What's new? I just wrote my summary for the first year of So Not Niche. 100% honest account of my mistakes and lessons learned.
What's new in this week? I'm working on some adult coloring pages! Check out my recent post on why I started this project and see the first in the series.
This week I came across an awesome philanthropy project being hosted over on Rockstar Finance. It was so inspiring and fun to read that I had to write a shout-out!
Read More Here...
Finally! I've had this project in the works forever! Okay, since before the holidays anyhow. Now I can share it with you!
It's that perfect time of the year to organize your goals and get motivated for the year of business and blogging and life ahead of you. There is so much to do, so much to achieve. Why not make it fun?
Vision boards (or goal boards) are one of my favorite ways to stay organized and focused. Thanks to the one I made last year, we paid off thousands of dollars of debt and I made some major business progress.
Whatever your goals are this year, these cute owl printables can help you reach them with a smile. (if you don't, they will just stare relentlessly at you.)
Want to see more and grab yours? Just keep reading here!
Okay. So 2017 is starting off a bit slow for me. My plan in December before I took a break for the holidays, was to hit the keyboard (and drawing board) again on January second. I was full of ideas and wanted to really give So Not Niche a bit of a nitro boost and send it flying into the new year (complete with sparks and whistles).
Aaaaaand then I got really sick for a few days, and about all I could do was slump on the couch and watch feverish little hallucination dreams whiz around my head.
I'm not really sure why, but the whole time I was down I kept thinking of drawing feathers like the one above, and I ended up with several of them badly doodled on scraps of paper everywhere.
Even though I have tons of catch-up to do on the blog, and tons of stuff I need to be creating, and even more stuff I need to be learning and putting into action...I started off the official "work-year" by taking my first well-ish evening and drawing that fancy quill.
That's my first design of the year, and since it sorta combines both art and writing, it seemed rather appropriate.
Let's Hope It's a Good One...
It's here, it's here! A New Year! Time for something new, and something old...
When I was growing up, cocooned in the embrace of the still-wild Ouachita's and steeped in traditional folklore, there were certain New Year's traditions that you did not dare miss.
1. Sweep Out The Old Year
As soon as possible on the new year, sweep your house and sweep all the "old" or "bad" luck outside. Of course, dirt goes out too, and those little fuzzballs that follow brooms around. But the basic idea was to get rid of any negative feelings, memories, energy, etc.
This was in direct opposition to the other 364 days of the year, when you were not supposed to sweep your floor and then sweep the dirt out the door, for fear of sweeping out good luck and happiness as well. You just do it on New Years.
2. Don't Start a Project on New Year's Eve.
It is okay to start one and not finish it before New Year's Eve, but starting one on that day and then not being able to finish it before the new year means having a difficult time finishing projects throughout the whole year.
Also, some people were a little more grim and stated that if you left a project undone in the last year, you would not be able to finish it in the new one...usually because of death or some kind of painful condition. (folk lore is a bit macabre.)
3. Peas and Jowl
Hardly on any trendy "foodie" list, but black-eyed peas and a chunk of hog jowl is the thing to make on New Years. Eating them brings prosperity throughout the year.
Not really a sacrifice for me, since I love them. But I have seen some people pretty appalled by the dish. (Jowl is not the most attractive thing to look at, I admit.)
4. Taking Down the Tree
I've seen this argued both ways. Either you are supposed to take down the tree (and outside if it's a live tree) before the new year, or it will be bad luck. Other's say it is good luck to leave it until after the first.
I left it up last year, and well...2016 was pretty uncool. So this year it came down!
5. Do Something You Love
My favorite! This means spending the first day of the year doing things you want to be doing for the whole year. (Positive stuff!)
For me, it means drawing ( I will be designing more bookmarks like the ones above. In fact, I'm doing one right now!), writing, adding to this website, doing something that will help grow my business, reading something, making someone laugh or smile, spending time with my family, cuddling my baby girls, and giving back to others in some way.
But I Won't Do That.
Things I won't do today? I won't read the news, go on Facebook, listen to anything negative, clean the house (got it all done yesterday!), or get into any sort of situation or activity that could be stressful or frustrating.
I try to make the personal aspect of it simple: Learn something, read something, write something, draw something, do something kind.
I'm excited (and nervous) about the new year. It's a whole new chapter waiting to be written. And gosh, I hope we all get good parts in the story.
Happy New Year's to You All!
Jewel of the Desert--Cactus Art Print
If you are cold and already a bit tired of looking at wintery-icy scenes, then this should deserty-y cactus art should warm you up some! (See, always trying to help!)
