Introducing My New Brand! [+ the story behind it]

My brand is a direct reflection of who I am. And since I’m human, I’m always changing.

I’ve been walking further down the path of simplifying and intentional living, and lately, I’ve been in a season of pruning.

In my business and in my life, there have been things I felt like I had to do in order to serve and show up for other people - some things were good and worked fine once, but then they stopped working.

Because of the drain on my energy, those things weren’t actually serving anyone - not even the people I was trying to hard to show up for.

They pulled life from me in a way that meant I had none left to give in other areas that matter.

I have been letting go of those things with a confident knowing that I will be better for it, and so will the people I serve.

Did you know that in vineyards, the vines that are not fruit-producing are pruned (cut back, trimmed) in order to give more water and energy to the vines that are producing fruit?

In the past six months alone, I have cut off two branches of The Purpose Group Incorporated (the official entity of my business, which owns this website and The Purpose Show).

Those two branches were The Purpose Society (my monthly membership site) and These Solid Walls (my print shop).

These two things were vines that needed to be pruned in order to reserve water and energy for the more fruit-producing branches. Even though they weren’t bad ideas or rotten vines, they just weren’t my purpose and they were pulling my focus from more important things.

Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you or for this time in your life, and God set me free by showing me that.

This has been a really impactful, deeply transformative time in my life. Learning what to say “no more” to and what to say “let’s grow more of this” as a business owner and influencer has caused me to really work on my heart and seek God.

When a change like this takes place in you as a person and YOU are your brand, it’s hard to look at your current brand aesthetic the same way. Because, like I said, my brand is a direct reflection of who I am, it starts to feel like you’re producing content on a platform that isn’t yours.

It’s almost like you’re boxed in to the old things you just let go of.

It might sound silly, but seeing the colors, fonts, and feel of my old brand had started to feel crippling to my creativity. I needed my brand to change to fit me better.

The thing is, as a brand, you don’t want to do this often, if ever. It can really harm your reach if people don’t recognize your images on social media, and it is part of my job (and my team’s job) to make sure you see what I’m putting out.

The message I am sharing is something I take incredibly seriously.

I know if any mom hears it and takes action on it, God will use it to change her entire motherhood.

Motherhood is what is shaping the future of our world, so this matters greatly.

See? Told you I take this seriously ;)

So, it was important to me not to change too much about the general “feel” of my brand, as I didn't want to hurt the spreading of the message behind it. 

I weighed it out in my head over a couple of months and finally decided a change was worth a small risk, because the new brand would reflect more of what you get here at Allie Casazza dot com - minimalism, less, simplification tips, encouragement to live well and to live your life on purpose.

This was worth the change to me.

I started opening my eyes to ideas for fresher colors and praying that God would guide the steps of this rebrand.

One day, I was browsing a strip of small local shops and there somes prints of paintings created by a local artist. There was one piece of art that immediately caught my eye and brought up emotion.

It was so simple. It made me think of an open door of opportunity… it made me think of what I do here in this little space on the internet.

I bought it and put it on my mantle, staring at it anytime I sat in my living room for weeks.

I want what I do here to feel like the message in that painting - like an open door of opportunity for mothers all over the globe.

If you make small, positive changes, if you start to look at the things in your home and on your calendar with a little more intentionality, your life is going to rapidly and seriously transform.

That’s a door of opportunity for you if I’ve ever seen one!

The painting I bought, although my new favorite, was a little dark. I like my brand to breathe and feel light and airy, so I knew I wouldn’t be totally borrowing from the artist when I used this piece as my rebrand inspo.

It needed to be a jumping off point, not the end all be all.

After a few more weeks of praying, searching, and just letting inspiration find its way to me, I had put together the new brand in my head.

I had over a month of time off scheduled and it was rapidly approaching. I couldn’t bear to keep this to myself all that time, so I scheduled an evening meeting with my designer in my cozy backyard, and I poured all the stuff in my head into his while he created some mockups of what the brand would look like.

After a little fine tuning and moving things around, we had it.

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I told him I wanted a paint brush stroke in the brand somehow. When you see it on an image, know that the brush stroke symbolizes a couple of things…

First, it’s symbolic of my own creative journey as a mother - finding myself outside of being a mom, and developing my love of painting.

But mostly, it symbolizes you, friend. It’s a nod to your part in all this- taking what I give you and making it your own, creating the life you want and making it happen for yourself and for your family.

I wanted the colors to quiet down and reflect minimalism, and the idea of less better than they were. They used to be happy and cute, but just not right for this space - it was a lot, and I’m not about a lot.

I wanted muted greys, my signature dusty blush toned down a notch, and the exact navy from the painting.

Designer Derek nailed it.

Lastly, we freshened up the fonts to reflect less, to be modern and attractive, and to bring more “happy” to the feel of my new brand.

