A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

Blogging About… Everything

Happy start to the week! Back again after traveling solo with the wee little ones this past weekend – they were champs. Pictures of our beautiful Northern California adventure to come.

Today I wanted to tackle question 2 from the set of ‘Wondering What’s On Your Mind’ thoughts from back here. (You can see the list of four broad topics and catch up on Q1 right over here.)

2 | Where does your blogging inspiration come from? You cover such a wide range of topics, how do decide what to post about?

This next question came in the form of comments on inspiration, ever changing blog topics and how this is not quite a lifestyle or design or entertaining or remodel or mommy blog…

This is a neat topic to tackle because I do really enjoy sharing on so many areas of life here on this site. I think that a lot of bloggers feel obligated to stick to one channel of writing and that sometimes that can feel restrictive or challenging. Without a defined niche I feel a bit freer to fill an editorial calendar with posts that might include a home remodel project, a new outdoor craft, a summer inspiration board, a party roundup, a reflection on an honest part of motherhood, a style board, a recipe….

PDB Topic Transitions | PepperDesignBlog.com
Four major areas of growth and topics that have added themselves along the way

On the flip side, I know that choosing a less defined theme will discourage readers and makes attracting certain types of sponsors more challenging. I’ve watched the blog work through its successes and challenges as the blog has shifted with time. From the outside looking in, this blog has taken so many twisting turns along its five year story sharing path, and has slowly morphed into the a-little-bit-of-everything site that it now is.

To share a little bit of my journey with you (and to give you the roots on which this blog was formed), I started writing as a creative outlet when I was traveling nonstop for a consulting company that focused on large software implementation projects. It meant nights alone in hotels (7 months straight – Kevin was actually deployed to Japan at the time as he was still in the military) and a day job that allowed for so little creativity that a blog at night felt refreshing and fun – plus, it kept me company.

My first introduction to the blogging world was a semi-addiction to party blogs :). After planning my own wedding I was suddenly really into all of the fun details of planning events and sites such as Pinterest didn’t really exist at the time. This blog launched with the intention of sharing inspiration for entertaining plus a fun mix of home, crafts and organizing as well. I took my college knowledge of programming and spent nine months playing with a design that I thought fit me well. It was purely a space to share fun, entertaining ideas – and pre-Pinterest it was very normal to feature and highlight other parties and projects in detail from around the web. That was how we all circulated great inspiration with each other (though in some ways it feels like such a no-no now). I built up an awesome audience and really enjoyed everything writing, styling, editing and interacting.

Old Blog Layout

Our aesthetic sure does change with time – but back when I LOVED the colors and design!

About a month before Kevin came back to San Diego I moved us into our first apartment. A year or so later Kevin and I bought our first home and little by little my primarily party blog transitioned into a home remodeling blog. I began reading the blogs of couples that were on the same journey and my own blogging voice and focus changed. It was challenging because I knew that I was losing my core party readers and I watched my Google Analytics fluctuate over the months as the ‘theme’ of PDB shifted.

demo_1000

We spent so much of our time focused on tearing down walls and picking out paint colors that it felt very natural to transition into the day-by-day story of the transformation of our 1930s fixer upper.

Up until this point I really hadn’t share much on the personal front. I remember traveling to Australia with my family and posting a vacation picture and being so surprised when readers requested more! It made me want to have a more personal voice and to build my blog to tell my story as well. I was a little trepid on giving away the details of our personal life, I actually wasn’t super interested in blogs that delved into the personal and devoured up blogs that stuck to 100% diy content. But then all of a sudden that shifted! I began to read and connect with blogger stories that felt as though they were going through similar life experiences and I loved it.

Australia Adventures 2009 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Australia Adventures 2009 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Two years later we welcomed our first daughter and again my writing focus shifted to reflect life as a new mother. Now I was getting really personal. I was suddenly balancing party and home and baby blogging posts and I was nervous that I was too all over the board. No focus! Just whatever was going on in my life at that moment. I watched readers shift and fluctuate again, but because I enjoyed so much what I wrote about I didn’t spend too much time worrying about it.

