Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to Create a Planner (for under $10)

I wanted to try to be a little more organized lately, as I am a little anxious and somewhat frazzled at times with my disorgination and then add to that the chaos of toddlers.

And I fell in love with the Filofax's I seen on Pinterest but was a little frightened by the $50 starting price tag for them so I decided to create my own planner (all for under $10) and spent so much time finding and organizing the free printables I wanted, so I decided to share them with all of you.




First - start with the binder (or Filofax) you want to use. I picked up a mini binder from the Martha Stewart line on clearance at staples for under $4. I was going to share the link with you but it is no longer available.

Second you will need, a whole punch of some kind. You can either purchase a co-ordinating one, or use a single hole punch and template. I already had a two hole punch from my husband's business so I just used this one.

Then you need to decide which sections you want/need in your planner. Everyone's different so you can choose which ones you wanted.

The Handmade Home has a fantastic free printable A5 planner which includes
- a cover (in three different options)
- monthly views for 2016
- weekly page view (on two pages)
- birthday and anniversary pages
-  a menu planner
- a weekly cleaning schedule
- goal pages, divider pagers, to do lists and more!

So pretty much everything you need.





I liked the week view on one page instead - so I didn't have to try double side printing or have a blank front side. I personally liked the one from One Good Thing by Jillee and just used the back side for jotting down notes.

new year organization

This isn't actually A5 size but if you just follow the simple tutorial by CleanMama you can resize any adobe file into A5 size which will give you a lot more options for your planner printables.

I liked the notes page, and password page by MissTina who also offers a few more printable including the cute month tabs (shown below), a  project planner, and date night planner.



Thirty Handmade Days has all your budget printables including a meal planning printable (which I prefer) as it's all on one page and a grocery list. I found the mini binder printables were a little smaller than my other sizes so I just used her Ultimate Budget Binder Printables and resized them.

The Ultimate Printable Budget Binder - featuring 10+ amazing printables from www.thirtyhandmadedays.com for personal use only

You might also like My 2016 Free Printable Calendar Round-Up. So these are what I included in my planner. Please leave a comment if you have made or found some planner pages you love.



 
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Make Cleaning a Habit.

Cleaning comes natural to some of us, and the rest of us ... are just slobs, or at least semi slobs. I probably fall into the full blown slob category although I do try to keep a clean home, I often come a little short. And the reason for this? Is because I don't clean up after myself (and my family) quickly and efficiently enough.

 

So how can we learn to clean up after ourselves and our husbands and our toddlers and kids and/or teenagers? Clean up immediately after your done a task. If you finished breakfast do the dishes before moving on, kids have pulled out a 100 piece toy, try to find ALL the pieces before moving on, take a couple minutes to put your clothes away at the end of the day instead of throwing them on the floor in a fit of exhaustion and immediately passing out in your unmade bed.

And yet this sounds easier than it actually is. We get distracted by dirty diapers, phone calls, tired children and nap time and just life in general. If you get sidetracked try to remember to come back to that mini mess as soon as possible before it becomes a full blown mess.

When I I was younger I worked as a waitress and I always felt a little behind, while women 3 times my age were running circles around me because they were more efficient - one trip to the kitchen and they had the 4 items they needed where as I was constantly running back and forth because I forgot this, or didn't anticipate needs. The same general concept can be applied to housework.

Grab things that don't belong in a room or straighten up two or three items when you exit a room. I started keeping two little baskets in my main living space and adding all the items that go upstairs in one basket, and all the items that belong in the basement in the other basket. This way I could put everything away at once so I wasn't making several trips for one or two items and could put away multiple items at a time.

 I'm sure we all hear make your bed because you are less likely to have an untidy room, same goes for kitchen sinks, bathroom counters, dining room tables or coffee tables. There is generally a central item in a room and once you have cleaned it, you only have to straighten a few more things for the room to be tidy.

It may not be easy to go from a house that looks like a small tornado hit it (with kids toys!) to an immaculate house so just choose small tasks and generally add to them as you get them under control. For instance I try to have all the dinner dishes done before kids bath time and now that I have made that a habit I try to clean off the coffee table before bedtime and I usually end up cleaning up the entire living room because its almost clean anyway.

And I'll be letting you know how to make a simple cleaning schedule and a round-up of my favorite cleaning hacks shortly. Do you have any cleaning tips for keeping your home tidy? I would love to hear them.







Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to Get More Readers as a Newbie Blogger using Pinterest

It can be a little daunting starting a new blog. You invest all this time and energy into creating a blog and writing posts and then nobody reads it.



