Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

How to Check Out Library Books on Your Kindle for Free

Monday, July 29th, 2019

 

Did you know that you can check out books for free just using your library card? Today I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how to borrow Kindle ebooks through your public library for free. 

Don’t have a Kindle device? 

That’s okay! 

You can also get books for free using a simple Kindle reading app on your phone or tablet. 

The reason I wanted to share this is because when I bought my Kindle Paperwhite (this is what I read on!), I had the hardest time figuring out how to borrow these books from their lending library and how to get those books that I ordered to move over to my Kindle device.

To me, it just wasn’t an intuitive process so today’s post is for anyone else who has struggled borrowing books on their Amazon Kindle or Fire tablet.

Step One: Get a Library Card

If you want to begin checking out Kindle books, you will need to begin with getting a library card from your local library. This card number is what you will use to access your account and allows you to get these free Kindle library books and audiobooks for free. 

When you get this card, you are typically assigned a pin that you will then use to access the Overdrive app that allows you to search for the books that you are interested in. If you have trouble figuring out a great library pin number, a local librarian offered the tip to make your pin the last four digits of your library card so you never forget it.

This is a great time to just confirm that your library is participating in Overdrive and also to ask about any other apps that might be available to you for digital lending. It is HIGHLY likely that your library is participating since over 11,000 libraries now offer this option. 

Step Two: Download the Overdrive Library App

Once you have confirmed that your library is participating, you will need to download the Overdrive Library App to your phone or tablet. If you do not want to use a mobile device, you can also access it online through your desktop. 

My library homepage, for example, is linked to Overdrive so I can just search directly on my desktop. 

Step Three: Sign Into Your Overdrive App

Once you have installed the app, you will select Sign Up Using Library Card  (or sign in using library card).

At this point, you will be able to search for your local library name or location. Select this library once you find it. You will want to search for the overall local library system (the county name) versus just the local branch you use.

You will then be prompted to add your library card information and pin number that you were assigned. Once you are signed in, it is time to start searching for digital books and audiobooks.

Step Four: Select and Check Out Your Books

I wanted to walk you through the step-by-step process of checking out the books, once you have the Overdrive app installed. This is where I got confused because I didn’t understand how the book was supposed to magically appear on my Kindle Paperwhite. 

Begin by searching for the book that you would like to borrow. You can search by title or author. Be sure that you are searching for the Kindle format and not the ePub because the Kindle format is what you will be reading on your Kindle device or through the Kindle app. 

Once you find your book, click BORROW to borrow this book.  Once you borrow it, you will be prompted for the timespan you would like to borrow this book for.

Make sure that you adjust this, especially if you need more time to read so you aren’t at risk of giving it up if it can’t be renewed. I always adjust my time to 21 days so I can enjoy the maximum length for borrowing times. 

Step Five: Sign Into Your Amazon Account and Borrow the Book

Once you have clicked that you want to borrow a book on the Overdrive app, it will automatically redirect you to your Amazon account to sign in. Sign into your account and then this screen will appear where it says, “Get Library Book.”  

As you can see in my screenshot, it is defaulting to the device that I use most (Amy’s 5th Kindle)…yes, we do own five in our house. 

Don’t you judge me. 

Once this has been clicked, you will find the book on your Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, or in your Kindle app on your phone or tablet. 

Step Six: Complete the Book Download

Now that you can see the book on your chosen destination, click on it to download it. You will need to have wifi to complete this step so be sure you do this at home, if you might be traveling.

Once the download is complete, you can begin reading your book. 

Step Seven: Return Your Book When You Finish 

The other thing that often confuses people is how to return your book through the library reading apps. Honestly, you don’t need to necessarily return them when you finish because once your book expires, it will automatically remove itself from your Kindle. 

Overdrive does have book limits though so if you want to check out more, you might need to return your book to do that. 

Head to your Amazon account and then to the, “Manage Your Content and Devices,” page. You will see the book(s) you have borrowed and you can click the Actions tab next to it.

As shown in this screenshot, “Return This Book,” is one of these options.

Select that to return the book to the library. 

That’s it, you have successfully borrowed a book from the Kindle store and added it to your own personal library. 

Other FAQ About Borrowing Digitally

How do I renew my library books?

Is your Kindle (Paperwhite) library book expiring? Check this page for a step-by-step tutorial on how to renew that book

What other free reading apps might the library be connected with?

Looking for more free reading apps? 

Check your local library website or ask a librarian! Our library, for example, offers Libby, Hoopla, and Flipster

We can also checkout independent documentaries and films through the Kanopy app. 

This frugal girl loves a freebie so you know that I’m using ALL THE APPS.

What about free audiobooks from the library?

Did you know you can get audio books from the library for free? Borrowing audiobooks will differ depending on the type of device you are using to listen to them. The best resource for that will be this page that explains it step-by-step depending on your digital device you are using.

I usually just listen to them on my phone through the Overdrive app directly, but you might have other options depending on the device you are using. 

Where else can I read free books through my Kindle app or device?

First of all, if you are a Prime member, you can get a FREE book every single month!

Amazon Prime has a great program called, “Amazon First Reads,” that allows Prime members to shop for a book for free before it is released to the public. 

How cool is that? 

You can check this page each month for a free book

They also generously give you two books on certain months too. These aren’t throwaway books either. Some of my favorite novels have been from this Kindle First program.

Also, as a Prime member, you have access to the Kindle Lending Library where you can borrow books for free through Amazon. 

FYI- This is NOT the same as the Kindle Unlimited paid program (another confusing element to the Amazon services). 

You can access thousands of books for free through Prime and the offerings do change monthly. 

I would suggest signing up for their newsletters to stay up-to-date on the book offerings. They often send emails that warn you if a book is going to be removed from their Kindle Lending Library program and also lets you know when new books become available.

Project Gutenberg also offers over 59,000 books for free that you also can check out! 

I borrowed a book, but I’d love to have someone read it to me. How do I do that without buying or borrowing the audiobook version?

Did you know that Alexa can read your books to you?

NO JOKE. 

Keep in mind, this won’t be the beautifully narrated audiobook version, it will be Alexa reading to you. 

Get the scoop on what Alexa can read to you over here.

Why does my library not have new releases available to me?

This article might explain the issue better and the hurdles you may face securing a new release.

I want new books though. Where can I get them for cheap?

Check my deals page A.S.A.P. Bookmark this page and check back daily for the best Amazon steals and deals.

What Kindle book should I checkout next?

You will NEVER be bored again with reading because I’m here to guide you through every second of the way. Visit my book reviews section for the best reading material or join my FREE book club so you can find and discuss books with other bookworms! I even hosted an IN REAL LIFE reading retreat for our book club members

Still not enough book ideas? This MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide has you covered!

Have any questions about reading for free on your Kindle device or app? Leave them below and I will be happy to answer them. Happy FREE reading, everyone! 

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

 

 

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How’s your fall going so far? It’s felt a little chaotic at my house. For weeks now, I’ve been saying, “We’re still getting into our school year routine.” But guys? We’ve been back to school for a while. If I can’t get my people into a routine soon, I’m going to have to change my excuse to, “Well, the holidays are just messing us up.” And then it’s winter break and the new year and the flu and spring break and end of school and summer.

Because the truth is, we’re constantly entering or leaving one busy season or another. During this stage, with two busy kids and two busy adults, we just don’t have a long stretch of “normal” to look forward to. There’s no sense in waiting to get back to normal before getting organized, finding routines, or learning how to live — because I’ll be waiting forever.

The number one thing I’ve found that makes a difference in how my kids — and I — deal with busy seasons? Sleep. Our quantity and quality of sleep makes an enormous difference in everything — in our health, our attitudes, our discipline in the other things that make life easier or otherwise better. Sleep kind of makes our world go ‘round.