This is my latest "big piece" and represents 17 hours of utter frustration. It also represents possibly the last full-size drawing of this year, as I am about to assemble an illustrated goal-planning project for the new year.
You can see the print and other products here in my Redbubble shop.
And here a couple of the alternate versions.
New Office Designs for the Hustlin' Entrepreneur
It's almost time to start a new year (of business)! What could be cooler than starting out with some new office accessories and a little motivation?
I got a request for some octopus themed office supplies after some cool person saw this pink and black octo motif. At first I thought that it seemed a bit weird to have an octopus in the office, but after I thought on it for awhile, it made perfect sense!
Entrepreneurs (especially bloggers, amiright?) are always juggling multiple tasks...and wouldn't that be a lot easier if we had 8 arms? That thought inspired this motivational printable:
You can download that immediately from my shop here .
And naturally it's a perfect fit if you love sea creatures. Or just tentacles. Or even if your business is somehow related to sea creatures (with or without tentacles). Or if you just don't want someone else accidentally thinking your clipboard is their clipboard.
As per awesome-octopus-lover's request, I also created a few items over on Zazzle to coordinate with the printable.
Currently, you can get:
View the whole collection here.
Other Office Sets
Making matching office sets is my favorite thing to do on Zazzle, but I have fallen behind a bit from my original goals. They redesigned their editing tool and I had to relearn everything I had only barely just learned!
Still, one of my goals this year is to have a lot more matching office collections available. I sorta got hung up on the whole "what's proper to put on office supplies" worry. Now I am inspired to just be a little wild and creative. (monograms are pretty, but come on, an octopus is FUN!)
So, if you are looking for office supplies or desk accessories that are bit not-normal, then keep checking back. I hope to have a full inventory soon!
In the meantime, you can check out this motivational design too. So far, it's most popular product in the So Not Niche Zazzle store. (and it was my first, too, so that makes this artist all warm and fuzzy).
And of course, please remember that 25% of anything with my art on it goes towards charities that help low income families, and that's 50% of any art featuring a cat until the first of the year.
Hello Lovely People! I've got a fun holiday treat for you today. I just posted a new tutorial for making a Christmas card using PicMonkey.
And it's not just "licking and sticking" the graphics they have available in their Christmas section (although they have some great stuff so that was said in the nicest way possible!)
So, if you want to DIY some cards or make a cute art print, check it out and have fun. If you are new to PicMonkey and have a question about the tutorial, just ask me in the comments. I promise I don't bite!
Note: this is an easy tutorial that anyone can use, and it's time-friendly!
A list of Lists (SOmetimes of Lists!)
What's better than a gift list? Um...a list of gift lists? That's just what this is! I've been collecting and pinning gift guides for a month trying to organize my holiday shopping.
Then I thought it might be nice to share all of those in one place where everyone else could enjoy them too.
So, today I've rounded up some great gift lists from other bloggers (and SNN), because:
1. I love gift lists. They give me so many great ideas!
2. I want to help you find great ideas too!
Not only do you have 11 gift guides to start with, many of them link to even more holiday shopping lists.
Grab your favorite drink and get ready to feast on these fabulous suggestions:
Poverty sucks. Let's Fight it with Art
Okay, here's the thing. Poverty sucks.
What sucks even more is that in a pretty awesome country like America, where just about everyone can have cool things like cellphones, their own car and unlimited candy bars, there are still people struggling to survive.
And sorry, but I ain't talking about the $100K a year folks budgeting their groceries so they can afford a trip to Jamaica. I'm talking about the people who sometimes have to choose between buying groceries at all or paying a utility bill.
Or the people who have to decide between toilet paper or cold medicine so they can drag themselves to work the next day.
I could probably write a series of posts about the realities faced by the working poor, especially in rural areas (and I probably will, in the upcoming year) and how advice such as "earn more money", "get a better job" "just hustle more" "go back to school" "move to a better location" or "learn to be happy with less stuff" isn't particularly helpful in certain situations.
But today, let's keep it a bit light. Because today, I want to talk more about using art to relieve poverty, my Raggedy Cats, and 3 ways you can help fight poverty too:
Fresh from the Drawing Board
I figured it was time to check in with a few new pieces of art.
As 2016 winds down, I've seen a lot of people declaring it to be one of the worst years in a long time. I have to agree that it certainly hasn't been 100% pleasant.
About what you would expect from a year that took David Bowie from us, huh?
