6.21.2018

Boost your Blog // Apps I use to Run my Blog

I've been blogging for over 10 years now and the landscape of blogging has changed so much since I first started.  I've also become more streamlined in my own blogging - only doing what I feel is worth my time, using the camera that I have, and working from my phone a lot of the time.  If it isn't simple for me to do...then I don't do it!
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.
I'm not the type of blogger who likes to follow the rules.  I find the 'proper way to blog' to be overwhelming & time wasting for me.  Examples - I don't have a self hosted blog, I use my iPhone to take photos, I never research keywords for post titles, I'm bad at newsletters, and the list goes on.  However, I still consider myself a successful blogger.  Part of this is because I'm authentic.  Another part is that I share relevant info.  And the final part is that I use apps & tools to streamline my process.

As someone who works a lot from my phone, you'll find apps & programs that have both a desktop and a mobile version.  This is the number one reason why I'm considering getting my next iPhone in the Plus model for the bigger screen!  Anyway, here are the apps & tools I use to run my blog:

A Color Story

This is literally the best mobile photo editing app, ever.  I have a full blog post on this app here and will constantly recommend it to anyone editing photos on their phone.  What I love about this app is that the FREE pack included in the download is all you really need to create bright, crisp photos perfect for Instagram, Facebook, and your blog.

Not only can you edit photos but you can also edit short videos.  So if you want your Instagram stories or videos to fit your pages aesthetic you totally can!  The controls are just the same whether your' editing a photo or video so it's super easy.  Plus you can save a series of edits to use on other photos later to get that consistent feel.

Finally, you can plan your Instagram grid using this app!  This is a feature I've recently started using for both my Connected Chakras feed & the Feel the Inhale essential oil feed.  If you're wanting to create a cohesive grid with a certain theme, you can preview how your images will look next to each other.  I use this to see how my images will look next to each other & to plan which images I'll use each week.  Unfortunately there's no auto post option - you'll still have to manually import your photos to Instagram but you can at least plan the aesthetic and the caption.

Phonto

This is the app I use to create any blog image with text over them. Like the image at the top of this post, Phonto is the way I create my pinnable blog images.  I love this app because I can import my own branded fonts right into the app and use them.  The app does come with a TON of fonts already but it is great to be able to use your own fonts!  I love that I can save preset text - like my blog URL or a text watermark for Instagram - to add to each new photo.

A companion app that I've just recently found myself using is Vont.  Designed by the same creators as Phonto, this app allows you to put text over video.  You can even import your own branded fonts as well!

You can read another full blog post on Phonto here.

Mailchimp

I suck at sending emails but I love the automated system offered by Mailchimp.  If you've ever signed up for an email opt in - like the Tarot eBook or the Blogging eBook - then Mailchimp has automated the sending for me.

This is the main thing I use Mailchimp for.  The automation takes the pressure off of creating unique emails every week for my email list.  I automate sending new blog posts to subscribers as well.  So it appears like I'm actively doing a newsletter....but I'm totally not!  I plan on doing a post on how to use the automation feature of Mailchimp soon!

Canva

Like the graphic in this post, I use Canva for my other design needs.  I love that the templates are easy to use and that my brand colors & fonts are easily stored.  When I need to change the size of a graphic I can also auto resize it super simply!

Canva allows me to create ebooks, infographics, and other digital downloads to make my blog look amazing.  I also use this to create my Instagram stories highlights and other templates I share over there.  The template options in both the desktop version and the app are amazing!  While you can use your branded text on the desktop site the app doesn't allow you too.  Which is why I choose Phonto for mobile.

Canva also allows you to create templates to sell or share with others which is a cool way to monetize your content!

Google Drive

This is my choice for a cloud storage service.  While you get 15GB free with your gmail account, I pay for 100GB of storage.  This makes it easy to transfer files between my phone & my computer.  Since I take and edit my photos on my phone I need a convenient way to transfer the files to my computer so I can compose the blog post.  On my computer I have a Google Drive back up so I can choose anything that's been uploaded as if it were on a drive on my computer.  It makes the whole process super streamlined.

I also use Google Drive to host any freebies that I share on the blog.  Because I need a way to get the freebies to you I need a hosting service.  Google Drive allows me to share specific files and set specific permissions for each file.


