10 Still Life and Flat Lay Tips

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Life and Flat Lay Tips

What’s one area you want to improve on this year? Mine is really simple and I talked about it last week: I want to get better at taking photos, especially still lifes and flat lays.

These compositions are a chance to tell a visual story. They’re an accessible way of sharing things I’m into while producing content for my blog and social accounts. Also, like many of you, I sit behind a computer all day so any chance I have to step away and get the creative juices flowing is an added bonus.

The thing is, my life is already packed with a lot of commitments and I am short on time for personal projects. But, instead of using that as an excuse, I started a project last year called Still Life Friday. Every Friday, I would set aside 15 minutes to share a new still life composition on Instagram, hashtagging it with #stilllifefriday.

Looking back, not every composition was amazing and I missed a week here and there. But overall, it accomplished the goal I had hoped for: to get better at working with what I already had around me, just for fun, without the pressure of client expectations.

What I’ve learned along the way is that when you keep goals bite-sized and focused, it’s more likely that you’ll follow through with them. There’s a reason why I set up Still Life Friday and not Still Life Daily: I wanted to give myself the highest possible chance for success.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Life and Flat Lay Tips

Today, we’re going to focus on 10 tips you can use to step up your still life compositions:

1. Pinpoint Your Style

It’s always easier to create an amazing composition if you can focus in on what you’re naturally drawn to. What gets you excited? If you need some ideas, follow some new accounts. I personally like MaeMae & Co., ban.do, Charli Burrowes, flatlays and flatlayforever. I’ve been collecting screenshots of ideas and keep them in a folder for when I’m feeling uninspired.

2. Get Consistent with Lighting and Surfaces

I take most of my photos during the morning to afternoon in my office, when the light is the brightest and least shadowy. I never use a flash, instead choosing a natural light source next to a window. For surfaces, I use my white glossy desktop or black or white tagboard when I need a larger area. You can pick this up at art supply and dollar stores.

3. Tell a Story

It’s always better if your still life has a focal point to build off of. What do you really want to share? Are you reading a book or magazine that’s inspiring you? Maybe you can add in glasses, a journal and your favorite pen. Did you just buy a new shade of lipstick? Add in a mirror, your compact and a fashion editorial with a makeup look you love. Did you just buy a rad pair of shoes? Lay them out alongside your ideal outfit.

4. Include a Natural Element

Still lifes feel more alive when you follow this tip. I tend to add plants like succulents or fresh cut flowers to most of my compositions. Crystals, sand, stones and leaves also work.

5. Add Some Shine

A little bling catches the eye. I am really big on brass accents right now for a subtle shine. I often use a brass pen, vases, scissors or clips to add warmth to my cool toned compositions. Mirrors, glitter paper, shiny gemstones and jewelry also work.

6. Focus on Color and Texture

One of the easiest ways to give your compositions a consistent appearance is to use objects in the same colors and textures. I focus on mostly black and white with plenty of dashes of green on my personal account. For texture, I stick with marble and brass. These create an on-brand look.

7. Keep It Simple

Less objects can actually be more compelling. Always place your favorite object first and build around it. White space allows the objects to breathe. I think of this step like a gallery wall. If you walk into a gallery and the walls are painted a dark color and crammed with artwork placed too close together, it’s visually overwhelming. If you instead walk into a space with artwork placed with plenty of distance between each piece on clean, white walls, there’s a better chance of you being able to focus on the details.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Life and Flat Lay Tips

8. Include Items You Love

I buy very little for my office space but what I do invest in has to be really special and work double duty. I have a wire inspiration board with copper clips I use to pin up new ideas that also doubles as a backdrop. I have a Moroccan pompom covered basket I use in a lot of Branch photos that also holds my extra chargers and cords. I have a collection of Chad Wys prints that cover my walls and often make their way into compositions. Surrounding yourself with items that you enjoy means that you’ll have more to pull from when putting together a photo.

9. Shoot In Bulk

If I create a composition I really like, I’ll shoot it, switch out a few key items, shoot again and get a few variations. These batched images are great to roll out when I’m having a slow content day or need something to stand in with a quote or story I want to share. They save time and since they were shot in the same lighting and style, they’ll be more consistent.

