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    Planning for 2017

    Three weeks into 2017 and I’m ready to share my planner set-up for this year (so far). I’d like to say that these three weeks have flown by, but seriously it feels like we’re on day 100 of 2017 not day 21. That’s not to say it’s been a bad start to the year – I’ve actually had a pleasantly good year so far – it’s just dragged. (Might be because payday is still a week away…)

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I was in two minds about restarting a planner set up for this year because I simply wasn’t utilising it enough to be worth it before Christmas. Something wasn’t clicking and I just rarely looked inside the planner. I figured that a bit of a change around would either reignite my love for planning and writing things down, or it would prove that I just didn’t really need it any more. So, 21 days in…

    It’s getting a lot more use than last year, so that’s a positive. I’ve started tracking different things, things that I know are useful and will keep me writing them. The bullet journal idea is still very much incorporated into my planning format, and it’s working really well. So my tabs include: Diary, for all weeklies/planning pages; Misc, for all collection style things; Lists, obvious really; Lang, because I want to start back my Spanish learning; Notes, just for random notes. Simple is the key.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The diary section starts with a year on two pages spread, just for future planning. It currently lists my birthday, races planned and holidays booked. Then we’re straight into the weekly pages. I designed my own as usual, and have kept it fairly similar to last years. The schedule on the left page just acts as a place to list my work shifts and any other things I may do. The addition on the right is for my fitness tracking. Being able to write a good amount of info about daily work outs is great, and it’s easy to see how I’m progressing each week, how little/much I’ve done etc.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    In my Misc section I currently have a few different things. There’s a half marathon running plan (which you can see below), a page ready for listing all the races I complete, notes on good lower half exercises, a page with the Marvel film timeline (because I want to try watch them all) and a few blogging ideas. So it’s a little random, but that’s what I wanted. Just a place to keep long-term lists/notes.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Lists section has in a few lists already like things to watch, restaurants to try etc. This is the messier listing section, for those that I don’t really need to look at very often and don’t need to go into the collections section. It makes sense to me.

    The Lang section is pretty much empty at the moment. It just has a page with the days/months/numbers in. Same for the Notes section, not really used yet. I don’t know whether I’ll keep this one – will have to see how used it gets!

    Lastly, you’ll notice there are two extra tabs… They’re not really in use, but I do have one thing behind the first tab. It’s a place where I can write down any personal earnings for this year – as in, blog earnings and the like, not job earnings. I created a little card cover thing so that you can’t actually see any information until you open the rings and open the covering. Makes things nice and private and was easy to do. I mean obviously it can be easily opened, but information won’t be visible to those just flicking through. You could use this for all sorts.

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Planning for 2017 | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    So far this is working for me and I’m actually opening my planner to see what’s going on. I think incorporating most of my blog/fitness information into the one planner is definitely helping – last year I used a separate blog planner and whilst it was great, I think that’s why my regular planner got forgotten. It’s just easier to have everything together.

    Are you using a planner this year?

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    Crafting

    Handmade Ideas: Oh Happy Day Card Kit*

    Last year I was really into creating my scrapbook layouts and using smash books. This year I’ve fallen a bit behind, and though I’ve wanted to I just haven’t put the time aside to do it. I was contacted about the Stampin’ Up! UK ‘Oh Happy Day Card Kit‘* and I was super excited to try it out.

    Handmade Ideas: Oh Happy Day Card Kit* | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Going to a shop and buying a card is all too easy. We all do it, I’m not going to pretend I don’t, but it’s not as special as creating a handmade card right? It just seems time consuming and probably too creative to some. Where would you get the ideas?! I’ve never actually delved into the world of card making myself, so I was impressed to see that you can get kits with everything cut out, designed and included.

    Oh Happy Day Card Kit

    Opening the box you see a stamping kit and lots of different pieces of card, envelopes, pre-cut shapes, string and instructions. The kit is £31.50 but includes enough stuff to make 20 different cards. Cards ranging from thank you messages, loving, birthday, parties and friends. The instructions are easy to follow and it’s pretty much a case of looking at the photo, finding the corresponding shapes in the pack and sticking it all together! Simple.

    Handmade Ideas: Oh Happy Day Card Kit* | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I decided to try two out and went for different sized cards to see how they looked. All of the card included feels of super high quality and some of the design shapes – like the green heart on the right – were made out of wood to add that extra texture! I was really impressed with the kit overall.

    One thing though, I could not for the life of me get into that ink. I just couldn’t open it! Probably me just being weak after arm day at the gym but I gave up and used my own black ink in the end. Seriously when I was looking back at the video I did I must have spent around 5 minutes just trying to open that little ink box!

