Weekend Reading List // 12.

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It’s the weekend! What are your plans?

I’m excited to wrap up my Week in the Life project this weekend (check out #emweekinthelife on Instagram for some sneak peeks!). Ali Edwards hosts this fun photo memory-keeping project every year. I’ve never participated before, but I wanted to capture this unique little sliver of time before we all go back to work and routines and Violet outgrows her sweet newborn days.

I’ve been working hard to organize and archive our photos and put a consistent long-term system in place and I came across this great list of tips on scanning old photos in a usable way. (via Pictures and Stories)

Just in time for glorious summer barbecues, these tips on building a layer cake. (via Food52)

Some fun facts about breastfeeding and women’s health. (via the Susan G. Komen Foundation)

Raising a creative child. (via NYT)

Motivate your morning routine for a month with this challenge. (via The Everygirl)

Make these fabulous ice cream flavors with your Kitchen Aid (no churning required!). (via Half Baked)

In love with this balloon arch. (via Petite & Sweet)

Spring 2016 Book Stack.

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My reading list over the past couple of years has been sloooowwww going. But recently, I signed up for my library card at the new-to-us local library and discovered that they had a huge selection of e-books. (Welcome to the 21st century, Emily, I know, I know.)

So during bed-rest and now during nighttime feedings I’m attempting to make up for some lost time. Here are the titles that have been stacking up on my table (and screen) lately.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This was such a strange book. It draws you in like any ordinary cute, light summer novel does and then throws some huge curve-balls. Maybe I’m just not used to the genre, but this book definitely left me sleepless – not quite the effect I was hoping for! But I was able to finish it in just a few days, so if you want some quick, easy airplane reading, this is it. If you can’t handle mildly scary or bizarre though – pass it up.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. This was both more interesting and a little weirder than I expected. I appreciated her de-cluttering tips, although I think my mom and sister and I have all been secret KonMari practitioners before Kondo invented the system. Her advice definitely inspired me to go back through my closet, my most consistent source of clutter-stress. I also loved her advice regarding keeping items out of obligation or guilt.

I got the feeling that Ms. Kondo has some lingering inner-child issues – she seemed to spend a lot of time painting a picture of herself as this reclusive anomaly of a child who basically raised herself. Also, I would love to know what kind of advice she gives to parents when she consults with them. Do the piles of plastic sippy cups in my cupboard bring me joy? Not exactly. But neither does the idea of my toddler drinking out of adult glasses……

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. This book was life-changing for me. I’ve been a theoretical fan of Waldorf parenting and educational approaches, but this author explained why. I couldn’t stop scribbling quotes. It was both convicting and inspiring to read. It’s definitely super helpful for parents, but even someone without children trying to simply and more intentionally could glean quite a lot from the author’s words.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. This is mostly just hysterically funny. It makes for some great middle-of-the-night light-hearted reading, although it feels less like a real book and more like a show – or a blog – or something? This is probably partly because o Amy stand-up comedy career and partly because so much of the book is designed to look like post-it notes or letters or notes from a set. In addition to piles of hilarity, Poehler has some truly wonderful insights on parenting and life.

Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. Mark and I have been reading through this together. It’s quite good and includes a lot of really convicting discussion. It’s one of those books digested most easily at a slow pace which works perfectly since we only read a bit each night. I think it would be a lot to take in quickly. If you’re looking for some career direction or rationale for decisions, start here. Keller provides some wonderful starting points.

I would love some suggestions! What titles are on your summer reading list?

Weekend Reading List // 11.

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Happy weekend! This feels in some ways like the first weekend of summer – our pool is opening and we have been pulling out our summer clothes and sunscreen.

It’s also Mother’s Day weekend! What do you have planned? I have several dear friends that are due almost anytime, so I’m excited to see if one of them has a Mother’s Day baby!

Sometimes I think we talk a lot about how hard it is to be a mom, but not as much about how much fun it is, so one of my plans for this weekend is to remind myself what a privilege it is to be a mom to my sweet bundles. I’ll be celebrating by grilling, cuddling my baby girl, and splashing with my little guy.