10. Set it Up

Have tools on-hand that can step in and give you the best results. Sometimes I use colorful washi tape to secure photos while also adding a pop of color. Sticky tack is great for holding round objects in place like pens and lipstick. Antibacterial wipes are perfect for quickly wiping down a surface so you can avoid bits of dirt and dust. Also, decide whether you’re going to use your phone or a camera — I personally use the Samsung NX500 for every photo I take because it’s higher quality. After I’ve taken a photo, I use the built-in wifi to email the photo to myself and edit with a combination of Color Story and VSCO.


I hope these tips help you take better still lifes and flat lays. Let me know if you have any questions or tips to add in the comments!

P.S. I try to post at least one new still life per week — if you’d like to follow along, my account is here.

The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

One of my big goals in 2017 is to get hyper-organized in all areas of my life, from client processes to the way I store my makeup to the tidiness of my closet.

The beauty of getting organized is that as you’re sorting, it becomes crystal clear what items no longer have a place in your life. If there isn’t room or it no longer serves a purpose, throw it out! There’s a sense of satisfaction in letting go and donating all that clutter.

I didn’t always have a walk-in closet. In fact, until a year ago, my clothing and accessories were confined to two side-by-side IKEA wardrobes because there wasn’t enough built-in closet space in my 1920s home to hold much of anything.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

My IKEA wardrobes made it easy to stay organized with add-in drawers and shoe racks and Joey took over the small closet in our room. This worked well….but there was an even better solution lurking in a drafty, bare raftered attic space tucked behind a door off to the side of our room. Most of the time, I forgot it was even there.

A few years earlier, Joey had spent a month remodeling it to use as an art studio, cutting odd-shaped drywall pieces to align with the peaked roof and angled beams. When that was done, he painted it out and added flooring. It was cozy but even in the center, the space wasn’t quite 6 feet tall so he had to duck inside and always sit on the floor to work. It wasn’t ideal for him but it was perfect for me since I’m 5 foot 3.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

The Tour

After Joey built out a new, roomier studio space in the basement, I took over the former attic area. In went more shelving, Cole and Sons woods wallpaper left over from our dining room, a fresh coat of white paint and rope lights, which snaked along the floor seams.

This once unused, dark space I always avoided slowly came to life and was now the perfect hangout for playing with new looks and getting dressed up!

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Once the space was cleaned up, we moved onto a solution for holding all my clothing. A lot of you ladies who have had clothing racks know that the cheaper store-bought ones tend to bow in the middle or come crashing down from too much weight (been there, done that!)

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

On the other hand, metal pipes can handle all those dresses! Joey built 3 clothing racks in total from supplies he found at the hardware store. They line up with the pitch of the ceiling. The center is taller and holds dresses, some of which are quite long while the left side holds skirts and coats and the right holds tops and sweaters.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Right by the entrance to the left, there are shallow built-in shelves which are perfect for holding clutches, sunglasses and shoes. The wallpaper behind them adds a nice pop of pattern.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Below those shallow shelves are the things I need to grab most often, tucked away in white wicker baskets from Target including underwear, bras and pajamas.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

A nail was added to the side so I could hang up a few smaller bags.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Behind that are beam supports that once left an open area of wasted space so Joey added a piece of wood as a base and then angled slats which make it possible to display more shoes. (In case you’re wondering: in a past life, I sold shoes for 5 years and the obsession rages on.)

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Along one side of the space is a very long, windowless area that’s much too narrow for furniture. This was by far the hardest part to figure out a solution for because we couldn’t have anything bulky along the walls.

It has a steep incline so we installed a long piece of wood from Home Depot along the entire length which makes it an ideal spot for more sunglasses, purses and jewelry.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Below the shelving is a row of identical IKEA white banker’s boxes which are used for storing purses, keepsakes and everything I want to keep but isn’t used regularly enough to have sitting out.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

On the right, we installed four round IKEA mirrors which create visual interest and reflect light.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Along the very back of this narrow area, Joey built in additional shelves which I use to hold the basics that don’t need to be hung up. I use them to store a stack of leggings (top), jeans (middle) and hats (bottom). On the floor, I have storage boxes for more bulky stuff (shoeboxes for designer items I want to keep) and on those rest clear plastic organizer trays for scarves, socks and tights, all arranged by color.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Closet Sources

• Round mirrors (similar), IKEA
White banker’s boxes, IKEA
• White wicker baskets (sold out), Target
• Clear jewelry and sock trays (similar), Target
Woods wallpaper, Cole and Son
Paper bags, Be-Poles
• Metal hangers (sold out but I love these from HAY), IKEA
White pendant light, IKEA
• Clothing rack piping and supplies, True Value
Rope lights, Home Depot

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

5 Organizing Tips

I have a few easy tips to help you stay organized once and for all:

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

1. Arrange your clothing first by type and then by color.

Think of it this way: if you’re looking for a shirt, you know where to focus and you tend to remember an item of clothing based on its color. I have a ton of dresses and if I’m in the mood for a pink one, I can quickly locate my options.