Pregnancy Photo Series | Liv | PepperDesignBlog.com

I realized that if this blog is anything special to me it would make so much sense to embrace everything that is special to me. I’m so incredibly grateful for those readers that have hung with me on this journey.

Eventually the blog began to encompass style boards, cocktail recipes, ‘random thoughts‘, ‘weekend fun‘, ‘everyday stuff‘, ‘tech tips‘. Some series have fizzled away, others have grown and grown.

Weekend Fun | August, 2013 - Florida | PepperDesignBlog.com

Media Kit Images | PepperDesignBlog.com

Often bloggers are asked to identify their niche and their target audience. I understand why experts suggest that a focused writing style will help a blog thrive and to find its voice amongst the myriad of wonderful sites out there. My best suggestion is to find your own voice though. That might be a certain vertical, or it could be a collage of favorites that resembles one large story.

I am grately appreciative of this blog because it allows me to explore my creative side and journal our life in (what I hope feels like) a very natural way. I don’t always blog about all of the guck that happens in our day-to-day (that would sure make it feel a bit more real) but I do really enjoy capturing the happy and creative moments because in many ways this is my gratitude journal. My opportunity to reflect back on what makes our lives special, what makes our family unique, what makes us smile and laugh and sometimes pound our heads against the wall.

To sum it up? What inspires this blog… everything :). And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If You Have Some Extra Time…

Links to Visit | PepperDesignBlog.com

Happy weekend! We traveled up to the Santa Cruz area (Northern California) for my brother’s graduation on Wednesday night (I flew solo with the girls and am learning more tricks each time! from this last one – pack lots of FOOD. More than you’ll ever think you’ll need) and we are here through the weekend. Looking forward to some time with my family and especially my brothers and sister on my dad’s side (my sis is expecting! woohoo!). Here are a few links from ’round the web that have caught my eye.

This Ikea shelving unit totally blows my mind. From installation to styling to how it integrates into the full room…

This is my kind of summer dress.

Are blue kitchens the next big thing? I love this one. Perhaps as an alternative to painting a bar or breakfast nook area white, too.

The 32 most beautiful & unusual places in the world.

This pancake & pajama party is adorable. What a clever spin on a brunch birthday.

Would you ever wear diy shoes? Kinda cool.

12 traditionally successful people on what success really means.

Remember when I made that prediction about flamingos this year? Well this party is so over the top and pretty I can hardly handle it.

Create your own engineer prints and wall-sized murals.

We are planning a vacation here for our 7 year wedding anniversary at the end of June. A little weekend getaway. I can’t wait.

Enjoy your weekend.

A Typical Day…

It’s taken me a while to put together well-rounded answers, but I have not forgotten about all of the sweet and engaging questions from my birthday week. I wanted to share my first set of questions with you all today, and I actually grouped the questions into four broad areas to help narrow the focus of the four different posts:

1 | What does your typical day look like? How do you balance your different responsibilities?

2 | Where does your blogging inspiration come from? You cover such a wide range of topics, how do decide what to post about?

3 | Would you guys consider moving? Are you or when do you think you’ll be ready to start again?

4 | Tips for working/creating from home with little kids

I thought I’d tackle each of these broad topics in a different post, forgive the lack of brevity, I really dove into these! Feel free to skim :).

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A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

1 | What does your typical day look like? How do you balance your different responsibilities? 

Surprisingly, one of the common threads running through my birthday question was what a typical day looks like around here. I actually think that it’s kind of cool to document these sorts of things and totally dig it when other bloggers share their balancing secrets, so I’m happy to let you in on one usual day in our crazy lives.

I’ll preface by saying that most days of the week are pretty different. Mondays and Wednesdays flow similarly as do Tuesdays and Thursdays (because of preschool schedules, nannies, playgroups…) but meetings, classes and sporadic events tend to mix things up pretty regularly. I’ll sort of jump into a typical Tuesday today and consider it to be just about as normal as it gets.

