the end, I glued them on with Pritt Stick so that if I put them on a little wonky I could sort them out!

The finished board with all of the images glued on and the Perspex frame clipped in place.

I’m so pleased with how my brand vision board turned out and can’t wait to put it on display in my craft room / office. I hope you find it visually appealing too and agree that it reflects my key ideas about my little Etsy shop.

Have you ever tried a similar process for your handmade business? If not, I thoroughly recommend it. I had great fun and I now have a board full of beautiful pictures to remind me of what’s at the heart of my brand and to inspire me when I’m working in my craft room each day.