And sleep is a funny thing. Everyone needs it, but everyone needs a different amount. And everyone seems to need different conditions to get good sleep. So it’s a universal need but also a personal one. Therefore, rather than tell you one, laser-focused solution that works for my family, today I’m sharing several things that seem to make a difference for at least one person in my house. Hopefully something I share will work for someone in your family, and together we can stop needing excuses for being so out of sorts as we move from season to season.

7 Habits to Help Your Kids Have a Great Morning

Know the facts

When we get busy with evening activities and homework and movie nights and one more story at bedtime, we can easily cut our kids’ nights short without realizing it. That’s why it’s good to know — and then keep in mind — how much sleep is recommended for each child, based on their age. This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics lists the recommended sleep times for each age range from four months to 18 years. 

This chart was helpful for my family as it showed me that it’s not weird for my 11-year-old to need more sleep than my 4-year-old. Last year I let my older daughter stay up later than her little sister, because I assumed she could handle it. But over the past few months I’ve realized that just isn’t true. They need different amounts of sleep, and what I assumed was wrong. Now they go to bed at the same time, which feels weird — but the AAP says is acceptable and not that weird after all.

Bathe at unusual times

Sometimes it feels like I have to choose between hygiene and sleep — for my kids and for myself! But what I’ve finally realized (it only took me how long?!) is that we don’t have to bathe (or shower) at the “usual” times. I can shower before bed instead of in the morning if I have to. My kids can bathe right after school instead of getting to bedtime and realizing we’ve run out of time and skipping it…again. It seems like a little thing, but it’s made a big difference for us. (And this tip goes for any bedtime or morning task. You can have story time right after dinner, and you can make lunches at night instead of after breakfast.)

Brain dump before bed

While I don’t often struggle with insomnia, I’ve certainly spent many nights staring at the ceiling as my worries or ideas or to-do list run through my brain on a loop. I’ve learned it’s better to just turn on my lamp, grab a notebook, and write it all down. That way, my brain can rest, knowing that I’ve captured all the things and I can tackle them the next day.

Sometimes my kids need that, too. I try to make sure I don’t shut them down if they bring up a tough subject or start telling a long story at bedtime, but when possible, I will ask if it’s something we can talk about the next day. And then, to make sure they know I’m serious, I’ll let them see me make an actual note so we don’t forget to come back to that topic or story.



Set alarms!

I use the alarms on my phone to keep me on track all day long, all week long. This is especially important for making sure we all get the sleep we need without being late for school or work. I set alarms for —

    • When we need to go upstairs to start the bedtime routine
    • When my oldest daughter needs to bring her book out to the hallway (so she doesn’t stay up super late reading…like her mama!)
    • When I need to turn off the TV and start my own bedtime routine
    • When I need to get up, at the very least a few minutes before the kids
    • When I need to wake up the kids (I need to get back to setting my 11-year-old’s alarm in her room; that helped her morning attitude a lot when we did it before.)
    • When we need to go downstairs to start packing lunches and eating breakfast
    • When my oldest needs to go to the bus stop

Without those alarms, we would be lost!

Make expectations clear 

Nearly every argument my girls and I have in the morning is about whether or not they’ve completed their morning routines: making their beds, brushing teeth, brushing hair, putting on clean clothes. It doesn’t seem hard to me, but they struggle — so writing down the morning routine and sticking it on the bathroom wall has helped. I also included what times we do things, so they know if it’s close to 7:30 and they aren’t close to ready for breakfast, they’d better get a move on!

Have your own morning routine

What makes you feel awake? Do you need coffee before you can deal with people? Or perhaps it’s a tall glass of ice water or a few minutes of stretching that gets your blood moving. For me, it’s turning on all the lights, brushing my teeth, and putting on a bra. Without those things, I am a slug — and not a very nice one either. We all win when I make sure to complete my own morning routine!

Take a moment 

Look, nobody in my house likes mornings. So I’m not about to tell you to take hours of your morning to connect with your people. But! If you can take even a few seconds to look them in the face and wish them well (on a test, with a friend, in general) or perhaps play their favorite song in the car and share a smile in the rearview mirror as you do your best car dance, I guarantee it will make a world of difference. And if you have more than a few seconds? Five-minute family devotions, love notes in the lunchbox, or a blessing prayer in the carpool line will take little time and effort, but leave you feeling like you’ve got this morning thing mastered.

Those are just a few things that help us have better mornings. We aren’t perfect, and don’t do every thing every day. But when we do our best to check most these boxes? We are more rested and less frazzled, and mornings don’t seem so bad (even to my house full of night owls).

What helps your family have a great morning? Be sure to scroll down for more great parenting articles!

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog,MaryCarver.com. She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. She is also a regular contributor to incourage.me and MothersofDaughters.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

Like this article? You might find these other parenting articles helpful too!

how to handle lying

a new way to teach your child how to tie their shoes (my kids learned in 5 minutes flat!!)

teaching kids the importance of failure

homeschooling a child with special needs

how to find & write pen pals

diy tween self-confidence kit

5 book series for kids who love harry potter

This post contains affiliate links.

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Back-to-School Meal Prep Ideas

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Back to School Meal Prep Ideas from MomAdvice.com

It’s time to bring on those meal prep ideas for packing lunches for back-to-school. I’m sharing 7 tips to nail your meal prep game for your kids and YOU. I’m excited to be partnering again with the Florida Department of Citrus for the back-to-school season and showing you some fun new strategies for lunch preparation.

It seems surreal to me that we are already talking about back-to-school, but we are just one week away from sending our kids off to school again. It is with this big occasion in mind that I look forward to getting back into our healthy eating routines and finding new ways to minimize stress during our busy weeks.

One of the ways I do that is through our meal prep routines.

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

Let’s talk about 5 really great strategies for meal prepping that can help you this year.

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com

Find New Ways to Use Up What’s Already in Your Fridge

Meal planning can save you tons of money at the grocery store, but I have the tendency to get excited about new meals without using up what we already have in our fridge.

Make a plan, but acknowledge ways that you can use up items that may be nearing their expiration date. I love frittatas, for example, because they can be whipped up from whatever you have lurking in your crisper drawer and from your weeknight meal leftovers. Today’s frittata, for example, was made from cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and feta…all items leftover our salad nights this week. Ask your kids to help you come up with combos and give them the opportunity to brunch it up at school.

If you are looking for a great recipe, check out my Chicken Pesto Frittata or my Dairy-Free Sausage & Vegetable Frittata for two great options. Either of these can omit the meat for a fun vegetarian option too.

I paired this frittata with orange juice to round out the meal. Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of Florida OJ is eight ounces for adults and four to six ounces for kids! The best part is that every glass of Florida Orange Juice provides the amazing 5. In fact, you have taste, vitamin C, folate, potassium and no added sugar in just one glass.

back-to-school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

back-to-school lunch prep ideas from momadvice.com Consider the Snack Pack Trend

We caught a commercial for, “protein packs,” that you could purchase for your lunches that had meat, cheese, and nuts in them.  Even though my husband can’t cook, even he was laughing at how ridiculous it was that people couldn’t put these together themselves.

Snacks packs aren’t a new concept, but they ARE a perfect concept if you have a kid that is a snacker or if you happen to be a snacker yourself.

Utilizing toothpicks, stack a slice of lunch meat, a grape tomato, and a cube of cheese for a delicious bite that is easy enough that your kids can do it (and make their own dang lunch!)

I paired these with fresh veggies, a little ranch, and roasted salted almonds.

Want to add some fruit? Consider an apple! Using an apple slicer like this, slice the apples and then pull them back together in their original shape around the core with a rubber band.

