How to be a Successful Blogger with a Full Time job

brittanyMakes

Warning: this is a wordy post!

Having a career apart from the blog is something I don’t like to mention here often, as I feel it comes across as a complaint or an excuse that I can’t produce content at the same rate as other bloggers that don’t have careers or full time jobs. While that is my reality, what I realized very recently is you can still be successful as a blogger, or have a successful online voice, even if you’re unable to produce content on the daily. I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years now, and I figured I have a little nugget of encouragement I can share with folks who are thinking about starting a blog while balancing a day job.

eclectic seating | brittanyMakes

These are the 5 things I believe have been key contributors to the successes this blog has achieved:

Be authentic – Readers will be interested in reading about you, your personality, your spin on projects, your voice – not you pretending to be Martha Stewart or faking your way like you’re a design professional when you don’t have a client to call your own. I am really sensitive to authenticity, most readers (most other bloggers, honestly) can see right through a fake voice. Sure, some bloggers become success by the numbers while not being purely authentic, but honestly, it doesn’t last. I’ve seen some bloggers flame out because they couldn’t keep the charade going any longer. Basically, be you, and be proud to be you.

Be nice – This is totally the golden rule, treat others as you would want to be treated.  Folks don’t comment much on blog posts anymore, which is totally OK but as a blogger I know just how great it makes me feel when I receive a comment. I read each and every one, which leads me to believe that all other bloggers do too! If you want to grow your online presence and network, start by commenting on your favorite blogger’s posts. Interact with them on social media. Ask them questions that make them feel good, soon they will learn your name and click over to your blog, and hopefully find a friend in you. Most bloggers live, & love, to support each other. This is definitely a sure way to grow your network. Otherwise, how would other bloggers know who you are?

A hard and tragic lesson I learned his year is not everyone is capable of accepting someone’s kindness. I recently experienced this with a blogger I highly admire. I was always positive and encouraging in my comments. I connected with her style and even thought maybe one day we could be friends!  I look back now and laugh at how that sounds, but I still love her content and appreciate the way she paves a path in this space. Unfortunately she took me being nice as a threat, actually accused me of not being authentic and original, and even went to the extent to infer I must not know what I’m doing and needed to be taught a lesson.  Ridiculous, I know.

I still believe that being nice to others opens doors and generates friendships. I will continue to comment encouragingly, and work to build a network of bloggers that I can call my friends, and tell others that it’s one of the best pathways to growth.

DIY Copper Laptop Table | brittanyMakes

Be original – I’ll be the first to admit, my early days of blogging were testing out projects that I saw other folks do. Paint a piece of furniture with chalk paint? You got it! Refinish a table and blog about the steps as if you’re the only one on the planet who knows how to do it? You got it! I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, and learned from others and shared what I did without a thought of originality. It didn’t take much time to realize in order to stand out amongst the crowd, I had to develop original projects and tutorials that folks hadn’t seen anywhere else. It still took me a LOT of time to grow into my personal aesthetic, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what that is from go.

Authenticity and originality go hand in hand. You can’t be authentic if you’re not sharing original ideas and projects.

Don’t apologize – This one is tough. I used to be the type to overly apologize for things that I shouldn’t apologize for, for an error someone else made, for an awkward conversation, for my house being untidy. I realized in my late 20’s that I was beginning to not be perceived as an expert in my line of work, or being taken seriously. Sadly, being overly apologetic is actually known for being a female trait. I think it’s important not to apologize for things that you shouldn’t apologize for.

When it comes to the blog, if you haven’t posted for a week, don’t apologize! You don’t need to say sorry if you’re life prevents you from posting on your blog. Just pick up where you left off! If someone asks you why you haven’t posted, be confident and tell them the truth – sometimes life gets in the way. If you have a career, like I do, you’re providing for your family and that shit takes precedence. Trust me, your readers will understand without any explanation.

I like to think of apologizing and confidence as having an inverse relationship. The less you apologize, the more confident you become, and the more confident you are, the more people will trust you and look to you for guidance and expertise. Success is built on confidence, not apologies.

