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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The Big Spring Closet Clean Out of 2017

 

I’ve been slowly going through my house, room by room, and getting rid of things I haven’t used recently. Call it the Marie Kondo method, call it decluttering, whatever you call it it feels really good. I’ve had April earmarked for my closet since the start of the year and was really looking forward to doing some serious damage. Most things end up in the donation pile, but there are usually a few more quality pieces that I’d like to get a return on – enter eBay!

 

 

 

If you’ve never sold with eBay before it couldn’t be easier, let me lay it out.

Step 1. List it.
Take a few photos to upload, decide on the selling format that’s right for you, and you’re done. (I love the feature that allows you to save a draft for later!)

Step 2. Ship it.
After your item sells mail it out.

Step 3. Get paid.
PayPal gets you your earnings in the fastest, simplest way – and for free.

Just think of all the potential cash you have laying around your house right now in the form of clothes you’re no longer into, kitchen appliances you’ve never opened, and decor that’s just not your jam anymore.

 

 

 

I’m good about keeping whatever’s on hangers down to what I wear on the regular, but things like jeans, sweater, and bags that are on shelves are more difficult to keep in check. By making a little extra cash on things I’m no longer wearing, I can justify buying this bamboo handbag I’ve been eyeing and this navy blue mini peasant dress that I’d love to have for summer. Like everything in life, keeping your belonging in check is all about balance.

 

 

 

Things I’m letting go of that are up for grabs?

A brightly hand painted, hand stitched clutch by Tiff Manuell.

A silk Missoni for Target scarf with a modern geometric zigzag pattern.

A rose gold MOTO 360 smartwatch that I just couldn’t get used to wearing.

A vintage 1980s black sequined handbag with a tied silk strap.

A linen scarf designed by one of my favorite painters, Kristi Kohut.

A small, sporty cross body goldenrod yellow leather purse with clasp closure.

A red, orange, and white bowling-style messenger bag from the 1990s.

A glazed canvas Wanderlust wallet from Petunia Pickle Bottom.

 

 

 

Be sure to check out eBay’s Clean Up, Cash In Game to learn what’s hot for selling by playing a fun match game, you’ll also be entered for a chance to win up to a $50 gift card. Add something new from your wishlist while clearing out the things from your own closet that might be on someone else’s – talk about a win-win!

This post sponsored by eBay. 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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Then and Now

 

My Mom is my everything. My best friend, my sounding board, my ride or die. The one who gives me tough love when I need it and tells me to be gentle with myself when the days are hard. We’ve always been close, but it was only once we no longer lived in the same house that I began to appreciate the things that once annoyed me. The way she always put me first, how fiercely protective she can be, and even the amount of discipline she instilled in the way she raised me.

 

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My mom was made to be a mother, my mother. She had me at a young 22 years old, but was wise beyond her years after some difficult family circumstances early on in life. But once she gave birth she never really looked back – we went everywhere together, did everything, and were sidekicks. We still are.

 

2015

I wanted to give her something extra special this Mother’s Day, something that represents how we began and how far we’ve come as mother and daughter as well as friends. I chose two of Artifact Uprising‘s Instagram Friendly frames, each of them measures 8 x 10″ and is deep set with a gorgeous walnut finish. In the first she’s holding a one and half year old me in her arms at my cousin’s baptism, and in the second we’re crouching in together at Mother’s Day brunch two years ago.

 

 

Both of these photos were already in my Instagram feed, so I only had to connect the channel and voila – no uploading necessary. I know these two museum quality frames will be something my Mom cherishes for years to come, and I love that we can add to them in the future with more shots of the two of us!

This post sponsored by Artifact Uprising. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Enjoy 10% off your order through May 9th with code AUxMOTHERDAY17.

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My House Got a Facelift

 

While I’ve shared plenty on the updates of the interior of my old, partially-flipped house, there hasn’t been nearly as much done on the exterior. Why? Simply put it’s more intimidating. But back in January I vowed that this is the year that things would get done, and I’ve started off by partnering with Mid-America to replace and add shutters to the front of my home. Mid-America is a leading manufacturer of siding accessories, and they also offer the largest selection of exterior home products in the industry, so I knew both me and my house were in the right hands.

 

 

Prior to now only one window had shutters of any kind, the large one on the first floor, front and center and a little to the left. They were wooden, measured incorrectly, and too short. The attic windows looked fine as they’re a more interesting design and flanked by shaker wood siding, but the trio on the second floor just looked… sad.