Did you know that for additional insurance you can brush the apple with some orange juice to really help your apple retain its crisp appearance and cut down on browning? Now that’s a #lunchhack

prep peanut butter & jelly

Kids Keeping it Basic? Prep That Too!

I had one child who refused to eat anything except a good old-fashioned PB&J. I admired that she knew what she liked and that she kept it simple for her mom. That said, even those simple tasks rob us of precious time to get ready in the morning so I started meal prepping even these simple sandwiches.

If your child’s favorite is this sandwich too, simply spread peanut butter on both slices of bread to create a wall to prevent the jelly from making your bread soggy. Smear your jelly on in the center of one slice of bread and then put the two slices together. By creating an assembly line of sandwiches for your week you only dirty up the kitchen once and get back a little more time to enjoy your morning cup of coffee.

back to school meal prep ideas from momadvice.com

 

orange chicken meatballs recipe from momadvice.com

Plan Around Your Own Guilty Pleasures

Have you thought about packing yourself a lunch? I have the tendency to get out of the habit of caring for myself when the back-to-school rush happens and find myself grabbing takeout or “forgetting to eat,” when I don’t have something convenient to grab.

Jot down what your takeout weaknesses are and start searching Pinterest for some great alternatives for your meal prep day.

For me, Chinese is my weakness so these Make-Ahead Baked Orange Chicken Meatballs were just the ticket for my meal prep day. The sauce, of course, gets all of its orange goodness from a little Florida OJ!

Don’t Have Time To Make Separate Lunches? Double Up on Those Dinners!

Life gets chaotic this time of year so if you can’t devote a day to making lunches, consider doubling up on dinner ideas instead. For some great cold options, here are a few of my own recommendations!

Quinoa-Salad-In-A-Jar-7 quinoa salad in a jar with spinach & tomatoes

chicken caesar pasta salad chicken caesar pasta salad

Berry Pecan Salad

berry & candied pecan salad with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette (make with or without chicken)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com caprese pasta salad

Roast Frozen Chicken in Bulk roasted chicken (perfect for salads & wraps)

Don’t forget those sides!

make-ahead hard boiled eggs make-ahead baked hard boiled eggs

Smoothie Bowl Recipe smoothie bowl recipes

roasted garlic hummus roasted garlic hummus

No-Bake Gluten-Free Granola Bars no-bake gluten-free granola bars

  trail mix energy bites trail mix energy bites

I hope that today’s ideas inspire you to try something new this year with your meal prep. Self-care is just as important so be sure to take some time out for YOU too with a few of my favorite self-care tips. Thank you to the Florida Department of Citrus for letting me share about these tips with you! Be sure to make Florida OJ a part of your daily routines to help boost your immune system during this challenging mom season.

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

 

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5 Natural Ways To Stop Anxiety Quickly

Friday, August 4th, 2017

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

Do you struggle with anxiety? When we met with the specialist to talk about my diagnosis, she asked me this very question. Embarrassed, I responded that I did.  She quickly assured me not to be ashamed of my anxiety because it is often a symptom that goes along with all my other health issues.

Anytime there are big changes in my routine, it often sends my anxiety into a tailspin. Big things like discovering you have a connective tissue disease definitely sent me spiraling. Little things though, like the start of each school year and doing allthethings, can also send me down the tunnels of anxiety.

An admitted perfectionist and people pleaser with anxiety?

Yep, it is often the reason why I suffer from sleepless nights and stomach aches.

This year I have really been working on my responses to things and have been finding natural remedies to curb my anxiety symptoms. I wanted to share them with you today because they have helped me so much.  Here are 5 things I’ve discovered can stop my anxiety quickly.

mark-twain-quote

Working through the “then what” scenario

I shared that this year I decided to see a counselor to help me get my life back on track. We talked about changing some of my routines and habits to reduce stress and help me be more productive at my job. As a people pleaser, I find it difficult to let people down in my life. He worked with me on talking through these situations and now I use this trick when talking myself through tricky conversations or scenarios I might be faced with.

For example, my body’s new limitations made working and lifting food at our food pantry hard to do. Instead of admitting that it wasn’t a good fit for me, I continued to do it and flare up an elbow issue that I had. I told my counselor how it was causing strain, but I worried that I would let the director down.

Him- Why can’t you tell her that you can’t work the food pantry?

Me- I made a commitment and I know that there aren’t a lot of people to help. I love doing it, but it is causing pain.

Him- What do you think she would say if you told her that you couldn’t work the food pantry?

Me- Well, she will probably be very disappointed in me. She will think I’m a flake. I told her I was going to do something and then I didn’t do it.

Him- Do you think she will be angry?

Me- I don’t know.

Him- What if someone told you that they had an injury and couldn’t do a job for you?  What do you think you would say?

Me- I would be disappointed that I didn’t have help.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would tell them I’m sorry they are hurting and I understand.

Him- Then what?

Me- I would probably find someone else to help.

My initial reaction is everyone will be angry with me if I change a routine or have to bail on a commitment, but a lot of times these scenarios never happen. Of course, as soon as I told her that I couldn’t do it because I had an elbow issue and was starting physical therapy she told me she would miss me, but COMPLETELY UNDERSTOOD. She graciously said she would be happy to have me back whenever I felt better.

Really?

It was NO BIG DEAL.

Working through the then what, then what, then what helps me guess what might happen and put away irrational fears about situations in my life, but it also helps me prepare a response ahead of time for the changes I make that are healthy for me. You can’t plan for everything, of course, but it has helped tremendously.

The stop sign trick

Joanna Goddard, from Cup of Jo, shared a really great trick that she learned from her therapist that helped her with anxiety. Her therapist told her that when her spiraling thoughts started that she should start visualizing a stop sign.

A small switch that is completely free?

Sign me up!

This week, for example, as we prepare for the new school year, my anxiety really starts to ramp up. I will lay awake thinking about the physicals I forgot to schedule, the new bus schedule, the school supplies we haven’t bought, the uniforms…. Once the floodgates are opened, the anxiety of the upcoming year starts pouring out.

Now I have started to use this tip once my mind starts going and it does, truly, help interrupt the anxiety routine.

I didn’t get the school supplies… STOP SIGN

I forgot to schedule physicals… STOP SIGN

I…STOP SIGN.

The 7-second rule

One element of my anxiety is saying the wrong thing in social situations. I will be having a great day with friends just talking and enjoying each other’s company- all in all, a perfect day. On the drive home though, my mind starts thinking again about EVERYTHING I said. Did I say too much? Was that wrong of me to say? What if their feelings were hurt? Why did I share that?

It goes on and on.

I read about the 7-second rule though and I have started to apply it to my life. I’m generally (*ahem*) good people and I try really hard to say the right things. I would never intentionally hurt someone with my words and the things that I typically worry about, I’m pretty sure no one else is replaying over and over again in THEIR mind.

Only allowing myself 7-seconds to replay things has changed this routine of replaying the night over and over and over again in my head to a mere few seconds. I also try to extend the same grace to other people and even share the tip with them when they apologize to me for something they have worried about. Seriously, 7-seconds and moving on.

Stop looking for it

I have a BAD habit of looking for things to become anxious about- do you do this too?

For example, I had a terrible nighttime routine of checking Instagram and Facebook right before I would go to sleep. I would, essentially, look for things to be anxious about and then try to go to bed. Social media, for me, has ALWAYS been a trigger, but it is also a necessary part of my work.

Yet, let’s be honest,  it is not a necessary part of my work to start scrolling at 10PM.

Now I turn off all social media in the evenings and keep normal “business hours” with my time. I also don’t go hunting for things to be upset about (another REALLY bad habit) on my feeds. In the morning, I seem to have the ability to distance myself more from things that cause me anxiety and I can apply that ol’ stop sign rule when my thoughts start spiraling.

