Life Lately: The New Normal

Saturday, August 15, 2015

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I'd say welcome to August, but that just doesn't seem appropriate now that the month is half over. What the hell? The past few weeks have flown and I hardly even noticed. Blogging got bumped down my to-do list because of work, family visits and too many wedding to count, so I thought it was at least time for an update. Here's a look at life lately and my new definition of "normal":

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While I was uploading photos for this post, I realized that my entire camera roll is full of summer sunsets, coffee shops work sessions and happy hours with friends. Now, call me crazy, but those three things really add up for the perfect summer. I mentioned a few weeks back that these hot months take on a different meaning after graduation, but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable. In fact, this summer really defined the "new normal" that I have more than just four years to enjoy.

I have my favorite coffee shops and restaurants, my favorite back roads home and local grocery store. I never thought a sense of familiarity and routine would mean so much in life. But post-grad life comes with a whole new set of priorities, I guess. Working at a PR agency, there's definitely no "normal" routine. But life outside of the office? That's a whole different story.

What else is new? If you haven't heard, I'm working on an exciting new passion project that proves just how big of a blogging and social media nerd that I am. Nothing here are Coffee and Cardigans will be changing, but I hope you'll follow along with Callie Creates as well! Click over to the new website to learn more.

8 Career Books You Need to Read Now

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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Between starting a monthly book club and getting my library card, reading has quickly become my favorite pastime again. Pleasure reads were never a thing in college, but a year after graduation, I'm slowly falling back in love with books. So much that it's become a regular theme here on Coffee and Cardigans. But the titles I'm picking up are a far cry from my fantasy novel obsession in high school.

I've said a few times there's no handbook to post-grad life, but these books come pretty darn close. Yes, the list includes a few titles that I haven't read quite yet, but they come highly recommended. So what's on the shelf? Here are eight books that any career-focused gal needs to read:

Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin

This book definitely changed the way I think about money — especially because it's written in a way any post-grad gal can understand. Personal finance becomes a priority and Nicole takes a little of the panic out of that. From managing an IRA and car loan, to buying a house and paying off credit cards, this book covers it all. And the best part? You don't have to sacrifice your latte to be a rich bitch. Find the book here.

Leave Your Mark by by Aliza Licht

For the budding PR girl (or soon-to-graduate), Aliza's book is a must. She's the social media genius behind DKNY PR Girl and had a few lessons to teach about building your personal brand, your career and your social media presence. I loved the incredibly actionable career advice in each chapter. Though the book talks a lot about public relations, I think it's a great read for any industry or position. Find the book here.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Sophia's book taught me the word "entrepreneurship" — or at least what the word could look and feel like. The book explores quite a few different topics, from starting your own business to getting your finances straight. But what I love most is the "girl boss" attitude it introduces. Sophia owned every ounce of her badass, career-focused attitude — and reminds you why you should too. Find the book here.

Lean In For Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

Though I'm only half way through it, I can already see why Sheryl's book sparked a revolution. There are two versions of this book: "Lean In" and "Lean In For Graduates." While there's only a slight difference, if you are just starting your career, the graduate version feels oh so applicable. Sheryl's career, which includes Facebook and Google, delivers some amazingly powerful lessons that we all need to remember. Find the book here.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Do I need to say more? Amy's book has been on my list for a very long time and I can't wait to read the entire thing. While it is a memoir, the book as packed full of lessons learned from Amy's life and career. I think Leslie Knope would definitely approve. Find the book here.

Welcome To The Real World by Lauren Berger

Another must-read for recent graduates, Lauren Berger is the mastermind behind Intern Queen. Finding your place in the post-grad world can be a challenge — been there, done that. But Lauren's book explores topics such as networking, personal branding and more. Stay tuned for a complete review of the book coming soon. But until then, find the book here.

The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric

To be honest, this is the first book of Katie Couric's that I ever picked up. It's packed full of inspiring advice and personal stories of the professional woman (and men) that came before us, including a few names like Arianna Huffington, Morgan Freeman and Barbara Walters. Find the book here.

Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

For my fellow social media nerds, this book is for you. I picked up Dave's title as a textbook for one of my college classes, but in the past few years, it's also become one of my favorite social media guides. Whether it's a client or your own presence, Dave offers some amazing advice on creating an irresistible brand online. Find the book here.

What's on your reading list right now? Leave your suggestions in a comment below — I'd love to hear!

Meet The Blogger: Pearls & Scissors

Saturday, July 25, 2015

MEET-THE-BLOGGER-HANNA

Looking for new reading material? Not sure how to get started as a blogger? Coffee and Cardigans' monthly blogger Q&A series introduces some of the amazing lady bloggers that inspired on me a daily basis. Hanna is the extremely talented blogger behind Pearls & Scissors. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tell us a little about yourself and your blog!