I’m a night owl so Taylor waking me up at 6:30am for her daily nursing session is the norm. I must admit that she’d be weaned by now except that I don’t want to wake up at 6:30, so cuddling and falling back asleep is my main goal at this moment :). I don’t mind that it’s so good for her as well.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kevin leaves for work at 7:30 and I hop out of bed to get the girls ready to go. We make breakfast (sometimes oatmeal or fruit, sometimes toasted waffles) and I spend the first hour of my day cleaning up. Might be unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming the floor (our dog is a shedder), picking up toys, mopping, the usual.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

Once the girls are dressed and teeth are brushed, I walk both down to our neighborhood preschool where Liv will spend her next two and a half hours. Taylor’s nanny will meet us back at the house so that I can concentrate on my first chunk of the work day – and a good cup of freshly dripped coffee.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

We live very close to SDSU, our local state university here in San Diego, and I’ve been taking advantage of an awesome group of girls over there for all of our nanny needs since Liv was a couple of months old. When one girl graduates or heads out on a study abroad program, she usually recommends one of her close friends to take over. They are the best! I’ve some how tapped into one of the sweetest sets of 18-22 year old girls you’ll ever meet. Sometimes I’ll even have as many as 3 or 4 on schedule each week. It’s great because I have the flexibility to work around college class schedules and love that I get to break my day up into big chunks (sometimes dictated by their class schedule) rather than have an eight hour nanny that is with us full time. It’s also very affordable.

I typically settle down for work and knockout a few hours from 9 to noon.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

On Tuesdays my mom picks up the girls around lunchtime for a swim lesson and an afternoon with nana and papa (Liv’s a fish now!). On almost every other day I use lunch as another opportunity to spend time with my little ladies before diving into the second chunk of my work day and another (or the same) university nanny.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

The girls come back around 4pm and just in time for me to transition to snack time as Liv recounts her first dive from the side of the pool or how her instructor is teaching her to use her arms to swim. Even T takes a lesson with my mom and is such a water baby these days.

At this time one of my favorite secret weapons stops by to play for an hour or two – a mother’s helper. Have you ever heard of one before? I’ll go into full detail in a future post but essentially they are neighborhood girls within walking distance to your home that are not yet old enough to babysit on their own. Since I’m home working in my office it’s perfect, the girls play in the living room or outside and my little helper is an excellent entertainer. She might even help me to catch up on folding laundry if the girls are napping when she arrives (Liv dropped her nap about two months ago – sigh – but occasionally is exhausted enough to give in).

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

I slip in a few more hours at the computer. A typical day at work as a marketing director for me might include working out the kinks for a new print material run, time editing a new training video, consolidating recent market trends for an upcoming presentation, measuring results from a recently launched campaign.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

By 6:30 or so I close up my computer and the third chunk of my work day to focus on dinner and cleaning up (again). It’s a never ending cycle ’round here.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

Occasionally we slip in a walk to our local park just before sunset.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kevin comes home around 7:30 or 8, we enjoy a meal all together, then off to bed go the girls with their Daddy. A beautiful San Diego day!

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

My last work chunk is usually from about 10pm to midnight. In a perfect world this would be the chunk that I delete despite the fact that I work so well in the quiet of the evening. This is also a lot of the time that I dedicate to side projects. In addition to my job as a marketing director, I’m also helping a local start-up launch a sustainability tracking software tool, working with clients on rebranding, spend time sitting on the board of a women in business group and volunteer here and there when I can. As far as the blog goes, it fits in wherever possible (and I mean that so loosely!). I’ve been living by my editorial calendar to keep me on track but sometimes I’m totally a late night blogger, or I’ll fill in minutes while I’m waiting for a video to render during the day or while I’m watching TV with the hubby. Working from home means I can capture photos when light is optimal, write (usually) when I’m inspired. But as always, It all really does take so much more time than I usually plan for. :)

On most nights I crash somewhere between midnight and 1am, just before setting my alarm to begin it all again the next day.

A Typical Day... | PepperDesignBlog.com

It’s not a perfect system but managing my time like the above is what allows me to work from home, work full time and have an active role in the girls’ day-to-day activities. It’s a total blessing and one I hope to never take for granted. Many say balance isn’t possible – I say that it’s never perfect but that it’s worth pursuing.

Thanks for letting me share a little snippet of real life with you! Crazy how quickly the average day will just fly by…

Stay tuned for more personal question posts coming soon.

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