    Handmade Ideas: Oh Happy Day Card Kit* | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Stampin’ Up! UK craft products, projects and kits can only be bought online or through independent sales consultants in a variety of countries. Sadly not in any stores! There are a few different kits you can try out, especially good for getting children into crafting! At £31.50 this may seem pricey to some (if you’ve never delved into the world of handmade crafting!) but like I said before it does make 20 cards and if you want to try card making without the fuss of designing your own this is the kit for you.

    Here’s a sped up video of me making the cards… Not done one of these in a while! Sorry it has no music…

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    *Items in this post were sent for review, but as always I would not include something I wouldn’t use myself and all opinions are my own.

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    Creative, Organisation, Stationery, Tips & Tricks

    Washi Tape Hack for Bullet Journals and Planning

    Are all you bloggers still using your bullet journals? If you are, I have a little tip to make planning and finding things just that little bit easier. I’ve been using this system all year for my blog planner, and I love the way it looks.

    Washi Tape Hack for Bullet Journals and Planning | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    How To Use Washi Tape Effectively in your Bullet Journal

    All you need is a roll of washi tape (or two, or three, or ten…) and your planner. Instead of constantly skimming through your notebook to find which section you want, or using a lot of different bookmarks and making the notebook bulky, washi tape can be used as an easy place marker.

    I have my blog planner set out with monthly sections, and random collections in between. To make it easier to find each monthly section, I’ve simply taken the title page and stuck a piece of washi tape along the top edge. You could use any designs here – maybe a different tape for each month – but I’ve just used this blue one on every month so far. I like the uniformity. You can see in the top image that the tape really stands out against the blank pages, making the months easy to find.

    This does add a little bulk to the notebook because the washi tape is in the same place on every page it’s used on, but it really is minimal compared to using a lot of actual bookmarks or clips along the edges.

    Washi Tape Hack for Bullet Journals and Planning | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Then, using the same technique, I’ve just placed a few pieces of different washi tape along the edges of certain pages. These include my blog stats, idea pages, books read, and random notes. It means I can quickly check an ideas page, or jot down some stats without having to leaf through every page. As bullet journals are pretty much organised chaos by design it just makes life easier.

    These ones I place randomly (you can just about see on so the first photo) because it just means they’re easier to spot. I’ve used the blue sky washi tape for any ideas pages, a dark green for my books read and there’s a couple of peachy colour ones for my stats pages.

    Washi Tape Hack for Bullet Journals and Planning | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    If you feel like you need a little more organisation in your bullet journal, give it a go! And let me know if you have any other tips like this – I’d love to hear more ideas!

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    Photography, Tips & Tricks

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay

    Ah the flat lay. Everyone loves a good flat lay right? I don’t for one minute think myself as an expert on creating this style of photo, but I figured I’d try to give a few pointers and show my methods. Also, don’t you just love the quote below mixed with Jon Snow’s unhappy little face? I do.

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Photography is an art. Just having a ‘good camera’ will not get you good photos. Yes they may technically look good – meaning they’re in focus, they have good exposure, colours etc – but having an eye for composition and detail is what makes a great photo. You can’t just shoot photos without thinking and expect every single one to look good. Those instagrams with the perfect shots? It probably wasn’t the first snap, let’s be honest now!

    Anyway, hopefully these tips will give you a few more ideas of what to do with your photos and get a little more creativity in there.

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Backgrounds and props

    The background is arguably the most important thing there. It gives you a clear canvas to start rearranging your items in the flatlay. I personally like to keep my backgrounds as simple as possible. I mostly use a white wooden background that I have, but I do like a good dark wood too. Pretty blankets or bedding also work really great for this.

    Depending on what you’re actually taking a photo of, props are super useful to have. I keep a load of random bits and bobs in a little box within easy reach. Polaroids, prints, quote cards, ribbon, fabric, papers, trinkets etc. My advice? Save everything! Any tags, pretty packaging, notebooks, ornaments, flowers – pretty much anything can be used as a prop. Just make sure that what you’re throwing together looks cohesive.

    Have a theme

    Which brings me to this point – have a general theme in the photo. Whether that’s objects all relating to each other, the same colour, the same concept… Just make sure they fit together. There’s nothing stranger than seeing a flatlay with REALLY random objects on there. Like sports wear and then a book on gardening. Random.

