January 2105 Favourites on GnomeAngel.com

When January starts most of us tend to kick the new year off with a bunch of resolutions that highlight the areas that we (rightly or wrongly) think that we need to work on. This year I made some pretty simple resolutions in my personal life; get out of the house more, spend more time with my family and work smarter not harder.

I’ve had a really great January, it’s been crazy busy, but I feel like I’ve achieved and in part it’s because of these 5 things that my January has been so enjoyable.

1. Breeze

This app has helped motivate me to get out and about more and it’s great. For awhile there I was wearing a FitBit and it was good… for awhile and then the battery couldn’t keep charge, it didn’t count correctly and it became a pain in the butt so I took it off (FitBit did replace the faulty product but by then I’d moved on). Then one day the lovely Kate introduced me to a little app on my iPhone called Breeze.

It turns your iPhone into a pedometer. Genius, right?

Breeze sets goals for you to walk every day based on your past walking history, so unlike the blanket 10,000 steps that FitBit does this helps you slowly increase your walking without you really realising it.  Which is great, if you’re like me and the thought of walking 10,000 steps gets you disheartened before you’ve even started.

It also sends you little encouraging messages to keep you on track and help you pick yourself up if you happen to stumble (figuratively, not literally). I find them good and not preachy or cheesy like some things can tend to be.

The best thing however is that it gives you a ‘spirit animal’ based on your walking habits. Now, I was a little surprised that mine wasn’t a sloth straight up (it was only slightly better as a Panda). So far I’ve been a Panda, a Fox, a Lion and a Rabbit.

It’s a good mix of fun and motivation and it’s seen me get out of the house and hitting the pavement with more regularity than if I’d been left to my own devices.  There’s a couple of small downsides: 1. you have to have your phone on you all the time for it to record your steps and 2. it may chew your battery life a bit more, but both of these things I can live with.

2. Fat Mum Slim Photo-a-Day

If you’re on Instagram it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ve come across a photo-a-day challenge at some stage.  Fat Mum Slim is the original (and the best) photo-a-day challenge and it’s something I’ve tried a couple of times and it’s never really stuck. However, this year I decided to use the #fmsphotoaday to help keep me motivated about getting out of the house and spending more time with the boys.

How’d I do it? Simple, I used the photo prompts as an excuse to go for a walk and try and find something I could use for the photo. Or I spent time with the boys and came up with something for the photo. I’ve also been trying to be more considered about the photos I share on Instagram and so this has been a great way of focusing my mind (SQUIRREL!). I think the key to it this year has been that I made it a game and so far it’s the longest I’ve ever played along.

If you want to know more about it, check out this FAQ post here.

Collage of photos from January 2015 taken by Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com

3. No Food After 8pm

In the past 6 months my consumption of high sugar foods has just gone through the roof. Seriously, it’s a surprise I haven’t been found laying on the floor in front of the fridge in a diabetic coma already. I’ve been trying to get it under control with varying levels of success but at Christmas time I had a lovely catch up with some friends and one of them (thanks Jo!) was talking about how she was doing a couple of things differently and one of them was not eating any food after 8pm at night.

At the time I remember thinking, “Well that can’t be too hard, 8pm is like bed time.”. Oh how wrong I was. I have been shocked at how much food I must have been consuming after 8pm now that I’ve made the choice not to. It’s astounding. I’ve literally trained myself that when the kiddo goes to bed it’s time for me to chow down on all the stuff we don’t let him have (or see, because if he see’s it he’ll want it).

It’s had it’s moments of frustration, but on the whole it’s been great. We’re saving money because we’re not buying junk food like we used to and I’m getting some breathing space back in my pants (thank goodness, because if I’m going to have to spend money on fabric I’d like it to be off the bolt not off the hanger!).

4. My Bloc Loc HST 6.5″ Ruler

I’ve done a surprising amount of sewing in January (surprising because I wasn’t planning on it and also because who knew I could pump out so much stuff in a couple of weeks!) and a lot of it has had half square triangles (HST’s) in it and this ruler has become a time (and sanity) saver.

The Bloc Loc has some voodoo magic in it that allows you to straighten your diagonal seam and cut perfectly square HST’s every time. (You have to press to one side for it to work.) It’s fabulous, and now I’ve used it so many times that I have my own special process for trimming that just makes it go so much faster it’s practically a joy to make HST’s.

I have it in the 6.5″ square size and it’s been so versatile for the work that I do. They make them for flying geese, drunkard’s path and half rectangle blocks just to name a few. It’s one of my goals for 2015 to add a few more to my collection (the flying geese especially!).