Because there has just been so much fugliness thrown at us this year, I am doubling up on my efforts to combat the blahs with some random pretties. And by pretty, I mean art. Of course.
Never underestimate the power of beautiful photo, a stunning painting, or just a fun doodle that makes you smile.
Hopefully, these will brighten your mood today, too. Here is what I've been working on the last 3 weeks:
Coloring in My INktober Sharks
I'm slowly getting some of my Inktober artwork colored. I'm a "move forward" kind of person, so I'm more enthused about creating new art than coloring in older drawings. Still, this one is fun with or without color.
I've started adding it a few products on Zazzle. I'm still very much a newbie at Zazzle, and am doing way more effing up than succeeding, but I'm determined to like the site simply because it has so much cool junk!
You can see the Marco Polo Sharks on a few items here.
This Little Fat Cat
Don't ask me why, but I just felt that the world needed more yellow and purple cats. I'm not sure it is possible to be sad or angry while looking at a yellow and purple cat.
Unless you don't like cats. In which case, I point you back to the sharks.
In fact, this little guy was so cheerful that I added him to my sidebar for a pop of art on one of the blog pages.
This SUper Cheerful Sunset and Ocean Drawing
With the "b;ah-ness" of winter coming on, and the ever-present stream of ugly news online (and off), I decided to go bold for a few weeks. I'm working on a series of brighter pieces with simple forms, less texture, and more in-your-face-cheer.
These also seem to be easier to work with on POD sites, since the files will pretty much fit a variety of product shapes without having to crop out anything important.
I have this one on Redbubble, Zazzle, and Fine Art America at the moment.
This Little Grumpy Thanksgiving Turkey
Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a turkey joke or cartoon. I think Tom's expression pretty much sums up how he feels about all the turkey feasting about to go down.
This one was fun, just because I had never tried to draw a turkey before. While I was looking for a reference photo, I found this drawing of a turkey, and wow.
I'll probably never attempt to draw another turkey, because once you've seen a drawing that realistic...
Even so, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of turkey art out there, so if you are good at that sort of thing, you should consider taking over the niche. If there is such a thing as a turkey art niche?
This POlar BEar Drawing
Another "bright" piece. There is some polar bear fascination going on among the girls lately, so I thought I would give it a shot.
Originally, it was a side-view of the polar bear, but a certain un-named, two year old perpetrator made a mark on the drawing and I had to work around it.
After I was done, I called in the critics, and after much scrutiny, they declared that it wasn't nearly as cool as the Coca-Cola bears and told me to keep practicing.
So there you have it. 30 years of artistic confidence dashed by upstart polar bear experts.
For those of you who think he IS cooler than the Coca-Cola bears, he is available here and here.
This Set of Christmas Printables
I wrote a whole post about how to use these printables to make reusable, dry-erase activity sheets. Plus, there are printable letters to Santa and holiday gift lists for your merry organizing pleasure.
They are in my shop here, and are available as affordable instant downloads.
And a Gumball machine
Because it is so hard to be mad at the world when the world has gumball machines. A sweet reminder of simple childhood pleasures.
That's What's New Folks!
That's a peek in the studio for this week. And just to be traditional, I'll throw this out there (to offset my humorous gratitude list posted earlier this week):
I am truly thankful for Sharpie markers!
(And for anyone who visits and reads this blog!)
It's that time of year again! Yes, that magical time when the leaves fall, we are either too hot or too cold thanks to indecisive weather, and people online start sticking "be thankful" memes in our faces.
I'm 100% PRO-Gratitude. Really, I am. I am always grateful for people who aren't tagging me to create gratitude lists, for example.
In all seriousness (for just a moment, then back to the good stuff), I like to be express gratitude all year. And I think most people I have ever known are grateful all year.
We don't really need to say that we are thankful for our spouses or children, parents or pets, homes or health on one specific day of the year. We are pretty darn happy to have all these things year round.
But November rolls around and suddenly a bunch of people are staring at us expectantly. What kind of monsters are we if we don't publicly declare these thanks on social media?
I blame it on movies (duh, of course!) which have conditioned with a need to see Scrooges and Grinches have heartwarming moments of learning their damn lesson once a year. (If someone isn't learning a lesson somewhere, then what is the point of even having holidays, right?)
So, in the spirit of not being a beast, I've compiled my obligatory gratitude list.
I'm Thankful Turkeys Have Unprotected Sex?
Just a quick post to explain the inactivity on So Not Niche recently.
Am I the only one sad that Halloween is over? I always get a little down when it's time to pack up the ghosts and goblins for the year.