Know your limits & your boundaries – In the beginning of my blogging career, I thought success meant sponsored content. Of course it feels amazing when a brand you love wants to sponsor a post on your blog, and if you get big shot brands it makes you look wildly successful in the eyes of your peers and readers. But honestly, having purely sponsored content isn’t the end all for success anymore. Nowadays, many brands, even well known ones, take complete advantage of bloggers and ask them to essentially work for free. We could dedicate a weeks worth of posts on this topic, but bottom line don’t work for free if you feel you should receive compensation for your work. Placing a dollar value on your time is a line you’ll have to draw at one point or another.

For the longest time I was also terrified of declining a proposal for a sponsored post, thinking I should never say no. Once I started receiving requests from random companies to blog on topics completely irrelevant to the blog, I knew I had to start saying “no thanks”.  I started setting more boundaries and limits to what kind of content I wrote about here on the blog. I was already battling the challenge of carving out enough time in the week to generate content for the blog, why would I waste it on content that doesn’t represent me or my voice or my style? I don’t remember exactly when it was, but there was a distinct moment I decided that from that point forward everything I post on my blog and on social media, sponsored or not, was going to be content I generated myself, rooms I made over myself, photos I took myself, DIY projects I created myself, etc. If the sponsor fit my design aesthetic, my project pipeline, my values, I would engage with them. I would rather not post for a day than post something irrelevant to the blog. This is perhaps the biggest limit or boundary I’ve set for myself and this blog, but at the end of the day I want my blog to be 100% me.

brittanyMakes

What I found over years of reading hundreds of blogs is, my most favorite bloggers to follow are 100% authentic, true to themselves, don’t pretend to be someone they’re not. They’re nice to others and supportive in this community. They create & share original content. Best of all, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s characteristics like these that make a blogger wildly successful.

I’m fast approaching my 5 year blogging anniversary, which is just a month away. Maybe it’s this milestone number, but I had started feeling insecure or doubtful about my online presence, like I hadn’t grown enough during these 5 years. It’s actually really stupid to feel that way, because earlier this year the blog was named by Domino as one of the top design blogs to follow. Also, our kitchen made it into print for the first time, April’s publication of Good Housekeeping! I might not have a husband who knows how to frame houses and reroute plumbing, or a studio space to house all my inventory (I store all my inventory in my garage! It totally pleases my husband, #not), but I think I am successful in my own way, and honestly that’s something to be proud of.

LoveB

Black & White Buffalo Check Chairs

Remember these chairs? Woof.

It’s really difficult to visualize the potential of a piece of furniture when they look like this.

mid century accent chairs | brittanyMakes

After over a year of hoarding them, I finally saved up my pennies to get them professionally reupholstered. I’ve upholstered things myself, always thinking, ‘man, I do a pretty good job!’ It wasn’t until I paid for professional upholstery that I now think my work is laughable… about downright embarrassing. I don’t have the patience, the finesse, the nimble fingers, or the tools to do as good of a job as a professional. I mean, just look at them now –

Black & White Buffalo Check Chairs // brittanyMakes

You just did a double-take, didn’t you? Oh boy, do I love them! I’ve wanted a pair of the Schoolhouse Electric Jack chairs for a while, but they’re SO much money. I bought 14 yards of fabric and paid for two chairs professionally upholstered for less money than one of the Jack chairs.

I learned a couple things along the way, seeing as this was my first professional upholstery experience – I must share with you how it went.

First, I scoured the internets for upholstery weight buffalo check fabric. It took a lot of searching, I wanted something as close to the Jack chair as possible. There are a LOT of versions of the buffalo check, but I wanted something that looked authentic, wool-like, and most original, and not a hundred dollars a yard. I found the P Kaufmann Checkmate from Decorative Fabrics Direct, ordered a few samples, then ordered the recommended yardage from my upholsterer.

Black & White Buffalo Check Chairs // brittanyMakes

I emailed photos of the Jack chair to my upholsterer so he would have an electronic copy to reference when he got to my chairs. I also printed out two copies and brought them with me when I took the chairs to the upholstery shop. I know the guy is a professional, and he can probably spot the best way to do things when upholstering an chair, but I made sure to point out some of the elements of the Jack chair that I wanted replicated on my chairs. For starters, I wanted the black check to be positioned on the top of the arms.

Black & White Buffalo Check Chairs // brittanyMakes

The second thing I pointed out were the buttons. I did not like the original buttons, count and placement. I asked that he put six buttons, three on top and three on bottom. The backs of my chairs are higher than the Jack chair, six buttons just suits the chair better. What I didn’t mention is, I would have liked all the buttons to be alternating in color to the checks they sit in.  They don’t look bad, but I think the black buttons get lost in the black check.

