by gillian claire

8.09.2017

6 tips for working *Better* from home

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DDIcedCoffeeToGo #CollectiveBias


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     I've mentioned a few times here that I'm working from home now. It has been a huge transition for me! I feel very blessed to be back to working for myself, running my own online creative business ( + blogging part time! ) but I have to say that it has been a pretty rough transition. Along with feeling grateful for the opportunities that have come into my life, I been feeling overwhelmed with the unique difficulties that come with working from home!

I wanted to put together a list of the tips and tricks that I've learned during my 9 months of working for home that are necessary for me to stay focused and be more productive. I'm so excited to be partnering with Dunkin' Donuts® + Kum & Go® for this post because if you know me in real life, you already know that coffee is going to make this list!

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6 Tips for Working Better From Home!

1. Make a Plan! Being scatterbrained and unorganized are huge struggles for me especially now that I'm working for myself. Making a plan for my day is crucial to staying focused. I like to use an actual paper planner because it helps for me to physically write things out and check them off as I go. I also find myself using the "notes" app in my iPhone to make lots of quick lists when I think of things that need to be done.

2. Take Coffee Breaks! Just because you aren't working in an office doesn't mean that you should forget about designated breaks! Sitting at a computer screen all day can literally make me feel a little batty especially since I don't have other coworkers around to chat with! One thing that I do every work day is run out to grab a coffee. Yes, I have a coffee maker at home and I use it to make coffee in the mornings, but taking a break to get out of the house and grab a little treat makes a big difference for me. At home I make hot coffee, but I always get iced coffees on my "coffee breaks". My new favorite is the Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee from Kum & Go. (French Vanilla is my go to but they also have Mocha, Original + Espresso!)

3. Listen to Music! After I posted this post and talked a little bit about my struggles working from home, a friend shared with me that listening to music through headphones can really help with focus. I have taken this to heart and it definitely helps me! My current favorite work music is the Indie Folk Revival Radio station on Pandora. :)

4. Create a Workspace! Ok, this is one that needs a little work on my part. I live in a 900 square foot condo with 4 people (including two crazy little boys) so when everyone is home, it is very difficult for me to stay focused on work. I eventually would like to get an actual desk and create a designated workspace in my bedroom but I haven't gotten there yet! This summer, I have been working on the porch which has been perfect! I can just shut the door and have my own little outside office space. (All of the photos in this post were taken on my porch!)

5. Find Support! Once again in my life, I have found that my alternative lifestyle is hard for other people to relate to. I have found some great Facebook groups that have helped me to network with people who do similar work and who are also working from home. Check out Facebook to see if you can find some good groups to join especially if you are in a creative field!

6. Get a Change of Scenery! This is another huge one for me. Guess what, you don't always have to work from home if you work from home! Mind blown? This is what God created coffee shops for! Ok maybe not but seriously, I try to get out of the house at least once a week and find another spot to do my work. This is crucial for me and sometimes if I have a heavy work week or extra hard time focusing I try to get out to work several days a week. Look for some cute coffee shops in your area, head to the library or even look into a local shared workspace! 


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Be sure to check out the Kum & Go reward program so that you can save money on all those Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffees like me! :)_MG_0433 
I'd love to hear from YOU if you also work from home + learn your tips as well! 
I can use all the help I can get right now on staying focused and getting organized!
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xoxo, Gillian

8.02.2017

Little Style // with Nano!

*This post is in collaboration with Nano and includes affiliate links. I only partner with companies that I truly love! Thanks for supporting my family by reading along.*

I'm back with another little boys' style post and I'm so excited to introduce you to a new brand! Asher has always been really into clothes and shoes which has been so fun for me! He's my baby and I love that I still get buy him ALL the cute little boy things. Everyone seems to think that girls are the only ones who are fun to shop for but I've truly enjoyed clothing my little boys and looking for companies who celebrate the fun of boy clothes as well!

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We had so much fun looking through the Nano site and deciding on two new outfits for the end of summer that will carry us into back to school! I swear Asher has been wearing some of the same things for two years now and his wardrobe definitely needed a little refreshing. 


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Of course Asher had to have this hammerhead shark shirt and he thinks it's pretty much the coolest thing ever. He loves that the back has fish bones because "the sharks ate them all!" I love the feel of these shirts; the material is a little thicker and stretchy and I can tell they will withstand lots of little boy mischief! These seersucker shorts are absolutely adorable and I like that they are a touch nicer than Asher's typical cotton shorts that he usually wears.


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I may have gently nudged Asher to choose this peace sign shirt because you know it makes my hippie mama heart so happy! These camo cotton shorts are perfect for him also and are now his favorites because they are so soft!


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...and can we talk about the dire cuteness of these shoes?!
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Overall, I'm very impressed with Nano! The clothes are great boutique quality and of course meet my cuteness expectations! If you're looking for some unique back to school clothes for your kiddos, be sure to check out their site! I like to buy summer clothes for back to school since it will still be warm for a little while but Nano also has their Fall Look Book out!