Peace Over Worry

Get involved in an anxiety interrupter

I am sure you have heard that yoga is helpful for anxiety, but it isn’t necessarily the movement that helps my anxiety. It is the fact that it is a mind interrupter.

When doing yoga, the instructor is guiding us through movement with directions and oftentimes isn’t demonstrating the movement. I have to think really hard to stay with the flow of the class and remember one pose to the next. I become so focused on moving through poses that I can’t let my mind spiral.

Anxiety interruption also happens when I go to dance class because I’m so focused on following the movement that my brain doesn’t have time to think about anything else. When all my brain cells are dedicated to one thing, there are no brain cells to contribute to my irrational worries.

I have been looking more for healthy anxiety interrupters like this in my life. Walks with husband around the neighborhood, a good book, podcasts, volunteering, a documentary, doing things (and being present) with my kids are all good examples of good things that have helped interrupt my anxiety routine.

Of course, do not be afraid to talk to your physician or a therapist about your anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone!

Natural Products/Services That Also Help My Anxiety

Calm Now Supplement (I take this in the afternoon)

Natural Calm The Anti-Stress Drink (great bedtime routine)

L-Theanine (I used this with great success before taking the Calm Now supplement)

Calm Meditation App (the sleep stories really help me in the evenings)

Epsom Salts (I buy them in bulk) with 5 drops of lavender oil for a nighttime bath

Sleepytime Extra Tea

Kill News Feed Plugin

Facebook Unseen

What YOU Say Helps

T. says, “I read somewhere when in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack is to tell yourself I can anything for 10 minutes. It’s what got me through a 6 hour drive just hours after we were involved in a car accident that totaled my car.”

J. says, “I  was on medication for anxiety/depression for years and found that while it helped the anxiety, it was affecting other areas of my life so I went off them and started looking for natural options.

I do a lot of the things you talked about in your article, especially the interrupter. I use exercise, and I was thinking that it was the exercise itself that was helpful, but I think it is also the interrupter. I often do a workout on my lunch break at work and it really helps me to shut off the stress of the morning and get back to a more neutral head space.

I am also a creature of routine and habits, which is great for organization and generally keeps the anxiety manageable, but when things throw the routine off, it is often extremely difficult to deal with. Sometimes I get worries that play on a loop in my head, like when I’ve texted my son who is out somewhere and he doesn’t text back when I think he should and I start imagining the absolute worst and it won’t stop until he either texts back or gets home. If my husband is home, I can tell him specifically what is in my head, what the specific worry is and he helps me to break it down and either get rid of it or at least lessen the anxiety a bit.”

H. says,“I replay my conversations or what I post in my head all of the time, like you! When my anxiety gets out of control I have meds, but one time I didn’t have any on me and I was having a panic attack and luckily my husband happened to be with me and he told me to get outside with him and go for a walk. That interrupter (like the yoga you mentioned) really calmed me and stopped the attack from happening. Interrupters are really good for me. I found that coloring in the adult coloring books helps a lot too. I really try and go more natural unless it gets to a point where I can’t control it.  I also use Tulsi Tea and it helps, but it could probably be a placebo thing, but I don’t care!”

M. says,  “I have been trying to get into a routine of meditation. Just 10 minutes a morning. I have been using the app 10% Happier. I love their logical approach and the concept of ‘just begin again.’  Since I have been doing it I’ve noticed that when my mind starts racing later in the day, or even when it wakes me up at night, if I take 30 seconds and focus on my breath it really does reset my brain. I think it is the same idea as the interrupter.”

Katie says, “I take a magnesium supplement before bed that has really helped me with sleeping. Since I started taking it, for the first time in years I am able to fall asleep easily. Another thing I’ve noticed is I get significantly fewer headaches taking magnesium. In general, getting on a vitamin routine has helped in a lot of ways. For example, I found out I tested low for vitamin D and that had a correlation with my stress too. Taking omegas and B12 has helped managing moods when I’m stressed.

Another trigger for me is if I am not drinking enough water or eat meals too late. My husband is really good at letting me know that I need to eat or drink something when he can tell I’m getting stressy and it’s a nice gentle reminder to take care of my physical needs but also “check myself” on my emotional state. It works well for us because I know he is doing it out of love and not to poke at me.

I love my essential oil diffuser with lavender or other calming blends in the evening in our bedroom.

I have moved the FB and Instagram icons off the front page of my phone and put them in a separate folder on a page I have to scroll to at times to help break the habit of getting on just because I pick up my phone.”

Another J. says, “I’ve had success in managing my anxiety with various herbal tinctures and elixirs, which I always fear makes me sound all “woo-woo crazy”, but I’m so much more consistent about taking them than sipping tea. They’re fast! 🙂 My favorites are Motherwort (<– the real workhorse of the bunch!), Borage Flower elixir (calming and mellowing), Milky Oats tincture (<– also a great one for dulling intense responses), Wild Rose Elixir (awesome for brightening mood and promoting optimism), and Skullcap tincture (my go-to for stopping racing thoughts in their tracks at bedtime.)”

A. says, “One thing that my therapist worked with me on was journaling, which I use not only as a way to get my thoughts out, but as a way to keep myself organized. When things get chaotic and disorganized I can always feel the anxiety start to ramp up.”

 

5 Natural Anxiety Remedies

If you liked this article you might enjoy my natural ways to relieve joint pain article! I’d love to hear from you some natural ways you have found to reduce anxiety in your life?

How to End the Year Well

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

Last week I read an article about how to create a dumpster fire ornament, in honor of the year we’ve had. It was hilarious – and sad. I mean, yeah, I laughed, but only so I didn’t cry. Because, for a million reasons, this year has been difficult at best and devastating at worst.

I know I’m not alone in looking forward to a fresh start as we flip over the calendar.

But before we head into a new year, we still have a few days left in this one – and I’m determined to make the best of them. Rather than simply throwing up our hands in disgust or defeat, let’s take back what’s remaining of this challenging year. Let’s celebrate what actually worked or went well, and let’s give thanks for the blessings we received in the midst of hardships.

No matter how this year has treated us, I believe we can still end well. Here’s how:

1. Make a gratitude list. I know, I know, you’ve heard this one a thousand times. But there’s a reason for that: it works! No matter how bad a situation (or calendar year) might be, we always have something to be thankful for.

Are you healthy? Do you have a place to live? Is your family nearby – or far away? Do you have at least one person to love and who loves you? Did you read a good book or see a great movie? Have you created a piece of art or finished a project? Did you make it through Thanksgiving or the election cycle or a trip to the post office without coming to blows with anyone? Then you have something to be thankful for!

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

2. Look at the photographic evidence. Instead of clicking over to Facebook one more time, open up the gallery on your phone. Scroll through your own photos and take time to appreciate those goofy smiles, those messy faces, the trips to the zoo or the doctor’s office, the impromptu road trips or picnics, the selfies and the you-can’t-make-me-smile serious faces. Remember the sunset, the finish line, the delicious dessert, the colorful leaves.

Whether you’ve already printed all your photos and placed them in a lovely album or scrapbook, or they’re stacked up on your phone (and hopefully saved in the cloud), I bet you have some evidence that this year brought something lovely, something beautiful, something good.

3. Find the silver linings. I’m not sitting at a desk gazing out the window to a pastoral scene as I type this post. Nope. I’m sitting in my living room, balancing my laptop on a TV tray while my toddler sits on my lap smelling slightly of her overnight diaper and watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And as often happens in our house, Daniel Tiger is sharing a message that is almost unnervingly relevant for our day. Daniel and his friends are singing about disappointment, and here’s the advice they have for us all: “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.”

Seriously, Daniel Tiger? Seriously.

