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Learn As I Blog: Series Preview

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is that I need to be organized!  Good thing organizing is in my blood!  That's part of why I decided to do this series in the first place.  It's a way to gift my experience forward and show you how I organize my thoughts, posts, blog design and more.  It's organizing and techy all at the same time!  My head is spinning with giddiness!  But enough about me, let's talk about what you'll see in this series!
Learn As I Blog Series Topics
Blogging has been a wonderful unexpected gift in my life and has filled me up in ways I didn't know needed filling.  I know many bloggers share the same sentiment.  This series has been set up so I can share my own experience with you and hopefully save you some time and effort in your own bloggy journey. 

New Series Coming Soon: Learn As I Blog

This post is part of the Learn As I Blog series

Blogging has become a big part of my life lately; because of that, I am excited to bring to you a new series.  There are many tips and tricks out there from experienced successful bloggers that pass on their pearls of wisdom.  I thought I'd use this series to journal my adventures in blogging and what I learn along the way.  May this series give you inspiration to steer clear of my failures, celebrate my successes, and keep going on your own blogging journey.
As I mentioned earlier, this will be my outlet for regurgitating all the bloggy goodness I learn about.  As a rookie, there is a lot of learning going on, and sometimes, not a lot of resources; other times, there's too much information.  My goal with this series is to put together as many aspects of blogging in one place so that anyone who wants to blog can find a home for resources, information and encouragement to keep at it.  I will cover the basics of what would-be and rookie bloggers think about, learn and attempt with their own blogs.  Check back next week for a schedule of topics to be covered.

A new feature that I'm looking forward to including is an interactive aspect where other bloggers get to join in on the learning!  Here, bloggers get to look back and pass their own pearls of bloggy wisdom to me and to other readers {blogger or not}.  Just as life is a classroom, blogging is as well and I'm sure that all you bloggers out there have had their fair share of learnings.  Here is your time to reflect and gift your experience forward!

How bloggers can participate
  • Follow this blog if you haven't already done so.  This will keep you up to date on the latest topics to write about so you can link up.
  • Grab a button and post it to your own blog.

Gifts We Use {to grow, love and serve}

  • Invite others in your bloggy circle to join.
  • Work on your post so you can link up.
The first topic in the linky series will be My Pre-Blog Train of Thought.
Write about what your experience was when thinking about starting your blog.
Why start a blog anyway?
What is your blog about?
Who are you writing to?
Where are you blogging from {i.e. Blogger or Wordpress, etc.} Why there?
Share your journey into blog world!
I hope that you are as excited as I am to get this series started.  What I am most looking forward to is reading everyone else's blog stories and to see how far everyone has come.  If you are thinking about starting a blog, this will be a great series to follow as there will be lots of experience shared and hopefully most of your bloggy questions will be answered.  My hope is that you find blogs and bloggers that you can connect with and relate to.  Read about how much time and passion each blogger takes in running their blog and gain a new appreciation for bloggers everywhere.

Start the series now!  Preview Learn As I Blog topics here >>>

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Techy Tuesday: Taming Technology

Being a mom is my current job.  It's demanding, doesn't pay overtime and has no 401k.  It's also heart melting, awe inspiring and pee in your pants hilarious.  There's a perception that stay at home moms have all the time in the world, but if you ask a stay at home mom, she'll likely tell you that there aren't enough hours in the day.  In order to make the most of the time I have, technology is one of my favorite gifts and tools I use to help me accomplish all that is on my plate.  As a mom, it gives me an easy way to keep track of everyone's calendars, get all my to do lists together, collect inspiration, and read to my hearts content.  But there seems to be one thing that eludes even the most tech savvy mom, and that is balance.  Balance is a challenge for anyone to attain and looks different for each person.  Now that I have this blog {which fills me up in ways I didn't know needed filling}, it throws a new piece into my balancing act and I'm learning very quickly that I need to get my balance soon before I fall.

The week of Mother's Day, I read an interesting blog post that seemed to find its way into circulation among my social media circles and has to do with missing out on our kids' childhood by being consumed with technology.  The blogger here makes some very hard hitting points and caused me to really be aware of how much time I spend ignoring my son while I catch up on my social media updates, but it also makes me want to stand up for technology at the same time.  The Techy in me was awakened.  Like most things in the modern world, technology is best when controlled by you and not the other way around.  This Techy Tuesday, I will give you some simple, practical tips on how to tame technology to make it work for you so you're not being controlled by it instead.

As you can see from the chart above, the very same things that make technology enhance our lives can also make them a hinderance in our relationships; that is, if we allow it to.  Technology, like anything else, is best consumed responsibly.  What does that look like for me?

Setting aside tech time
Even before I began blogging, I knew that I needed to gain control of how often I would reach for my smart phone, so I set some guidelines for myself.  I was not to check my phone or other device unless my son was occupied with something else.  Most times, it is during his TV time and nap time.