Some amazing iPhone photography and a few great photography tips. (via iPhone Photography School)

The effects of wine on mood and expressions, through a camera lens. (via Mental Floss)

If the full Project Life system overwhelms you, try starting out with this simple system. (Thanks, Rachel, for leading me to this!) (via Valerie Kiensley)

The New York Times as curriculum. (via NYT)

Such a sweet photo essay. (via Twenty Two Words)

Some dining etiquette tips. (via Classy Career Girl)

Patios to get you excited about summer. (via Pottery Barn)

One of my very favorite Instagram feeds. (via Modern Farmer)

Weekend Links // 10.

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Happy weekend! The last two weeks have been a blur in the best of ways. It’s so hard to believe that our little girl will be two weeks old tomorrow!

What are your weekend plans? My weekend will be pretty quiet – we are all still trying to stick pretty close to home until Violet is a little older, has a stronger immune system, and is on a more regular nursing routine. But I promise we’ll be enjoying this beautiful weather by taking lots of walks around our neighborhood!

Would you ever take a vacation to the home of Jackie O.? (via Conde Nast Traveler)

Have you tried this app? It seems like it would be great for generating ideas and capturing quick memories.

Why writer’s block is a myth – and how to overcome it. (via CoSchedule)

Some photography projects to help pull you out of a creative rut. (via Click it Up a Notch)

The top five life-changing books of 10 influential (female!) entrepreneurs (via valmariepaper.com)

Walking has been shown to vastly improve creative brainstorming. (via Stanford.edu)

A fascinating profile of one largely unknown Silicon Valley pillar. (via The New Yorker)

Love this precious twist on a family photo shoot. And the idea of “should-less”! (via Coffee + Crumbs)

Weekend Reading List // 9.

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Criticism at work is a tough topic. Here are some tips for giving (and receiving) it. (via Inc.com)

How fantastic are these mugs??? (via Michael Hyatt)

Inspiring stories. (via National Review)

When I went browsing in the cosmetic aisle of Target for a good lip product for my hospital bag, I found this lip balm and was immediately hooked. It’s just the right amount of color to add a quick pop of refreshed color in the middle of the day. I swear my lips feel so much better and, BONUS, there’s sunscreen in it!

A cool free online design and editing program. (Remember Picnik??)

I love these tips for a low-stress evening of entertaining! (via Clementine Daily)

How beautiful is this kitchen? (via the Jungalow)

Some Pinterest inspiration for setting a gorgeous table. (via Heimatbaum)

Photo Challenge: Preserve Years of Treasured Instagram Photos.

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I love the way Instagram has inspired so many people to more intentionally capture the little moments of everyday. It’s like a mini-scrapbook, available at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. I’m reminded by my Instagram of so many fun and precious memories that I would have failed to capture or forgotten about otherwise.

The only downside to this method of quickly preserving little daily moments is that ultimately, so many precious memories are seemingly trapped in an app, hard to access except from a phone, impossible to access without excessive scrolling, and difficult to preserve through photo books, traditional scrapbooking, or backup systems.

But this weekend, I found a solution! Within just a couple of hours, I had downloaded and organized YEARS of Instagram photos. Now the photos are organized on my hard drive in a way that allows me to quickly find them, sync them with other photos I’ve taken, complete projects, upload them to my backup drives, whatever. Hooray!

Here’s how you can quickly do the same:

  1. Sign into your Instagram account on Instaport.
  2. Choose an export option. I chose “all”, but if you have really a really enormous quantity, you may want to set date limits and download in batches.
  3. Let Instaport do its downloading work.
  4. Make your files. This is where the real fun starts. I organize my photos by year, then month. In each month file, I created a file specifically for the Instagram shots. So, for example, my file for March 2016 Instagram photos is called 2016_Mar_Insta. Incorporate whatever system you are already using for the rest of your photos. I highly recommend keeping the Instagram photos near other date-related photos for simplicity.
  5. Working backwards, starting with the most recent Instagrams, copy and past the photos from a given month from the download file into the appropriate chronological file. For example, highlight and copy all of the March 2016 photos from the download file and then paste them into the 2016_Mar_Insta file.
  6. Once you’ve copied and pasted the photos over into the correct file, DELETE them from the download file for simplicity.
  7. Continue working backwards until you reach the beginning of your Instagram history. The most painful part of this is the scrolling. Thanks to Instagram’s new format, figuring out the upload date of a picture is easy.

