Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman, Part 2

 

Time once again to drop all pretense for part two of my yearlong financial journey with FreshBooks! In part one, back in April, I shared how I’ve approached the financial side of my business up until this year – in short, it’s not my strong suit and I’m doing all I can to remedy that.

In the past three months I’ve gained so much more confidence when it comes to invoicing, and I’ve also saved time thanks to all of the features I outlined in part one. I love how easy it is to access recurring client’s information as well as the visual representation of how much I’m earning. In the name of transparency blogging is going through a season of change once again, and the green is not as prevalent as in the past. The number one rule of being a blogger is being adaptable, and diversifying my income is a huge deal.

 

 

One way I’m doing that, aside from writing for larger corporate sites, is contacting sponsors directly more often. For a long time I didn’t have to pitch brands, but over time that’s changed and FreshBooks‘s estimate feature helps me navigate the steps that follows. After talking to a new brand – and them hopefully falling head over heels for my pitch! – it’s time to spell out my proposal with a dollar sign in front of it. It’s here that I’m able to outline deliverables Design Crush will be providing and the breakdown of pricing for each.

Estimate features: know when a client has viewed your estimate, add discounts, automatic tax calculations, transform your estimates into ready-to-pay invoices, client approval with one click

 

 

After signing a contract I can kick things off, whether it’s for Design Crush or a graphic design project on the side. With FreshBooks‘s time tracking feature I can map out my day and make sure I’m accounting for every billable hour. This is super helpful to me in a number of ways, especially when it comes to do future estimates for similar projects. I’m forever trying to become more efficient – the thought of hiring someone to feed me three square meals a day while I work has occurred to me – and time tracking is valuable in showing me where I can streamline even further. I can literally start a timer and hit stop when I’m done! When the project is wrapped up I can pull all of the tracked time into an invoice and send it off.

Time tracking features: team time tracking, clear breakdown of your day, view team members’ time, easy to use timer, detailed time entry notes, automatically bill for tracked hours

 

 

I’m already digging deeper into FreshBooks and am looking forward to what the quarter brings in terms of making me feel more like a well rounded businesswoman. If you have any questions about FreshBooks I’d love to try and help get answers for you from their award-winning rockstars in customer service. In the meantime, you can sign up for a free monthlong trial right here!

This post sponsored by FreshBooks. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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June Favorites

 

1/ Super Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes
I’ve been doing container gardens for the past few years, and this summer I ventured into the world of cherry tomatoes, Sweet 100s specifically. They’re a vining variety that are deliciously meaty and sweet. Last week I was able to start picking a few day as they ripen and my salad game has gone up a notch!

2/ Mom’s Stuff All-Purpose Piñon Salve
I started using Mom’s Stuff a few years ago after meeting Mom’s daughter and trying out a sample. Each jar is handmade from all natural ingredients that deeply moisturize, soothe, and protect your skin and there are no filler ingredients like water, cheap oils, or stabilizers. Lately I’ve been dabbing some on bug bites for comfort.

3/ Illume Candles Vanity Tins
Illume Candles first entered my life back in college, when I bought two delicious smelling candles for more than I could afford. I’m loving the design of their Vanity Tins and the scents are just as good as ever!

4/ Pineapple Sage
It was the pineapple-scented leaves that caused me to pick up one of these to plant this year. In late summer they bloom bright red, tube-shaped blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

5/ La Colombe Draft Latte
This is the treat I’ve been reaching for on hot summer mornings! Lactose-free milk and cold pressed espresso make for a slightly sweet drink without any added sugar.

6/ Kristin Ess Instant Lift Thickening Spray
Forever on the search for the perfect hair product that will give my fine hair more oomph, and this spray has become the top contender. You don’t need to use a ton, it’s not super sticky, and the smell is amazing.

7/ Lou & Grey Linen Racerback Tank (50% off!)
I picked up black and grey ones a few weeks ago and have been more or less living in them. They hit my short(ish) torso in just the right spot and the cut is super flattering.

8/ Carmex Comfort Care Colloidal Oatmeal Lip Balm
As a lip balm-aholic you can take my word that this stuff is the real deal. Its blend of natural colloidal oatmeal and cold-pressed antioxidant rich fruit seed oil provides long-lasting moisture for visibly smoother lips.