2. Store your less used items away.

Get rid of the clutter by buying up a bunch of boxes in the same color and style to create a sense of uniformity and clean lines while hiding those seasonal items and keepsakes. Out of sight, out of mind!

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

3. Roll your socks and tights.

These items get tangled and separated easily but if you’ve rolled them into trays, it’s easy to find a specific color and pattern quickly without ending up with the entire tray thrown onto the ground!

4. Use mirrors to create the illusion of more space.

My closet as a whole is a pretty decent side but the right side is very long, dark and narrow. Adding a row of mirrors creates a sense of depth and makes it feel slightly less claustrophobic.

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5. Wrangle odds and ends you don’t want to lose track of into bags.

I love Le Sac En Papier bags because they’re sturdy and stylish while hiding clutter. I have a ton of swimwear (I tend to travel to warm locales often) but don’t use it on a daily basis. The pieces all go in this bag so I can find them easily when packing.

Nubby Twiglet | The Closet Chronicles: A Tour Plus 5 Easy Organization Tips

Thanks for reading! It’s been pretty rewarding taking this once wasted space and transforming it something that I now use every day. With everything having a place, it’s less likely to get messy because I have no excuses.

Any questions about the space or organization? Let me know in the comments!

Creative Chronicles: Make The Time

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Make The Time For Creativity

How’s the new year treating you so far?

This year, I’m thinking beyond career goals because while those are great, it’s important to nurture personal interests as well.

A personal goal of mine is to get better at photography. I have no interest in doing it professionally but for as many photos as I share both here and on Instagram, I want to make my content the best it can be.

My dirty little secret is that even though I’ve been carrying a camera with me on a near-daily basis for the last 20+ years (I was always the person in school who took photos of all my friends and got doubles printed at the 1 hour developer to hand out), my process was very point-and-shoot. Capturing moments was more important than mastering the specific settings — and my camera was always set to auto.

Finally, on Saturday I blocked out an entire day to shoot new photos for Branch. I’ve never taken a full day off before to take photos — everything was always rushed. We had an ice storm and the sun was setting quickly. I had a few more flat lays to shoot but the lighting was overcast and shadowy. In desperation, I turned the camera settings to manual, adjusted the ISO and in that minute of fiddling, my photos got infinitely better.

The settings weren’t even that difficult to master — I’d just never given myself the time to explore them.

It’s a bit embarrassing to realize it took so little to make such a big improvement.

My suggestion for you is to think about what you want to master this year….and then actually give yourself the time to do it. No rushing. No set outcomes. Just pure exploration.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: not everything you do needs to have an outcome tied to business growth / money growth / more followers. Creativity, whether it’s nurturing your photography, art, design or writing can be done solely to fuel your soul, no audience necessary.

I’ve found that when you let up and remove the pressure, the outcome is so much better.

What’s your creative goal for 2017?

Goodbye, 2016, Hello 2017!

Nubby Twiglet | Goodbye, 2016, Hello 2017!

2016 was…intense.

While a year-end post has been on my mind for the last 2 weeks, I’ve had a hard time writing about it until today because I felt conflicted. When I get down to it, 2016 was a hugely positive year for me personally and I’m grateful for that…but it was also an incredibly difficult time for some of the people I’m closest with, not to mention an especially challenging time for the world.

Instead of doing the usual highlight-style recap, I’m switching it up with a mix of things I learned combined with changes I’m working on for the new year.

Let’s go!


1. AWARENESS

For me, 2016 was about awareness. It’s no longer okay to just hide in our little corners of the world. I found myself keeping better tabs of what was happening on a daily basis through the built-in news app on my iPhone, on Twitter, on the New York Times site and the Democracy Now! daily show. When I wasn’t doing that, I was watching history videos on Youtube and Amazon Prime and listening to stories on This American Life, which has years of archives. Public school glossed over a ton of subjects and I’m only now getting caught up on areas I missed. I’m looking forward to keeping this up in the new year.