You really can’t argue with that preschool wisdom. And as I’ve reflected on the last year, it really is something I’ve considered. What are the silver linings hiding on the edges of this hard season?

For me I’ve had to face how my fear of confrontation has led to unhealthy relationships and behaviors. (Which is, initially, still a bummer but ultimately a good thing to realize.) I’ve also been forced to stop waffling on some political issues as this divisive year has made it clearer than ever what my priorities and values are. And, most importantly, going through a tough season is always a catalyst for appreciation and gratitude for me, making me more thankful than ever for my family, my freedoms, and my faith. All of these silver linings come at the cost of some very dark clouds, but I am grateful for them nonetheless.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

4. Give back – and then some. One of the most encouraging messages I’ve seen following some of this year’s troubles is a call to action. No matter where you fall on all the issues that have divided our world, every one of us can reach out to others, serve others, love others. Just like the well-known and oft-quoted advice from Gandhi suggests, rather than complaining about a dumpster fire of a season, be the change you wish to see in the world instead.

The benefit goes beyond what you give to other people, too, because not only does helping those in need combat injustices you perceive, it also helps you adjust your perspective. It gives you a bigger picture and more accurate way to gauge your own circumstances. It also gives you a sense of more control and therefore increases your overall satisfaction. Talk about win-win!

5. Don’t wait for January 1. We don’t have to start a new habit on a Monday, and we don’t have to wait for January 1 to turn over a new leaf of gratitude, compassion, and positivity. We can do that today. The world may seem like it’s spinning off its axis some days, but we are still in control of our own choices. We get to decide how we receive news, how we process situations, how we respond to circumstances. We get to choose.

Let’s make the best of the days we have, friend, no matter what the calendar says. Let’s be kind when we don’t have to, let’s be thankful even when it’s difficult, let’s look for the good and be the good. Let’s end this year well.

How to End the Year Well from MomAdvice.com

 

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5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page

Monday, May 16th, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

This year I wanted to get serious about my Facebook page. I got in on developing my page a little late, spent very little time on it, and experienced a long plateau in growth for months. My page was super boring so it was no wonder that no one wanted to interact on it. Heck, I didn’t even like it. I really needed to grow my Facebook page, but it needed to be in easy ways that could fit into our busy life.

I made it a business goal to grow this to page to 20,000 this year and to buckle down for one month to see if I could begin growing my audience again. Last week, I hit my 20K in fans (woohoo!!) so I was pretty pumped about this little milestone.

The question I get about this is, “Did this increase your pageviews on your website?”

My answer is not really.

Let’s be honest, Facebook wants you to pay to play. The traffic seems to only really grow when I boost (pay to advertise-be sure to target those ads!) my posts. So, if I am not experiencing growth, why would I want to invest any time in this platform?

Well, if you do sponsored content writing you know that your reach determines your rate.

Bottom line, the bigger my audience I have, the more I can charge for my posts. 

But, wait…mo money mo problems, right? Nah! I want to show you my 5 easy (and, let’s be honest, a bit lazy!) ways to grow your FB page WITHOUT creating new content.

No charge at all for the lazy advice, but I would appreciate your LIKE on my page

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Audience

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Get on a Schedule

Once a week, I sit down and schedule out my entire week of shares. I have experimented with lots of different times for sharing and with my audience, the times that have worked for me are 2:30PM EST (when moms are typically waiting for their kids to get out of school) & 8:30PM EST (when moms are settling in with their wine & Facebook time). My audience is moms so I can just guess when the are on Facebook based on my own Facebook habits.

You can experiment a bit with your sweet spot by trying out different times at first and then figuring out which seem to work best with your audience. You could also keep a close eye on a boosted post and see when the likes are increasing and gauge that as roughly a good time to start posting. Once you figure it out, you can make a schedule for sharing content.

I sit down with pen and paper, map out a week, and check off each day with the two shares.

Can you share more?

Go for it!

I don’t have time to do more than that and I don’t want to waste precious money trying to get someone else to do it for me right now. Two works for me, along with my own personal content shares,  for enough to grow the site at a steady pace.

Here is the thing, I only share what I find funny or compelling. A huge pet peeve of mine is link-bait sharing (“You’ll never believe what this man did when he saw this homeless person, it will shock you….”) or just crap sharing all day. If it isn’t funny to me, if I would be annoyed trying to click through slideshows, if I would never do that recipe/craft/eat that forty decker burger (tacos…maybe!), I’m not sharing it on my page.

Those people might have attracted a million people for sharing, but that’s not the kind of audience I want to grow, for me personally. 

(mic drop)

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Find Great Content to Actually Share

Where do I find all this funny and engaging stuff? I do it in two ways. First, at the bottom of your Insights page (under the Overview tab), you have something called, “Pages to Watch.” You can pick pages that have a huge following and add them to your Pages to Watch list or sites with similar audiences. I try to pick ones that share similar content as me to follow because I know my readers will love it.

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Once you click on the pages you are watching, you can see the week’s top posts for each of those sites. Since I am typically one week later on the sharing (since I do this weekly), I schedule a share for the following week, allowing me to recirculate the same content, but after a little bit of a break between shares. These top posts are usually a gold mine of great stuff since this is what people are really loving.

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

The second thing I do, when scrolling through my personal feed, is I look for posts that my personal community is sharing. In the corner of that post, you can click on it and save the link. Just doing this at the bus stop gives me a good week of materials (rounded out with the pages I’m watching). You can then go to your Facebook homepage and click on the Saved button which will give you everything you have saved for the week. Done!

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Move Your Instagram Feed to Your Page

I began to realize that I got way more interaction on my personal page then I ever did on my site page. Let’s be honest, all the good stuff was going on my personal page though so why would anyone ever feel a connection to my page?

I switched where IG shared my pictures over to my Facebook page and this added enough personality to not make it only a giant place of funny shares, but that I’m there too. It breaks it up, adds my personal touch, and adds zero extra work to my day!

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Invite Them To Your Table

Did you know that you can invite people to like your page after they have enjoyed one of your posts?

Yup, you sure can!

When you go on your page, just open up who has liked your posts and you can send them an invitation to like your page. As you can see here, the ones that have already Liked it are grayed out and the ones that have already been invited are grayed out. That means you won’t spam your guests, but that you always have offered this invitation once. For more details on this, read this post

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com When a post goes viral (and if you know the secret formula to that, let me know!), you have a lot of new friends that you can invite without paying a dime for it and with minimal work.

Heck, you could pay your kids to do this for you.

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Keep Track of What is Working For You (And Not)

On your Insights page you can see your posts and how far they are reaching. Be sure to sort by reach or engagement to really get a good insight into what people are loving.  It helps to give me an idea of what people are sharing and what resonates with them.

I can give you three themes that will always resonate with them.

1. Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh.

2. Mom, you are good enough.

3. But when you feel like you aren’t, here’s some stuff that will help.

Isn’t that what moms all share?

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

Case in point- reaching almost 63,000 people this week. That’s some funny stuff, right? Wouldn’t you share this too?

PS- I’m the one on the right, I just look like the one on the left (meaning the apron, not the body).

One Bonus Point (if you feel ambitious)

Since your Facebook audience aren’t really seeing all that you are posting (particularly your personal page), consider starting a FB group to build community again! Not only are you finding your true audience and fans, you are able to share your posts directly to them as well as use that platform for affiliate marketing. In our group, for example, I spend the morning hunting for great Kindle deals that our bookworms will love and share one post in the morning.

Last month I sold over 300 Kindle books, primarily through this group. As someone striving to make smarter passive income choices, this feels authentic and helps keep my website going.

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page from MomAdvice.com

What a happy day to reach a goal and I didn’t have to create more content to do it!

#winning!

Don’t forget to give me a like– I’d really love you to join my table! Plus, you will save me the hassle of inviting you (wink, wink!).