9/ Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
A collection of poetry and prose about survival, about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. And how to find the sweetness in all areas of life.

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A Long Weekend

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I was down and out all day with a migraine yesterday, so I’m taking it as a sign that I need to make it a three day weekend and take today to get back to 100%. I’ll be here bright and early Monday with a few posts before taking the day to celebrate the 4th Tuesday. Happy weekend!

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Work + Play in Palm Springs

 

That’s not a postcard.

For most of last week I was in Palm Springs for Alt Summit, a conference I’ve proudly spoken at more than a handful of times. I’ve grown used to heading to Salt Lake City every January for the event, so when it was moved to The Saguaro in southern California for 2017 I was more than a little excited. Five days away from the Pennsylvania winter? Sign. Me. Up.

 

 

I opted to fly into San Diego rather than Palm Springs because one of my best friends, who was also going to Alt, lives there. Fly across the country and then roadtrip for two hours? Yeah, sure. And even when it turns out to take three and a half hours because of rush hour it’s okay, because I got to see two Sizzler restaurants. (Did you know they still exist? I didn’t.) That first night there was a lovely poolside party that we lasted about a half hour at before going back to our room where I finished slides for a panel the following morning.

 

 

One of the biggest travel perks for me is not having to make breakfast. And in this case I got to eat it with a (different) good friend before heading over to hair and makeup for my 9am panel.

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered what I look like A) speaking on a panel B) after roughly 4 hours of sleep C) with too much bronzer on D) and my jacket falling off, well, here you go! Dreams do come true.

All joking aside, our talk on making old content new again went fantastically well. I always think a successful panel teaches the panelists as well as the attendees, and this one did just that.

 

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The good thing about speaking first is that any pressure is off immediately and you’re free to explore and enjoy the rest of the conference. All of the colors of The Saguaro made for some amazing photo backdrops, and I busied myself popping in and out of other talks, catching up with blogger friends I rarely get to see, and chatting with sponsors.

 

 

 

 

Lunch was always held outside in the California sun, which was still blazing even in 70-something degree weather! One afternoon the parking lot was filled with the most amazing cars, each one armed with a small business owner ready to share their story.

 

Justin Hackworth

Justin Hackworth

The main portion of the conference ended Thursday evening with a great keynote by Todd Oldham. Yup, that Todd Oldham. I’m happy to share that he’s personable, down to earth, and very direct – three qualities I look for in everyone I meet.

 

 

 

I spent the last day hanging out with other longtime bloggers discussing the nitty gritty of our industry. Where it’s come from and where it’s (maybe) going, best practices and new concerns, etc. It rarely happens that so many of us are together and we definitely took advantage.

 

 

 

But my favorite thing, a bucket list item in fact, happened on the drive back to San Diego that evening. A stop at the Cabazon Dinosaurs! You might not know, but I am a deep down dino nerd. It was chilly and crazy windy when we stopped, I think we were out of the car for all of ten minutes and I managed to snap at least fifty photos including one of me hugging T-Rex’s leg. If you hop over to Instagram there’s more proof…

Until next time, one of my favorite places on Earth!

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10 Tips for De-Stressing This December with Rescue Remedy

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I’m so stressed. It’s something we hear someone say or think to ourselves at least once a day. Stress is one of those facts of life that can seem inescapable at times, especially during the holidays. December has been a hot point for me since at least college, when I associated it with finals and traveling. Today the sources are more along the lines of budgeting for holiday gifts and the uptick in Q4 blogging, but it’s there nonetheless, from mid-November through the New Year I just can’t seem to shake it.

 

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This go ’round I’m partnering with Rescue to try and help ease stressful moments. Developed by a doctor nearly 80 years ago, the Rescue brand aims to help you keep calm, cool, and collected when you’re feeling anything but. I’ve been reaching for three of their products throughout the day for the past month – black currant Rescue pastilles at my desk, Rescue Remedy spray when I’m on the go (I keep it in my purse), and Rescue vitamins by my bedside before bed. Each provides gentle, non-habit-forming stress relief just when I need it. Their lines even includes products for children and pets, so there’s literally something for everyone when they need to calm down.