2. CLEAN SLATE

Something I started this year and want to continue into 2017 is to clean out the clutter in my life. I’ve found that the more tidy my personal surroundings and digital digs are, the easier it is to concentrate. I’ve been using Unroll.me, a free service that makes it super easy to mass-unsubscribe from mailing lists and other items that clog my inbox. I also just deleted my Facebook Business page after being on the fence about it for ages. It feels so good to let go of things that no longer serve me.

3. REGULAR EXERCISE

I’m not as strong as I could be but exercising regularly has been something I’ve put off for years because all my clothes fit and I’ve never really struggled with my weight. Those two excuses have kept me from staying committed to anything and it’s a terrible mindset to have. At 35, it’s time to get myself on track. I’ve been following Kayla Itsines on Instagram and am joining her Sweat With Kayla app because 28 minute workouts are something that feels manageable. I’m ready.

4. SHARE MORE WORK

One area that suffered this year was taking the time to share my work. Graphic design fills up a big chunk of my day, yet I barely shared anything because I felt perpetually behind. Dozens of completed projects were simply delivered and then promptly dropped in the archives folder. That’s something I’m working on changing immediately and I’m back to blogging regularly on Branch, which I really enjoy doing.

Nubby Twiglet | Goodbye, 2016, Hello 2017!

5. KEEP IT LOCAL

While I’ve enjoyed traveling over the last 5 years, I definitely missed out on exploring all the great places in my hometown. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been making up for lost time by visiting NEVER Coffee Lab, the Russian tea service at The Heathman, Italian dinners at Pastini, baguettes and magazines at Oui Presse, drinks at Accanto, Chinese food at this amazingly decorated restaurant in Gresham, Mexican food at Nayar Taqueria….and probably a bunch more places I’m forgetting. 😉

6. ENCOURAGE CHANGE

This year, I was reminded of the obvious: the things I don’t agree with won’t just change on their own. Standing up is more important than ever and we can influence change through our daily interactions and decisions. I started donating to a few organizations I believe in and hope to continue to do so. I’m also getting better about speaking out when something doesn’t sit right with me. Going into 2017, I want to step it up and get more involved locally.

7. MORE ADVENTURES

Some of the best times I had this year were when I was traveling. I visited Palm Springs twice, Las Vegas twice, Miami once, New York three times, and London, Marrakech, Milan and the Amalfi Coast once. Those sometimes crazy adventures (all night pool parties, early morning walks along mountainside towns, windy boat rides) gave me the inspiration and drive to come home and work hard in-between. While I’m traveling less in 2017, the big trip I’m looking forward to includes a few weeks of exploring Italy and Morocco with my aunt Shannon. I’m excited to visit more museums and take things slower this time around.

8. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

My mantra is usually “work hard, play hard” but in 2017, I’m instead focusing on “quality over quantity” with everything I do. I’ve never felt good about rushing blog posts, client projects, conversations with friends or much of anything just to hit a so-called finish line. One of the first things I’m doing is going deeper in this space – less posts but more meaningful content. My Friday posts are condensing into a monthly review and longer link roundup. I want to use that time to instead share the content that’s been on my mind for ages that I never got round to. First up: a tour of my closet and how I keep it organized (which has only been on my list for a YEAR!)

9. MINDFUL PURCHASES

Did I need everything I bought this year? Not even close. Going forward, I want to work on buying less junk. I’ve been watching videos on minimalism and while that’s not exactly my lifestyle as a whole, I want to be more mindful about what I spend my money on. Over the holidays, I got a jump-start by spending Christmas with Joey cleaning out cupboards and closets, gathering bags of items for donations. That felt really good….and I want to keep the momentum.

Nubby Twiglet | Goodbye, 2016, Hello 2017!

Thanks for joining me in this space, whether you stop by regularly or occasionally. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to visit and wish you all the best for the new year. Let’s do this! —Shauna


Photos: Made U Look

Top 25 Posts of 2016

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

2016 has been a year of extremes – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

As another year comes to a close, I like to look back at it in two parts: the first is a collection of my favorite blog posts. Some got lost in the mix and deserve to be dusted off, while others have helpful advice I think you’ll enjoy…or are just fun to look at.