Black & White Buffalo Check Chairs // brittanyMakes

The last thing I mentioned, was, along with the tops of the arms, I liked the look how the black check helps frame out the front of the chair. The Jack chair has a much darker check, so it’s a little more prominent than my chairs, but you can certainly see how the black helps frame out the top of the cushion and the bottom of the chair. I like it.

I’m naturally a pretty direct person when it comes to how I like things, so I wasn’t afraid to point out some of these elements that I wanted in the finished product. It beats having a discussion later over something you might not have liked, and end up leaving with a negative experience or settling for something that you’re not happy with. I’m the sort to think, If I’m paying this much money for something, I better get what I want! In order to do that, however, you gotta communicate some things, even if the professional already knows it should be that way.

Overall, I am thrilled with how they turned out! Money well spent! As much as it hurt to swipe payment, it honestly was completely worth every penny, and I will absolutely do it again.

If you’re in the area, I went to Discount Upholstery in Concord. Bruce is the man!

Sources: Chairs – vintage, fabric, brass log holder (etsy)

LoveB

 

 

The routine I never knew I needed

 

morning exercise routine essentials // brittanyMakes

ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // FIVE // SIX // SEVEN

I used to be a runner, did you know?? Half marathons were my thing. Then… I got pregnant and had a kid and now I’m a full time working mom with a 3 hour round-trip commute. Cue the music! But seriously, it’s a tough gig! Finding time to exercise has been SO difficult, especially considering I would have to give up the time I spend with my kid to exercise. Part of me I felt super guilty about any time I chose to work out over spend time with Zano, while the other part of me feels depressed and bummed out about turning ‘soft’. Is it so much to ask to fit into my pre pregnancy jeans?!

I started talking to some other working moms who seem to have their sh*t together, and spotted a common theme. They all wake up early (like 4-5 am early!!!) and do their exercises before the kids wake up, before breakfast, before traffic, before work… I was fully convinced I could never be a ‘super early’ morning person. Waking up before 7 am requires a bit of effort. BUT! I was determined, adamant actually, to change my routine so that I could squeeze in a workout before I actually start my day.

I read somewhere that someone said – if there’s something you want to do today, and doesn’t happen before 10 am, chances are it’s not going to happen.

It’s so true! How many times have I pushed off the day’s workout into the evening and ended up bailing on myself because ‘I had a long day’ or ‘I’m tired’.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is, it’s officially been a full (work) week of me successfully waking up before 5:30 and squeezing in a workout before the day starts. I realize I might still be in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of this new routine, but I can’t tell you how emotionally pleased I feel. I feel energetic, happy, and best of all, guilt free! I can chill with my son in the evenings without feeling down on myself for not having exercised that day

I made some huge changes to my morning routine. I started putting my alarm in the kitchen, so that I have to exit my room and walk to the kitchen to turn it off. It helps me wake up!  I also started setting up my workout station & gear before going to bed so I don’t have to think very much when I get up. I also made a point to get the appropriate training shoes. I’ve only owned running shoes, but come to find out running shoes are not good for your form when lunging and jumping and doing other cross training exercises. OH, and it doesn’t hurt that I found the cutest sports bra ever! I took advantage of the Labor Day sales 🙂

I’ve done the P90X workout routines in the past, my husband actually lost over 60 lbs doing the first installment. My biggest complaint has always been they’re such a time commitment. I’m not quite ready to do a 60 minute workout in the morning, but I can do a 30-40 minute routine! I’ve started the P90X3 series. I’m not super strict on the workout schedule and diet yet, and who knows if I’ll get there, but I do really like the workout routines. My abs and butt are totally sore! And just so you know, this isn’t a sponsored post, and in case you wanted to know, yoga is hands down my favorite routine in all 3 of the P90X installments.

I still run on the weekends. I found a jogging stroller on Craigslist and have been pushing the stroller while I run. It’s so heavy and hard!

Now that I’ve put it out there for all to see, it’s your turn to tell me how you all do it! I’m committed to this new routine, and hope I stay diligent in becoming a super early morning person!

LoveB

 

Life lately!

