Merry Christmas From My Family to Yours!


Merry Christmas 2015


Merry Christmas from my family to yours! We hope you have a very blessed, joyful, and pain-free Christmas with your loved ones! May God’s love surround you and yours and I am beyond thankful for each and every one of you and I know that God has big plans for 2016 and I cannot to see what is to come!

Merry Christmas to all & to all a great day!


Gift Guide for Bloggers 2015

A New Kind of Normal - Gift Guide for Bloggers 2015 Edition

The last post in this year’s Gift Guide series is a Gift Guide for Bloggers. I’ve been blogging for over eight years now (which makes me feel REALLY old) so I’ve learned a thing or two about what bloggers might appreciate to find in their stocking on Christmas morning (please don’t go back and look at some of the posts from the really early years – it may get a little scary). Let’s just step away from that for now and talk shop.

When you have a beloved blogger to shop for, it can seem a little overwhelming at first especially if you yourself are not a blogger. You have no idea what SEO is and why its so important and CSS and HTML look like some secret code but its not as hard as you think to shop for your beloved blogger.


Let’s talk planners.

Image Map

Something every blogger needs is a great planner. Some people really love doing everything online and using tools like Evernote and Google Drive to stay content ideas organized (especially since they can be used across multiple devices) or even blog plugins like CoSchedule or the WordPress Editorial Calendar in order to outline a post schedule. I love using Evernote and CoSchedule* is my new BFF but there is something about pen and paper that my brain needs to stay organized.

Starting at the upper left corner and moving in clockwise motion, these are some of the most popular planners on the market: the Erin Condren Life Planner, the Plum Paper Planner, the Passion Planner, and the Create 365 The Happy Planner (which I think is the newest on the market). In addition to using planners to stay organized, there has suddenly become a recent trend to not only keep track of your schedules and to-do lists in your planners but to go hog-wild decorating while you are at it. If you do a search on Etsy for “planner stickers,” you will see pages and pages (and pages) of all types of varieties of stickers and embellishments to keep your planner not only organized but beautifully decorated as well. You can also find supplies at craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby and I’ve seen things even start to trickle into the Dollar Tree (which is where I pick up most of my supplies). Think of it as a modern day “Pimp My Planner” instead of “Pimp My Ride” (I am really showing my age now aren’t I?). There are even oodles of Facebook groups dedicated to planner decorating. I personally use the Erin Condren Life Planner and I do enjoy doing some simple decorating using washi tape and organizational stickers but on the scale of 1-10 of being a simple planner user versus a mega planner decorator, I probably fall somewhere in the middle. I’ll do a separate post on that.

The only one of these planners that doesn’t lend itself as easy to the decorating trend is the Passion Planner but in its place, it offers a uniqueness that really focuses on goal setting and creating step by step guides to achieving those goals (even including pages for mind and bubble maps).  Another cool thing about the Passion Planner is that you can download a couple of pages of the planner to try to see if you like it before ordering or you can download the entire planner for free and then take it to your choice of stores, such as Staples or Office Max, to have it bound which I think is a pretty amazing option.

There are also all kinds of ways to build your own planner with free printables (Pinterest is loaded with them) and you can even find planner printables that are blogging specific. If you don’t want to purchase a planner as you aren’t sure what your blogging loved one might prefer there is always the option of purchasing a gift card or you can create a basket full of goodies such as a cute binder, nice pens, and fun decorating and organizational items.


Let’s talk books.


Other gift options for your blogging loved one include books on blogging. I have read 3 out of the 4 of these shown (and I am really hoping to get my hands on #4 really soon!). Just like above, I will start in the upper left corner and work my way around clockwise.

If your loved one is just starting out with blogging or is a seasoned blogger that wants to up his or her game, I highly recommend 31 Days to Build A Better Blog (affiliate link). It has been listed on my Blogging Resources page for ages because it is that good. I went through the book the first time with a group of bloggers with SITS and it totally changed my blogging game. I am actually planning on going back through it starting January 1 since 2015 was kind of an off-year with blogging because of the what felt like one health crisis after another this year so I really want to start 2016 off on the right foot (I would love to have you join me!).

I cannot say enough amazing things about the book Blog Design for Dummies and I won’t linger on it too long since I did write a complete review of the book. I know the author, Melissa Culbertson, personally and she is AMAZING and runs an amazing blog called Blog Clarity and teaches a variety of amazing courses so I would recommend anything that she puts out as a gift idea for your blogger loved one.

The next book is the one that I am dying to get my hands on for 2016 – The Badass Blog Planner by Sarah Morgan. Per the book’s description:

Packed with over 60 worksheets, this one-year planner will help you review the past year and hatch a plan to improve your online presence. It includes worksheets to evaluate and plan blog content, social media posts, products and services, email newsletters, marketing, advertising, your budget, and website design. No more late-night post idea panic or stressing over social media! You’ll take action with the confidence to create compelling and shareable content, promote your brand, organize your website, set goals for growth, plan product launches, and feel excited and inspired all year long.

