Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Support Independent Artists With Personalized Holiday Cards

** This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a commission. **

From now through Mon 11/6, enjoy 15% OFF holiday cards with code JOY17

I know, it is unreal how fast summer flew by. As it always seems it does! I have to admit, I love the colder weather, I love Halloween, lots of snow, warm, fuzzy blankets, hockey games, and the holidays. Oh and Charlie Brown specials! I think the most annoying part of the holiday season would have to be shopping. I didn't seem to mind it years ago but as I got older and moved to a rural area, I prefer shopping online. I probably shop online almost 75% of the time and for everything.

Another tradition we recently started is mailing holiday cards. I was never one to have a long list of addresses and photo cards to send to everybody until we had 4 kids and friends and family moved away and we moved away. There is just always something more special about mailing actual cards than a Facebook post or an email. Plus, our kids really enjoy writing notes and signing the cards and adding a school picture or something they drew. One of our favorite places to shop for stationary and holiday cards is Minted.com.

Shop Minted's 2017 Holiday Card Collection

I'm sure you've seen plenty of ads for "personalized cards" or "photo cards" and you may have started thinking about which photograph you will be using this year or maybe you haven't even gotten that far just yet. I am always on the lookout for the best deals and the highest quality that will fit in my budget. Especially if you're planning on buying a few dozen or over a hundred cards. One thing that I absolutely love about the Internet is the small businesses and independent artists that it connects us with! I go crazy over all of the artisan foods and small batch bath bombs out there and I'm always on the lookout for the most unique ideas. It's kind of my weakness when it comes to shopping. This is also why I am always so excited about new Minted products! I can order a bunch of cards from independent artists until my heart's content! (Or I run out of money! Whichever comes first!)

Minted's Top-Voted Holiday Card Designs

If you like to help small businesses and crafters, you will fall in love with Minted! I like to read about each of the artists behind the cards. (Or any of their products really!) They have an "about me" section complete with pictures and you can get to know the person behind the art. Plus, you get to check out all of the other items the artist has available for sale. You know, just in case you need to snag a notebook or some extra stationary while you're there!

The other fascinating thing about Minted personalized holiday cards is that it literally means much more than just "Upload your picture and we'll print your name inside!" Depending on the cards you choose, you are actually in charge of colors, shapes, paper upgrades, backers, interiors, and free recipient and return addressing. It's almost like they're your own creation!

Minted also launched a new service this year called, Text Us Your Photo. You just need to text your favorite holiday photo and your Minted stylist will text you back with your photo styled in 5-holiday card designs for FREE!

Have you ever tried Minted.com? I would love to read comments about what you thought!

Don't forget to order your cards while they are offering 15% off of your holiday card order! (Use code JOY17 at checkout.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Music Is Essential For Child Development

Music is very important at our house. It's one of those things that is always there. Everybody has their favorite types of music, favorite bands, has a turn listening to their CDs or their favorite station on the radio when we're driving somewhere, and of course, our kids will try musical instruments, 2 have gone as far as to play guitar on a regular basis! We start with an instrument through school and they take it from there.

Playing music while your baby sleeps and even before they are born, helps to soothe and strengthen memory skills. It also helps to strengthen the relationship between the body and the brain to work together. Music is much more than just entertainment.

Musical Intelligence

Some say that musical intelligence is just as important as logical and emotional intelligence. Children can develop better motor skills while dancing and they also learn the sounds of tones and words when singing along with their favorite music. 

Playing music from birth through age 6 will help children speak more clearly and develop a larger vocabulary. Listening to music also helps strengthen emotional and social skills. If this doesn't have you sold so far, think about the impact that listening to music or even playing music together could have on the bond with your children! 

Whether you're a professional musician like John Jesensky or you sing along to your favorite songs in the car or the shower, you can make a world of difference in your children's life! 

Bringing Music Into Your Home

Even if you don't come from a musical background, you can still find many different resources for helping families bring music into their lives. 

Music Together is a wonderful program for parents and children from birth to age 7. They offer classes across the country and if you don't find one nearby, you can apply to train to be a teacher and start your own class in your community! 

Kids enjoy spending time with their parents and they don't care what your singing voice sounds like or if you can really dance. You can make musical instruments out of random things you have around your house! (We've used coffee cans and wooden spoons plenty of times!) It's very easy to bring music into your home and your little ones will have a blast! Having fun together is very important and building a lifelong appreciation for music is also crucial. 

Listening to a variety of music is essential to opening your child/children up to different sounds, varieties, and finding their own taste in music. There are so many genres of music out there it's very hard to choose just one. The more options you offer, the better! I agree with John Ross Jesensky, that an open-mindedness to all musical styles is vital to a musician's development. I also believe that this is vital for those of us who aren't musicians. I don't necessarily fall in love with everything I hear but, I do have a wide variety of music that I listen too. I have my very favorites, my husband has his, and our kids each have their own individual favorites. Appreciating other people's tastes and talent is another valueable lesson that reaches far beyond music. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Overcoming Blogging Pitfalls

I don't know how many times I've made absolutely ridiculous mistakes and spent an entire day just to fix them. Sometimes more! I always look at it as a learning experience. Which it is. However, when you're trying to meet a deadline and Twitter decides to change your "following" list from 8,000 to 4. Or facebook decides to notify you of several posts they decided may be tied to a sponsored post or a paid ad and you have to explain yourself. Or if you're like me, you spent an entire day trying to remove the period from a link because an advertiser asked you too. (That was one of my most favorite adventures!)