Voila! Now your Instagrams are available, in organized fashion, at your fingertips as .jpgs.

Now what? Whip out a quick Artifact Uprising photo book or Chatbook with your favorite shots or order a bunch of square prints and fill a physical scrapbook using Becky Higgins’ Design I or Design J pages or these 12″ x 12″ square pocket pages.

CONVERSATIONS: Running an Online Shop with Michelle of Paintspiration.

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On Monday mornings around here for quite a while, I published interviews on various topics, conversations I had with women who inspired me. In August and September, the theme was RUNNING AN ONLINE SHOP.

Then pregnancy and morning sickness and moving all happened and I hit the “pause” button on the series. But today I’m excited to introduce you to publish the last post in this series, an interview with Michelle, someone who started from Business Ground Zero and now runs a thriving online shop selling her art.

Since Michelle and I chatted about this topic, she became engaged (Congratulations, Michelle!) and she and her fiancee are planning a September wedding. I’m always inspired by how she manages to keep her business running smoothly, no matter what life is throwing at her.

Tell me about your business!

My business is called Paintspiration Art. I create affordable pieces of artwork that have inspirational messages and uplifting vibes. I making canvas paintings using acrylic paint, and I also have my designs printed on paper, cell phone cases, pillows, etc.

Describe a typical day for your business.

Oh my goodness. This is a hard question because for the past two years my fiance and I have been traveling, so we have no house! On a typical day when I have the time and space to work, I start my day out with some coffee and internet stuff: answering messages, social media, marketing, and packing and fulfilling any orders. I like to spend the afternoons doing more creative endevors, like painting, designing, or writing.

Do you feel like where you are now was a “goalpost” or did it evolve? Did you plan to be here? 

When I first started I didn’t expect my little Etsy shop to grow into a full-time business. After the first 6 months when I realized its potential, I started making business goals. So yes, I did set goals to reach the point I am at now. I’m always reaching for bigger goals to continue growing.

What’s your greatest daily challenge related to your business or family life right now?

Like I said, my fiance Scott and I have been traveling for the past two years. We just returned to the US in July and have been juggling visiting with friends and family as well as trying to find a place to live. Because of all this, my biggest challenging is finding the time and space to work. I’m always on the go and right now I’m living out of a backpack. Since I’ve been back in the U.S., I have been lugging my paints and canvases around with me. Normally I thrive off of a routinue, so it’s really challenging to focus on growing a business right now. Although I certainly can’t complain- life is very sweet!

What part of your daily juggle are you most proud of right now?

I’m really proud of the growth of my art shop. I spent countless hours studying up on SEO (which, if you’re not familiar with it, is a fancy way to say “getting found in search engines”) as well as implimenting marketing techniques and networking. Even though I haven’t been able to necessarily priorize my business while I was backpacking, effectively maintaining these things has kept the business going.

Who are some of your mentors, role models, and creative inspirations?

I like to find, follow, and surround myself with people who encompass where I want to be and have a great attitude about business and life. One of my early on role models is a cartoonist out of California, Molly Hahn. She grew her business Buddha Doodles into a highly successful brand, and is so positive and willing to share insights both about her business and life. I also love to follow entrepruenurs who are highly successful and share their advice and strategies, like Marie Forleo. Those who work hard to do what they love and love what they do are highly inspirational to me.

What is one time management tip you would give to someone trying to build a creative business or portfolio?

I’d say that one of the biggest things that helps me with time management is writing out a schedule. When you’re running a business, especially a creative business, it’s easy to get lost in the tasks that are fun and enjoyable, and procrastinate on those that aren’t so fun. Every night I begin a to-do list for the next day and week. That way, the next morning I know what tasks need to be done that day. It keeps me from painting all day long and pushes me to do the yucky stuff, like some SEO work or pricing out materials.