Whatever your goal was in starting your blog, sharing your opinions or recipes, making some disposable income  or documenting your goals and progress,  we all want people to read (and even better share) what we write. So how can we accomplish this?

This is my second time around and it's difficult starting at the bottom but my #1 source of traffic has always come from Pinterest (about 70%), then Google, then referrals from other bloggers.

Almost everyone has a Pinterest account these days, and if you don't -- bookmark this page go open one and then come back. Then create a board for all your blog posts. You can see mine here.


Make it Easy for Readers to 'Pin It' and Find you on Pinterest


I recommend adding a pin it button to your posts - you can do this two ways: under settings or using the tutorial for a mouse over pin button from Kevin and Amanda. This allows readers to easily pin a post or picture they like with a lot less effort.

If I find a blog I really enjoy I like to check out their Pinterest page - make it easy for readers to find yours by placing social media buttons at the top of your page. See mine???

And lastly you can also add a widget for one of your boards - found under the settings (as I have done above) This is a great idea if it relates directly to your post, or has a collection of resources relating to your post topic.

How to get Re-Pins???


The easiest ways to get pins is to join Pinterest link-ups:

Creativekkids offers a few including Bloggers Brags on Monday - where you pin the two before your pin or the Ultimate Pinterest Party where you add your pin on Friday evening and everyone pins a few of their favourites Saturday morning.

Create-with-joy has a Friendship Friday link-up which starts Thursday evenings and every week they have a different social boost - so they have a Pinterest link-up approximately every 5 weeks.

I also just found #SoMe2 - Social Linky Party on Designed D├ęcor and 3 other blogs where they have a social media linky every Tuesday @ 7pm that cycles through Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, Google+, and Facebook.

You can find more Pinterest Link-Ups sorted by day of the week here:  Pinterest Link Parties

If you know of anymore I would love to hear about them as I'm always looking.

 

Group Boards 


Another good way is to join Pinterest group boards you can find a collection of group boards sorted by category on my Pinterest Group Board Directory.




Just make sure to ask for an invite to groups with categories you will be blogging about. (You can usually find how to ask for an invitation under the description.) I have found that I get about 8 times more repins from group boards because they often have a large amount of followers.

You can also try to follow people sometimes they will follow you back, although I don't find this is always the case with Pinterest as it is with Twitter.

Pinterest is the leading source of many bloggers views, and if you get your post in front of the right pinners it can easily get pinned hundreds of times.

You might also like How to make a Pinterest worthy image (for free) - because these days an image is just as important as the content.



Pinterest Link Party

I recently wrote a post:  How to Get More Readers as a Newbie Blogger using Pinterest and one of the ways I mentioned was to find Pinterest Link Parties but I had trouble finding any myself so I decided to make one ...


So the rules will be simple, and the party will last 33 days as I couldn't extend it any longer than that.

I will add the last 5 names to the next Pinterest Link Party, if this one gets enough links.

I would appreciate if you follow me on Pinterest but you don't have to unless I'm in the top 5. And it would be great if you could share the party - through twitter copying the image above and adding it to your sidebar or link or yelling from the top of your neighbours roof.

The Rules:


1. So just add your Pinterest account to the list. Link to your main Pinterest page not a pin please. If you add your blog I'm sorry I will have to delete it.

2. And follow the 5 accounts above yours. This way everyone can get 5 new followers. Please don't add your name if you won't add other pinners -- that's just not fair to everyone else.


Sorry the Pinterest Link Party has closed - but you can link up to the Twitter Link Party until I have another one in a couple months.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How to make a Pinterest worthy image (for free)

How many times have you read an article that was fantastic but all the images were just terrible, or sometimes the article doesn't even have an image at all!

So here are a few ideas you can use to make you own Pinterest images for Free - that will get pinned multiple times!

Pinterest images are best when they are clear, have large easy to read font and are longer than they are wide.


I generally create mine in PicMonkey because it is a free photo editor and has tons of features. Or if you want you can upgrade for only $19.99 to access all the free available fonts and images.

The best photo editing features for free.

I generally resize my images to 2000 by 3200 pixels.


There are a few ways you can create images:
- upload one of your images and use an overlay to create a title


Creating an overlay is simple: you just need to go to overlays (the butterfly) choose geometric then choose a rectangle. Choose white, or your colour preference and then if you fade it you can see the background behind but the text will stand out.



So if you don`t have a professional looking image you took yourself you can find a cute (copyright free)  image from a free image site. I created a collection of my favourite sites: The Best Sources for Free Blog Images.



Once you have chosen your image you can make a title with an overlay as you can see I have done below.