Hello, hello! I’ve let a few too many days pass since the last post, sorry! It’s been an interesting last few months. Some of you who have been reading for a while know I’m a financial accountant in my day job (it’s as cool as it sounds). Well.. this past spring I was promoted to Controller (yay me!) and somehow my workload tripled and all my free time disappeared. The blog is taking the brunt of the suffering, which is in no way intentional. The hour or two I have each evening after the kiddo goes to bed, I’ve been working on a very exciting new venture: an online vintage rug & textile shop!

Vintage African Indigo pillow

sneak peek!

(pardon the crappy iPhone pic)

I have a few more very important things to do before launching, but if I were to ballpark a launch date (since everyone seems to ask!), it will most likely be 4-6 weeks from now.  Starting a biz on your own dime is no joke, it takes time and patience! So, thank you for being patient with me, and I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!

Some other super fun updates – we had another bathroom mirror setback. I don’t know why this mirror became such a giant ordeal. I’ll have the full story for you soon, and I’ve been told it’s definitely being installed this week.  I’m so over it.

On a brighter note, we’re teaching Zano how to play bocce ball!

backyard bocce

 

Italians start ’em young 🙂 PS: how adorable are his sandals!

LoveB

Lettuce!

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve been sick more times than I can count this winter. It must be that baby of mine! The germ swap at daycare is no joke.  It took four consecutive colds before I finally found a simple solution to boost my immune system: burgundy lettuce!

Burgundy Lettuce | brittanyMakes

Trying to stay healthy during the winter is super tough. Its difficult finding the motivation to make salads or juice fruits and veggies since for some reason I mentally associate crisp fresh foods with warmer months.  Tell me I’m not the only one who connotates summer with healthy fruits and veggies and winter with hearty foods like mac n’ cheese or stews? I decided to evaluate my diet and realized I wasn’t incorporating as many healthy veggies as I should to keep my body

My husband’s best friend works for Coastline Family Farms in Central Cali, and after complaining to him about how frequently I was getting sick, he recommended I try juicing Burgundy lettuce, specifically Nutraleaf lettuce that Coastline Family Farms grows themselves.  This lettuce is like a power food, it is full of vitamin C and contains more antioxidants than blueberries! He recommended juicing it along with my favorite fruits and veggies to pack an incredible amount of nutrients into my meal. It’s not curing the common cold or anything, but it’s definitely going to give my body the boost it needs.

Burgundy Lettuce | brittanyMakes

As you know I don’t normally write about food here, but I wanted to share this little tidbit since it was the first time I ever tried Nutraleaf lettuce.  I first juiced the lettuce on it’s own, it’s not too bitter, just the perfect balance of sweetness.  I love making green smoothies too, and if you have a powerful blender like a Vitamix or a Ninja, this lettuce will puree right up! I believe specialty grocery stores are selling Nutraleaf, and Safeway too? I’ll have to confirm with my husband’s bestie.

Since I’m still on the mend from my latest cold and I could use all the advice I can get! Do you folks have any tricks? What tips can you share on staying healthy during cold and flu season?

PS! FRIDAY!!! Get your eyes back here Friday for quite possibly the best announcement of my life.

LoveB

This Year is my Year

I took a minute to read over my resolutions from last year… then I laughed for like a minute, ha! Last year my resolutions were ambitious and challenging for where I was in my life. Prime example: I resolved to put my clothes away on the daily, while pregnant no less! How did I fare? I probably lasted two months, tops, aaaaaaand I’m back to my old habits again. Ugh. What can I do? My husband and I share a tiny closet! I’m super short and can’t reach the top shelf to put my sweatshirts away. Is it normal not to put your clothes away every day? Should I not worry about this? I kind of feel like a failure.

Olive the Frenchie | brittanyMakes

What about the other resolutions? Well, we did get another Frenchie, just two weeks before I had baby Zano (puppy and baby?! Apparently I was very ambitious in my 9-month pregnant state). We bought a house, which wasn’t originally in the plan, and deciding to start work on the house aided in the decision to go back to work, so yes I am a mom but no I am not ‘stay-at-home’ as I thought I would be. But that’s OK, the baby gets to hang out all day with the sweetest daycare lady and 2 other kiddos his age. He’s getting socialized and I’m bringing in the bacon. #yay