There you have it- schedule shares out once a week, save the stuff your friends are sharing, invite them to your table, keep track of what’s working (and do more), and get a little personal.

What are some successful ways you have found to grow your Facebook audience?

 

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14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

When I first began managing my household, I happened upon a home management binder that really worked for our family. The binder became our family Bible and each year I would order a new set of sheets to keep the same binder going for our family for the next year. Last year when I went to order my sheets, the company no longer existed and I felt lost without my trusty home management binder system. I talked with our amazingly talented craft contributor, Sarah Milne, to see if she could help me execute a binder with the same principles, but a fresh design that would make managing a home fun.  She created the most beautiful set of printables ever and I am so excited to share these with you today.

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

What Is a Home Management Binder?

When I say that a home management binder can be a Bible for a family, I really do mean that. A well-designed binder, which I really think we offer with these printables, helps you manage everything in your household in one place.  This binder is housed typically in a central location in your home and contains everything your family needs to have on-hand from your family calendar, your to-do list, important contact information that you want to have at a moment’s notice (particularly for someone who might babysit), the meal plan for the week, grocery lists, a price sheet, and all you need to run your family’s finances smoothly.

I recommend storing this binder  and then purchasing a set of pocketed dividers where you can tuck important information that you might need to refer to. I took a picture of my pockets for you and then realized that it is all pretty personal so you will have to take my word for it that this is where you put the good stuff. When school starts, in particular, you will find your mailbox filled with fliers for events, important forms that need to be filled out, appointment reminders, and invitations. Instead of piling them on a desk or tacking them on the fridge, use the pockets so you always know where to find these items when you need them. I also like to keep an extra pocket or two in the back for the randomness in my life- consider it another junk drawer, if you will.  I have also found that a good spot in the home for daily reference is in your family’s command center.

We have created header pages for each section and I do recommend printing these on heavy-duty cardstock so that they can hold up to the abuse of being referenced daily!

14 FREE Home Management Binder Printables

What is Included In Our Home Management Binder Packet?

First, I just want to say that this is the just the beginning. I plan to come up with more sheets that you can use for all of your home management needs and this will be an ongoing project for MomAdvice.com. I want this to be useful to you so please, please let me know in the comments if there is anything you would like to see that we are missing in our packet. It will help us when we design the next round of sheets for you!

In our packet you will find:

Family Budget Pages

Grocery Price Sheet (for comparison shopping)

Grocery List Sheet

Menu Planner Sheet

Family Calendar

To-Do List

Contact Sheet

Header Pages for Each Section (to print on cardstock)

MomAdvice Newsletter

 

What is the Catch to These “Free” Printables?

Honestly, I paid a lot of money each year to update my binder with new sheets, but I didn’t want to charge for these.

We realize that there is so much happening on MomAdvice each week that it can be difficult to keep up with. I hired another designer to create a beautiful weekly newsletter for our readers that I would love for you to subscribe to. This email newsletter only is sent once a week to our readers (unless we have a special announcement/giveaway) and I promise to never, never spam you. In this newsletter, we feature everything that is happening for the week and this is where our subscribers can access the free printables and additional freebies that we offer ONLY TO NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS.  It is beautiful, simple, mobile-friendly, and fast to scroll through.  I promise, I will never send you junk. I know your time is valuable and so is mine- I am committed to a very useful newsletter.

Honestly though, I realized that we needed to offer some type of incentive to get you to join my newsletter and this is our thank you for letting me come in your inbox once a week.  That is the only catch with getting free printables from MomAdvice.com.

If you are interested in receiving 14 free home management printables, just input your email below or in the sidebar and we will send you the link to your packet as our thank you for being a subscriber (look for it in the final welcome email). Subscribers will have access to our additional printables as they become available. Note: if you already subscribe to the Mom Advice Newsletter, be sure to look in your inbox for a special email that contains the link for your set of these printables! If you can’t seem to get the form to work with your browser, just look over to your right in the sidebar. You will see a handy form there too that works with all browsers! We appreciate you so much! Thank you! 

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 This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

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Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

It’s been a long time since I have shared some pictures of our home. I have been in the thick of organizing my craft room and today I wanted to share with you some ideas for organizing your own craft space in your home.

For my part on the Walmart craft team, they requested that I tackle a craft project. I made a special request that I could share with you today my organized craft space and see if I could find any fun additions to my space at their store and they agreed. So today instead of crafting it up, I am showing off what I have been up to in my space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Let’s start from the very beginning. Three years ago, this was our space that I envisioned turning into our office space. We have a tri-level home, now lovingly called a quad now that we finished this fourth level, and this was what we started with. This space was where we threw our stuff that we didn’t know what to deal with. We had to majorly declutter and we had to save enough cash to make the updates to our home. We were able to accomplish both (loan free!) and create the space I had been dreaming of.

I am starting with this picture to show you that maybe there is an area in your home that could be your special space and you just don’t know it. Maybe it just requires a fresh eye, a bit of decluttering, and a few smart craft solutions to carve a space just for you.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Here is my craft and office space today. When I post these types of pictures, people ask me where I found certain things. Here are some of the things you will find in my space.

Floral Chairs- Found at a local Value City (no longer available-sadness)!

Green Side Table- A side table we owned, but spray painted & distressed

Owl Lamp & Burlap Lamp Shade–  Walmart

Record Table- Thrift Shop Find Stained & Painted

Swivel Metal Stool- Home Decorators

Knitted Leaf Centerpiece- Handmade

Everyday I’m Hustling Pillow- Michelle Dwight Designs

Record Frames- H&M

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Crafting and organization do not go hand in hand for me.  I spent a good month getting this room organized and trying to figure out the best solutions for my space. Here are some of the solutions I found inexpensively at Walmart.

Glass Jars– I had all of my craft supplies tucked away in baskets. This meant I spent a lot of time digging through baskets and trying to figure out where I tucked all my crafting odds & ends. Glass jars truly helps me visualize what I have and where it is. I found the smaller jars for just $4.97 and my giant 2 gallon glass jar is the perfect home for my ribbon collection (priced at $9.97).

Clear Clipboards– As a craft blogger, I always have a running to-do list for my site and craft projects. I utilized this to-do list printable (previously featured in our DIY Homework stations) and mounted them on these clear clipboards ($3.88)  with 3M hooks ($3.67) on my wall. I also have my favorite Mead Wall Calendar I buy every year to keep track of when all my projects are due ($7.97).

Metal Bins- Over in the closet solutions, I found a metal tub that I could use to organize my knitting needles. When you start really building up your knitting needle collection, you may have four or more different sizes of the same size needle. I was constantly digging through baskets to find the right needles. I decided to use manilla envelopes and label them #0-15 and then put my needles for each size in these envelopes. This saves me tons of time hunting for the right needles and makes it easy to see what I might need to buy. I put all of these in this metal tub ($9.74) and it is on top of my newly organized craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Two things we purchased to finish out my crafting space was a crafting table and a crafting cart that I could roll out into the middle of our office when I needed to do my crafting. We found this Martha Stewart Collapsible Crafting Table & Crafting Cart on Home Decorators. If you are struggling with a small space, this is a dream come true. You can fold down one side if your space is small or open it all the way out if you need a large surface to work on.

This space also doubles as an indoor photography studio when the weather isn’t cooperating. I have my photography backdrops stored in the gift wrap center and can really spread my work out, if I need to on this space.

