5 Questions & Answers about Blogging

Me in my old kitchen in Better Homes & Gardens 

Happy Friday! This summer I’m excited to have the opportunity to be a blog mentor at the Haven Conference in Atlanta. The Haven Conference is a DIY and home blogger conference, so it’s a great place for newbie bloggers and old timers like me to connect and learn together! If you happen to be going, I would love to meet you.

As a mentor I will have the opportunity to share some things I’ve learned as a home blogger. Today I’m joining in a “blog hop” with the other mentors! Even if you aren’t a blogger or a blog reader, maybe you’ll enjoy reading some of the posts. We are all answering the same questions, and today is my turn to join in the blog hop and share a little bit my life as a blogger.


blogger life

1. How many years have you been blogging?

I published my first post on The Inspired Room in July of 2007. That means this summer is the 10th anniversary of The Inspired Room blog. Time flies when you are having fun, right? Interesting side note, The Inspired Room actually started out as a decorating business in January of 2007, six months before the blog was a thing. Once I started the blog, I never never looked back!

I’ve written thousands of posts since then and have six completed books to date, one of which is a New York Times Best Seller (Love the Home You Have). Who would have thought? Not me! I never dreamed I’d grow up to be a writer or an entrepreneur, but here I am!

my favorite project

2. What is your favorite DIY project that you have completed?

My favorite DIY’s are the projects I get to do as a designer. I don’t like to build stuff and I don’t often whip out my hot glue gun or power tools like so many talented bloggers do, but I do like to design rooms myself. Do what you love, right? My favorite design project has to be my newly remodeled kitchen.

You can see my new kitchen remodel here.

3. What is something useful you have learned from a blog conference?

Years and years ago as a new blogger, I went to a brand new blog conference called Blissdom. I am such a homebody that the thought of going to a blog conference pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I’m also an introvert! I was also a speaker on some of the panels for several years in a row at Blissdom as well as a speaker at Haven. THAT is really out of my comfort zone!

But one of the things that was really important to me as a blogger was that I committed to and invested in personal growth (not just BLOG growth). Personal growth involved doing things that not only stretched my skills or abilities as a blogger, but got me out from behind my computer to connect with and invest in relationships with other people in our community.

I still credit those early years attending the Blissdom Conference for giving me opportunities to learn new skills, spread my wings and grow. And some of my best blogging friends and connections came from attending blogging conferences! It’s definitely a worthwhile investment in many seasons of a blogger’s experience.

4. What is something you love about blogging and what is something you wish you could change?

I love that a blog can be an opportunity for anyone to create something beautiful and meaningful out of what you love. It is a way to connect to so many opportunities and people around the world. A blog can be anything you want it to be; there is not just one way to do it and no one path to “success.” As a blogger, you really get to define what “success” will look like for you in any particular season.

If being a full time blogger ever appears to be too good to be true (get “free stuff” for your house, get paid to decorate and travel and sit around talking to friends in your computer all day), let me tell you…much of what I do is a lot of fun, but it is often a lot more work than you might think.

As a mom, being able to stay home with my family while running my own home-based business truly was truly a dream come true. I never would have imagined that starting a blog would lead me to what I get to do every day. But it didn’t come from starting a blog for free stuff or discovering some magic hashtags for growing a social media following. 

For anyone who wants to build a thriving blog or creative business, you’ve got to be invested in it for the long haul if you are going to succeed for the long haul. I continue to do what I do because it still has meaning and relevance. Minimal effort or signing up for “free stuff” won’t get you far or last very long. Burning out trying too hard isn’t a good strategy, either. Sharing from a place of genuine passion, building others up, and still making time to embrace what you love in your “real life” will keep you going as a blogger.

Even with the many hats I wear and the pressures of being an entrepreneur are factored in to what I do every day, I still love being a blogger because it means sharing my love of home with people who feel the same way. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.

5. What is one piece of advice you would offer a blogger–new or otherwise–who is going to Haven?

Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned blogger, go to a blogging event with the intention of coming home with new friends (and to reconnect with old friends!). Don’t stand back or fear that you don’t measure up. I guarantee you, no one will go to the Haven Conference feeling like they have it all together. Most bloggers feel like a hot mess most days (I know I do!), so reach out to someone new, introduce yourself even if you are nervous, ask questions so you can learn from others and most of all, just be you! You’ll put everyone else at ease by being real. You’ve got something special to offer the world and no one else can do what you do. <3

Now, enough about me and my thoughts!

Head on over to meet the rest of the bloggers in Friday’s line up, links below. Enjoy!

Start here for Friday’s line up:  Beauty and Bedlam | The Kim Six Fix | Shabbyfufu

 

Here are the rest of the links from this week’s Haven Mentor blog hop!