Collage of photos from January 2015 taken by Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com

5. Books

I had seriously forgotten the pure joy in reading a good (even half good) book. Before the lad was born I used to read at least a book a week on average and I hadn’t realised how much I’ve missed reading. (For some reason I just found I couldn’t keep reading when he was born – I think my brain has just been too fried, and yes it was nearly 3 years ago, but sometimes I’m a bit slow to bounce back, I’m getting old ya know!)

Over Christmas I picked up a couple of books in the airport and it was such heaven to be able to just sit and read. (Thanks Mum for being toddler entertainer!) I’ve found myself falling back in love with the act of reading.

On Australia Day the three of us went for a jaunt to Canty’s Bookshop. (Now I have a confession, it’s the first time I’ve been there…. which as a person who used to read a lot is a shocking oversight!) The place is packed, floor-to-ceiling, with books. All kinds of books. Books on every topic you can imagine, and then some you never could have.

I picked up a book on quilting (surprise, surprise), 2 contemporary fiction novels and a book on the mighty toddler (I’m psyching myself up to start potty training!) and it was all under $40 – which, given that one of the fiction books I nearly bought in an airport bookstore for $35 but found there for $6.50, is an absolute bargain.

I’ve found myself making time during the day to read and it’s lovely. Just lovely. It’s surprising how something so simple can make you happy.

So, that’s the 5 things I couldn’t live without in January, what about you? Have you found anything that’s rocking your world or making you enjoy life again? Let me know, who knows it might just be one of the things I can’t live without in February!


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  1. Terri Ann February 3, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I’m with you on the Bloc-Loc rulers! I unfortunately own a smaller size and while it’s perfect for cutting 3.5″ unfinished HST, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have bought a larger one. Oh well. I’m hooked on my FitBit and have been for over a year now.

  2. Jen February 3, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Great post topic! I has inspired me to start blogging again. I hope you don’t mind that my first post back will be the same topic! Thanks.

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Jen – not at all. I’d love to read it if you want to share the link! 🙂

  3. leanne February 2, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    breeze sounds good and I have a bloc loc hst ruler too – so awesome !!

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      It’s good, but the fact you have to carry your phone with you makes it a little frustrating at times. I know, right? I want to add more to my collection!

  4. Bron February 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

    This was an awesome post Angie – it’s fun to get that broader picture of what you’ve been up to, and all your 5 things sound cool! I am so jealous of your breezing – my phone is not fancy enough (well I have a 5C and it’s for 5S and up) and it’s the first time I’ve considered upgrading for a specific app! And only because I want a spirit animal 😉

  5. Carla February 1, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Air-conditioning. It is keeping me sane this hot January.
    I am in a reading slump lately too. I have a stack of ‘good’ books sitting unread. I spend so much time sewing that by the time I sit to read it is late and my brain can only cope with fun, fluffy fiction. Oh well, I am still reading,

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Yes!!! I suspect that our air conditioner is in desperate need of a service. I’m trying to see if I can make it last until winter and then get a cheaper service. #tightarse

      I find I only ever read fluffy fiction at the best of times. Reading is my escape so I try to steer away from anything that will harsh my mellow. 😉 🙂

  6. sew surprising January 31, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I think I really need to check out hte block lock I keep reading about it 🙂 If I was to pick something I couldnt live without in January I would have to say my add a quarter ruler, other than that I pretty much make do 😉

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Do tell me more about this quarter ruler of which you type… I’m all about getting new play toys, I mean, tools.

  7. Rebecca January 31, 2015 at 5:46 am

    you go girlfriend! That was a super happy positive post for my Saturday morning Bloglovin catchup, thankyou!!

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      My pleasure! I’m hoping to get out more and share a little bit more about what I’ve been doing… February is shaping up to make that a challenge 😉

  8. Serena@Sewgiving January 28, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    I hear you on the no eating after 8pm, I have been getting stuck into the secret sugar stash once the kids go to bed too … if I don’t want my kids to eat it then why am I? I’m going to go and check out that Breeze app too thanks, my fitness level is embarrassing!

    1. GnomeAngel February 8, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      I’ve a confession, I’ve fallen a little off the wagon. I’m blaming hormones, but I’ve had a shocking sugar week. I completely forgot what I was doing during a massive sewing session and had half a bag of skittles after 9pm!?!? I’m going to (see that positive thinking) get back on the wagon!