Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The weather outside wasn't frightful, for once. [+video]

"You don't write many personal posts anymore." When you hear it from family, you know it must be true.

I strive to keep the business and the fun side of blogging in balance. It's incredibly tempting to accept as many opportunities as you can when you know the money will be good. All of you out there who are well aware of how much work that blogging is can attest. I also struggle with the whole "niche" idea. Do I need to fit a well-defined niche? Are my posts too random? I never know.

So when I heard those words from not only the mouth of my brother but also my husband, it was high time I readjust. Without further ado, a personal post.


Last week was the first week that it was pretty nice here in Minnesota. With the terribly gruesome winter that we had, I never thought I would see solid ground again. I was sure that I would forever be backing out of our driveway with my fingers and toes crossed because it was impossible to see over the 8 foot snow banks lining either side (no, I'm not being dramatic, and they got even bigger as the winter went on).


You would think that my poor kid had never seen sunlight and partially dead grass with the way she was ooh-ing and aah-ing over "nature". After being able to get out and play, and mix up the daily routine, it sends chills down my spine remembering being stuck indoors for practically the last 4 months.


Bean decided that "Puppy" needed to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather with us.


He was also the first one to test out going down the slide head-first on his back. Bean followed suit.


And because I love making videos, a short little clip of Bean enjoying the weather.

Monday, April 14, 2014

DIY high efficiency laundry detergent (and the ugliest laundry room you'll ever see).

You may have been a part of the discussion I had on the Peacoats & Plaid page when I decided to take the plunge and buy a brand new washing machine. I had been dealing with clothes coming out of the washer dirtier than when I had put them in since practically the day we moved into our house 3 years ago. Enough was enough.

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

Say hello to my new bundles of joy. I went into this whole ordeal planning on buying only a washing machine. Of course there ended up being a deal that was "too good to pass up", so we ended up buying a whole new set. If it meant making a task like doing the laundry seem slightly appealing, any amount of money was worth it.

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

I get such a kick out of pressing "play" to start a load. Please ignore the dust, this room gets incredibly dusty. What used to take about 6 loads to do the weekly laundry takes only 3. I've literally cut the time and energy spent doing laundry in half. Money well spent. Now, I'm saving money on laundry detergent since I started using a homemade variety. If you'd like to give it a try yourself, this is how it's made...

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

Start by running an entire bar of laundry soap such as Fels-Naptha or Zote through a cheese grater.

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

Run the grated soap through a food processor or if you don't have one, like myself, blend it up into fine bits with a blender.

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

Mix the soap bits with 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda. I somehow thought that a few cups of this mixture was going to make a gigantic batch, I'll have to make a few more to fill the container I bought for it. Luckily, all you need is 1 tablespoon per load. My clothes have never felt softer and cleaner.

Recipe for DIY laundry detergent that is high efficiency compatible.

Now if I could only do something about this sad excuse for a laundry room. Help?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Instagram Hop #28

As most of you know we LOVE Instagram so we decided to create a weekly hop for you to link up and meet new instafriends! Follow the simple steps below and have fun!

The Instagram Hop with Liz Marie Blog, Everything Emily, and Peacoats & Plaid

Friday, April 11, 2014

Time Management for Bloggers pt. 1: Time Management Tips

Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned blogger, it's easy to let the amount of time poured into your blog get out of hand. Over the course of the last 3 years that I have been blogging, I discovered that I had inadvertently found ways to save me time and valuable energy. Work smarter not harder, right? 

Time Management for Bloggers is a 2 part series, this week will be focused on a few tips that you can start incorporating into your blogging routine today.

Time Management Tips for Bloggers
original image source

Set up "systems" for the tasks you do over and over again

For example, there are a few different types of emails that I send out consistently each month. Sponsor communication, responding to co-hosting inquiries, etc. I found myself typing up essentially the same message each time I needed to send an email out. It was a massive time suck. Then... lightbulb! I took the important info from the email and saved it as a text file on my computer. Now whenever I get an email asking about co-hosting the next Collective, all I have to do is copy and paste what I have saved and add a little blurb to make it personal to who I'm sending it to.

Create a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do brain dump masterlist

I am one of those people who stress about the "un-dones". You know, the things that have to be done eventually but not necessarily right at this moment? Since I started doing a weekly brain dump to get everything off my mind and on to paper where I could check it off, I no longer stress about forgetting something important or dwell on a big project coming up. It's like, once it's off my mind I'm free to focus on the tasks at hand for the day. Less stress=more productivity.

Use daily blog to-do checklists

There are really great resources out there to help walk you through some of the tasks you should be doing each day to keep your blog humming. Tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, pinning, responding to comments, emails, editing, writing, reading, photo taking, it's enough to make a person go mental! Using a checklist helps remind you of what you should be doing for the day. Once it's done, you can pat yourself on the back for the accomplishment and relax.

Set office hours

This is something that I have decided to start incorporating TODAY. It's so easy to get sucked into the "let me just check my email quick... I just need to respond to this comment... I just need to finish up this post..." routine. I have found myself many nights coming home from a long night of teaching and immediately hopping onto my computer so that I can make a deadline, then finally getting into bed around midnight. From now on, whatever can't be done between the time I wake up until a. I head off to teach or b. until my husband comes home from work (if it's a non teaching night) won't get done. If that means less obligations and maybe less opportunities, so be it. I found myself telling my husband yesterday, "I'm always at work. There's always something that I COULD be doing work-related." and I realized how crazy that sounds. It doesn't have to be that way, but I have to learn how to shut the workaholic in me down for the night. 

Have your own time management tip you'd like to share? Leave it in the comments below! And make sure to come back next week for part two where I'll be sharing my favorite time management tools...

You may already know that this series is inspired by The Intentional Life Project. This month's theme is TIME MANAGEMENT. The Intentional Life Project will now be a monthly link up the last friday of each month. Want to take part? Come back April 25th to find out what the theme for May will be!


THE INTENTIONAL LIFE PROJECT HOSTS

The Hosts

Ginny // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Bre // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram
 

OUR APRIL CO-HOST

If you would like to co-host for a complete month, please email Bre at: peacoatsnplaid{at}gmail{dot}com.  

CK+Wedding+Pic+-+Version+3

Amy // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

THE INTENTIONAL LIFE PROJECT LINK-UP

  1. Follow your hosts and co-hosts and enjoy reading about their monthly goals!
  2. Read a few fellow link-ups and comment on their blogs. After all, the goal is to cheer your friends on!
  3. Please link up your goal status, inspiration, tips, or progress! If you want, include a photo of your goal tracker! Please link up your exact post url - not your blog's homepage, unrelated projects, or giveaways. They will be deleted.
  4. Share! Let your friends know that you want them to join in!

The Intentional Life Project