Feb 21 2015

Crafty Happenings

Craftsy

Hello Everyone!

I just wanted to update you all on some crafty happenings around here! First of all, if you’re following the Facebook page you may have seen a post about our Etsy shop, run mostly by me with a small child “assistant.” We’re currently working hard to complete the full product release for March 10th, but starting on February 13th I’ve been doing small pre-releases every Friday. Check out what we’ve been up to!
bagsforsale

I’ve also been knitting like a crazy woman. I’m signed up to participate in a year long yarnathon in which I collect points when purchasing yarn from Eat.Sleep.Knit. and knitting items for twelve individual knit-a-longs. More information can be found here. Currently I’m working on a pair of adult socks from the pattern Hermoine’s Everyday Sock, available for free. I’m using two 50g skeins of Claudia’s Hand Painted Yarns Addiction in the Charlotte’s Verdigris Colorway. Between socks I’m also working on baby-sized versions of the same pattern (no pattern, just adjustments made by my tech editor-y self.)

image

Don’t worry, I had just enough scrap from the first sock’s skein to make it.

Between these things I’m doing very little else. Between all that and working on a new knitting pattern design, along with managing the various other parts of being a small-business owner now, I don’t have much extra time that’s not being spent with the family. I did manage to finally get all the repairs done to my car (in great need of since April or so of 2013) as well and get my car registered for TX and get my new driver’s license with my new name.

Sorry this update came so late in the month. For monthly newsletter updates, which include more than just the blog posts, sign up using the orange bar at the top of this page.

Jan 24 2015

Productivity: 3 Helpful Things You Need

After an entire early morning (I’m talking midnight to 4 a.m.) of working diligently on a project that I just couldn’t lay to rest with, I’m finding it’s time to talk and share about productivity helpers so that you’re NOT staying awake all night just to get something done.

There are 3 main tools that I use DAILY to keep my productivity moving. Even then, it’s sometimes hard for me, especially when I run out of coffee.

Buffer App

This is a web app meant for sharing on social media, sort of like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc. Why I include it is because it does a lot more for me than just share my posts, and I think you’d appreciate it too.

buffer productivity

What Buffer does beyond share your posts to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn is what makes it unique. It offers a really streamlined approach to analytics, letting you know how posts compare to each other and highlighting your most popular post of the day for each network.

It allows you to schedule across platforms or individually, so I typically schedule my Twitter post separately, then my Facebook & Google+ posts are the same thing. What’s unique about buffer though is that it’s preset to schedule your posts to be published at certain, high visibility times and you can customize them if you wish. Then after you’ve scheduled a post, it goes into a queue (or you can just choose “Share Now”) for that network only and it’s posted at the next update time. So while I may only have 2 unique links being posted in one day, across the 3 networks I’m reaching people at 6 different, directly targeted times but only click “Add to Queue” 2-4 times.

It’s basically just a huge time-saver. It also offers suggestions of links to articles to post so if I want to share additional content but I don’t want to scour the internet for hours I can use this feature and spend just a few minutes reviewing content before adding it to my queue.

This is my #1 recommendation for social network post scheduling. Try it, you’re going to love it.

Toggle App

This is also a web app or desktop app that is used to track your TIME. It’s much like a timesheet or timeclock, but it lets you set it to record specific tasks in addition to being able to just use it to track time spent working.

toggl_logo-productivity

 

I love it because it lets me see what areas I’m spending the most time in, including wasting time on Facebook and Pinterest (if I tell it that’s what I’m doing.) You can evaluate your personal productivity and view your improvements easily using this tool.

Also, this is helpful if you are a serious blogger and your business plan is set up for you to receive labor pay separate from your company profits.

My Productivity Notebook

I keep a little, (seriously, tiny) notepad (like this one*) on my nightstand with a pen. It has a traditional metal spiral binding that has it’s own unique feature and it’s probably the most boring looking productivity tracker ever. But trust me, this is probably the single most valuable $1.80 thing I’ve invested in. What happens is, at night I have this crazy urge to do things and I get all kinds of ideas. I get project ideas, blog ideas, household ideas, parenting ideas, etc. I think of things I have to do tomorrow and next week and I remember things I forgot to do that day. I think about it forever and ever and ever and it takes all those forever and evers of time to get to sleep. It’s excruciating most of the time. What helps is, as soon as I think of an idea/task/etc. I write it down. I use as few words as possible to help me remember and then it call it done.

productivity notepadAnd the spirals? They help me save paper and space. I keep my finger on the side of the spirals as I’m writing then count the spirals to the top to know how far down the page I’ve gone. If I then lay in bed for five minutes and think of something else to write, because it’s dark, I can’t see where I’ve already written. But I can count 9 spirals down and start writing more on the same page. It’s genius, I know, you’re welcome.