I'm Hanna, a 28-year-old DIY addict, blogger, singer, dreamer and over-achiever (in that order). At the end of last year, me and my husband moved from our homeland of Estonia to Leverkusen, Germany to pursue our singing careers. But that's not the only thing I'm pursuing at the moment. I've always been multi-passionate, which means I'm constantly juggling a million things at once, but I couldn't imagine life any other way. I have a degree in psychology and classical singing, but most of the time, I'm making stuff, and blogging about it at Pearls & Scissors.

How did you get started blogging?

My blogging journey began about six years ago on an Estonian social platform for craft-lovers. I soon discovered that I wanted to be more connected to all the cool DIY-lovers and other bloggers in the world, and started writing in English on my first real blog. After a couple of years, I felt bored and trapped by the name I'd chosen for my blog, and decided to start from scratch. So Pearls & Scissors was formed. By the way, it took me days to come up with that name. In hindsight, I could have just switched up the names, but I sort of like that I had a completely clean slate. Pearls & Scissors is three years old now, and I've been loving every second. In the last six months, I've worked to turn it into my dream career.

How has your blog changed recently?

I love this question, because I believe a blog is always evolving, just as we are. I think the main change in the last few months has been to focus on blogging as a business, rather than a hobby. When I moved to Germany about eight months ago, and couldn't find a job, I took the jump to blogging as a career. Naturally, my blogging goals and content are affected by that - I need to think more about where the money's coming from, and less about where to buy glitter for my next project (although, I sometimes mix up those priorities).

I recently started offering sewing e-courses, and I'm constantly brainstorming new ideas for future products. My big vision is to turn Pearls & Scissors into a brand I can be proud of. I'm sure my big Idea is yet to come, but until then, I'm excited to do work that inspires and motivates me.

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What does daily life look like for you, blogging included?

Gosh, this one's tough. I'm a multi-passionate over-achiever, so my days are pretty hectic, but also super varied. Currently, I'm juggling a part-time gig as a nanny, some freelance writing projects, blogging, course development, singing lessons, and crafting projects for the blog. So, any given day is going to be a mix of most of these things. I always start my day with a cup of coffee (#butfirstcoffee) and a quick sweep across all my social media channels. Next up - e-mail. Just a bunch of deleting, a couple of replies, and a few stars to some important stuff I need to handle later. By then, I've woken up enough to really start working.

I spend the next couple of hours either writing a blog post, an article for my freelance gig, or crafting a project for the blog. On days that I'm working from home, my day usually continues with a quick lunch-break, and then I'm back in business. The afternoons are usually spent creating new projects for the blog, photographing finished projects, editing photos, and writing content. Sometimes I can squeeze in a little singing practice, or even a lesson. After dinner, it's usually back to work. I usually spend evenings on administrative stuff, and long-term projects like updates on the website, new courses, and side projects (yes, I have side-projects outside of everything I already mentioned). I babysit two days a week, and on those days, I usually only schedule in a couple of important tasks like writing that days blog post or finishing up an article that's due.

What keeps you inspired as a blogger?

For me, the biggest inspiration is growth. I'm an idea-person by nature (I have notebooks upon notebooks full of all kinds of ideas), so coming up with new projects or content ideas is not a problem for me. What I struggle with, however, is finding the time and motivation to execute on those ideas. Seeing my blog grow is what inspires me to keep working hard and do better.

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What's your quirky blogging ritual creative process?

I'm not sure I have any quirky blogging rituals, but I do have a creative process I go through when I need to come up with a specific feature for my blog. I share mainly DIY projects, so there's a lot of creating that needs to happen every week. When I feel like I'm not sure what to make next from my mile-long list, I just take out all my fabrics, to-be-refashioned items, crafting supplies and lay them out on the floor. Then I just sit amongst them, and see what I'm drawn to the most. Works every time.

What advice would you offer other bloggers?

Everyone says to stay true to your voice and write about the things you're passionate about. All very good advice, but what I've found over the years is that one under-discussed source of blogging burnout is not having a clear enough understanding of why you're blogging. This goes for both hobby-bloggers and aspiring professionals. I'm not talking goals (although those are good, too), but the big WHY.

Most of the time, blogging is a solitary act - just you and your computer. And, chances are when you're just starting out, or your blog isn't that big, your posts won't be flooded with kind comments from raving readers. It's easy to get discouraged when you're not even sure why you're putting in all this time and effort. Start with "why?" and you'll always have at least one reason to continue. Or, on the flip side, you'll also know when it's time to switch things up, or maybe move on.

Answer one question you had as a new blogger?

Just one? Ok, ok... What the heck am I going to blog about 3-5 times EVERY week? This was as much a legitimate questions as a fear of running out of ideas. My answer is therefor also two-fold. First, list all the topics you think you'd love to write about, and then choose 2-4 that somewhat go together. Stick to those topics and come up with at least 40 blog post ideas. Write down whatever comes to mind, and weed out the not-so-hot ones later. And, voila, you're first month's content calendar should be filled. As to the fear of running out of content ideas - you may have dry-spells, but if you keep a running list of ideas, and do these brainstorming sessions regularly, running out of things to write about will never happen.