Customizing ringtones
We cannot control when the phone rings, but we can control what it sounds like when it does.  So, I have assigned custom ringtones for the different people that might call me most often.  I have a ringtone for my hubby {and only my hubby}, one for family, one for friends, and one for unknowns.  By customizing and assigning ringtones to different categories of contacts, I know who is calling before I even get to the phone.  For me, that means that if my hubs is calling, I know immediately and know when to stop what I'm doing to answer, or if its my ringtone for unknowns, I know to let it ring and ignore it.

*UPDATE: While reading through my Flipboard app, I came across an awesome tutorial on How to "Mute" Unwanted Callers on your iPhone!  Check it out!  Now your phone doesn't even have to ring when an unknown caller rings you on the celly!  Tech-tastic!!!

Turning OFF notifications
My latest and most useful gift from technology is not just having notifications, but having the power to turn them off.  These days you can be notified of anything, from a new email to a new photo of you posted on Facebook.  When control of notifications first came on the techy scene, I was all about it and wanted to be notified of anything and everything.  Soon after that, I learned that I really don't want to know the second that one tiny thing happens in my social circle, so I turn off most notifications so I'm not distracted by an alert that will want to take me away from what I'm doing.

Placing phone face down
After all that I've already covered, one simple and deliberate thing I can do is to turn my phone face down when I don't want to be disturbed.  This is especially helpful when I'm sitting down with someone in person for coffee or a meeting.  It lets the one I am with know that they have my undivided attention.  Leaving your phone in your purse does the same thing if you are out and about.
The biggest gift that technology has afforded modern society is the gift of convenience.  Let's not allow that to turn on us by being over consumed by a means to make our lives easier.  I will admit to you that I am guilty of reaching for my phone when I shouldn't be, but I am a work in progress just like everyone else.  By doing the things that I have highlighted above, it increases my chances of really being with those around me.

Have you found yourself consumed by technology at times?  What steps have you taken to tame technology and change that cycle?  Did you learn any new tips here that will take you a step closer to gaining balance?  Let's hear about it in the comments.

Closet Office

Hello, my name is Ferly and I'm an organizing junkie {everyone responds, "Hi, Ferly."}.  It's true, organizing is like a drug for me, and when it comes to supplies that aid in organizing, I go bonkers!  Throw me in an office supply store and I would swoon and drool for hours and circle the aisles multiple times {just ask my poor dizzy son}.  When we moved into our teeny tiny apartment, it had little to no room for an office that we truly need to store files and work on projects, but alas, no room was to be found.  Enter Operation Clean House!  When I finally took steps to purge, clean and organize, I found that there indeed was room to house a tiny office to suit our most basic office needs!  Hooray!!!  Now it's not nearly what my dream office would be, but it's what we've got and that's good enough for me.
When we did our master closet clean out, I began putting our would be office together and even bought a nice small $20 desk from IKEA.  Then I started buying cute desk accessories for myself to make me happy!  After weeks and months of not being able to really work on making the office its own space, it turned into a dumping ground.  Take a look, this is supposed to be the work space.
Office placeholder turned dump
This next photo should be the file and sort space, it also is a dump.
File and sort space, also a dump.
The piece of furniture that our randomness is resting on is part of a pair of night stands.  It ended up in the closet for a couple of reasons.  One, the night stand was replaced with our son's crib, which acts as his side of our bed {remember we live in a one bedroom}.  Two, I needed the extra table space in the office for filing and didn't have any other place to put it.

I wasn't able to take photos of my progress since I was so focused on the task at hand, but there was a lot of different piles to sort through, a bag of old paper to toss out and a mountain of upcoming projects that I now have to work on {and blog about in the future}.
After a little rearranging and assembling, I managed to clear the desk space and put everything into the project trays that sit on the built in closet shelf that used to be where my hubby's pants hung.  I love the grey cardboard magazine files that I use for our son's bedtime story books and some of my journaling supplies. The best part about those magazine files is that they were $1 at Target's dollar spot!  The tiered file tray was a long ago purchase from IKEA that had been sitting in an office supply box for months and then unassembled on the shelf for a few more months.  Now, everything is assembled and ready to be used.

The nightstand area is our file and sort space.  The desktop file on the right holds all our pertinent paperwork and the matching file trays are my sort piles.  The top is to be filed, the middle is for paper and folders, and the bottom is for shredding.  I have it that way for now since I'm a bit behind on my filing {not my favorite thing to do}.  I may end up repurposing those trays once I've got filing under control.

Another thing that I added to the office was a curtain behind the nightstand.  This allows us to separate the closet into two parts so it feels like its own room.  Doing this also made it so that I'm not staring at the back end of my clothes.  This was as simple as putting up a tension rod and clearance window panel for an easy accent "wall" and clothes concealer.