 

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Let’s talk about some other ways to step out of the red zone when you feel stress and anxiety make themselves known. Along with Rescue products, my go-tos are pictured through the post – lighting a relaxing candle, making a cup of tea, or taking a moment to pick up some flowers.

Eat well. Your immune system becomes compromised when you’re stressed, making it harder to recover if you come down with something. Reach for dark greens, herbal teas, and proteins.

Go outside. Sit on the porch or go for a hike, just get some fresh air. Be present and try and let go of whatever is getting under your skin, even if it’s only for a five minute walk around the neighborhood.

Learn to say no. Whether it’s to a project or a night out, know your limits and respect them. Mental health is just as important as physical and you need to know those limits.

Try meditation. I’m loving the Headspace app for short ten minute stints. Focusing on little other than breathing does wonders for centering yourself before getting back at it.

Talk it out. Reach out to that friend or family member who inevitably makes you laugh or reminds you how good you have it. In this digital age we sometimes take human contact and its effects for granted.

 

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List what you’re thankful for. Don’t let negative, stressful feelings get the better of you. Instead take a moment to think of what you’re grateful for, what makes you smile, and what brings you joy. Make it in your head or jot things down to hang up as a reminder when you most need it.

Get moving. In whatever way you feel most comfortable – if you have dogs take them for a walk, if you belong to a gym make it part of your routine, if you like to run chart out a course. By increasing your heart rate you’re like to eliminate built up anxieties in the process.

Stay hydrated. Take a five minute break in between tasks to drink a glass of water. Even better, keep a carafe on your desk so you don’t have an excuse not to. Infuse it with fruits or herbs if plain H2O just isn’t your thing or as more of an incentive to drink more.

Go to sleep. It’s what our bodies require to recover from a multitude of things, including stress. Make sure you’re getting the appropriate amount of hours every night, and if you can swing add in a thirty minute power nap a few afternoons a week.

Put it in perspective. Chances are whatever is stressing you out isn’t the end of the world. Make plans to volunteer at a food bank or animal shelter, make a donation to a charity you believe in, or just realize how lucky you are to have humankind’s basic needs available to you.

 

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This post sponsored by Rescue, find out where to pick up your own stress relief here. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brand that help Design Crush create fresh content!

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A (Belated) Housewarming Party

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Hello, my name is Kelly and it took me just over two years to have a housewarming party. It’s a ridiculous thing and maybe I should have called the party I had last Saturday an open house, but a housewarming is what it was. Aside from my immediate family and friends there haven’t been a ton of guests and plenty of people were curious, or so the past 26-months would lead me to believe. So last month I decided I was ready to entertain on a larger scale and invited fifty people over for November 19th. Not only would everyone get to mix and mingle, but the timing also meant my place would be clean and ready to host Thanksgiving Thursday! Two birds, one stone.

 

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I knew I wanted to do as little cooking as possible, which meant it was going to be heavy snacks and appetizers. Everyone knows those are the best parts anyway. But the thing I was most excited about it, aside from seeing everyone, was getting to use all of the serving pieces I’ve collected with World Market generously filling in the gaps (source links following the post). In fact, I pulled out all of the Type A stops by laying everything out a few days before and labeling them with Post-Its so I knew where all of the food was going to go.

 

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I made up a delicious apple cider sangria and infused water with citrus fruits, both were set out in decanters in serve yourself fashion. There was also a selection of Italian sodas for underage guests, a variety of beer, and so many bottles of wine! Let’s just say I’m set for the entirety of the holiday season thanks to my guests and their generosity.

 

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A non-negotiable for hosting any party is the presence of cheese. Well, at least it is in my book. I picked up six fancy varieties as well as plenty of sharp cheddar, gouda, swiss, and pepper jack to go on crackers and mini toasts. Oh, and there was a parmesan spread as well because cheese is delicious.