Nano is offering my readers 20% any purchase $49 or more 
with code: bygillianclaire 
Yay!

Have you started your back to school shopping yet? 
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Be sure to share your favorite kids' clothing shops with me below!
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7.28.2017

Portraits of my boys, Summer 2017.

It's becoming so much harder to get pictures of my boys now that they are a little older. It pains me because they are my muses and my absolute favorite thing to photograph. On the last day of our stay in Somerset, KY I convinced them to let me take some photos in town. It was about 15 minutes of absolute bliss for me. It sounds dramatic, but that is truly how dearly I love to photograph my boys and I'm sure that some of you can relate! I'll have to split the photos up into two photo heavy posts but they just mean everything to me. 

Old painted walls + snapshots of two growing boys in the summertime.

Enjoy. :)

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xoxo,
Gillian

7.27.2017

Our Road Trip via Instagram + Snapchat.

I feel like I have so many photos + ideas for summer blog posts that I just haven't gotten to yet! I hate only throwing out sponsored blog posts to you guys and I know that lately I've been a little guilty of that. I hope you know that I truly feel so blessed when I get a chance to work with companies. When I am paid to create content with a brand while making memories with my boys, I am living the DREAM! I could probably write a whole blog post about that in and of itself. I am officially working from home FULL TIME now running my own creative business and blogging part-time and working hard to find a balance!
I really, truly 100% appreciate you guys for reading along, sticking around and supporting me! <3
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Ok, I'm getting back on topic now, which is to share photos from the beginning of our summer when we took a road trip to Kentucky! We have driven across the country with our kids so many times now that it's honestly like "oh hey let's just drive 21 hrs, no big deal." Ha! We tried to break up the trip a little bit extra this time around to make it more tolerable and enjoyable.

 Here are some highlights from Instagram + Snapchat!

Why is hotel coffee so good? It's one of my favorite parts of traveling. Also, hotel breakfasts! // We ran into some car trouble in Kansas so that was an adventure. This photo was taken at one of 2 car shops we had to stop at to get things back in order.

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When the boys are sleeping during the car ride... praise Jesus! I'd also like to note that on day one of this road trip, Asher threw up ALL over the car. So yeah, stopping literally on the side of the highway while trying to clean out the car with baby wipes was also an adventure...

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We made a stop in Ohio for 2 nights so that I could see some of my favorite people! // I had a fun evening with one of my best friends, Angee, drinking wine + looking through old photos. We've been friends for almost 20 years now! // I also got to spend some quick but good quality time with my sisters, mom + grandparents! :)
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We stayed in a big house in Kentucky with some of Aaron's brothers and childhood friends. // This was a working vacation for me and my first time working from the road which I have to say I was pretty excited about!

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Vacation coffee! (I know, awful nails- story of my life!) Somerset had the best coffee shop: Baxter's Coffee. Their caramel lattes were perfection.

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I loved all the old painted brick buildings in Somerset! // Probably the best part of the trip for me was taking the boys for a quick photoshoot on the last day. I can't wait to share more of the pictures I took with my DSLR!

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Aaron, Asher and I took a day trip to Knoxville, TN! We've tossed around the idea of moving to Tennessee but honestly we didn't fall in love with Knoxville. The drive home through the foggy mountains was absolutely beautiful though!

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I stopped on the side of the road to catch this perfect view! I'm kind of (ok, extremely) a snob about the Rocky Mountains, but the Smoky Mountains did alright this night :)

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We stopped for 2 nights on the drive down to KY and 2 nights back which really made the trip more enjoyable, although still pretty miserable by the end! On the way back, we decided to splurge one night on a fancier hotel. Our hotel was lovely and we got to enjoy walking around St. Louis and going out for a nice dinner but the kids for whatever reason were horrible this entire stay. Just goes to show you that kids don't really care about spending extra money. They are just as happy with Day's Inn and a Papa John's pizza!
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Overall, it was a pretty good trip but I was definitely happy to pull up next to the foothills and be home by the end! What's the longest road trip you've done with your kids?
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I hope you are all having a great summer!
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Keep up with me on Instagram at @bygillianclaire :)

7.24.2017

Our Back to School Countdown Bucket List!


*Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by the Goldfish® brand but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.*
Here's a little video of our night at the Drive-In with Goldfish® brand!

How are we already in the second half of summer? After spending the first half traveling and having visitors, I feel like I'm still recovering and trying to fall into a summer groove. Stores are starting to display back to school everything and I'm trying to hang onto these last weeks with my boys at home the best that I can!
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I've realized that just being a working mom while trying to keep my kids fed and alive is honestly enough to exhaust me by the end of the day. It seems like I have to be very deliberate about planning fun things to do with the kids. When my boys were younger we were always out and about but in this busier phase of life, things are different! Heading into the back to school season, things are only about to get busier and crazier.

