I did a roundup of some of the best things I had bought online a few months back and you all loved it, so I'm doing it again.
Before I get into it, I wanted to share with you a little bit about how affiliate links work. Affiliate links are a way for me and other bloggers to make a little bit of money off of items we are recommending (but aren't necessarily sponsored). When it comes to an affiliate link, you won't pay more for the item, but I will get a small (very very very small) commission if you do purchase from that link. Every affiliate network has their own rules about how bloggers will get credit for their links, but most of them don't give credit after a certain amount of time has passed and you have added the item to your cart (24 hours in most cases). In any case, I always appreciate when you all shop my links, but even more so I love knowing that I helped you find some new product that you love, too!
I was recently asked by a follower and emerging blogger how I stay organized. The truth is, I work really hard at being organized, and actually, I probably waste some time each day just trying to "get organized" instead of actually doing what I need to do. But over the last few months, with less to do and more time to work on things like this, I started to put a system in place to help me stay organized.
Right now, there are three main tools I have been using to keep myself organized.
My iPhone's Calendar App
I have always used my calendar app, and recently Eddie and I started sharing a calendar and anything that we both need to know about goes on there. I use this mostly for events and things that require physical presence, school events and important dates - birthdays, vacations, things like that. We include work events, my shoots, and appointments. Lately this is looking a little sparse, but I'm okay with that!
A Paper Planner
I am and always have been a paper girl. I love to physically write, use pens, stickers, and all those silly things. It's another way I decompress, I guess. I use my physical planner to map out what my week looks like, to plan out blog posts, and to have a "picture" of what everything looks like together. This is where I keep due dates for campaigns, blog posts, where I write notes from calls I've taken, and most recently, I had been including all of our zoom calls on there. I have been using Erin Condren for a few years, but I decided to switch over to the Blessed is She planner starting in August. It has an hourly breakdown per day, plus note pages for each week, a place to make a grocery list, meal planning, and prayer reminders. (Blessed is She is a network of Catholic women - they have a daily devotional e-mail you can subscribe to and they sell products, like this planner). I have been very happy with my Erin Condren planners, but was looking for an added way to boost my prayer life, which is why I made this switch.
Thanks to my friend Marylin, I recently discovered how functional Trello is and I've created several boards for some categories I found helpful. I have a board for general to-do's, one for sponsored blog partnerships, and one for blogging in general. In Trello, you create columns, and under each column you add cards. Within each card you can add attachments, checklists, due dates, and labels. You can easily move cards from one column to another, so cards can go from an "Idea" column to an "In Progress" column and make their way to when they are complete! I am currently using a free account and still have plenty of functionality. What I like about this is that it can be used across all my devices so if I have an idea I can just add it, even if I am on the go. It has really come in handy during my consistency challenge in July!
I think organization is such a personal thing. It looks different for everyone, and each of our brains works differently. These are just some of the tools I use and have found to work for me. I've tried a lot of different strategies, but for now, this is what I have found that just works best for me and my needs.
Have you used any of these tools? Is there something else that you have found that works really well for you? Let me know in the comments below!
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
With the weather warming up and summer showing its sunny face, we are all looking for ways to cool off and relax. There is nothing like taking a dip in the pool on a warm summer day and sipping on a refreshing drink - that goes for both kids and adults.
As a kid, one of my favorite treats was always popsicles. (Okay let's be real, they're still a perfect treat, even at 34 years old.) My kids love popsicles, too, and Whole Fruit has some of the most delicious ones we've tried yet! They're fruit bars made with chunks of real fruit. They are non-gmo project verified, gluten free, dairy free, peanut free!
But what do you do when you want to enjoy your beverage AND a popsicle? You make a poptail! One of my favorite things to sip on a hot day is sangria - it's light enough that I won't overdo it, and it's refreshing with all that fruit. Of course, the kids wanted their own version, so we made them their own version using sparkling water, and it was a hit.
Whole Fruit has several different flavors, and you can order online using Shipt or Instacart or in the freezer section of your local Publix! And to get more fun ideas on how you can enjoy your popsicles in new ways, head over to their Instagram account @wholefruitfrozen.