Back to my goals and resolutions for the new year – my first resolution? SKILLS! Here’s where I tell you a negative that’s actually probably a positive but spin it so it looks like I have something I need to work on.  In all seriousness, I’d like to be less of an A.D.D. cat and harness my weird and broad range of skills and try to focus on perfecting a handful of them. I’m a victim of the DIY plague, where I think I can do everything myself, sometimes it works out for me but most times it just makes me feel scatterbrained as I jump from one thing to the next on any given day.  I’m resolving to focus on strengthening a few of my favorite skills, like photography, sewing, crafting and the like. I want to reallocate the time I spend on things that I’m not so skilled at and instead invest that time on perfecting those I like to do the most.  What does this mean? It means I probably won’t DIY everything.

kitchen reno

Some house goals for the year include: get new flooring (!!), turn our sun room into an entertaining space rather than a catch-all eyesore, and it might be wishful thinking but I’d like to upgrade our fireplace situation. It’s visually unobtrusive, but it’s meh.

And finally! The big kahuna goal of mine this year is: get uncomfortable! One thing’s for sure, this year is MY year. I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years, and for the most part I’ve always been in some sort of transitional period in my life: moving (3 times), engagement, wedding, pregnancy, saving money, etc.  This transitional feeling has prevented me from taking any risks with this blog biz. I knew my foundation was always changing, and I became too comfortable moving at a slow pace. I’m finally in a good groove at home, my mom duties, work, and house duties are balancing nicely, and I’m ready to jump head first into the deep end! I’d love to share specifics with you now, but for the sake of THE JINX I’m going to keep things simple and somewhat overarching-ly vague. For those of you who are struggling, or feel like you’re not quite where you want to be, just know this: hard work pays off! Keep at it! Don’t compare your timeline to others, keep doing your thing and everything will fall into place as it should.

Now tell me, are you doing anything risky this year? What goals have you set for 2015 that will be challenging to reach? What do you do if you catch yourself getting too comfortable?

Baby Zano

 

I’ll leave you with a very cute picture of my son, Zano, who clearly should have been the next Gerber baby 😉

LoveB

A Space to Stay Creative

Hello! Happy Thursday! We’re almost to the weekend, woohoo!

First, I wanted to let you know you can find me and 4 other bloggers over at Porch today! We’re each sharing what we feel to be the best DIY project to tackle first this year.

What’s Porch, you ask? Well, imagine you bred the inspiration you get from Pinterest with the network of thousands of home improvement professionals, this would certainly birth a beautiful creature, kinda like Rooney Mara, interesting looking with the Dragon Tattoo bangs, yet still so beautiful.  Porch is literally a home improvement network on steroids. Porch is where homeowners sync up, meet professionals, get inspired by others, and overall just have a blast managing their homes.

DIYprojectsNYarticleimage

Porch is “with it”, folks. They know this home decor blog niche is where it’s at! They’re keeping their finger on the pulse by reaching out to a few bloggers and asking what it is we feel we need to accomplish this year. They’re aware of our super powers, it’s validating 😛 Of course there are countless projects we could start on for the new year, and I’m sure we each have a different idea as to what the best project is for each of us. For me? It’s about time I find myself a home office space.

bedroom office inspiration | brittanyMakes

I’m sure you feel it. I know I feel it. Without fail, the beginning of the year always marks the time to start fresh.  Brand new. Clean slate. Clean sheets. Clean toilet bowl. Dust free surfaces. You know what I’m talking about. It’s time to start something new.

I am always the most inspired at the beginning of the year, with new ideas swirling around my head, I realized recently I really, really, needed a dedicated space to jot down new ideas; a space to stay organized and stay inspired. I’ve learned over the years if I don’t designate a space to unload my creativity, I soon get overwhelmed and lose inspiration due to disorganization and not knowing what project to start when, etc. This year I’m getting started on the right foot and prioritizing a little home office space of my own.

bedroom office inspiration | brittanyMakes

bedroom office inspiration | brittanyMakes

We have a small two bedroom house (our perfect starter home!) so there’s not much extra space available for a designated office.  At the moment, my husband is utilizing a small nook in our living room as his home office (it’s not pretty at all, I’ll spare you photos.. for now). I wasn’t left with much option besides a once empty corner in our bedroom (see the before here). It actually worked out perfectly if I think about it. I was already hoarding a beautiful West Elm mirrored Parson’s desk (which I scored on CraigsList for $100, brand new!). I shimmied the desk beside our bed, it fit perfectly! I now have a designated spot to retreat to after a long day at work, and naturally it doubles as my bedside table. Our bed is a little on the tall side (do you like tall beds? I love tall beds!) so it’s super nice having something at pillow level, rather than a normal height nightstand which you’d have to lean down to reach anything.