While this blog has always had an underlying creative focus with a special love of design, one subject doesn’t make up an entire person (or audience) so I’ve included a variety of posts below, from creative insights to personal stories to style to travel.

Let’s get started!

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

CREATIVE INSIGHTS

1. Do It For The Love
Not everything needs to be done for monetary gain or fame. Whatever happened to doing something purely because you love it?

2. External Validation and Remembering That You’re Good Enough
With so much time spent online these days, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeking external validation, which is a bottomless pit.

3. Show Up and Do the Work
There is no quick fix…the one way to get what you want out of life is to do the work.

4. Being Different Is Good
You’ll never stand out by following the crowd.

5. Give Yourself Time To Just…Be.
It’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out. The truth? Nobody really does.

6. 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio
Portfolios are never really done — here are some ideas to freshen yours up.

7. 5 Tips For Getting Comfortable With Staying No
Saying no is something I still struggle with! How about you?

8. Overcoming The Pull Between Creativity and Criticism
Criticism can make us feel small and stop sharing. Don’t give into the negativity.

9. What’s Your Story?
Tell your audience who you are and exactly what you stand for. They’ll respect you even more.

10. An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running a Creative Business
When I decided to build my own design studio from scratch, I had no idea what I was in for.

11. The Benefit of Longer Term Self-initiated Projects
Show potential clients what you’re capable of.

12. 10 Tips to Land Your Ideal Job
The perfect job doesn’t usually land in your lap but with some effort, you can make it happen.

13. 5 things To Share On Your Instagram Account
When you’re feeling stumped over what to share, these tips will get you going.

14. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number
People avoid doing all sorts of things because they feel too old. The truth is, your age is an asset.

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

PERSONAL STORIES

15. Cheers To 9 Years!
Blogging changed my life for the better. 9 years in, I’m still going!

16. Thoughts on Friendship
Friendship as an adult is harder than I remember it as a child. Here’s how I feel about the subject.

17. My Palm Springs Vow Renewal
Joey and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in our favorite home away from home!

18. Fear and The Mountain
My irrational fear is heights. Sometimes, you just have to climb the damn mountain.

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

TRAVEL

19. The Mini Guide to Marrakech
This Summer, I visited Marrakech for six wonderful days. Here’s a guide of what to see and do.

20. Out & About: Bar Luce
Wes Anderson designed this 50s-inspired pastel colored cafe in Milan. So magical!

21. What to See, Do and Eat in Palm Springs
My ultimate Palm Springs travel guide (and probably the most popular post this year).

22. New York City Guide: 20 Things To Do
Need some quick and easy ideas for your next visit to the Big Apple? I’ve got you covered!

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

FASHION & PERSONAL STYLE

23. Style Direction: Desert Rose
A rose-covered departure from my usual monochromatic style, shot in the middle of the Nevada desert.

24. What I Wore: Big Hats, Smokey Eyes and Leopard Print
An early Summer adventure with Made U Look (and my favorite style shoot of the year).

25. A Tattooed Dress In The Desert
Ah, the glorious beauty of Joshua Tree! I love that desert light.

Nubby Twiglet | Top 25 Posts of 2016

Enjoy — and I’ll be back later with a look back at the year.

Lots of love,
Shauna

The Week + Links: 12.17.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

Hello from a very snowy Portland! It’s slippery out there!

I’m so glad to be back home after a whirlwind trip to New York last week. Here’s what’s happening…

1. Hiya Tootsie! Feature: My friend and client Heather just interviewed me for her blog and she did such a good job with the post. Click through and show her some love! I admire Heather so much — she inspires women to chase their dreams and her personal story about how she transitioned from a missionary to full-time writer is so inspiring.

2. Gala Darling Website: I first met Gala 15 years ago on Live Journal, when she lived in new Zealand and we finally met in-person during a visit to New York in 2008. I started designing her websites, courses and product logos shortly after that and her evolution has been nothing short of amazing. To celebrate her 10 year blogging anniversary (!!!), we pushed her brand new site live yesterday — it’s so her!

3. Year-end Reflection: As December winds down, I always like to wrap up as many loose ends as possible. There are a lot of open projects over at Branch I need to finish, processes I need to rewrite, photos I need to take and design packages I need to rework. The last week before the new year is always quiet on the work front and even though I have a lot to get done, I also want to give myself plenty of time to just be and not stress about what’s next (see my previous post).