PicFrame

This is an app I've been using for a thousand years it feels like.  This is your basic photo collage app and I love it because it is simple.  Change the size, add photos, save.  Easy. Peasy.  Recently this app add the ability to save templates to use later.  I find this helpful when I want to make a collage or create a nice graphic for my Instagram stories.  You can change the ration to 9:16 so that your creation fits perfectly.

I just found out recently that you can add video into the collage!  What I usually do is add one video to the collage then save it so that there's white space around the video to add text.  Then I'll use Vont to add the branded text I like!  Read a full review of the app here.

All of these apps make blogging super easy for me.  I don't have to stress about my content or my design because I've got these tools right at my finger tips.  If blogging isn't something I can easily do, I don't want to do it.  Since I've started to take my blog a little bit more seriously I've been trying to find ways to create a space that is successful but still fun for me!



I'm constantly on the look out for new and fun apps to add to my arsenal.  If you've like to read more about the apps I love & use check out all the App Reviews right here on the blog.  And if you've got an app suggestion you'd love for me to review, shoot me an email here.


6.19.2018

My Top 10 Natural & Non Toxic Cleaning Supplies

This year when deciding to go cruelty free I had to take a good hard look at what that exactly meant.  My first intention was to just go cruelty free with my make up collection...it would be easy and it would be a good thing.  But like a lot of different things in life, this decision turned into something deeper.  This cruelty free journey pushed me to re-examine a lot of things in my life and my cleaning routine was one of these areas.
In my search to be authentic this year, I came to realize that there were a lot of things in my cleaning routine that were unhealthy (products, cleaners, etc) and not cruelty free.  A big realization for me was that just because it's not make up doesn't mean it's cruelty free.  Arm & Hammer, for example, tests on animals.  So if I'm making safe, home cleaners to use...shouldn't that align more wholly with my values?  Using a non-cruelty free brand of baking soda doesn't align with my goals.

So, I decided to make more conscious choices - less waste, cruelty free where I could, and more mindfulness in my cleaning routine.  Here are my top 10 favorite natural & non-toxic cleaning supplies.

Microfiber Towels

One of the first, biggest choices I made was to reduce my paper towel and disinfectant wipe reliance.  (That was a big sentence right there!)  I purchased these microfiber towels on Amazon after a recommendation from A Beautiful Mess.  While we still buy paper towels, I've consciously made a decision not to go for these guys first.  When I wash my hands I reach for the dish towels.  When I clean the counters, the mirrors, the toilets, etc I reach for the spray cleaner and the microfiber towels.  My dependence on single use wipes is dwindling!  I've realized there't not much more a paper towel can offer me than a microfiber towel can.  Since this pack comes with different colors I've assigned a certain color to a certain room - kitchen is yellow, upstairs bathroom/laundry room is green, downstairs is blue, downstairs bathroom is orange.  That way it's easier to know which cloth goes where and I'm never short!

DoTERRA Laundry Detergent

I like this for multiple reasons - it's not made from petrochemicals, the overall scent isn't overpowering, and when I forget the laundry in the washer it doesn't get stinky.  Ever since discovering essential oils, I've been on a battle with fragrance.  This laundry detergent, while scented in the bottle doesn't lay too much scent onto the clothes.  While I'm fine with this, Zach really isn't.  If it's not scented, it's not clean I guess!  That's why I picked up the dryer balls (mentioned below in this list).  I have noticed that with Zach's work clothes, stink can linger a bit so I am on the hunt for a stronger, natural detergent to supplement.
The detergent is ultra concentrated and it can go up to 64 washes.  It also works great in high efficiency washers.  With a wholesale membership this bottle will make each load about .43 cents.

Wool Dryer Balls

I never used dryer sheets prior to getting my dryer balls so I didn't have much to change except remember to throw something in the dryer.  My big goal here was two fold - enhance the scent of the laundry when it comes out of the dryer and reduce static.  I have been lazy on the dryer sheets since forever because I don't think that they are necessary and I'd rather not spend the money on them.  Laundry detergent did just fine with the scent and I don't care about the static.  But, Zach doesn't like that his laundry smells like....... nothing. So I want to make it smell fresher when it comes out of the dryer. 