I spent an entire weekend whittling down my craft supplies to what I truly needed in my craft cart. I now everything I need right at my fingertips. I had to keep reassuring myself that it was okay to part with some of my craft supplies. If it hadn’t been used in the last year, it was definitely something that could be donated to free up precious space in my craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.comAs you can see, I can wheel them over to corners in our office so they don’t get in the way. I am so thankful for these smart solutions for our space. I am also thankful that I finally feel organized in this space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

And as a good old-fashioned reminder that all good things should be enjoyed in moderation, I found this old-fashioned closed sign over in the office supplies at Walmart ($1.97). I mounted a 3M clip upside down and hooked it on the back of my computer. This now offers an in-my-face reminder of how I should be spending my evenings.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my craft space! Feel free to ask me any questions and I promise to try to help!

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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What Do You Do All Day? The Real Story Behind My Niche Blog!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “What exactly is your job?” It is one of those things that people are often curious about, and admittedly are confused about,  since my job is so difficult to explain. Today I wanted to offer a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to run a niche blog.

I have been blogging for 9 1/2 years now which makes me a dinosaur in this business! The blog that you see today is very different than the blog I started out with. The site has grown a lot over the years and many  of you have been through all of its growing pains. For those of you that have been following our journey, I wanted to share with you what my business has evolved into.

What is a Typical Day Like For You?

I am a busy mom of two kiddos so my day-to-life is probably a lot like yours. I handle the day-to-day routines and schedules of my kids. I take my kids to their extra curricular activities, I volunteer weekly at my kid’s school helping with kids that are struggling with reading, we go to worship once a week, and I do my best to workout at the gym three days a week.

Every pocket of time that I have beyond that though is spent working on projects for one of the many freelance clients I write for. I am either shopping for my clients, creating tutorials for craft/diy/food, photographing projects, or writing for them. Since many of my clients are running on magazine calendar deadlines, you will often find me shopping for Easter supplies in the dead of winter or working on Christmas crafts in the Fall.

Even my free time is often accounted for because I share it with you. I try to read four books a month for our reviews and you will rarely find me sitting still when I am watching television because I am usually working on a craft project at the same time for the blog.

Much like you, I am sure, I am pretty beat at the end of the day! By the time the kids go to bed, I am ready for bed myself. I usually head to bed pretty early so I can start the whole routine again!

Who Works With You?

I think one of the things that people have found most surprising about our site is that I was the only writer & contributor on my site for over nine years alone. My husband did all of the coding and design of our site and I managed all the content.

When our site experienced a lot of growth from Pinterest, I realized that there was no way that I could manage all of this on my own. My email inbox had over 50,000 unopened emails, my taxes and paperwork for my business were a mess, and I had been treating my work like a hobby rather than a business.

This last month I hired a virtual assistant to help  me with some of the things my readers had come to expect here, but didn’t really showcase my personality- the weekly freebie list, our weekly notebook, and our giveaway link list. She got my inbox down to zero within two months and I finally felt like I could breathe a little bit. She is, in one word, amazing, and has brought back a quality of life that I felt like I had been lacking.

We also hired an accountant to handle our taxes this year, something that had burdened us greatly over the years, and I also started using FreshBooks (affiliate) to help me keep track of my accounting better (a recommendation made by my amazing friend over at Dine & Dish). Invoicing, following up on payments with clients, and paperwork for them takes up a good portion of my day so any people/products I can use to make my day go smoother really helps me.

embroidery thread egg for Kenmore

 

Why Do You Work For So Many Brands?

I write a lot of content for brands because, frankly, it helps pay the bills. I write professionally for five to six clients monthly and those projects help our family financially, but much of the earnings go towards keeping my site up and running.

When our site was smaller, we had an inexpensive web host and I was able to do everything on my own. Our site grew by 100,000 users this year alone, which is incredible and awesome, but our web host couldn’t handle the traffic! It was time to invest in the business and move to Liquid Web (affiliate), who can handle anything we throw at them. We currently spend about a thousand dollars a month to pay for web hosting, photography props/equipment, our accountant, and my assistant. Many of my projects that I write for just go towards keeping the business afloat and paying my self-employment taxes.

No, I Was Asking How Much You Make?

Yup, I get asked that all the time although I have NEVER asked anyone what their salary is. It is such a weird job that people are always dying to know how much you make. I make a full-time income thanks to the companies I work for as a content writer/creator, ambassador, and spokesperson for. If I was living on our ad revenue alone, we could pay for our web host and maybe a bill or two. In all honesty though,  my income fluctuates a lot because it depends on what jobs come through for me for the year. This past year all my time was devoted towards my book which was a rewarding experience, but also prevented me from taking on a lot of paying jobs.

How Do You Do It All?

I don’t think I do more than many of the other working parents that I know, but people constantly ask me this. I think the main reason is because when people do these types of projects around their house they aren’t pointing a bunch of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram traffic over to it like,

“LOOK AT ME! I MAKE THINGS! LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM!”

Here is an example of a typical month of projects  for my clients.

I knitted a scarf for a new yarn line that Walmart was carrying.

I painted vases with my kids for Kenmore.

I took my kids over to the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit at Brookfield Zoo to write a review for a local magazine I write for.

I gathered up ideas for things to do with old books for Goodwill.

I made homemade laundry detergent for Walmart.

I made a cookbook with my kids for Kenmore (post coming soon!)

I made whole wheat toasted tarts with Walmart.

There are several other projects, but this gives you an idea of what I am up to. If I look at it as a whole, I am completely overwhelmed. On any given week I could have anywhere between two to four projects for clients. Since I do all of  the shopping, crafting/cooking and then my own writing & photography for these projects, each project is very time-consuming.

I also am maintaining the writing that I do here on  my blog like sharing yummy recipes for pecan-crusted chicken fingers, whipping up Peep-tinis, & sharing all those fun book reviews and making sure we have plenty of content for the rest of the week. All of that, and I haven’t even touched on the social media side of things which is just as consuming now that my readers can connect with me through every available social media channel!

Usually the most surprising amount of time I spend is on the shopping and the staging for photos. I will get a brilliant idea for a client and then get to the store and find out that the items I need aren’t sold there or that I have to completely rethink a project. What’s worse is if I spend a whole day on a recipe and it flops.

Although it appears I take every opportunity given to me, I take about half or less of the projects offered. If you look at the projects above, you might be surprised they were even for companies because they are just the types of projects I would want to share with you anyway. Since the companies supply a budget for supplies, it helps to offset some of the costs to crank out this many projects monthly.

Time management is a tricky terrain with a juggle like this. I have learned that is better to tackle a few recipes in one day and then edit & write the content the other days. Many days it looks like a bomb exploded in my house because I am in some stage of creation for someone. It doesn’t make my Type-A heart very happy, but it is one of those things that comes with the job. I try to look at it the way I see my kids LEGO’s all over the floor or all their art supplies out, I am just proud they are creative and they are making something. I want to always be surrounded by creativity.

Basically, I take it all day by day.

How Does Your Job Impact Your Family Life?

I am so thankful for my job because it usually has a positive impact on our family life. My kids and I see these projects as opportunities to spend time together and the recipes that I create in our kitchen are enjoyed by all at our family dinners. How many people get to craft all day long and call it work? Not many! It almost sounds too good to be true sometimes.

I have gotten to travel to places that I thought I would only read about in books, I got to fulfill a life goal to write a book, my kids have gotten to go to places we couldn’t have afforded, and I’ve met a lot of truly amazing men & women who blog that my life would have never crossed paths with.

rainbow_cake_in_a_jar

Let me be honest though, there are positive and negative aspects about my work. For example, since our holiday content is written months in advance, I am usually not sitting around making rainbow cakes with my kids on St. Patrick’s Day or being a super creative parent like I want to be. By the time the holidays roll around, they are usually lucky if I dye their milk green because we have already done those projects together ages ago and I am on to the next holiday.

