Desktop Designs: Do something beyond

Ciera from Ciera Design is taking over the blog today while I’m on a brief maternity break!

do something beyond desktop wallpaper

Hey y’all, I’m Ciera Holzenthal, a lifestyle blogger and graphic designer specializing in brand development for creative businesses and passionate entrepreneurs. I’m so happy to be here while PJ is on maternity leave!

This year I have been thinking a lot about expanding my business and really taking it to the next level. I’ve always loved learning and I’m always looking to grow as a person and as a designer. So this year I have pledged to make room for more classes, to take on projects that are outside of my comfort zone, to create an e-book and to do more bro bono work for causes that I really believe in.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. 

This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson seamed perfect for my goals, so I created this desktop design to have a constant reminder to push myself! I hope you enjoy this quote and design for your desktop and iPhone and that it can encourage you too!

Click the size you need below to begin the download:

1920 x 1080 / 1600 x 1200 / 1400 x 900 / iPad / iPhone

PS – Find all of our past desktop designs here.

My 30 day Bullet Journal challenge

nursery glider and pouf ottoman

Sometime during the final weeks of my pregnancy, I lost my productivity–and I’ve yet to get it back.

Exhaustion is an enemy of productivity.

Few things frustrate me more than feeling unproductive, but I’m not terribly surprised by my current lack of productivity. After all, I’m only five weeks postpartum, and five weeks with a newborn (plus a toddler, plus mastitis) is exhausting.

nursery glider and pouf ottoman

Exhaustion plus disorganization is a big-time productivity killer.

On top of feeling tired, I also feel disorganized. I consciously uncoupled myself from email for the first two weeks or so after Asa was born, and my inbox* is still a frightful mess.

Then there’s my to-do list, which is literally all over the place. Unable to commit to a task management system, I’ve been scribbling work-related notes and tasks into an assortment of notebooks, plus using the Notes section on my iPhone. And that’s not counting the miscellaneous tasks logged on the Wunderlist app.

notebook and magazine stack on blue knitted pouf

As much as I want to take it easy during this self-imposed maternity leave, I’m eager to start getting back into my blogging groove. Yes, it’s work, but it’s work I enjoy. Not that I don’t enjoy taking care of Levi and Asa. But blogging is my creative outlet, as well as a way to support my family’s coffee addiction. I get a different kind of personal satisfaction from working than from raising my kids.

Knowing it may take months before I’m no longer tired all the time, my immediate goal is to get organized. Specifically, I want to consolidate my to-do lists so that they actually serve their intended purpose–to remind me of what I need to accomplish.

yellow notebook and poppin pen

For the next 30 days, I’m committing myself to using a Bullet Journal for all of my note taking. 

Have you heard of the Bullet Journal? With a simple notebook and a pen, bullet journaling allows you to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” I like how the system incorporates notes, tasks, and events (although I don’t think I’ll be using my journal as my primary calendar).

You don’t need a fancy notebook to start bullet journaling, but I thought using a cheerful yellow Moleskine might help motivate me to stick with it for a month. Sadly, I have a track record of giving up on to-do list systems and apps. By announcing my intention to stick with the Bullet Journal for all of April, perhaps I’ll be more likely to follow through.

Here’s a short video about the Bullet Journal:

What system/s do you use to stay organized and productive? Wanna try bullet journaling with me? Let me know, and I’ll come up with a way for us to hold each other accountable! Maybe a group Instagram hashtag? 

*If you’re waiting for an email response or phone call from me, I promise it’s coming. Eventually. (I hope.)

FaceTime equals family time

facetime with family

This is cool: Back in February, I was interviewed and photographed for a story about video chatting with long-distance family members. I explained why we love FaceTime, plus shared a few tips on FaceTime etiquette and best practices.

The piece is supposed to appear in the April issue of HerFamily, a local magazine, but you can read it online now. And here’s some scoop from behind-the-scenes: In the second photo, you see us on FaceTime with my mom. In reality, however, she was only downstairs in my living room!

Who do you talk to via FaceTime or Skype? Do you ever use Google Hangout? I’ve only tried it once on a call with two other bloggers and thought it worked pretty well–once I figured out how to connect!

(photo by Bill Sitzmann)

Action movie kid

I saw these amazing videos on The Today Show while nursing Asa this morning and had to share. Daniel Hashimoto, a Dreamworks animator, transforms short home videos into action movies starring his kid. Aren’t they incredible? What a lucky three year old!

Bedtime books to read together

Melissa from Lulu the Baker is taking over the blog today while I’m on a brief maternity break and dealing with a case of mastitis. In addition to tenderness, the infection causes flu-like symptoms — chills, body aches, fever, and fatigue — so I’ve been trying to sleep when the baby sleeps. 

bedtime books

My favorite time of day is just before bedtime, when the kids have put on their jammies and brushed their teeth, and are snuggled against me, ready to hear stories. In the 8+ years since starting our family, we’ve amassed quite a collection of well-loved books. Our youngest is in the board book stage, and we sit in his rocking chair every day before naptime and bedtime reading books together.

Here are a few of our favorites:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore
Sweet and funny, this book makes my kids laugh, and makes me get all choked up!

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
Not all kids’ books are clever and well-written, but Bear Snores On is both!

Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
We are big fans of Sandra Boynton in our family, and this book was our introduction to her writing, and makes all of the children giggle, which, in turn, makes me giggle!

Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Jamberry has been a family favorite since I was little!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
I picked this book up because of the lovely illustrations, but the rhyme is fun and clever too!

Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by Gerda Muller
No words, just beautiful, beautiful pictures.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay
The illustrations for this book are just beautiful, and the poetry is equally lyrical!

And missing from the photo, but only because it is so beloved that it was taken on a trip and misplaced…

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
The illustrations are adorable, and the writing is so lovely and sweet.

What are your favorite bedtime books to read aloud with your kids?