DoTERA Cleaner Concentrate

This is another doterra product that packs a punch.  I use this to clean nearly every surface.  You only need a few tablespoons in a spray bottle and you have an all purpose cleaner for every room in your house.  You can even use this to mop with this solution or do dishes with the cleaner.  I don't buy any spray cleaners any more, this covers everything.  I use it in every room of the house!  You may remember this post about creating a cleaning caddy for various rooms in my house .... I've replaced those harsh cleaners with a spray bottle of this concentrate and microfiber cloths!

Vinegar + Water (and Lemon Essential Oil)

The absolute best window & mirror cleaner is vinegar and water.  A lot of these recipes will tell you to use distilled water but I find plain old tap water works fine and we have hard, well water.  If you add in a bit of lemon essential oil - a de-greaser - it works great to cut any residue on the surface of the glass.  I have a spray bottle of this in each of my cleaning kits as well.  I can't tell you how impressed I was the first time used this concoction...I never thought of going back.  


Castile Soap

This is going to replace any and all soapy stuff I need in my house.  For cleaning I have in a scrub brush in my shower to clean the shower and I've got it on my sink for dishes.  We're still using up some regular dish soap and I think it's going to take some convincing for Zach to realize that the soap in the hand soap thing is also the soap to use to wash the dishes.  

I plan to use castile soap for body wash & my shampoo in the coming months.  I just need to discover something for conditioner.  But seriously if you need soapy lather this stuff is the bomb!

Baking Soda + Citric Acid

So baking soda makes a great scrubbing agent (so does salt!) and when you add citric acid to it and throw it in some water you get a great fizz.  I'm not sure if there is science behind the fizz actually lifting anything but I totally think it does.  I use baking soda & citric acid in my toilet cleaner so I think the citric acid actually does something!
Here's where I want to share another idea - just because you're making it yourself, doesn't mean it's cruelty free.  I've been using other brands of baking soda in previous DIY's but cruelty free is something I'm attempting to think about in many areas of my life including my cleaning supplies.  With that being said, Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda is the baking soda that I've found to be cruelty free.  I haven't come up on much research or information about citric acid brands, however.  But when I know better I will do better.

Essential Oils

I have a whole cleaning video on my YouTube channel as well as another post with the top essential oils for cleaningThese guys are versatile because I use them in my glass cleaner, in my laundry, as a fabric refresher, and to plain ol' diffuse.  These guys are just the greatest for a lot of things around the home.

Pure Haven Dish Washer Detergent

My cousin is a Pure Haven rep and when I can't find something from doTERRA that I love I generally go over to Pure Haven to purchase.  Of the DIY dishwasher tab recipes I've found, none of them have really worked.  Since I'm not in the habit of reinventing the wheel I went with something I know will work.  I've repurchased this once already and plan to continue to do so.

Glass Spray Bottles

In my Cleaning with Essential Oils video I mention that you can use either PET plastic or dark amber/blue glass bottles to store your DIY cleaning supplies.  I love using these amber bottles from Amazon to store all my cleaning solutions.  The mist can be fine - for like cleaning glass - or more targeted for cleaning your counters or other surfaces.  They feel well made and the weight of the glass bottle isn't too heaving.  The sprayer doesn't seem to clog as long as you close it after your done with it.
Transitioning into a non-toxic, more green cleaning routine doesn't have to be intimidatingIn this post I shared tips about transitioning to cruelty free and you can use the same guidelines when making over your cleaning routine.  It is all a learning process.....I'm still figuring things out as I go.

But the biggest thing is to partner with someone & with a company that you know, love, and trust.  For me DoTERRA and my own Wellness Advocate helped me learn a lot of stuff about natural, non-toxic, and green cleaning...and that is what I'd love to do for you.  I want to be your personal Wellness Advocate.

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If you're looking to get started using essential oils everyday in your own home, there is a perfect starter kit available for you.  When you purchase a starter kit & become a wholesale member you'll have access to me + a whole community dedicated education!  Shoot me an email if you're ready to learn more, or click here to browse the kit options!  Once you've chosen a kit, add it to your cart and proceed to check out.  Click the Become a Wholesale Member in the upper right to join me on your essential oil journey!