 

 

But no longer! From the street it looks like my house got a facelift. The good kind.

Every window was measured correctly this go around and the shutters installed like a dream with just a drill, screwdriver, and hammer. Mid-America offers a wide range of shutter styles and colors, all low maintenance with no painting required. They’re impervious to moisture and insects, which is something I highly value as the owner of a house that’s 117 years old, and made right here in the United States. I chose their straight top all louver shutter in black for all four windows and couldn’t be happier with the quality or end result.

 

 

On the list for 2017:
• landscape the small front yard, dispose of one hundred river rocks
• replace the porch light fixture with something more modern
• strip and paint back deck
• sand and repaint porch swing

Longterm plans:
• build wooden porch up to door height, railing, stairs
• have slate roof repaired
• landscape backyard
• replace porch roof support columns with a sleeker design

 

 

Get a load of the full-on before and after! Looking back the house seemed so incomplete without Mid-America’s shutters. Eventually I’d love to add sets to the windows on the back and east-facing sides for the full effect, but until then I can’t help but smile each time I pull into my driveway. Onto the next project!

 

This post sponsored by Mid-America. 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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Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman

 

Just like clockwork, I filed for my yearly tax extension yesterday.

See, I have a bit of an admission to make which is that I really hate numbers and money or any combination of the two. Design Crush has been a business for nearly ten years and an LLC for more than half of that, and I’m honestly just getting a hold on my books now. It’s always felt extremely overwhelming to me, and so I’ve never made the time to fully understand and grasp what was going on behind the scenes. Money in the bank? Great. Set aside enough of that payment for taxes? Done. And that’s basically the extent of what my plan has been until this year.

Accounting got to the point of being a constant source of stress, a point of mental wellness that needed addressing. So I reached out to FreshBooks after sitting in on one of their workshops, they made accounting seem both easy to tackle and far less overwhelming than it had up until this point.

 

 

I’ve teamed up with FreshBooks to bring you the story of my journey this year as I tackle the financial side of Design Crush – and what better time to start than Tax Day?

Let’s start from the beginning.

When I first logged into my free one month trial I was immediately impressed by the clean layout. One thing that’s always kept me away from other accounting software is the sheer amount of information being thrown my way visually. FreshBooks was actually designed to be simple to use for the self-employed and easy to navigate, and that’s actually what it is. It became apparent – quickly – that I was about to be far more streamlined as a business as soon as I familiarized myself with the system. (On average users save 16 hours per month!)

 

 

I played around backlogging invoices from January 2017 to the present, marking the paid ones off and entering the information of the brands I work with most often for future billing. FreshBooks helps you to create a professional looking invoice that includes your logo, as well as sends out reminders when one goes overdue – basically taking you out of the role as the bad guy. (I love this.) You can even personalize a thank you message that goes out once each invoice is paid. Now this feature is like magic to me, you can set up your account up to accept credit cards! *mind explodes* If you’d like to dig even deeper you can add additional charges for late payments and request deposits from clients. Everything can be automated, making invoicing as painless as humanly possible.

Invoicing features: customization, payment reminders, automatic late fees, accept credit cards, recurring invoices, flexible due dates, handle received invoices, discounts, deposit requests, preview before sending, multi-currency billing, multi-language invoices, duplicate invoices, automatic tax calculations

 

 

Next thing, I photographed receipts and uploaded them to mark as expenses. Being a visually-driven person, it really helps that I’m able to see both the actual receipt as well as the file in FreshBooks. Nearly all of the functions include a line graph spelling things out for those of us who comprehend information better in that form. In this case I can tell immediately how much I’ve been spending and how profitable Design Crush is at any moment. Goodbye shoebox of receipts and manual entry! My accountant is already thanking you because he won’t be receiving a handwritten list for my 2016 taxes. *cringe*

Expense features: receipt attachments, tax-friendly categories, easy to read summaries, remembered vendors, multi-currency tracking, easily editable

 

 

So, this is the start of my journey. I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I learn along the way as I step out of my comfort zone and tackle this neglected area of Design Crush. 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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Master Bedroom Makeover Bits + Pieces

 

How happy am I with the makeover Quick•Step flooring and I worked on? So happy that I basically never want to leave my bedroom. I’ve never been a morning person and I now find myself waking up with a smile on my face. It’s utterly ridiculous and I’m completely head over heels for what I feel like is the first bedroom design that truly matches my aesthetic.