Monday: Southern Hospitality | Finding Silver Pennies | Jennifer Rizzo | Chaotically Creative 

Tuesday:  Life on Virginia Street | Just A Girl | French Country Cottage | Maison de Pax 

Wednesday:  Thistlewood Farms | The Handmade Home | Beneath My Heart That’s My Letter | Sweet Tea, LLC

Thursday:  Centsational Girl | Mom4Real | Cedar Hill Farmhouse | The Lettered Cottage | Shades of Blue Interiors

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

I want to do everything I can to create a healthy and happy home for my family. I know you do, too. We can’t control everything, obviously, but we do have the freedom to make choices about what products come into our home. Just like the tile we choose or the color of our cabinets, little things matter to how we feel in our home.

Yesterday I shared potentially hidden toxins in everyday products many of us may have under our sinks and in our cabinets. As I mentioned, I use the Think Dirty app and EWG.org as a starting point for researching because they are easy to access and share lots of information. Both have their faults and likely don’t get everything right. They don’t always rate products in the same way, so each of the apps may miss or mislead in important information about certain ingredients. They may not address the unknown risks of combinations of toxins, or break down how these risks may apply or not apply our situation. Nevertheless, I find the information interesting.

But here’s an important take away. Don’t get stuck worrying about how you’d ever study enough or ever be able to understand each ingredient in your products. Don’t start fearing all products! On the other end of the spectrum for some folks, even if you don’t think toxins are worth worrying about, at least be sensitive to those want or need to know the truth about what they bring into their homes.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

The bottom line for me is I just want to focus on simple and positive changes can I make in my own home, right now, with the information I have.

I am not likely going to change the world today, or ever know how to fix every problem, but I can give a little more thought to what I want to spray on my countertops or put on my face. Keep things simple.

You know me, I always try to tell you what products I use and how I come to conclusions about any changes I make in my home. I offer my opinion in case it helps you narrow options or interests you to know, but not everything I have will work for you or even be right for you. Information we learn about products can change in time too, too, so that’s why I recommend learning how to research and keep up with current studies so you can make the best possible choices for your family. Consult professionals where appropriate, whether that be an electricians or a physician!

Here is a quick list of possible ingredients/chemicals to research if you are interested (this isn’t to scare anyone, this is just intended to be helpful for those who want to learn) :

  • parabens
  • fragrance (phthalates)
  • dyes
  • phosphates
  • triclosan
  • ammonia
  • sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate
  • flame retardants

Whether a toxic chemical in a product poses a real and known risk, or an unlikely one, the bottom line for our family is we don’t feel the NEED to use harsh products in our home. We can make changes over time. It’s really that simple. 

We don’t need to be lathering them on our body as lotions, breathing them in our air for scents, or using them to clean our home. We personally feel there are better alternatives we can use in our home. Do we still have questionable or unstudied products in our house? Yep, but we are working our way through our home, evaluating what is beneficial and working on making better choices going forward.

What better choices might be for your family obviously won’t need to mirror the ones we made in our home. But I would love to learn from your experience, too! I think most of us can probably agree that simplifying the consumption of unnecessary chemicals and redefining our definition of what is actually clean isn’t a bad idea, though.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

Check out the DIY shower spray we posted here and some other DIY ideas, below.

Today I will share a few simple changes we’ve made in our own home.

Even though it is sometimes hard to know who or what to trust when it comes to products, a product our own family would feel safest with would be as close to its “natural state” as possible, like a plant or one derived from a healthy plant.

And then because we don’t often grow plants to make products ourselves, we’d want to purchase from a company if we trust their commitment to quality. We would more likely trust a company when we know they use responsible methods for farming and processes.

Responsible farming doesn’t always mean you will see an “organic label” on a product. It’s about the actual organic soil the plants grew in, the process by which a farmer grows their plants and the commitment a company has to protecting the quality and purity of their products.

Yes, that all takes a little research to figure it all out, but for our family I find any effort is worth it for the confidence we can have in trusting the products going forward.

I think even if we can take a small step in a healthier home, it’s better than never taking a step towards wellness at all. Moderation and common sense are good steps and guidelines, too.

Below you’ll find just a few of the actual products we use in our home these days. Again, this is just what we use. You may have other products that serve your family well and these may not be right for you. The important thing is that we do have a choice when it comes to what is in our products.

All products may not be perfect, but some are clearly better than others. Baby steps are better than no steps at all!

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

SIMPLE WAYS TO USE DR. BRONNER’S SOAP:

If you are a DIY’er or want to be one, you can start with a couple of base cleaning products and combine them in different ways for your family.

We like unscented Dr. Bronner’s soap, which can be ordered in many stores or online here. It’s a great base product on its own (it comes in scented options as well!).