But this October was pretty amazing for several reasons.
First of all, this Halloween marked a one year milestone in my blogging journey. I will be writing more on that this week, with some lessons learned over the rather rocky year.
I also finished the Inktober challenge with 31 drawings. You can see the whole collection here on my gallery page.
Some of them may not have been much more than doodles, but I stuck with my commitment, and reaped benefits and business lessons along the way.
And best of all, we made some rocking Halloween memories this year. The twins were big enough to really enjoy trick-or-treating, and we had TWO celebrations that went off without a hitch.
That is totally amazing for us because we always have something go wrong...a costume fail, bad weather, the flu, a cancellation without notice, work schedules, etc.
This year we had beautiful WARM weather for trick-or-treating, and no catastrophes of any sort to stop us. Also, there were lots of Reeses cups.
Stay tuned in because this week I will be sharing business tips, blogging insights and a whole stream of new products that will make perfect, unique holiday gifts.
I will not be sharing Reeses cups. (Sorry, not sorry.)
Whew! Just getting caught up on scanning in a bunch of art tonight. I "organized" my workspace this weekend, which means I put everything up, and then couldn't find anything!
Luckily, I think I've worked the kinks out of my new system, and I did find my Inktober drawings for week 2.
Here's the art round-up:
Inktober Day #8 is a based on my twin mischief makers. They have started giving each other "the side hug" and "the look" whenever they are planning something.
It usually means big trouble, but I'm glad that after two years of not wanting to be near each other, they've finally found something to bond over. Yikes.
Day #9 I decided to try a something a bit different. Drawing on blown eggshells is always fun. It is also a bit more challenging to create art on a curved surface. Period. Even more challenging when you have little people climbing up your leg to see why you are drawing on the food.
Therefore, Dumpty isn't the best masterpiece in the world. But my kids think he is awesome, so he now lives in a candle holder in the hallway.
Which is normal, right? If not, they've already put in requests for about a dozen other storybook characters.
So far, Day #10, the "Kraken Prince" is the only piece I consider a real drawing. As in, a big, detailed, finished piece.
Confession: I feel really awed and really slow when I watch all the other artists churning out huge, ornate Inktober drawings every day!
"Balloon Rides" has been my favorite concept so far. Sadly, I tried a different pen for this, and it scanned in badly. Once October is over, this one will be redone.
Okay. Maybe this one is my favorite. :) I do love me some owls, and these are inspired by friendships. And that's always a pleasant thing in this world, huh?
This one is available as the colored print version or you can get both the colorized version and the black and white lineart as an instant download in my Etsy shop.
For day #13, a little bit of Shakespeare and a dancing cat. Perfect for Halloween, or any day you might want to be cheered up by a wicked, dancing cat.
And here, I just really got tired of hearing people talk about how they wanted to hurt anyone they saw wearing clown outfits thanks to the pranking going on.
Also a little annoyed that people keep going online and saying they're scared. I kinda think that gives the "bad guys" a lot of satisfaction.
Most of all, I think it is really unfair that good guys should lose their jobs just because a few dummies dressed up in masks. I don't think that would happen in most other professions, and I was a little sad that we didn't have an epic Battle of the Clowns where the good guys triumphed, ya know?
So let's support the good clowns. Mmmkay?
2 Weeks Down, 2 to Go
That sums of week 2. Week 3 is going way too fast! (I can't believe it's almost Halloween!) In between doing the Inktober drawings, I'm still writing posts, cleaning up my other blogs, fall cleaning, taking care of kids who are still sick, winterizing the house, making worksheets, putting together "sick-friendly" homeschool lessons, designing printables, finishing up some craft projects, filling up my Zazzle stores for the holidays, and trying to socialize more with the people I admire online.
And that doesn't touch everything on my to-do list! I still don't have a single Halloween decoration up! :(
Your best friends are the ones who accept you for who you are (no matter your shape, size, color or resting facial expressions). But mostly they are the ones that will repeatedly be seen in public with you.
These owls represent the best of friendships. Those moments when you can all just crowd together on a branch for a photo-op. Or maybe you are trying to agree one what movie to watch. Someone is always going to be the one left with the grumpy face.
If you've got friends that let you be yourself, (and watch movies with you, even if they don't like them) you can celebrate them with the above print available here on Fine Art America. If you lean towards minimal art (and instant gratification) , keep watching my Etsy shop, because I will be uploading the black and white lineart version there as soon as possible, and you can get it immediately as an instant download.