This notepad is a great addition to my work time because it allows me to brainstorm without forgetting my excellent ideas during my sleep. It also reminds me that I forgot to put the check for our trash bill in the mail and not forget to do that tomorrow.

Occasionally my notepad fails me in a spectacular way. For instance, last night I had an idea so big and I became so energized that I couldn’t prevent myself from getting up and writing out plans for it right then. This only happens on weekend days (Fri/Sat nights) though, I swear I have been self control on days where I have to get up the next day with the the kids.

What tricks or tools do you help yourself stay productive? (Besides your blog calendar, because I sincerely hope everyone is using one!)

*I got my notepad at Walgreens for about $1.80. The memo pad link is an Amazon affiliate link where memo pads are currently on sale for just $1.29 with free shipping with Prime. Don’t have a prime account? Get a free membership trial here. It’s active immediately and can be cancelled easily if you’re not satisfied.

Jan 23 2015

Wedding Registries: How Amazon Compares

With anything in the business of getting business, as consumers we often compare different stores and different products to see how they stack up against the competition. Today, a little over a month since our wedding, I’m going to do a little write up of how well Amazon stacks up against other wedding registry services. I feel overly qualified since I think we used FIVE registries for our wedding and know the ins and outs of them.

Amazon Pros & Cons

Perks of using the Amazon Wedding Registry Service include: Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 22 2015

Citrus Lane: Left a Sour Lemon Taste

I’m sure you know what a subscription box is, and if you do, feel free to ignore all the words in italics directly following here. But in case you don’t; A subscription box is commonly known as a package you receive on a regular basis, typically monthly or bi-monthly, with anywhere between 3-30 items that fit that box’s particular theme. You purchase the subscription on a monthly to yearly basis and you typically will only get things you want, need, or might need, based on the box subscription you’re buying.

There are a few boxes I’ve tried and liked, but a few that I definitely didn’t. For this series of posts, starting with this one, I’m going to talk mostly about the ones we’ve tried and didn’t like, and why exactly we didn’t like them. Then of course I’ll recommend a few good ones!

For Kids

citrus lane logo kids

Citrus Lane
This is a monthly subscription designed to send you age appropriate toys and books for your child.

I received this box for two months before deciding it really wasn’t for us. It may be an option for some families but for the following reasons, it wasn’t a good fit for ours. We set up the profile for Scarlet, our 3-year-old daughter. We originally selected the gender neutral option in hopes that she’d be more likely to receive puzzles and books as opposed to dolls and glitter. Before the second box we updated the profile to “girl.”

  • They translate “gender neutral” to “socially accepted as boy things.” They sent nothing that I may find in the girl section of a store but they did send a tractor toy, a bag of crackers, a tube of kid safe sunscreen, and one wooden train toy.
  • These are all appropriate for both boys & girls, but nothing would’ve interested her and nothing was educational.
  • Also, they sent in this a box a very not-age-appropriate book, roughly for a 3rd grade reading level.
  • The second box held a super hero cape (yay!) and a couple wooden toys, along with another bag of crackers. It was far more worth it’s paid value.
  • No puzzles or educational toys. The cape was a great choice and we actually ended up giving it to the kids for Christmas.

Due to the fact that they don’t seem to be attempting at all to nurture my kids’ education and their attempt at gender neutrality was a “What do boys like?” cop out, we don’t subscribe to the box anymore.

Rating: Yes / (No) / Maybe

For more subscription box reviews, I’d have you click “here” except that this is the first one and the rest haven’t been published yet. Go figure, you’re super ahead of the game. They should all be posted by the end of January though, so if you’d like to get one quick email blast when they’re all up, please send me an email (shelby@everythingisntnormal.com) and ask for one. Or just follow me on Facebook where you’ll see updates every time one is posted. :)

Note: This is a NON-PAID, personal review of a product or service. I received no compensation in any form and any/all products/services were purchased with my own money. The company related to this product or service, nor any parent company or competition, has compensated me for my published opinion. 

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