So, this is the part in the post where I encourage conversation. But I’m actually really curious! What is your first DIY to tackle (or already tackled) for the new year? Is it something big? A bathroom reno perhaps? How will this project set you up for the rest of 2015?

Check out the post on Porch today, see what others are saying about their first DIY of the new year.

OH! Last thing I promise. This Saturday I’ll be taking over Porch’s Instagram account for the whole day! Follow Porch now so you don’t miss a thing! (they’re @porchdotcom on Instagram)

LoveB

My Camera Equipment

Hello! I’m going to touch on a subject today that I’ve never talked about before – my camera equipment.  Shocking! I know! I feel like camera talk and photo tips has become some big secret in blog land, like 3 or so years ago we were all talking about it, all teaching each other new tips and tricks. It was great! But now it’s either old hat – someone already talked about this already – or we’re all so focused on our own photography skills we don’t stop to think about other folks who might just be getting started. Just an observation of mine.

Spoiler alert: I don’t have any crazy secret photography tips, it’s been a LOT of trial and error over the years. I am absolutely no pro with my camera so take all this with a grain of salt that what works for me might not be what works for you. OK? Let’s go!

I haven’t yet shared my goals for 2015 (more on that soon!) but one of them is to take better photos. I think I take OK photos, but what I mean by ‘better’ is take more well thought out, well planned photos. Since I have a day job (preparing financial statements, woohoo!) I find that I’m always chasing sunlight on the weekends. I get extremely caught up in the amount of light in a day, sometimes it causes arguments with the mister, sometimes it makes us late to dinner dates… I’m making a huge effort (starting now!) to better time manage, plan & set up my photos in advance, and overall just stress about it less. If I can’t get the picture taken for some reason, I have to let it go. It’s a juggling act of planning and time management; the more I plan ahead the happier we all will be.

Alrighty! Back to the equipment discussion. The other part of my “taking better photos” goal is to up the ante on my equipment. I actually have to thank Santa (aka my dad!) for this one. I asked Santa for a wide angle lens, and the little elves in the workshop delivered! What’s funny, I’ve only purchased one lens for myself (this one) the other two (which I’ll get to momentarily) my dad bought me! He’s so awesome! Thank you dad! If it weren’t for him I would be taking pictures with my crappy iPhone.

My first camera was a Nikon D3000. I have no preference between Canon or Nikon, I think we were in Costco one day and we just grabbed it. Let me tell you up front, soon after I purchased the camera I regretted not doing more research on what camera I actually needed. You may think all you need is an entry level DSLR to get your photo game rolling, but what you didn’t know is the lesser expensive camera bodies typically do not have auto focus motors, which means if you want specialty lenses, you have to seek out lenses with auto-focus motors built in (which are more expensive). A lot of legit lenses are manual focus (which most of the time means the lens will use the auto-focus motor in your body to function). Avoid the big old headache of spending more money on lenses for a lesser quality body and just get the better camera body.   Oh, and I recommend not buying a camera kit (the camera body + kit lens all-in-one package).  Kit lenses are junk. Buy the ‘body only’ on Amazon and the lenses you want separately. Trust me, once you get a specialty lens you’ll never use the kit lens again.

My camera

Nikon d7000

I had the D3000 for a year and upgraded to the D7000 (I think the D7100 is the most current body, same thing as mine just released a year or so later).  I love my camera! Is it the best camera out on the market? Heck no, but it’s fancy and does incredible (enough) things.

My go-to lens

Nikon 35mm

 

Every blogger will tell you to start out with a 50mm.  Now, I don’t disagree, but I will say if you’re going to listen to my advice and buy the body only, I say start out with the 35mm. This is the lens you will use all the time! Like the 50mm, the 35mm is a fixed focal distance lens (Macro lens), meaning it doesn’t zoom in or out, but the focal distance is actually much closer to reality than the 50mm. This lens offers practically the same minimum aperture to get those beauty shots with the ability to fit more in each photo. All of my kitchen photos were taken with a 35mm f1.8.