Here I’m spilling about how I pulled it off and the items I picked up to give the room a great refresh, and over on Quick•Step Style I’m sharing more about which flooring I chose for the RoomUP Challenge, as well as five tips for making your space feel bigger (trust me, they’re really good ones). Head over there then meet me back here… I’ll wait…

 

 

Okay, let’s start with those lamps. (Oh, if you need a refresh of what the master bedroom looked like before, here you go.) I loved the old lamps hard, but it was time for a change that blended more seamlessly with the rest of the room. This pair of Helene white ceramic table lamps* match the boho chic vibe I was going for. Their basketweave-patterned bases and linen shades add a nice touch of texture and the size isn’t too overwhelming for the Penelope nightstands.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to dresser mirrors I’m more of a leaner than a hanger. I finally upgraded the round vintage mirror that sadly cracked in half and that I sadly kept using for more than two years with a larger 36-inch one, the HUB Mirror. It’s rubber rim fits snuggly against my mid-century 6-drawer dresser‘s surface, leaving me unafraid of a crash in the middle of the night. You can’t beat the price of this piece either – it’s huge and quite a deal when compared to other large mirrors.

 

 

 

I’ve been on the lookout for a great floor mirror for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. The Payne antique gold full length floor mirror* got my number and called the next day. Its windowpane style has an art deco feel to it, and the gold calls out some of the other metallic accents in the room. I made space in my mini gallery wall for it, because it really does feel like a piece of art.

Speaking of art, my very good friend who is also a very talented artist – Jaime Derringer – made me four pieces of 4 x 4″ art for the revamped space. I have a few more things I’d like to do in this bedroom (new light fixture, different floor rug, adding a bench, etc) and framing these is at the top of the list. I love her abstract style and am thrilled to add these minis to my ever-growing collection of her work.

 

 

This piece, Stormy Drive, used to be a huge statement over my headboard. After relocating the bed to under the windows, I chose to lower the gigantic frame to be level with the door and let it own the entire wall. It’s so striking from this angle!

 

 

 

I’ve been toying with notion of painting this room the same pale pink as the accent wall in my office, and to ease into the idea I added this Mongolian pink fur pillow* to the mix on my bed. The texture is fantastic and I’m so much closer to pulling the trigger on that paint job.

There’s only about twenty feet between my house and the neighbors’. So when I first moved in I picked up some tension rods to get curtain up ASAP and, well, never replaced them. This trio of brass Cappa adjustable single curtain rods look at least one hundred times better. At least.

 

 

The vintage light fixture fit in much better once I removed the ornate decorative rims – dare I say it looks modern even? It ties the curtain rods, the fixtures on the dresser and nightstands, and the edging on the floor mirror together oh so nicely.

The last addition is the Murray modern mahogany platform bed*. I was honestly pretty nervous about mixing mahogany with the other two wood finishes in the room, but it fits in seamlessly and actually manages to set off the Quick•Step flooring. I love having such a low-profile bed more than I expected I would, it just helps the room feel that much more open and airy which was my number one goal in this project.

If you ignored me above, click over to Quick•Step Style to read more about the transformation and process, the amazing flooring, and five tips for making your space feel bigger. And then enter the RoomUP Sweepstakes for a chance to win up to 500 sq ft of Quick•Step flooring for your own project, as well as see other transformations from other RoomUP bloggers!

 

 

This post sponsored by Quick•Step. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Get more inspiration from Quick•Step on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also download their Style My Floor app to visualize their floors in your own home.  *product provided by Lamps Plus

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Wall to Wall Be Gone

 

If you asked what my biggest interior design pet peeve is it wouldn’t be ceiling fans, it would be wall to wall carpeting. I despise the stuff with the fire of a thousand suns, which of course means it’s covering the majority of the floor on the second level of my house. So when Quick•Step flooring reached out to me about participating in their RoomUp Blogger Challenge it was a no brainer to say (and not scream) yes!

 

 

Aside from flat-out not liking wall to wall carpeting, most rooms upstairs weren’t an issue. The guest room door stays closed, the bonus room stays relatively pet-free, the bathroom is tiled, and my small office was floored with the leftover laminate from downstairs. But the master bedroom is a different story altogether, because that’s where my two elderly cats spend most of their day and I’ll say no more about it than that. The carpeting either had to be replaced (no!) or new flooring put down.