Sounds like just what any blogger needs to start the year off right, don’t you think? This book doesn’t take the place of a traditional planner but would work wonderfully in conjunction. I use my Life Planner to obviously keep my family life managed as well as my blogging but this takes it up to a whole other level. Santa, if you are reading this, I would really love to find this under the tree!

The last book I am recommending is called Blog, Inc: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho. I have already read through this book once and plan on reading through it again next year. It is another book that is great for a beginner but will also help take a seasoned blogger up to the next level with their blogging, especially if they would like to start running their blog more like a business and make a career out of blogging. It is packed full of great and useful information and written in a way that helps you put that information straight into practice.

There are a lot of other great books on blogging available (I have some that I read myself on my Blogging Resources page) but obviously I cannot list them all here. If your blogger loved one prefers reading on a Kindle (or using the Kindle app), a Kindle Unlimited gift subscription would be a great idea so that he or she could have access to all the amazing books on the market.


Let’s talk Conferences & Classes

If you really want to get your loved one a big gift and your budget allows it (and they have expressed interest in it before), gifting a trip to a blogging conference is another great option. Bloggy Bootcamp is a great one day conference offered in various cities throughout the year and it is only $75! This was my first conference experience and I loved every minute of it. The 2016 schedule is not yet posted but you can always create your own gift voucher and wrap it up for your loved one and they can choose which location they would like to attend once the schedule is posted!

Type A Conference is another great blogging conference option. It started as one three day conference usually held in Atlanta or Charlotte but in efforts to make it easier on attendees to travel for the conference, they now have a Type A Conference West in Santa Fe and Type A Conference East at Disney. DISNEY! Santa, are you hearing me? Disney! And it just just happens to fall right after my birthday. If Santa doesn’t pull through on this, I know what I’ll be saving up for for my birthday! I went to Type A Conference in 2013 and had a great experience and would love to go again. Who’s coming with me?

And last but not least, there are tons of e-courses and online training seminars that would also make awesome Christmas gifts for your beloved blogger.

As I mentioned before, Melissa over at Blog Clarity offers a variety of course with many of them being self-paced so you don’t have to worry about course dates. I have taken Content Brew* (which teaches you how to plan and create fresh content and equips you with tools on how to organize and share content) and Media Kit Smash* (which teaches you how to make a professional media kit to work with brands and professionals) and Pinning Perfect* (which will dig into strategies for driving traffic to your blog from Pinterest and build followers) are both next on my to-do list.

The Nectar Collective which is headed up by another Melyssa is another great resource for classes and seminars to help your beloved blogger get down to business and keep their numbers rising. In addition to paid courses, she also hosts free webinars so that is a great thing to keep an eye out for. One class that I took that I greatly benefited from and highly recommend is Social Media Superhero which only costs $27,

Gift Guide for Bloggers 2015 - A New Kind of Normal

These are just a few of my ideas of things that I put together for the Gift Guide for Bloggers so you can be on the lookout for when shopping for your beloved blogger! The best part about shopping for a blogger? A lot of these things can be bought online at the last minute! December 24th sign him or her up for a course, create a nice pretty gift voucher showing that you are sending them to this course they’ve been wanting to take ( is great for that – they even have templates!), and pop it into a pretty box and BOOM. You’re all done!

Do you have any bloggers on your shopping list or are you a blogger and have an idea about what needs to be added to the list?

Disclosure: Any link marked with an * refers to an affiliate link.

P.S. Have you checked out the Gift Guide for Beauty Lovers Giveaway yet? I keep adding to the box so I’m not sure how I’m going to get the thing to close! You’d better go check it out! It’s almost time to draw a winner!

chronic illnessholidays

Gift Guide for Spoonies


It is Gift Guide week here on A New Kind of Normal and hopefully you had a chance to check out yesterday’s gift guide for beauty lovers (and enter the giveaway!). Today’s gift guide focuses on items that will be helpful and appreciated by those with chronic illnesses (aka spoonies).

If you are new to A New Kind of Normal and do not know the background of the term “spoonie” check out The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino. It is such a unique and spot on narrative describing life with illness that both patients and their families/loved ones need to read it (preferably together to open up the opportunity for conversations).

Enough babbling, let’s talk about the fun stuff!

1- Every spoonie I know loves a soft, cuddly blanket! Because of my fibromyalgia and tactile allodynia, a heated throw is my BFF all year round but especially in the winter and I have used mine to death and am in desperate need of a replacement. I was doing some browsing and came across the Sunbeam Microplush Heated Throw and fell in love it the Zebra print. Microplush softness + heat + a bold print = LOVE. If your loves super soft blankets but may not be a fan of a heated throw/blanket, then you may want to check out the Northpoint Ruya Oversized Velvet Plush Throw Blanket. Yes, I said oversized! Who doesn’t love a snuggle buddy? This blanket comes in a variety of prints so there is an option for everyone’s style, I just loved the bright sunny yellow for dark winter days!