The boys and I love talking about and brainstorming "bucket lists". We often make one seasonally. It's a tangible way for the kids to see that we are indeed doing fun things and checking them off our list even if our typical days are very simple. The kids' summer has already been packed full of travel, family and new experiences but we put together a "Back to School Bucket List" of 10 things that we want to squeeze in before school starts!

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This week we were able to check off the first thing on our list: going to the drive-in! The drive-in is practically in our backyard and it's the perfect, easy way to entertain the kids. I loved watching the sun set over the mountains as the boys' ran around before the movie started. We of course brought along some Goldfish® crackers which the boys snacked on before and during the movie.
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Are Goldfish® crackers a staple in your house? We always have them on hand and they are the perfect snack to grab on our way out the door. I also love that Goldfish® crackers have no artificial flavors or preservatives!

Here's our "Back to School Countdown Bucket List!" What things are you hoping to do with your kids before school starts? Let me know in the comments; I'd love some more ideas!


Back to School Countdown Bucket List!

1. Go to the drive-in

2. Check out a new ice cream place in town

3. Go to the trampoline park

4. Vist a museum

5. Stay up late and have a movie night with Roman

6. Plan a special date one-on-one date with each of the boys (one each with Mom and Dad separately!)

7. Make homemade slime

8. Swim at the river

9. Back to school shoe shopping date

10. Several park, splash park + pool trips


Be sure to check out the Goldfish® Pinterest page for lots of other back to school and snacking ideas!

7.06.2017

Why I Stopped Using Conditioner on My Dyed Blonde Hair // with New Wash!

*This post is in partnership with Hairstory Studio + also includes affiliate links. All opinions are my own and I only share products I love with you all! Thanks for reading along and supporting my family!*

I'm so excited to finally share with you a product that I've been using and loving since March!

     I've slowly transitioned to blonde hair over the past year and a half and it's definitely been a learning curve! One thing that I've finally made a priority is using better products on my hair. With my natural hair, I was basically a $2 Suave girl and my hair stylist has finally convinced me that what I could get away with on my natural hair just won't cut it on highly processed hair. 


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Before Photos: March 21, 2017


     When Hairstory reached out to me about their new detergent free hair cleanser, I was intrigued by the idea but hesitant to try something new and different on my blonde hair. The idea behind New Wash is using ONE product in the shower and not following with conditioner. Their theory is that the only reason we need conditioner is because shampoos (even sulfate-free shampoos!) are a detergent and therefore damage your hair! Using New Wash also prevents your scalp from producing as much oil and can eventually help you go longer between washes! (Similar to the no shampoo theory if you are familiar with that!)

     Gina at Hairstory helped to further ease my fears by explaining that their products are free from any harsh chemicals and instead use essential oils and naturally occurring ingredients such as jojoba oil and aloe. She also showed me this video which demonstrates how New Wash actually helps protect colored hair much longer than other products! 

     I agreed to switch to New Wash for 30 days but I was pretty skeptical about the idea of not using conditioner. I mean sure, cutting down to one hair product sans harsh chemicals sounds great but let's be honest, bleaching your hair blonde makes it SO dry. I definitely miss my shiny, healthy natural hair and even with biting the bullet and purchasing salon products, I haven't found anything that has worked wonders on bringing back it's natural texture. 

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Week Two

     The first time I used New Wash, I was literally shocked at how soft it made my hair feel! It's the softest my hair has ever felt since I started going blonde besides getting actual conditioning treatments done at the salon. I put my hair up that evening for the gym and no joke, when I took it down from my ponytail after working out, I felt like I was in one of those ridiculous shampoo commercials because my hair fell down looking just as good as before I worked out. There weren't even any hair tie lines; it was crazy! 

     It did take my hair a few washes to transition to this product. The first time I used it, I woke up the next day looking like my hair needed to be washed even though I never usually need to wash my hair that quickly! My hair has since adjusted and I can go just as long between washes as I used to. (I can easily go a few days or more.) 
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Week Three

     I have been using New Wash since March and I'm still really happy with it! The last time I had my hair done my hair stylist agreed that this is a worthwhile product and that it helped keep my blonde looking great! 

     Hairstory sent me their full line and I've really enjoyed trying out their other products as well. I love using their hair balm in place of hairspray. I just use a little in my hands to tame flyaways and I've also used it on the boys instead of hair gel! 
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here I used the "Undressed" texture spray

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Week Four
hair color by: Allison Jonez Hair

     All of these photos were taken during the first 30 days that I switched to New Wash. You can see that my blonde still looks great after 30 days and I can tell that it's softer and healthier than ever! I do still use purple shampoo 2-4 times a month to help keep my tone. 

One tip that I do have about this product is that you'll need to spend a little extra time making sure you rinse it all out in the shower. I read a disclaimer about this and it's definitely true because this stuff will want to stick if you don't give your hair an extra rinse!


Now, if you are a fake blonde like me (hah!) please, please, please tell me all your hair secrets and favorite products below! 

Have you heard of New Wash? What are your thoughts?








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