Now I`m not against using your own images I encourage it but sometimes our images don`t have great lighting or are a little blurry or whatever so simply create a title image and use your personal images throughout the post.

Another option is to create a collage...



I just used the collage option in PicMonkey and there are several different layouts you can choose. Or there are even more options and fonts if you upgrade it.

You can use images from your post, free image sites, or other blogs (with permission)

And the last way I create title images is using pretty backgrounds.



Several websites offer free backgrounds - you can find a collection of them on my Pinterest board. You may have to check the permissions for them some are for personal use only, some are fine for commercial.



Once you have chosen the background you want to use - download it and open it with Pic Monkey

You can create a transparent overlay if the background is busy or darker and add your title. Don't forget to include your website URL at the bottom of the post.

So that is how I make my title images for my blog. Do you have any more tips? Or sources for pretty (and free) backgrounds? I would love for you to add them in the comments.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free Blog Image Sources

I have to admit I am not a great photographer. My images are often out of focus, not straight and half the time I forget to charge my camera battery in the first place.

free stock images for your blog


So where can you find images for your blog for free? And that are often copyright free, so you don`t have to even give attribution or credit (unless you want to)

The first site I found was Wikipedia.org. They are great for celebrity images, images for cities and brand logos.

free celebrity images

The next site I found was FreeRangeStock. They have a fairly good selection of searchable images - all for free. You just have to sign up for their site (free) and put in a password everytime you download an image.

free images for your blog

Flickr actually has a vary wide variety of photos. Just search any topic you want and change the License to Creative Commons Only to find images that are free to use. You may have to read each individuals terms to find if they require attribution, a link or their personal requirements.

free blog images
Photo by Moyan Brenn

FreeImages.com has a good source of searchable images including several simple (white background) images of food, as well as vectors, backgrounds and more. They require you to sign-up for downloading.

free vectors for your blog


Possibly my new favourite, Pixabay has a really large selection of free images for download, without even requiring you to sign up. Only captcha required for download.

cute photos for your blog

Morgue File   has gorgeous images free for download and are all searchable. No membership required.

free blog photos

Picography also has beautiful pictures but doesn`t have the largest selection.

free blog images

I also love all the amazing photos from Unsplash.com They add 10 new ones every 10 days. But it`s too bad you can`t search them....


I also recently found PixClicx by Jill Levenhagen and her styled stock photos are gorgeous!

copyright free blog images

So these are my favourite sites for free blog images just make sure to double check that they are available to use however you choose and that you do not require to give credit to the photographer. What are your favourite sites for free blog images?





Friday, January 9, 2015

Give Yourself a Break




Do you ever watch or read something and you feel like you can actually relate to the person and their situation? I felt like that today when I watched Moms Night Out.


"An endearing true-to-life family comedy that celebrates the beautiful mess called parenting"

 
You don't have to have had to watch the movie to understand the feelings of the main character Allyson- I told my husband she is totally crazy! ... (and he looked at me because she is so similar to me) but in such a relatable way.


It's about a mom who just feels a little overwhelmed, a little crazy and overly anxious by the mess, the safety of the children and just about everything else, a little stretched too thin at times and then just has some "moments" ie. major meltdowns. Yup I can definitely relate.


As moms I think we just feel -- inadequate at times... like we are just not good enough - the house isn't clean enough, we don't spend enough quality time with our kids - playing with them, teaching them kindness, proper social and language skills, preparing them for life.

 
But when are we ever going to give ourselves a break???


Say its okay if they watch a few too many hours of tv in a day when we feel like crap. Say its ok if we cook frozen chicken fingers and fries for dinner instead of a fresh home cooked meal, when we forgot to take meat out of the freezer in the morning. Say its ok if you can't wear your whitest socks because I'm a week overdue for mopping?
 

Those moms on tv, in books and blogs that seem to have everything together - do just that - have the appearance of perfectness - nobody is actually perfect although I'm sure some of us handle it a little a lot better than others.


But stills as moms all we can do is try. That's it! - Just try our best. And if we have a bad day - loose our patience or burn dinner alls we can do is try a little harder tomorrow and stop beating ourselves up already! Because we are by far our own toughest critics.


Allyson says she feels like she just isn't enough -- for her husband, her kids her mother but as Bones says she is only not enough for herself.


For the most part our children our happy, healthy and generally well adapted, who cares if society says they should be potty trained by x date, sleep alone without waking through the night and have perfect social skills.

 
Try a little harder to appreciate the small things - impromptu dance parties, baby giggles, small accomplishments and give yourself a break already!
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