I have a couple of blogs and have social media accounts. Just like every other blogger. I have days where I log on and have an hour to myself to catch up, only to find that somebody has been applying for credit through my Amazon account or that somebody hacked Yahoo emails and my email account has been compromised. Of course, that ends up eating up that quiet and cozy hour I had with just me, my laptop, and a fresh pot of coffee.

List Your Priorities

One of the easiest ways for me to attack the constant pileup of emails and what I call "tidbits" (check-ins, blogger groups, Tweets, little things.) is to make a list of 5 separate parts of my business. 

For instance, I will have emails/filing/replying/connecting in its own group. Next will be social media. Tidbits, networking, and posts. It took me a few years to find a system that would work. I think I must have ordered and used and gave away at least 2 dozen agendas and blogger planners I've found until I realized that somebody else's system may not work for me. There are a lot of great planners and agendas out there! I love being organized as best I can and I love having a planner I can keep notes in. If only I could create and produce my own...

Keeping notes on paper and in an agenda of some kind has proven to be the best way for me to make sure I don't miss a deadline or a possible connection for an upcoming gift guide. We all have our own ways to stay on top of the world. We just have to find it and stick with it! 

Health And Emergencies

This is something I struggle with a lot! If I ever have the opportunity to hire somebody as an assistant or train one of my older children, I will be jumping at that chance! 

Owning and running your own business is so fulfilling and rewarding. But, who do you call when things get rough? (I usually text or call my mom.) Things can start to become overwhelming and you feel like you're drowning and can never keep up at times. When an emergency happens or you have a disability or an illness of any kind, there may be times that you have to "shut down due to emergency". I've had to do this a lot, due to disabilities and illnesses and it's a terrible feeling. I try to at least always have my cell phone with me so I can contact super important contacts about posts or anything that needs to be done. Times like this are where a virtual assistant would come in handy! 

How do we overcome this type of pitfall? I don't know just yet. But, if you have any ideas, please share! The only thing I can come up with is to hire somebody, ask somebody for help if it is only temporary, hope to be able to get home from the hospital or out of surgery soon enough to apologize to everyone, or hope to have good WiFi in the hospital. If you are working with a client you have worked with in the past, they are most likely aware of any disabilities and/or illnesses you may have already and are a bit more forgiving than others may be. Just know that you're not alone in this! 

Family And Kids

It happens to everyone. There will always be something that just pops up out of nowhere. Whether it's a fall and a quick trip to the ER, a day filled with appointments, the dog got loose, somebody forgot to tell you they need a white 3 ring binder with pockets on the inside and a black lead pencil by tomorrow and you live 30 miles from the closest store, something always pops up. This always makes it hard to plan and get everything done when it needs to be done. 

It seems that every time I wake up, something new happens that has never happened before and you just have no choice but to make it work somehow. That's just life and I wouldn't change it for the world! But, there are times I feel like ripping all of my hair out of my head! This is where some aromatherapy, an entire pot of coffee, or whatever it is that you do to help yourself relax would come in handy. Much like the above dilemma, I don't have an answer for you. Other than to find somebody to be on call or go through the steps in the previous section, you just have to deal with it, accept it, and learn to love it. Running a business is tough but it can still be so rewarding! (Always remember that because sometimes, that is all you have to get you through!) 

Technical Issues

I know I already touched on this earlier but, this is an important part of blogging. You're going to have to learn a little bit so you can fix some of your own problems. I usually try to read up on everything when I see something new about SEO or any guides I find about how to do well, pretty much anything. I'm a big fan of eBooks and how to guides. 

When an expert writes an eBook on how to better organize your blog or how to use plugins, I'm there! If you haven't already had any concerns about whatever it may be about, you probably will in the future. So, go ahead and download until your heart's content! You may be relieved one day in the near future! 

I like to try my best to remain positive and to understand that I can't possibly do it all. One thing that really helps is when I find somebody like, Grace Lever reviews, who is a positive role model for many female entrepreneurs. 

You could always network and find somebody to barter with or somebody to hire to be on call for tech support. Commenting on other blogs, sharing some posts, Retweeting, these are all ways to find some good, trustworthy blogger friends. Besides, we should all be supporting each other out here! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Honor Of Natalie Wood

This is a new fragrance collection in honor of Natalie Wood. (I haven't tried this yet but, I am anxious to!)

Click here to try this new fragrance and don't forget to use code: 10OFFNF for 10%!

I would love to know what you think!