What is one piece of life advice you’d give to someone worried about juggling a family, life, and business/creative endeavors?

Well, I don’t have any children which I think gives me a bit more time to spare, but I’d say setting a schedule is really important if you’re going to start your own business or endeavor. It’s easy to spend too much or too little time engrossed in your project. For me, I got a little obsessed with my business and spent WAY too much time working. Setting some limits with myself was very important for maintaining a work/life balance. I can only imagine that becomes even more the case when you have little ones!

What’s one goal for your business in the next year?

Since I’m back home and able to really focus on Paintspiration, I plan to invest in a professional printer so I can fulfill my own prints and increase profits. I also hope to do a lot more marketing and media outreach, and hopefully grow the business that way!

What is the hardest part of your business for you?

The most difficult part of running an art shop for me is pricing. I tend to want to price my items too low, because I’m always on the look-out for a good deal and want to pass that along to my buyers. I’ve found it helpful to create a formula in Excel for pricing items which includes their material costs plus my time to create the artwork. That has helped heaps!

What are you most grateful for?

I’m so grateful that Paintspiration has enabled me the freedom to make a living doing something I love and also the flexibilty to fulfill some life dreams, like traveling!

If you could start over and, knowing where you are now, change one thing, what would it be?

My answer is going to serve as a huge warning to all bloggers and website owners out there– back your things up! Double back them up! And make sure your backups are functioning! Over the summer while in India, my website was hacked and I lost everything. Two years of work and a sucessful website vanished– and worst yet, my backup file was corrupted. If I could go back in time, I would have been way more attentive to these things, rather than thinking that would never happen to me!

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Michelle! I have been so inspired to watch your business journey from its beginnings and am so excited for your success!

For the other conversations in this series, check out my conversations with NicoleMeg, and Amy.

As an aside, one book on my booklist is Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. It’s been recommended to me as wonderful encouragement, especially for moms, who are trying to make more time to create.

NOTES:

Connect with Michelle and Paintspiration: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | web site | Etsy shop.

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*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Weekend Reading List // 8.

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Happy Friday!

The weekend forecast has all of us excited about some beautiful weather – can we all get excited about spring yet? What does your weekend hold? Here are some links to add to your Saturday morning reading.

Want to be a great leader? Develop these habits. (via Inc.com)

Love this quadrant-style scheduling method. Have you ever tried this? (via Fast Company)

It’s almost wedding season! Would you ever seat your guests on pillows? (via OffBeatBride)

Finding all sorts of new inspiration for this Pinterest board while my imprisonment bedrest is helping me catch up on our family albums.

Since discovering this all-in-one recipe, I cook it about once a week. It takes 20 minutes, is delicious, can be used for lunch, dinner, tacos, whatever, and is packed full of nutrients. What more could I ask? (via Damn Delicious)

An Instagram hashtag you should be following (are we friends on Instagram? Find me – @emilyamccord).

ICYMI: 60 tips to dazzle your blog readers.

 

6 Years of Blogging: 60 Tips and Ideas to Dazzle Readers.

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Happy Birthday, little blog! On March 26, this space turned 6. It’s seen a lot of changes in the last 6 years – different blog names, different hosts, hopefully better photography. Meanwhile, I’ve seen a lot of changes – grad school, wedding planning, marriage, job changes, moves, and parenting have all happened to me during this blog’s little life span.

A blog deserves a birthday party with lots of virtual confetti and cupcakes, so to celebrate, I’m going to do a birthday mini-series. First, I plan to share 60 blogging tips and ideas (the presents!). Then in a follow-up post, I’ll list 60 bloggers that I would invite to a real-life blogging party if I could (because every party needs guests!). Finally, I’ll share 60 blogging goodies that you should check out (the party favors!).

{Want to make sure you don’t miss out on the follow-up posts? Sign up for this blog’s weekly newsletter and blog roundup here.}

Ready? Let’s party!