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

4. Time At Home: With all the bad weather we’ve been having, I’ve been going out a lot less which means more time around the house with Joey, Rocky and of course, Chubs, the real king of our household! He’s gotten so big (did you know he’s already 2 1/2 years old?!) and definitely ready for the cold Winter months! FYI: He rolls over like a dog and likes his big white belly scratched. Now you know!

5. Decor Obsessing: I always view the new year as a fresh start and as an opportunity to fix everything that hasn’t been working. Updating my surroundings always gets me into the zone. I like to rearrange my spaces, clean out closets and add a few fresh touches, especially those that help with organization. Things I’m really into right now: Le sac en paper (great for gathering up random rolls of wrapping paper and odds and ends) and CB2 (they’ve been killing it on the furniture and home accessories fronts lately).

6. Red Oaks: I don’t normally watch a lot of TV but with my recent Amazon Prime membership, I decided to dig into some of the original series they produced and am really into Red Oaks which is set in the mid-80s and follows a college student who gets a job at a country club in New Jersey. It’s what I imagine being a teenager during that time was like — and all the 80s decor I remember is spot-on. The ratings are ridiculously high for a reason — check it out and let me know what you think!

Stay warm, friends. xo

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE LINKS

• Promise shows us how to wrap gifts like a designer!

• It’s so hard to say goodbye to such an awesome First Lady. Four thank you notes to Michelle Obama.

• Instead of another gift guide, here’s a cause guide. Give the people you love gifts that actually make a difference at the same time.

5 steps to upselling your graphic design business — charge what you’re worth!

• This year, the leading U.S. fashion magazines had much more diversity on their covers. It’s about time!

• This is such a cool project! Do you have an undeveloped roll of film floating around? Now you can send it in to be developed for free thanks to Lost Rolls America!

What do you think about traveling alone? I don’t really enjoy it…and it sounds like I’m not alone in the feeling.

• If there’s someone on your Christmas list that’s impossible to shop for, here are some ideas.

• Use these tips to get more responses to your emails.

• Why are people in Denmark the happiest in the world?

• The Great American Word Mapper tracks the popularity of commonly used words across geographic areas in the US. Do you say dinner or supper? Soda or pop? A lot of your choices come down to where you’re located.

• National Geographic rounds up the best photos of 2016.

Give Yourself Time To Just…Be.

Nubby Twiglet | Give Yourself Time To Just…Be.

As the year winds down, things can feel extra stressful.

There are parties to attend, decorations to put up, gifts to buy….and very little time to just be.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on transitions in my business and pushing myself way too hard. And, the only person I have to blame is myself. Nobody is pushing me to be bigger and better and nobody is pushing you. Only you have the have the power to give yourself a break.

Over the weekend, I was at an apartment party in New York. Pretty soon, I looked at my phone and it was 3 am. And, you know what? As I looked around a living room crammed with 50 dancing people, not a single person had asked me for my Instagram handle, handed me a business card or pushed what they did on me. There was absolutely 0% networking and 100% fun.

It reminded me of parties I went to 15 years ago — there were no “social media personalities” and blogging was just something we did as a hobby. There was zero pressure to act a certain way or get that perfect Instagram-worthy photo-op.

Over the last week, I’ve been chatting with friends who are burnt out on the way things are being done. They are sick of internet marketing as we know it and tired of playing the game of pre-scheduling perfectly polished updates. I’m right there, too.

Instead of pretending that I have everything planned out with a list of lofty goals for the new year, I’d rather be honest with you — I don’t. Instead of pretending that I know exactly what I’m doing and scheduling out weeks of posts, I’d rather write posts like this one in real time, of current thoughts, from me to you.

What I’m saying is that really, it’s totally okay if you don’t have a plan. It’s okay if you’re not sure of what you want to do next. And it’s more than okay if you’re exploring and just taking a time out for yourself.

The end of the year is the perfect time to give yourself some space. This is a chance to reflect on how much you did get done (its probably more than you think) and not stress too much about where you’re going next.

Run your own race. Take the pressure off yourself because that’s when the really good stuff has time to simmer and happen.

For once, give yourself permission to just be in the moment.

Because you know what? It will all be okay.


Photo: Lydia Hudgens.