 

 

I requested four different flooring samples from Quick•Step‘s extensive collection, and once they arrived let the pieces sit on the floor in my bedroom for a few days before making a final decision. Pop over to Quick•Step Style to read more about which option I went with and to see more transformations from other bloggers participating in the RoomUP Challenge! I’m looking forward to revealing my full bedroom makeover with you next, and you can see a little sneak peek below.

I truly love this product and would love for you to love it, too. So make sure to enter the RoomUP Sweepstakes for a chance to win up to 500 sq ft of Quick•Step flooring to transform a space of your own!

 

 

This post sponsored by Quick•Step. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Get more inspiration from Quick•Step on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also download their Style My Floor app to visualize their floors in your own home.

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#365quotes2016 + Mixbook

 

2016 was the second time I completed my 365 quotes project on Instagram, and it would be a shame not to document it after all the time put in. So I teamed up with the creative folks over at Mixbook to help make it a reality in the form of a hardcover photobook that I can have as a longtime reminder.

 

 

After deciding on a square 8.5 x 8.5″ photobook I chose to start with one of Mixbook’s templates – Minimal White – rather than work from an entirely blank slate. The platform is really simple to use and allowed me to change page layouts and fonts once I began, as well as add pages (up to 399). There’s also the option to add things like stickers and backgrounds to further customize your project, so all-in-all you have complete control over your design.

 

 

Each page of my photobook has the same vertical off-center layout because I wanted all 365 quotes to have the same weight and presence with the exception of the cover. This seemed like the obvious choice since they were all the same shape when initially shared on Instagram and I wanted to retain that integrity.

 

 

I was also happy to learn that Mixbook uses only the highest quality heavy-weight papers that are ethically sourced from sustainable forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance. Huge bonus!

The end result is just as I hoped it would be, clean and minimal with each quote stealing the show from the page before. (Now what else can I make a book of?)

 

 

This post sponsored by Mixbook. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh content!

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An Easy Holiday DIY for You + Your Cat

 

If you share your home with a cat (or three) they’re in the Christmas tree half of the time it seems. I took a cue from them and created this two-for-one DIY project inspired by their antics and Fancy Feast Feastivitieshandmade gift guide for cat lovers.

Fancy Feast Feastivities is a celebration of the ultimate ways to delight cats and cat lovers during the holidays. This year’s theme is all about inspired holiday entertaining, so you’ll find the gift guide contains plenty of gifts for the cat-loving hostess in your life. The creativity of the makers involved pushed me to come up with something I knew my cats would love playing with, rather than buying something they’d probably bat around for five minutes and never look at again (like real kids!).

 

 

Your cat can play to their heart’s content with their mega glitter pom pom toy, while just the addition of ribbon turns it into a sparkly decoration that can bring a festive touch to a doorknob or tree branch in your home. I plan on making a few more of the smaller ones to add to the outside of gift boxes as well because they’re just so happy looking!

 

 

Supplies
• glue gun and glue sticks
2-inch styrofoam ball (for the cat toy)
• 3-inch styrofoam ball (for the decoration)
• various sizes of glitter pom poms
• ribbon
• catnip

 

 

After heating up your glue gun, start by distributing the largest of the pom poms evenly over the ball’s surface and gluing down. Work progressively through the other sizes (I used three different ones), using the smallest pom poms to fill in any leftover spaces. If you’re working on the larger decoration, make sure to leave a small space to attach a ribbon for hanging with the hot glue as well. Allow to cool for five minutes before placing in a closed ziploc bag with catnip for a few hours. Your own ornament should be ready to hang after those five minutes as well.

 

 

My cat, Peanut, especially loved this toy. He batted it around the room for at least ten minutes, picking it up in his mouth and giving a good shake before putting it back on the floor and running around the room like crazy again. I may need to make two more for the other cats! And if you have any of the larger pom poms leftover I guarantee your felines will go crazy for those on their own as well.

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

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10 Tips for De-Stressing This December with Rescue Remedy

rescue-remedy-3-design-crush

 

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.

 

rescue-remedy-1-design-crush

 

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.

 

rescue-remedy-5-design-crush

 

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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