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Get Above

    Yep. I usually take photos in my room for ease – it means I don’t have to drag everything out into another room in my house. The best lighting is obviously right in front of the window to get all that lovely natural light. My bed is in front of the window. This means I have to be a little creative. Most of the time I will lean over the side and try to get as above as possible, but sometimes I just need to stand on my bed. Like in the lovely post-gym selfie above. Excuse the mess, please. No, my bedding does not match. Bad blogger right? ;)

    Best results are really going to be taken using a tripod because then you can easily keep your camera in one place above the objects whilst you figure out the composition below. Effort though. Definitely make sure you’re taking the photo directly above the objects, and watch out for distortion from wide angled lenses.

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Spacing and layout

    This is the hardest thing to get right in my opinion, and honestly you just have to keep playing around and taking shots until the composition works. Generally, you need a main focus in there, but it doesn’t always have to be so. I like a mixture of flat lay styles. Sometimes I’ll go all out and include loads of little things and then others I’ll go very minimalist.

    The ‘Hello Spring’ photo is a prime example of the latter. I liked it because it reminded me of a scrapbook layout, and I just think it looks all neat! It’s a good blog post title photo. I used some patterned card stock, polaroid photos, bits of plant from the garden and a quote card.

    The photo below is one I was really happy with, as an example of a busier flat lay. I used lots of colour, I picked props that related to the main focus (the journals, right?) and I kept the composition balanced. Well, I think I did. In my opinion, angled items and things chopped out make a busy flat lay work. It views more like a table top then. ‘Artfully messy’

    The Art of Being Mindful | Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Small movements can really make a different in your photo. In the ones below, just a slight change in the background position, and with the order of the books, gives it a more balanced composition. Having the two books with text titles on the outside definitely looks more balanced, and I also think the lines leading into the books works better than just flat across. What do you think though?

    Tips on Creating a Flat Lay | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    To be honest, you’ve just got to keep practising and moving things around. The more you do it, the more you’ll recognise what shapes or colours work together. Like I said, photography is an art form. Always new things to learn and improve.

    Well, that’s my thoughts on the magic of flat laying. Are you a fan? Too much effort?

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    Crafting, Creative

    The Art of Being Mindful with Dreamday*

    So who jumped on the adult colouring book bandwagon when it got super popular? I sure did! Colouring in is a great way to de-stress, take some time away and create something pretty.

    The Art of Being Mindful | Dreamdays Journal | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

    Using colouring as a was to de-stress, help anxiety and as a form of escapism isn’t a new thing. This method has been gaining huge popularity in the last year, possibly a lot earlier actually, and is a simple way to help clear your mind. If you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know that actually colouring within the lines it quite the task… It takes concentration, and whilst focusing your mind on that it can’t think about all those other things worrying you.

    So yep, colouring books for adults aren’t a new concept. But, the Dreamday Pattern Journals* are just a little bit different. After saying how relaxing colouring is, I have to admit I am bad at taking that time away switching off from the internet, and sitting down to relax and colour. My colouring books stand forgotten on my bookshelf.

    The Dreamday Pattern Journal*…for writing, musing, drawing and doodling.

    Why do I think the Dreamday books will be different? Well they also include blank pages, meaning this is actually a notebook that has the added advantage of pages to colour. I’ve been given the Kyoto – Japanese and Marrakech – Moroccan style journals, each with illustrations inside that reflect the culture of that place. I like how each journal is based on a specific place – others in the series include Mid-Century Modern – Scandinavian style, Art Deco – Manhattan, Heraldic – Paris and Renaissance – Florence.

    Each book contains 108 pages, with 36 illustrations to colour in. There are some single pattern pages, some double pattern pages and then also some double blank pages. The ivory coloured paper feels really thick and luxurious, perfect in my opinion for a bit of artistic journaling. That’s exactly what I’d going to use mine for.

    The Art of Being Mindful | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Art of Being Mindful | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Art of Being Mindful | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The Art of Being Mindful | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I’ve been following people who do mixed media journalling on youtube for ages now, and it’s something I’ve wanted to try. I plan to use this book for my thoughts, my ideas, my plans, my drawing, my writing and basically anything that I just want to note down. It’s going to be a book I go to when I need to get away from things and escape reality. Lately I’ve been getting really anxious and not being able to shut my mind off so this is exactly what I need. First page done, and it kept my mind occupied on a lonely evening haha!

    The Art of Being Mindful | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I will definitely keep you guys updated on how these journals are doing. At around £10.95, I think these ones by Dreamday are a steal. You have the blank journal to do whatever you like, with the added extra of a few illustrations to give you something easy to put your mind to. I will obviously keep all the private things away from the blog, but there’ll also be a lot that I’ll share once I’ve started. I’m excited to really get going and let my creative side come free.