How have you made over your cleaning routine?  What supplies do you recommend?

xoxo, Moe

6.13.2018

How to Combine Tarot, Oracle, and Affirmation Cards in a Reading

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite tarot and oracle card decks.  My collection has significantly grown over the last year or so but my purchasing of decks as slowed in the recent months.  I credit this to getting to know the decks I have.  Now, I'm not going to discourage you from buying all the decks (because it can be fun to collect and learn from different decks) but I want you to connect with the decks you have and find where new decks can fit into your journey.
this post contains affiliate links, please read my full disclosure here.
I use tarot, oracle, and affirmation cards for personal growth and development.  My persona belief is that these cards don't tell me the future.  These cards reveal to me things I may not consciously know or things that I know...but have chosen to ignore.  Those that are able to use the cards to tell the future have a gift I do not and the cards are mere tools for their gift.  But this belief in revealing subtleties is why I think everyone and anyone can benefit from using tarot & oracle cards.

It can be difficult to figure out how to use these decks just by themselves let alone pair these decks together.  Here are the three ways I suggest to start using multiple decks and card styles into one reading:

Pair Cards in the Same Position

When you're doing a certain spread, use two cards one position to get a more expanded yet direct message.  I find this most successful when I designate one of the pairs as the first or main card in that position.  For me this main card is often a tarot card.  So during the reading, I'll place down the tarot cards first in the spaces I've designated as for tarot cards.  Then I'll choose my oracle deck, shuffle, and place the oracle cards on to the tarot cards in the positions I've chosen to be expanded.  

Getting to know the decks you're using can help in this, too.  Pairing an oracle card with a tarot card on the same space can often explain or build on the message of the first card so when you know the energy of different decks you'll get the most from this pairing.  Often I'll use multiple decks (3 at max) because I know what each will give me in a reading especially when I'm putting them in a specific space.  


Create Specific Spreads 

When you know you're cards & your decks you can begin to work with them in a way that really works with you.  We form a certain relationship with our cards and I truly feel the universe will deliver what you need, in the way you need, if you just ask!  So, work with your cards.  If you know certain cards work great to form mantras, use those cards in a spread or specific position that deals with mantras.  In the weekly spread I usually do, I choose a card from the Sprit de la Lune deck as well as a card from the Sacred Soul Searching deck and a tarot card for the position of weekly theme.  I sort of created this spread around using those three cards because I find the most complete message comes from pairing these cards together.

When I do the Midweek Mantra spreads on the Connected Chakras Instagram, I also intentionally created a pairing between the Connected Chakras deck and the Pagan Cats Tarot.  I find that this mini tarot deck is very playful due to the cat imagery but offers a good compliment to the Chakras deck.  When you intentionally and repeatedly assign certain spreads as designated for affirmation cards or oracle cards, you'll find a better connection to your messages. 

Choose a Significator

This is one thing that really like to do when I'm attempting to work with a certain energy.  Choose a tarot, oracle, or affirmation card as the main theme of your reading.  For example - the Strength card.  So then you can pull and pair cards on how to embody the strength card.  

Perhaps you can ask "What mantra will help me embody the energy of this card?"  Then pull a card or cards that you know usually create wonderful mantras for you.  For me, I may choose to pull a card from the Connected Chakras deck & the Soul Searching Deck.  These always pair well for me. Again, knowing your cards and the messages they give can help you out here.

After working with my favorite decks and really connecting to them, I know which cards deliver the best messages when paired.  You'll find these great pairings by repeatedly using your cards.  Some decks may offer great messages on their own, some decks pair well because of their imagery, some decks might work well because they are both action oriented...the possibilities are endless.  You can also get to know your decks through a Get to Know Your Deck spread and keep note of what that deck will most likely tell you.

If you're looking for an easy way to learn the 78 tarot card meanings, I have a free tarot guide available for download!  You'll get a little ebook style download + a printable booklet to store in your tarot journal.  Sign up for the newsletter below to grab your free copy.
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Tarot is a great self reflective tool that can help hone your own intuition and help to develop a healthy relationship with yourself.  It is a key part of my self care routine, my goal setting strategy, and developing my self confidence.

If you'd like to read more about Tarot on the blog, click here.  You can also get weekly Tarot advice over on the Connected Chakras instagram.  If you're looking for another affirmation deck to add to your collection, check out my self published deck Connected Chakras or print your own here.

How do you use the tarot in your life?  How does it speak to you?

xoxo, Moe