 

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Minted, one of my favorite ongoing partners, is currently running a promotion where all of their digital invitations are free though December 31st, so I was fast to hop on the train and email out this type heavy invitation. My timeline was a little too tight to order their fabric table linens, so I went with the prettiest gold foil-pressed table runners for both the dining room table and buffet instead. Not only did they protect the wood, I was also able to roll them up for later use since there were no spills! I also customized some of Minted’s Inkblot foil-pressed place cards with foods that might need some explainging, like my Mom’s addictive cracker candy. All it took to use them in a new way was some toothpicks and tape!

 

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My stepdad made his famous poppyseed cake that’s actually a recipe from my Mom’s grandmother. At the end of the night there were only three pieces left, which made him plenty happy. I’ll be sharing the recipe here in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

 

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I picked up the florals here and there throughout the prior week and kept them well watered until I was ready to put together the arrangements Friday night. If your table is longer than 96-inches I recommend going with two slightly smaller, yet equally tall bouquets for more of an impact. Some empty places on the table were filled in with produce – apples, acorn squash, oranges, and persimmons. It’s a great trick, just use whatever is seasonal.

 

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Recently I had picked up some lavender extract paste that I was anxious to try, so I baked up a batch of lavender cakes with lavender-honey cream cheese icing in some cute paper cups. I’m not sharing the recipe because I think they forgot an ingredient or two, but they looked so pretty!

 

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The party got started around 4:30 and I think the last guests rolled out around midnight. I had such a great time playing hostess that I basically forgot to eat and the only thing I drank was coffee, but I’d call it a success! My house was filled with so much love and laughter, and just maybe the first snow of the year that happened during the party was a sign of good to things to come.

Charcuterie Cutting Board // Marble Paddle Cutting Board with Copper Handle // Oval Wood Tray with Copper Handle // Woven Bamboo Salad Bowls Set of 2 // Mid-Century Creamer // Bamboo Salad Tongs // Small Olivewood Spoon // White Frosted Glass Pedestal Stand // White Rectangular Lacquer Serving Tray // White Coupe Oval Platter // Black and Gold Double Walled Ice Bucket  // Mid Century Bottle Stoppers Set of 2

A special thank you to Minted and World Market for providing product to help turn my party into a reality! And thanks to you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content.

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Summer To-Do List

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Last week I took a few minutes to think about some important things – namely what I’d like to get out of this coming summer. While it’s been quite a few years since I’ve had a summer off, there’s still something magical about the season and I’m looking forward to this one immensely.

What’s on your summer 2016 to-do list?

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Happy 2016 + My Intentions

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I wasn’t planning on showing up here before Monday, but like a lot of you I’m feeling introspective with the new year upon us. (Happy 2016!) I stopped making resolutions years ago – the guilt and disappointment are a bit too much when I fail – but this year I’ve settled on a few intentions. (Resolutions by another name? Most likely.) And just like writing them down on a Post-It and sticking that note to the fridge, sharing them here holds some accountability for me.

Take better care of myself. Since turning 36 in November I’ve realized this really is the only body and the only life I’ve got. I plan on making big efforts to get my diabetes even further under control, as well as continuing with my daily regiment of vitamins and eating well. Hoping to get more physical activity into the mix as well. (Ugh.)

Work on that whole work/life balance thing. I’ve been struggling with this since taking Design Crush full-time four years ago, and have yet to find a decent balance between the two. My hopes are to spend more time with friends and family, as well as open myself up more to relationships. (Because honestly, I just haven’t made the time or effort. And I’m not getting any younger.)

Try at least one new recipe a month. I’ve fallen into a kitchen rut. Since my diabetes diagnosis back in 2014 I’ve had to relearn my eating habits and cooking hasn’t been nearly as pleasurable. I’m starting small with one new recipe a month, and hoping I fall in love with the process again and more on to one new recipe a week.

So there you have it. What are your intentions for 2016?

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Balancing Life with the UP2

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Activity trackers aren’t exactly a new fad, and to be honest I’ve been known to make fun of those who are evangelists for them in the past. But ever since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a year and a half ago, suddenly all kinds of health issues that weren’t important in the past are a big deal. Carb intake, working out, getting enough sleep – all things that I’m paying way more attention to these days. Also things that Jawbone’s UP2 are helping me track and even improve upon! Hi, Pot. It’s Kettle. Let’s talk.