    Ever tried colouring books?

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    Stationery

    Birthday Giveaway: Stationery Bundle inc. Leuchtturm 1917

    I’ve been blogging for years now on this blog, but two years I ago I made the switch from wordpress to self-hosted, and Life of Kitty was officially born. Yep, two years since I really started to put more into blogging and interacting with all you awesome people!

    ———————————————————–

    In this time I’ve spoken to some lovely people and received amazing feedback and comments so it’s about time I gave a little something to you. First ever giveaway here! So, thanks to all my followers for a great two years and here’s to many more! I really do appreciate all the comments that I get, and all the interaction on twitter/instagram. Without you guys, I’m not sure I would have kept this up as consistently as I have. Doing something you are passionate about is even better when you have so many to share it with!

    I ran a couple of polls on twitter, and the majority said they would prefer something stationery related and either blue/green for the colours. Bullet journalling has gotten really popular over the past month or so, and with my many posts on blog planning and bullet journals I figured why not give you something so you can try it out? Of course, you can do whatever you decide with the prize, but I’ve set it up as kind of a starter pack.

    Birthday Giveaway

    You Can Win

    Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotted notebook in Azure
    Pack of Staedtler Fineliners
    Pencil Case
    Sticky notes and Stickers
    4 Rolls of Washi
    Bunny Push Pins

    How To Enter

    Use the Rafflecopter below to complete 1 mandatory entry, with the option to gain 6 more.

    Terms and Conditions

    One winner will receive a stationery bundle, as outlined above.
    Open to UK residents only, one entry per person.
    Giveaway ends Friday 24th June 2016 at midnight BST.

    No purchase necessary to enter or win. A winner will be randomly selected through the Rafflecopter widget on Friday 24th June at midnight BST, and will be contacted by 12pm Saturday 25th June 2016. If the winner does not respond by 12pm Saturday 2nd July 2016, a new draw will take place. I will need the full address of the winner when contacted so I can send out the prize. It will be sent out within 48 hours of contact.

    This contest is in no way sponsored or endorsed by any brands mentioned. If you have any questions, please send an email to katie_halsall@yahoo.co.uk with the subject title ‘Birthday Giveaway’.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Good luck!

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    Filofax, Organisation, Stationery

    Using The Bullet Journal Method With Filofax

    Okay so I’ve written variations of this post before (here & here) but this time it’s different. Oh yes, it’s different. Over the past few weeks, I haven’t really been using my Filofax for much. I just never made the time and didn’t have anything to add in besides my work hours. Then I watched Elelibee’s Bullet Journal Walk Through and it was like a switch had been flicked on in my brain.

    Using The Bullet Journal Method With Filofax | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    So basically, I’m taking all the things I like from the bullet journal and putting them into one page (or two, I guess) in my Filofax. My weekly pages weren’t getting filled, and I just couldn’t track everything I wanted. I also realised that I needed weekly to-dos more than daily as I was forever trying to fit things in and then not having the time. My weeks looked very much like they do in the photos in the second Bullet Journal post linked above. Note the tracker page? I wanted to use a tracker, but I was forever forgetting about it. Now I’ve got my weekly schedule, to-dos, tracker and space for random notes all easy to see at a glance.

    Using The Bullet Journal Method With Filofax | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Below you can see how I filled in last week. My weekly to-dos are very much following the bullet journal style. Coloured in when done, half coloured when started and I’ve actually migrated one too. The ! on the first task is because it’s important. Pretty self explanatory really. Then I have my schedule and all my work times in green, sticking to my colour code. Appointments still in pink, fitness in purple and any personal stuff in blue. It’s just a small section to write in my work hours mainly, but it’s all I need.

    On the right I’ve drawn a small tracker in, with the main things I want to keep track of at the moment. Not very much, but there’s still room to add more. I didn’t do too well last week did I? The notes section is for anything I need to remember – like my bank changing – or for things I’ve done, events that have happened. Oh and my notes about how to set up my new diary pages!

    Using The Bullet Journal Method With Filofax | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Using The Bullet Journal Method With Filofax | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    I’m only in my second week of using this kind of layout but I feel like it’s given my Filofax a whole new lease of life. It feels more natural to have my week like this, without really set guidelines on which day I’m on and what needs to be done today. With me sometimes only having one day off a week, the weekly to-dos are definitely working better. And I’m remembering to fill in my tracker – yes I really did just get that lazy towards the end of the week.

    This is working for me. I’ve got all the freedom of the bullet journal style, but still with all the freedom that the Filofax brings. I like the option to move pages around, and with a notebook you can’t do that. What about you?

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