navy, white & brass kitchen // brittanyMakes Kitchen Reveal

My Beauty Lens

Nikon 50mm

I like to say the 50mm lens is every blogger’s secret weapon.  The 50mm f/1.8 is only like $100. I would absolutely recommend, if you can, to throw in a few extra bucks to get that f1.4. The wider the aperture, the better! But the f/1.8 will do the trick just fine.  Natural light photos turn out absolutely beautiful with this lens. The bokeh (the blur in the background) is so soft. It’s surprising what this inexpensive lens can do.  I will say, however, I only like to pull this lens out for specific shots: ‘beauty’ shots, tight shots, up close and personal shots with gorgeous blurring in the background.

brittanyMakes home office

My Wide Angle

Nikon Wide Angle

This is my new toy! I am so crazy excited about this lens. It’s an off-brand Nikon lens, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. You should know, there is a newer model of this lens, an AF-S lens (has an autofocus motor built in) but after digesting all the comments the autofocus motor in the new one falls just short of the object in focus, the ‘old’ model works with the motor in the camera body (which is more reliable anyway). So, better lens for a little less money!

Our house is a bit on the small side (thank you pricey California!) and I was having such a hard time really getting the full view of each room. Now that we’ve taken walls down in our living and dining room, I really needed a lens that would do the space justice. I’ve played around with this lens for about 2 weeks now and I absolutely love it. I can take pictures of my entire bathroom! My full bedroom! The baby’s room! All with minimal distortion. I hate seeing photos taken with wide angle lenses get all wonky in the corners. Here’s a picture of our kitchen with the wide angle:

brittanyMakes Kitchen

There you have it! Like I said, I honestly don’t have any secret game-changing tips on taking photos. There are a ton of photo advice blog posts out there.  I would be happy to share with you the ones I found useful and what my process is if you’re interested, just let me know! I just don’t want to bore you if you already know what you’re doing 🙂

LoveB

#babyzano

I know I know, I’m one of those moms who hashtag their kid.  Don’t judge me too hard.

#babyzano // brittanyMakes

 

It’s been a couple months since I posted a motherhood update.  Let me be very clear, I LOVE being a mom. I love seeing this little nugget’s face in the morning, all smiles and cheeks, so innocently joyful for no reason whatsoever.  My heart melts every day for this little kiddo. I can’t believe we created this little being, his little heart, his little lungs, his toothless grin, we created him and it blows. my. freakin. mind.

The first thing I tell couples who have no kids is this: there is absolutely nothing like the love you have for your child. There is nothing you can feel prior to having a kid that will compare. Nothing.

The other thing I tell couples is, as special and as extraordinary this love feels, it is SO common.  Every mother and every father feel the love of this magnitude for their children.  It baffles me that something that is so personal and so individualistic and so significant to us is commonplace.

Some other random tidbits I want to share now that I’m a mom:

  • I can’t stop buying baby clothes. Baby jeans, baby sweats, baby Christmas sweaters, baby bear claw slippers, baby hats. All this baby-wear is the new hoarding, and I might have a problem.
  • Every move he makes, every giggle, every fart, every roll, every wiggle, brings me blissful joy.
  • This book saved me
  • We’re officially sleep training as of last Friday.  Now, he’s always been a decent sleeper, and because of the book mentioned above, he’s literally like a clock for naps and feeding, but the last 4 weeks or so he developed a bad habit of waking up every 2 hours at night (I blame Thanksgiving), and of course I couldn’t help but run to the rescue when he woke up. But no more! I can happily say that during the last two nights he’s slept at least 8 hours straight.  SO! There is hope I will sleep again!
  • I haven’t gone for a run in like 2 months. I feel so gross.
  • Being a working mom sucks.  Some moms love it, I know, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do, besides childbirth.
  • I will look at pictures and videos of him while I’m at work, with a big fat grin on my face.  I will also show strangers and random coworkers pictures of Zano at any moment of awkward silence.  His cheeks are the best ice breaker.
  • I haven’t joined a mom group yet.  I had it in my mind that I would hang out more with friends that have babies of similar age, but they either live too far away, or are as equally consumed by juggling work and parenthood that we just can’t seem to find the time to hang.  Sometimes it makes me feel sad.
  • We’ve only been to the theaters once since the baby was born, and that was to see Interstellar
  • I am so fearful of having a second kid.  I worry that there’s no possible way I could love two kids the way I love one.  I know it’s an invalid thought, but it really worries me.
  • What is the best time to have kid #2?