2- When I found these, I immediately fell in love. Along with my heated throw, my other BFF is my hot/cold pack and yes these adorable animals you are looking at are hot/cold packs! A sidenote/fun fact about me is that my nickname all my life had been Pig – my dad stills calls me that even at 34 – so whenever I see anything with pigs on it, I’m all over it. These hot/cold packs are by the brand Sootheze and come in a huge assortment of styles. I love, love, love the fact that the company is a mother/daughter team which makes me love them even more. A little bit of information about the product from the Sootheze site:

Huggable animals that are filled with lavender-scented and heat and cold-retaining seeds (place these little creatures in the microwave or freezer for several minutes and enjoy the lasting heat or cold effects for hours!) Not just a stuffed animal- helps soothe chronic pain, sciatica, lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis, hip pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, leg pain, lower back pain, and even comfort those with dementia, autism, recent loss of a loved one, and MANY other uses!

So many things to love about the brand and so many adorable animals to choose from!

3- Pajamas are always a great gift idea for anyone but spoonies appreciate not only comfortable PJs but cute PJs. If you’ve ever read my post on 10 Things I’ve Learned From Chronic Illness, then you know my stance on the importance of cute PJs. If you haven’t read it, what are waiting for? In my search for cute pajamas, I came across these adorable one piece fleece pajamas and of course I had to pick the pig print (see above). I never thought I would go for one piece pajamas but I may have to make an exception for these. You can also never go wrong with adorable character pajama sets with your spoonie’s favorite characters. For this post, I went with Olaf because who doesn’t love Olaf?

4- When you live with chronic illness, you can always use some encouragement and these two books come highly, highly recommended. I have Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness on my Christmas list (so I hope Santa listens!) but I just recently picked up “Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness In Your Twenties and Thirties” and cannot wait to get started. I have toyed with the idea of having a spoonie book club where we could read books together and then chat about them as another way we can support and encourage each other. Ponder that and let me know!

5- Every woman loves beautiful jewelry so jewelry is always a win for Christmas but it is awesome when you can also provide encouragement and empowerment (and raise awareness while you are at it) and still gift beautiful jewelry. There are so many amazing designers out there but in this post, I’ve got to give a shout out to the amazing work of FJJCreations. The first piece I am showing is the “Be A Badass Everyday” awareness bracelet I mentioned in my Another Obstruction post. It is a great every day piece and you can get the awareness ribbon in all different colors. If you like the style of the bracelet but the saying isn’t your thing, they have a lot of other options for that as well. The second piece I featured is just a beautiful Spoonie Spoon Necklace. I cannot say enough about how beautiful the jewelry is from FJJCreations nor how sweet and amazing the designer behind FJJCreations, Jenjer is. Even if you don’t have a chronic illness or shopping for a loved one with chronic illness, the shop still offers a variety of pieces perfect for anyone and any occasion.

6- While shopping for awareness items on Etsy, I came across this adorable shop called Chronically Fabulous and this shop is full of adorable items that any spoonie would love. I features two different shirt options (you know I love any chance to wear anything with a crown) but her shop also features adorable tumbler cups, jewelry, and other goodies that would be perfect stocking stuffers. Etsy is a wonderful place to do Christmas shopping because not only is the site jam packed with all things amazing, I also love supporting small businesses.

These are just a handful of options that would make great gift ideas for your spoonie friend and loved ones. You can mix and match different options or create a gift basket with some of these items plus some other ideas such coffee or hot chocolate sets, fun adult coloring books (which I love!), beautiful pens and/or stationary sets, and even a gift voucher for various subscription services such as Netflix or Kindle Unlimited (I mentioned some beauty subscription options in my Gift Guide for Beauty Lovers post),

By the way, have you checked out that post yet? You do know there’s a giveaway involved right? So what are you waiting for! Check it out pronto! We’ll wait for you to get back!

I hope this post has helped give you some ideas on some gift ideas for your spoonie loved ones and if you have anything you think should be added to the list, leave a comment so we can all go and check it out!


P.S. Just to make sure its clear, this post is not sponsored (nor is any other post in this gift guide series). I just love sharing my favorite products and brands. If you do want a quick tip on how to save a little money when shopping this Christmas (or any time of the year), I recommend checking out Ebates which allows you to earn cash back on just about every purchase you make online (and if you are a spoonie like me, a lot of shopping is done online). I have shared my referral link but if you want to go straight to the Ebates site and sign up, that’s awesome too! Just want to share a way to stretch our often limited budgets!