 

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I stopped wearing a watch years ago because having it bang against my desk and keyboard while designing was enough to drive me crazy. I was happy to find that the band on the UP2 is an adjustable soft rubber bracelet, and I’ve had zero problem wearing it 24/7. After two weeks it’s already become a habit that I’m not eager to break, and keeping track of everything has become like a competition with myself. It even manages to go with my wardrobe when I stack on bracelets – no small feat! And on days when I forget to throw on any accessories it simply looks like a modern bracelet.

 

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My UP2 has been tracking everything from movement to diet to sleep, and yet I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of its functionality. I’m looking forward to experimenting with the idle alert which keeps you from staying in one place for too long, and the alarm that gently wakes you up in the morning by vibrating your tracker.

 

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I’m not a person who’s ever been extremely active, so I have my goal set to 8,000 steps a day. The difference now is that I’m eager to check my steps as soon as I’ve done an activity – like run on the treadmill, gone grocery shopping, or walked my dogs! I wasn’t expecting just how addicting it would be.

 

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Being able to keep track of every bite of food I put in my body throughout the day is incredibly important to sticking to my recommended 45 carb per meal limit. It’s a relief to know that there’s a record of the results somewhere other than in my mind, and that I can go back and look at what I ate when I was having an especially energetic or exhausting day.

For the past six months I’ve been struggling with sleeping well, I believe it to be a side effect of a new diabetes drug that I’m taking. I don’t have a tough time falling asleep – it’s the staying asleep that’s difficult. Because I wear my UP2 to bed it actually tells me how many times I woke up during the night, when I was sleeping light, and when I was in a deep sleep. In the morning it gives me a report and mentions tips like doing light let lifts when I can’t get back to sleep and getting up to do something productive if I’m restless. This has been my favorite function so far!

 

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What I initially thought was a fad has become a part of my everyday life, and a tool in treating my diabetes. At this point I can’t imagine not wearing my UP2 when it even manages to seamlessly blend into my day-to-day, from lifestyle to wardrobe.

This post sponsored by Jawbone. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush producing fresh content!

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A Trip to Kennywood

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There was one main thing on my summer bucket list and that was to visit Kennywood, one of the oldest and most beloved amusement parks in America that’s located just outside Pittsburgh. Founded in 1898, Kennywood is home to several wooden rollercoasters and was even designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

 

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I lost count of the number of times I’ve visited the park, but the last was back in 1999 the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Since then a few rides have said  sayonara while others have taken their place. I was anxious to reacquaint myself with the place.

 

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So a few weekends ago me along with eight members of my family headed to Kennywood for the day! Naturally it was one of the hottest days of the summer, which seemed appropriate. We baked in the sun – under our sunscreen, of course – from 11am until the park shut down for the night at 10:30.

The carousel above is over 100 years old, the wooden platform and hand painted horses make it beyond magical.

 

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Not everyone was able to ride every single ride (back injuries, inner ear issues, fear of heights – the list goes on), so we spent a good part of the day separating and regrouping. My ride partner was my 29-year-old cousin who was just as ride-focused as me (yeah, you can tell we’re related).

 

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I made sure to make a stop at my favorite eatery for some cheese-smothered Potato Patch Fries, one of those foods that’s become an institution within the park. And then I ate them so fast I didn’t even snap a photo – the HORROR.

 

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We rode the fastest coaster in the part in the front seat. My mom was seated directly behind me screaming the entire time, as one does on a rollercoaster, and I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming back to my ears! My eyes were even closed because I thought my contacts might slide right out.

 

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I was brought up on county fair and amusement park rides, both of my parents love them. Whenever someone is freaking out in the middle of one I’m usually the person sitting next to them, it must be some sort of unspoken law of nature. While riding the Black Widow (above) the teenage girl seated next to me lost it so bad that tears and snot were pouring out and her long hair was plastered to her face. She kept telling her friend she was going to pass out, while her friend held her hand and said that everyone was looking at her. Yeah, she totally didn’t care and bolted as soon as the ride was over and the harnesses lifted.

 

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Amusement parks at night are ten times better than by day, and I was immediately taken back to walking around Kennywood as a teenager with whatever boy I liked at the moment. Those were the days, man.

 

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