(Because, you are the impatient friend, right?)
Oh, and by the way. If you really love friendship, or owls, that also comes on a shower curtain.
So, this week we all caught some sort of illness that made us absolutely miserable and worthless. The house is a wreck, and I've fallen behind on getting my Inktober drawings scanned in.
As I was lying on the couch brainstorming my next blogging session...
Okay. I'm joking. I was on the couch mentally writing out last minute instructions my husband might need in case I croaked. Such as how to exactly cut sandwiches the right way, and why he should never offer blue socks to one twin, and where I hid the batteries to the talking toy phone.
But while I was being very busy and productive doing that, I realized that I had a lovely painting on the wall that I did last year and that I've never thought to make it into prints.
Since I didn't die, I was able to do just that. And I'm pretty pleased with how it looks. (which is why it's one of only 5 of my paintings actually on display in my house.
This is roughly inspired by ''The Frog Prince'', where the spoiled princess gazed for hours at her golden ball. At the time I painted it, my daughter and I were binge watching the DVD set of Fairy Tale Theater, and Robin Williams played the Frog Prince (hysterically, of course.)
What makes this painting magical, besides the obvious magic that just goes with fairy tales and talking frogs and stuff, is that it suddenly gave me tons of new artwork ideas! In fact, my husband I just started drawing up some ideas for a really huge art project. The kind that might take months to complete.
And I'm hoping we can start soon so I can share our process with you!
In the meantime, here's a better view of the painting. And you can get a print here, on Fine Art America.
I thought I would do something a bit different for Financial Friday this week. A totally random, sentimental send-off to summer with a photo blog post of some of my favorite memories from the year.
We lit our heater for the first time this week. That is the official start of fall, and the end of flowers, summer showers, pools, and blistering sunshine.
What does that have to do with personal finance, you ask?
Do you Need Cheering Up Today?
Feeling down today? We all get the blues from time to time. Sometimes it feels like the things we are doing aren't getting us anywhere. Sometimes we experience some setbacks or have to start all over.
It doesn't really take anything big or serious to make humans feel a little sad. It is much harder to cheer ourselves back up though. It takes a little work when the last thing we want to do is work.
As tempting as it may be to spend a day wrapped in a blanket reading a sad book, that won't really help you get your smile back in place or your confidence glowing again. Try a few of these simple, fast tricks to cheer yourself up instead.
Are you still keeping up with Inktober? The first week alone has over 2 million tags on Instagram! That is a lot of gorgeous ink drawings.
I try to set aside a bit of time each day to look at some of the newest additions, as well as creating my own. Due to all that other stuff in life, my drawing are a lot more simplistic than I had hoped, but it feels really good to be sticking to a challenge.
If you've read this blog even a bit you've probably heard me say that I do not any forms of constraint, such as schedules, routines, and challenges. Usually. This time it has actually been fun.
Still, rather than posting them on here day by day, I thought I would just do a round up every week and put them all together. Plus I've curated some amazing Instagram accounts to check out if you want to literally drool over inky goodness.
Here are my first 7;
Fall Cleaning Time!
It's fall! And it's fall cleaning time! If the job sounds daunting or you aren't sure where to start, I've compiled a complete guide to getting your home ready for winter.
I also have a new piece of artwork that is perfect for adding a little seasonal delight to your wall or office. (and yes, it totally did inspire this post.)
Fall cleaning isn't as talked about as spring cleaning, but it can be just as important. In fact, it's my favorite time to go on a huge cleaning binge. Here's why:
Okay...that last part is exaggerated a bit. They rarely last longer than a week or so in captivity. But it feels so nice to open up the windows and air out a home that's been cooled by air conditioning for months.
My home also gets dirtier over the summer than it does over the winter. That is partly because we live in the country, on a highway with lots of truck traffic. And partly because all that summery outside playtime and gardening means lots of stuff getting tracked inside.
I definitely don't want to wait to deal with that while I'm making holiday decorations or fretting over gift lists, you know?
So here is the list I use every year to make sure all the nooks and crannies get cleaned.
Do you ever get kinda bummed out hearing so many people say you shouldn't do this or that because it might make you sick or dead?
I mean the fanatical people. The ones that really know how suck the life out of everything enjoyable.
If so, then this one is for you. A cute reminder that the spoonful of frosting or cookie dough probably won't kill you. Neither will a diet soda, a too-hot bath, or your favorite sleeping position.
Whatever you like, just keep liking it. Because life is too short to not lick the frosting.
Like it? You can get a print, or a keychain!