This is pretty much the most random post ever.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! How did you feel when your first baby was 6 months old? How did you get the courage to have baby #2? What did you do to sleep train? What crazy things should I look out for in the next 6 months?

LoveB

Tour of the Blogosphere!

Perhaps the most invaluable perk about being a blogger is that we get the opportunity to meet likeminded folk from across the country and around the world that we otherwise wouldn’t ever get to meet.  Earlier this week, Jen, the blogger behind House of Wood (where she builds amazing pieces of furniture.. from scratch!) tagged me in a tour of the blogosphere post.  Jen said such nice things about brittanyMakes, sometimes I wallow in doubt over the projects or direction I’m headed, but when someone says such nice things it’s really heartwarming and validating and makes me feel like I do have an audience!

The way this tour works is, I answer 4 questions then list a couple blogs I follow and reasons why so that you fall in love with them as much as I have. Got it? Good.

1. What are you working on?
Here’s a fun fact! I have DIY-er ADD when it comes to projects, I start one, like painting our dining room, then get bored and start painting a piece of furniture, or distracted by the mail man and start building and styling the bookcase that just arrived for the nursery.  Believe it or not, I’m actually trying to keep my projects at a 4-count max.  My house just isn’t big enough to carry on more than that! So yeah, I’m working on the dining room, the nursery, a couple DIY tutorials, and in the back of my mind I’m scheming over plans for our bedroom.
projects in the works | brittanyMakes
2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
This is a tough question to answer! Us DIY/design bloggers are always trying to think of the next best thing, a project or a designed space or whatever.  I’m constantly influenced by the more successful and experienced bloggers and designers, from their photography skills to their design aesthetic.  I am so far from where I want to be, but can certainly say that I’ve come so far from where I began.  Did I answer the question? No? That’s ok.
3. Why do you write/create what you do?
Because I would seriously internally combust if I didn’t make things.  I have way too many ideas swirling in my head, and sometimes we just need to take a break from our daily routine to do something creative.  I’m a Libra, I like balance in my life!
I’ve never thought it would be fun to make just one thing over and over. I want to make ALL THE THINGS! I’m constantly inspired by pretty much everything and, being a DIYer, I usually think “I can make that!” to whatever thing I see. I mean, most things are made by someone right? Why can’t that someone be me? Naturally sometimes I fail at execution, but seriously that’s part of the fun.
4. How does your writing/creative process work?
Well, usually I see something, an object being sold at a store or think up a solution to a need some people might have, then I get to work.  I gather supplies and, either get to making right away or go through a R&D process of what the best method would be to make said thing.  Then I take lots of pictures of the process and the finished product, and you’d think I’d be able to turn over a tutorial right away right? Nay.  I tend sit on my projects for a bit before I share them.  Why? I don’t know.  Writing a post doesn’t come easy to me so that might be the problem, which is the main the reason I don’t post every day. Someday I will! Maybe…
OK, you ready to hop on over to two blogs I absolutely adore??
FIRST UP: Gwen Hefner, the magnetic beauty behind the blog The Makerista
The Makerista
I was first introduced to Gwen via a Facebook group I’m in.  Immediately I was so impressed with Gwen’s style and blog performance, she is a natural talent! I mean, her blog brand, “The Makerista”, its so perfect!

Gwen is one of my favorite Pinterest pinners to follow, she’s just SO GOOD. If you don’t follow her, you must! Right now Gwen and her family are building a house from scratch and I’m just so excited for them and that we get to see the whole process as it unfolds.

NEXT UP: Chris & Julia, the dynamic duo behind the blog Chris Loves Julia

Chris Loves Julia

I first started reading Chris & Julia’s blog after being a fellow participant in one of the The Home Depot Challenges.  I was immediately drawn to them, they’re honest, heartwarming, relatable, beautiful and have two adorable girls that I can’t get enough of from their Instagram feed.  Chris & Julia are renovating a home in Rexburg, Idaho, coincidentally the exact little town where my sister lives! (My sister is a student at BYUI). I love their design aesthetic and following along their journey as they turn their house into a gorgeous home! Not to mention, Chris is a killer cook, I drool over my laptop almost weekly with his recipes.

Well, there you have it! Two super cool blogs you should definitely follow.

LoveB

© Copyright brittanyMakes - Designed by Pexeto