Here is one last look at the closet office from afar.
View of the closet office from the outside

You may notice a familiar friend gracing the office wall.  The panel I used as a backing for the inspirational wall art is a leftover piece from my entryway project.  The set came with four pieces, but I only had room for three in our entryway niche, so I knew that the closet office would be the perfect spot to add something extra to a closed off space.

After waiting so long, I'm so happy to finally be able to have space for our most essential home business.  Files, household papers,  and projects can all be done in here instead of on the dining room table and it's a nice little getaway for me to have my morning quiet time.  Here's to organizing junkies, closet offices and quiet time spaces.  Gift!

Is there a closet in your home that you're just itching to turn into an office?  Maybe you already have!  I'd love to see what you've done!

Store & Organize Hand Me Downs

Kids grow up so fast!  One minute they are this precious, fragile little gift that makes your heart melt with each gummy smile and adorable chuckle; the next minute, they are running the house ragged pretending to be a giant monster tractor leaving chaos in its wake like a mini tornado sweeping through each room you just cleaned!  Oh...um...maybe that's just my house.

Joking aside, it really is a gift to watch our little ones grow taller, smarter, and faster.  Sometimes {often times}, the clothes we keep for them cannot keep up with our tiny treasures' rapid growth rate and we're left to deal with a mixture of clothes that are too big, too small and just right {insert witty Goldilocks reference here}.  Thus was my delimna not too long ago.  My big boy is graduating from month sizes to T sizes...hooray!  Now, I needed a way to keep all the smaller hand me down clothes stored {for future kids} and organize them in a way that will be helpful to me when the time comes to reuse them for #2.  I also needed to make the storage side of our closet a bit less closed in since it will share space with our closet office {more on that to come in the near future}.
Here is what the storage portion of the closet looked like before...a crammed, jammed, mixed plate of storage bins filled with infant clothes and toys, moving boxes {from when we first moved here, still left unpacked because there was no room to unpack them}, and a basket of the latest collection of outgrown clothes waiting to be given a decent home.
Before: crammed closet storage 
When it came time to pack our son's infant clothes, it was pretty easy and straight forward.  It also helps that the clothes are super tiny and a little went a long way.  As the clothes got bigger, it got trickier to make everything fit; plus the added bonus of shoes made the task extra challenging.

My first mission was to get rid of the cardboard boxes and give the contents a proper home.  I saved the smaller boxes in case I needed them elsewhere, plus, they were still in great shape.  Next, I decided to make better use of the larger storage bin.
I decided that I would put all newborn needs in the large bin since those little newborn clothes did go a long way.  I managed to fit infant clothes from newborn to three months as well as other newborn gear.  After that, I decided against buying anymore large bulky bins and decided instead to stick with the medium sized bins that were half the size of the larger bin to make storing and stacking easier and more versatile.

My second mission was to make the larger clothes in each size range fit into a single medium bin for easy access later on.  I was able to fit most of what we had in each size range into a single bin, and when the space got tight, I had to re-evaluate pieces to keep.  I knew that we would be having a yard sale soon and needed to build up inventory, and I really didn't need to keep all those clothes I had if it could go to someone else who needed it.

Last, I created labels for each bin to make future access even easier.  My labeling system needed to be simple, concise and needed to make sense to me later.  I started with the size range followed by the contents.  Here's a look at what I put together.  I popped these labels onto 12 x 12 cardstock to make it look pretty...bonus!

After all the folding, organizing and labeling, I wanted to switch up the arrangement to give the space more elbow room for the office space.  The way it was arranged before left little room to breathe while sitting in the closet office.  Now, it feels less like a dumping ground and more like a shared space.
After: organized hand me downs

Ah, I feel like I can breathe again!  By pivoting the way I arranged the bins, it created much more elbow room for the desk that you see peeking into the right there.  Sliding the large labels into the bin not only makes for a consistent look, but it also protects the label from any damage from the outside.

The newborn needs bin that rests on the bottom is loaded with newborn goodness as you can see, and I popped the label into the narrow side as I did with the ones above.  By listing out the contents of large storage bins like this one, there is no guessing what could be inside.  It's all listed on the label.

Here's a before and after that will have you breathing a sigh of relief along with me.
Keeping up with the our littles is one mission I'm glad to be on and enjoy {almost} every minute of.  It was a nice trip down memory lane looking through the baby clothes.  I miss the days when our baby boy was all giggles and burps, but I'm having so much fun engaging with him in conversation and discovering the world we live in through his eyes.  The gift of organization can be just as wild a ride as the one we join in on with our kids.  When creating your own system of storing items, using see through bins gives you an idea of what's inside and labeling makes for a clear system of organization that will be a gift later on.

Have you been overrun by a mixed mountain of kids clothes?  Are you looking for a way to spring clean them out of sight?  I hope that this has given you some food for thought and the drive to get yourself started.  Maybe you approached your hand me down system differently, I'd love for you to comment below and gift your experience forward!

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