Dr. Bronner’s castile soap can be used many ways, including a:

fruit/vegetable rinse
bath soap
hand soap
shaving cream
makeup brush cleaner

Shop sources for glass spray bottles and more with the scrolling bars below:

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

DIY NON-TOXIC CLEANING WITH BAKING SODA:

  • Clean your sink with the leftover half of a lemon (or slice of lemon), with a sprinkle of baking soda.
  • Simply sprinkle your sink with baking soda and scrub with warm water and a wet rag
  • Clean your sink drain by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, and then 1/2 cup vinegar. After it fizzes, pour 6 cups hot water down the drain.
  • Make a toilet bowl cleaner with 1/4 cup baking soda + 1 cup vinegar
  • Make an all-purpose cleaner with 1/2 cup vinegar + 1/4 cup baking soda + 1/2 gallon water

What could be easier than cleaning with baking soda? It’s not fancy, but you can jazz up the scent with a drop of your favorite essential oil.

ESSENTIAL OILS

You can even get creative with your DIY or simple household products by incorporating various plant-based scents from pure essential oils to your unscented soaps and cleaners to make them not only smell great, but have added health benefits.

Essential oils come from plants and have been used safely for thousands of years. The reason my family uses Young Living essential oils is because we have researched their farms and their commitment to quality. Their products really help–not harm–our family. I wouldn’t buy just any “essential oil” off the internet or off a gift store shelf just because it came in a cute bottle or was a cheap price. Even ones that may be marked “pure or natural” could have fillers and additives or compromised components or the plants could come from unknown sources. Just like any other product, even with “natural products” you’ve got to trust the source.

Essential oils not only offer a way to add fresh scent to cleaners, facial washes, and home diffusers, but unlike harmful chemicals found in most scented products, these plant-based oils actually work with the body in a natural way (not against it) to support physical and emotional wellness, our immune and endocrine systems and other systems in the body to function as they should. Essential oils are fascinating to study as well.

** You can find many of the plant-based products we use for cleaning, personal care and wellness at wholesale pricing through Young Living here. **

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

We use several Thieves Essential Oil products in our home. Thieves is a Young Living proprietary blend of clove, rosemary, cinnamon bark, lemon and eucalyptus radiata. They have several convenient products for the home that smell great, clean amazingly well, too.

I love using the dishwashing detergent.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

A bottle of Thieves cleaner is versatile, undiluted product. You mix it with water so one bottle lasts a really long time. I no longer buy all those speciality (and often toxic) cleaning products because I find Thieves does a great job on so many tasks!

A few simple ways to use Thieves Household Cleaner:

  • Clean your countertops and sinks: Fill a spray bottle with 1 capful of Thieves cleaner and 3 1/2 cups water. Do a patch test on your counter first, just to make sure.
  • Clean the inside of your toilet: Use half a capful of Thieves Cleaner with 1/4 cup baking soda and clean with a toilet brush.
  • Clean wood and tile floors: Combine 2 capfuls of Thieves household cleaner with 1 gallon warm water. Apply evenly to floors with a damp (not wet) mop. To be safe, test a small out of the way area first.
  • Clean fabrics and rugs. I use Thieves to clean our fabrics, leather and rugs. Again, do a patch test first to make sure!

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

We used to carry those unhealthy hand sanitizers, chemical-laden “health” products and artificially scented products with us everywhere we went. Many hand sanitizers appear to actually kill good bacteria and can lower your resistance to disease. That’s the opposite of what we want.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

Now we bring along plant-based products, like Thieves hand purifiers and sprays and we make our own wellness and body scents in glass roller bottles. It’s pretty fun to make your own roller blends with actual plant-based scents (we share some of our blend ideas on our Pure & Lovely Instagram or with the hashtag #pureandlovelyrollers).

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

My girls like to use coconut oil and jojoba oil for face lotion. We use coconut oil as eye makeup remover. I personally use Young Living face cleansers and moisturizers; you can find the ones I use here.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

No more artificially scented or toxic dryer sheets or yucky products on our clothes. We use Thieves laundry detergent, and we often use these reusable wool dryer balls from Amazon with a few drops of Young Living essential oils to make our laundry truly clean and fresh.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

Don’t even get me started on toothpaste or what goes on our lips! I LOVE the Young Living lip balms, the grapefruit one is my all-time favorite.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

As far as scenting our home, we almost exclusively use our diffusers now as opposed to candles. We love that we are scenting our home while also receiving health benefits, rather than breathing in who knows what. When we do use candles however, we try to choose ones that are made with 100% soy or beeswax with a cotton wick (no paraffin), like this candle we have for example. We also make easy DIY room sprays which I shared an example of here.

Simple Changes For A Cleaner Home - The Inspired Room

As a reminder, what we EAT and the food we bring into our home is very important to us too which I shared here.

I’ll have more products, DIY cleaning recipes and tips to share in future posts!

You can find many of the plant-based products we use for cleaning, personal care and wellness at wholesale pricing here.

Follow our wellness Instagram here!

PS. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to cleaning your home, my so-smart friend Becky (Clean Mama) just released a brand new book called “Simply Clean.” It will offer you lots of guidance and tasks to help get your home clean and beautiful. You can find her book here! I also love the microfiber cloths from her home line; they are wonderful for dusting, cleaning stainless steel, mirrors, windows, etc. without needing a product!

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