Traveling can be hard especially when my jobs end up interfering with family events. One year I had to travel on my daughter’s birthday and I cried a lot over that. It didn’t matter that I had thrown three parties for her, I was not there on the actual day. Inevitably, some kid gets sick or they have a fancy holiday show and I am off promoting the latest product for a company or have a speaking engagement for my work that has been planned months in advance. I am thankful for Skype on days like those so that I can see their faces and feel like I am there. I am sure every working parent feels that way sometimes.

Operating at a frantic pace each week can also have negative impacts on me and my health. I was two years overdue for a lot of routine check-ups for myself this year, my stomach issues have increased, and there are times where I feel completely overwhelmed or just don’t want to do all of this. It is hard to escape your work when it is always there!

We are not celebrities by any stretch of the imagination, but our family does not have an anonymous life. Some of us thrive better than others with this and there are days where we miss that.

There are times where I want to be political or snarky, but I worry how that might reflect to my readers so it definitely censors me in my social media life.I am sure this is a good thing in the long run.

All in all, the positives have outweighed the negatives though. If it starts to turn the other direction, we will have to make a decision to continue or not as a family. We operate under the, “All for one, one for all,” family motto. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a question for me? Feel free to ask it!

 

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How To Be a Pinterest Superstar

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

It seems that everyone I know is crazy for Pinterest. In fact, my friends who may have never read a blog a day in their lives are now pinning fools.  From a business perspective, Pinterest is one of the best things that has ever happened to our website. Since starting to use it in April, we have had a steady growth of traffic averaging around 100,000 page views each month.  What is the secret to the traffic growth through Pinterest? I think it is a combination of many things that I have been working on and refining since I started using this tool for my site.

I wanted to share with you a few ideas for growing your web traffic using Pinterest and how to help your own site or blog grow. Anyone can be a Pinterest superstar, but you may need to make small changes in the way you blog to truly gain the traffic you desire.

 

Get Visual- For those that aren’t familiar with Pinterest, it is a basically a visual way to bookmark and categorize great things that you see on the web. Instead of a list of text bookmarks, it provides a bulletin board where you can visually see all the great projects, recipes, tips, and techniques all in one pretty space.

Since the bookmarks are visual, pictures are what get people pinning. If you have a wall of text and no pictures, no one will ever pin your content because they will have no images to grab. Of course, the prettier the picture, the more likely you will have pins and repins to your blog.  The best advice I can give you is to focus on developing your camera skills so that you can capture images that will capture the hearts of Pinterest users.

Next month I want to share with you some more photography tips, but feel free to browse our other photography tutorials that we offer on here for now.

 

 

Make Pinning Simple– Although I am not a huge fan of text on my photos, adding text into your pictures will make pinning from your site easier.

When a user grabs images from your site, they can add a few words describing why they are pinning that image. More often than not, people skip this step and just pin the image of the item. By adding text right into your pictures that describes the item and it helps that image to go a little bit further.  Perhaps this wreath picture would be fine on it’s own, but the Loopy Flower Valentine’s Day Yarn Wreath really lets the reader know that they are going to learn how to make it for the holidays.

Let me illustrate why text in pictures can be so important…

 

A picture of this Salted Caramel Mocha does not move me to repin this if the original pinner does not have a description. What is this? Why would I want to repin it?

 

 

A picture that clearly states that this is a Salted Caramel Mocha coffee drink? Heck ya! Let me repin that for you.

 

 

Source Yourself– Not sure what is being pinned on Pinterest from your site?  It is simple to see what your users are pinning on Pinterest.  I just go to http://pinterest.com/source/momadvice.com/ to see the pins from my site. You can do the same thing by simply replacing the last part of that URL with your own web address.

What happens when you source yourself? You can see exactly what people love on your site and it helps to guide the content on your site in a direction that can help with your traffic grow. It was through seeing the pins from my own site that I could see what people wanted more of. When I witnessed a wall of coffee pins, for example, I knew that I should create more fun coffee drink creations. As I created more of the content our readers loved, I created more pins and, in turn, created more readers.

Make Archives Accessible & Visual– It always surprises and makes me happy when an old post starts gaining traction on Pinterest. I understand that my readers don’t have time to sift through eight years of content to find the gems. I don’t have time like that to devote to my own site so that is why it is important that you make those archives accessible and visual for your readers.

Try adding a plugin like Link Within or Outbrain that will create pictures with links at the end of your post guiding readers to dig deeper into the site. This will get people clicking and pinning into your site without the necessity of creating even more content. Make sure that you are checking Pinterest so that you can see what old posts are being dusted off and pinned.

My photography was terrible when I started the site and so I do cringe often when I see old pictures going up on Pinterest. If you have the time to switch the pictures to freshen them up, I encourage you to do that to attract more pins. Once again, getting familiar with your camera and your camera manual is one of the best things you can do for your blog and will pay you back over and over again if you invest the time in it.

 

Jump on What is Trending- I like to visit the Popular link on Pinterest to see what the most popular pins are on Pinterest and to help me brainstorm content for the site. Jot down the ideas and themes that you see are popular and try to create your own unique spin on popular topics.

When I saw Mustaches were trending on the Popular section, we developed Mustache printables & Mustache Mug Templates that our readers could use. Mustaches weren’t necessarily a topic that I had planned to explore, but it worked out for us when the mustache fun hit Pinterest and attracted new readers to the site.

I do think that Pinterest has impacted our content in a positive way. Niche blogs benefit greatly from Pinterest, but any blogger can find ways to weave in content that can attract Pinterest users while sticking to the core content themes of their blog. Don’t be afraid to get creative or step out of your usual content box.

Create a Unique Pinterest Board to Engage Readers- Our readers may remember our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest board that I created at the beginning of last summer. I wanted to create an activity board of 100 activities you could do with your kids to keep them busy over the summer. Instead of sitting at my computer all summer, I switched my posting schedule and used Instagram to document the activities we completed off of the list.

Creating a unique Pinterest Board that could attract new readers is a fun way to interact with your community and bring more traffic to your site. If you run a blog on organizing, for example, you could create a 30 day organizational challenge and pin ideas from other bloggers and weave in a few pins from your own site on how readers could take on a challenge like this.

Install a Pinterest Plugin To Your Site– If you want to make pinning even easier for your readers, consider adding a Pinterest plugin to your blog. We recently added the Pin It On Pinterest plugin to inspire you to pin from our site. With this plugin, I am able to select the pictures that I would like people to pin from the post and even fill in a description of the pin so our readers can simply click and have the pin ready for them, making it easier to spread your content quickly.

Pin Yourself– You can absolutely pin yourself on Pinterest and I encourage you to do that! I like to treat Pinterest just like I treat all of my other social media outlets I belong to.  I try to pin lots of other great bloggers and pin myself every ten pins or so. I don’t want people to think I am only about self-promotion so I concentrate on the things that I think those that follow my boards would really like from our site.

Pin Wisely– Just as I have shared about other aspects of my career, I treat Pinterest with the same professional manner I treat my Twitter stream and Facebook stream. While I may find certain things funny on Pinterest, I have to remember what my readers may think is funny might not be the same as my idea of funny. More importantly, working for other brands also keeps me conscious that I am pinning things that reflect well for my job with them. Hopefully one day Pinterest will have private boards where I can muck it up a bit, but for now I try to keep my pins family-friendly and brand-friendly.

Just Get Pinning- It’s time to get pinning and build your presence. Don’t be afraid to set up your own network of bloggers to help promote each other on Pinterest. Just like all things in blogging, the beauty is in the community that you surround yourself with and sharing the traffic love!

I hope you will follow me on Pinterest because I  love new friends.

I really, really do.

Let’s talk about using Pinterest for your business! What has helped you build your presence on Pinterest? What tips do you have for other bloggers? Do you have any questions for me about how I use Pinterest? Have any Pinterest tutorials you would like to share? Feel free to link them up below!

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