Kid-Friendly Mango Poptail
I know that a lot of people have been using this time to be super productive and reorganize their lives and do all these things that they don't normally get to do. But let's face it, if you have little kids at home, you're just staying afloat. For me, not accomplishing tasks I had set out to accomplish has been one of the harder things to deal with. I've learned to manage expectations, but I still try to get a little bit of productivity in.
One of the things that had been driving me crazy for a couple of weeks was the kids' toy corner. We live in an older house - when we bought it, it was a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, and we did an addition and remodel that made it a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath. Before Chloe was born, Caleb had his room and a playroom, but once Chloe came along, we had to figure out a way to manage the toys somewhere. So now, the kids each have their own room, and their rooms have some of their specific toys in them, but for more neutral toys and for items I don't want them to necessarily be handling on their own (Play-Doh anyone?), I keep them in this small alcove off the living room. It's the end of a hallway that leads to our bedroom, and it helps because it keeps the toys off the floor, accessible for the kids, and uses an otherwise dead space. We created this using two units from IKEA - this one with 8 cubes and this one with four. The bins are also from IKEA, and we chose these specific ones because they looked much nicer than the canvas bins, especially for a common are of the house.
Every few months, I go through the toys, remove toys that are broken, that they no longer play with or have outgrown, and rotate things so that they play with other toys. A couple of weeks ago, I did this, but couldn't get all the shelves to look neat and organized. So I reached out to my friend Jessica at Thoughtfully Organized and she gave me a couple of tips.
The larger wicker bins are great for keeping things out of sight, but they're not always great for keeping things organized, especially when they are overstuffed. Some of the things we have in the bins include larger toys, Mr. Potato Head and all his pieces, figurines, and soft toys. For books and some crafting supplies that are taller, we used these bins from The Container Store. I put Caleb's school related items in one, and then all the coloring books and paper in the other. On a higher shelf, I put craft items and sensory play items.
Jessica also recommended these men's shoe boxes from the container store because they can be stacked and are great for keeping things you want to see. In those, I stored some of Chloe's mini books, the kids' boogie boards, Magnatiles, coloring supplies, and paints and play doh.
The puzzle rack is from Melissa & Doug and I ordered it on Amazon.
Overall, I'm thrilled with how it looks. I can't imagine that the kids will keep it looking quite so nice, but we have a rule where they aren't supposed to take out more than one thing at a time. They don't always comply, but for the most part, they do an okay job.
Hope you're keeping your sanity, friends. I'm keeping mine one task at a time.
Since we finished the addition on our house almost four years ago, I have been wanting to do a gallery wall of some kind. We have so many beautiful photos and they're mostly stored on phones and computers, so I really wanted to display some of our favorites and put our families up on the walls of our home.
We finally decided on this wall right at the entrance of the house. We had had a big piece of art up on the wall for a few years, but we felt like it was time to make it more personal. Eddie measured the wall, I set out on Pinterest to find a sample of something we liked, and we got to work.
We went with a very symmetrical, organized look because Eddie is a symmetry and numbers guy. I also wanted to be able to do a combination of portrait and landscape orientation. So when I found this pin, I thought it was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
I did some calculations and drew up a diagram. We decided on 11x14 frames matted to 8x10, and I ordered them from Amazon. You can find them here (it is an affiliate link). Once they arrived, we put the photos in (I ordered those from a pro website I use but MPix and Artifact Uprising are two of my favorites for printing great quality images). We then used Command Hanging strips (2 strips per frame) to hang them up.
Eddie measured the space between each frame and was really meticulous about putting them up. Good thing, too, because it turned out perfect! For those of you who want to know, we left 2 inches between each frame.
I absolutely love how this wall turned out. I love walking into the house and seeing some of our most loved people on the wall, and I love how Caleb walks up to the photos and points to everyone. It really has helped to make our house feel like more of a home, and now I'm trying to figure out which other photos we can put up and where! ;)
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