  1. Actually hit the “publish” button.
  2. Be yourself.
  3. Don’t blabber on about nothing – write something useful.
  4. Copy edit your posts.
  5. Proofread your posts.
  6. Post consistently.
  7. Produce content that readers want to share.
  8. Blog ABOUT SOMETHING besides yourself and your coffee cup.
  9. Be generous – with your content and the content of others.
  10. Don’t plagiarize.
  11. Write like a professional.
  12. Use images thoughtfully.
  13. Compose catchy headlines.
  14. Compose clear headlines.
  15. Post on Mondays.
  16. Post about parenting.
  17. Or your career.
  18. Create a course.
  19. Ask your readers questions.
  20. Tweet between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays.
  21. Post lists like this one.
  22. Pin on Saturday afternoons.
  23. Instagram on Monday mornings.
  24. Use photos that are relevant and high-quality.
  25. Share posts on Facebook between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays.
  26. Write short paragraphs.
  27. Give something away.
  28. Write posts that are 1149 words in length.
  29. Make blogger friends.
  30. Do interviews.
  31. Create a free item to give to your readers.
  32. Or an entire resource library.
  33. Use a sans serif font.
  34. Use an image for every 350 words.
  35. Add watermarks to your images.
  36. Engage with your audience between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.
  37. Compose a post series.
  38. Record a podcast.
  39. Drive traffic from Pinterest.
  40. Springboard off of journaling prompts (or create your own list of prompts!)
  41. Envision your ideal reader.
  42. Pay attention to your blog’s layout.
  43. Tell real people about your blog.
  44. Use a signature color scheme.
  45. Advertise your blog in the local coffee shop or use other guerrilla marketing techniques.
  46. Interact with your Instagram audience more effectively.
  47. Set out on a blog-centric networking challenge.
  48. Create inspiration boards connected to your blog’s themes.
  49. Engage your readers.
  50. Publish a newsletter.
  51. Guest-post.
  52. Leverage your popular posts.
  53. Share your posts with specific friends who have an interest in the content.
  54. Format your posts creatively.
  55. Comment on other blogs.
  56. Reformat the title images of older posts for Pinterest.
  57. Create a style guide for your blog.
  58. Publish a series.
  59. Use consistent filters to create a cohesive look for your blog’s images.
  60. Blog content that you would want to discover!

Want to learn more? Check out last year’s blog-birthday post, 50 Things I Learned from Blogging.

{Would you like to be reminded when the other two posts in this series are posted? Sign up for this blog’s weekly newsletter and blog roundup here.}

 

Weekend Reading List // 7.

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The past week has somehow managed to hold all of the good and a nice chunk of bad all at once.

The good? My family flew in and got to spend time with us in our new house and then we all headed to Midland for a fabulous wedding weekend with tons of extended family.

The bad? I was put on  (a hopefully temporary?) bedrest. This has thrown all sorts of interesting tangles into our routine. I’m grateful for so many things right now, such as the ability to go on maternity leave early, a husband who can flex his schedule enough to accommodate our needs, family who are generous with their time and schedules and availability, and a baby and pregnancy that have been healthy overall. BUT??? Craziness. Especially with a very busy 21-month-old. If you have ideas for entertaining toddlers from bed, SEND THEM MY WAY.

Meanwhile, I’m getting all caught up on email and making mad progress on the #preserveproject and reading all sorts of fun pieces, all from the prison of my room. Here’s some pieces that you should add to your weekend reading list!

The sweetest lullaby story. (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

A fun simple activity for toddlers and littles. All you need is tape! (via Hands on As We Grow)

I LOVE this list of good habits that need to make a comeback. What habits do you want to work on? My mother was a thank-you note dictator when we were little and I’m so grateful for the habit now (though mine are perpetually late!). Mark and I are reading out loud through this book together and although I love our movie time, reading together feels like richer time somehow. (via Real Simple)

I am dying to color eggs with Miles this weekend. I love these creative twists on the traditional project. (via Real Simple)

My sister sent me this thoughtful piece on the village (that we’ve lost?) and I’m still thinking about it. (via Huff Post)

This Pinterest board has links to some fabulous pieces. (via Refinery 29)

This Instagram hashtag makes my heart flutter.

Have a blessed Easter weekend!