Done and done.

 

 

I feel so invigorated by these new changes, and I hope you do too.

But here’s what I want you to know, branding aside…

You can do this. This motherhood thing - it’s dang hard and it will pull your energy from you in ways you didn’t know was possible before you stepped into it.

But it’s beautiful and humbling and so full of opportunity! I don’t want you to miss that like I did in the beginning of mine.

This can be so good. And if it's awful - if you're pulling your hair out, constantly cleaning up and getting your kids out of your way so you can "catch up" even though you never do, hear me... 

It does not have to be that way for one more day! You can make changes that last, that matter.

It doesn’t have to be so chaotic and overwhelming that you’re counting the minutes til your kids go to bed.

I want you to have a few days like that here and there (that's normal), not live every day in that place. Because when you live there, you’re not able to pause and really enjoy the gift of this short season of raising babies.

 

 

Intentional motherhood starts at home.

Take ownership, get your time + your life back.

It’s the blink of an eye and then it’s over and they’re gone.

I’m here to walk with you as we step into purpose, as we grab onto hope, as we ask ourselves the questions -

Is this necessary?

Is it helping me live a focused life of purpose?

Can I let this go?

I want JOY and less for you, friend. So that you can enjoy MORE of what really matters. That’s what my brand, and everything that falls under it's umbrella is all about.

A Typical Day in Our House

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Do you ever wonder what someone else does in different areas of your life? Like how other people deal with tough parenting issues or how other moms structure their day?

Me too!

I think it can be really helpful to see how other people do things. Even if the exact system wouldn't work for you, it can be inspiring and helpful in other ways.

Lately on Instagram (@allie_thatsme) and on the podcast, I've been sharing some things about my schedule, such as: 

  • how I run my business
  • homeschool my four littles
  • fit in some self-care
  • and all the other things I've got going on

It's been so fun to hear people's feedback and comments! Since it's been asked a bunch, I thought I'd get specific and share a peek into a typical day for our family!

So keep in mind, this is a typical day.

 
It's not exactly this way all the time - that would be so boring I'd die, cause I love to be spontaneous!

OUR TYPICAL DAY

5:30-6:00

I usually wake up, slip into my workout clothes, and make coffee.

I go through my morning ritual and usually follow it up with some pilates.

7:00

The kids' alarms go off (they play upstairs if they wake up before this), they make their beds, put their pajamas away, get dressed, and come downstairs. I normally put myself together for the day at this time.

7:30

Bella serves breakfast for herself and her brothers (cereal or toast and hardboiled egg, or something similar), they clean up after themselves, then unload the dishwasher (I always run it the night before).

8:15

I sit with the kids and we talk, pray over our day, and dive into Language Arts. During this time, sometimes Brian is working in the office, sometimes he's working on a house project.

9:00

I head to my office to get some work done, Brian comes in to do math and science with the kids.

They take breaks as needed. 

When they're done the older two work on solo work (guitar or reading for Leland, art lesson or reading for Bella) while the younger two play outside.

12:00

We eat lunch as a family.

After we eat, we clean up the kitchen and do a 10-minute pickup around the house. Usually school books need to be put away, the robo vac needs to be run, and things just need to be straightened up.

After lunch, we might go for a walk to the park near our house, run errands, go out to do something fun, or take a family nap if we need it. On busier weeks, Brian and I might have the kids do separate quiet times while we get a little more work done in the office.

Sometimes I'll take the kids out alone while Brian stays and gets some editing done (he's the master behind the photos we use for the business and all my videos). Other times we'll pack up and head to Legoland. It just depends on our workload and what's going on that day.

5:00

Time to make dinner! Brian and I have assigned nights for who cooks. 

It is always flexible, though! 

Usually he cooks two nights a week and I cook three. The other two nights are date night (which means a frozen pizza for the kids and sitter) and the other night is family takeout/game night!

After we eat dinner and clean up the kitchen, we head into our evening routine - another 10-minute house pickup, Bella wipes the bathrooms down, everyone chips in with what's needed so we can go to bed with a clean house. Plus bath/showers for all the kids.

8:00

The younger kids (ages 5 and 3) go to bed.

The older kids will normally hang out together or read separately. Sometimes they play on the iPad together, watch Blue Planet on Netflix or color and chat. At this time Brian and I are either relaxing on the couch or wrapping up anything that needs us (maybe work or a house project or just talking to each other).

9:00

The older kids (ages 9 and 7) go to bed.

I normally go to bed around 10:00, but it changes depending on the night.


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THAT'S IT!

I feel like this is super boring but I know I like reading things like this from other people and so many of you were asking me for this, haha! There you have it! :)

Whenever I share something like this, I get a bunch of emails asking why there's not more time spent on housework and how is my house always so clean on my InstaStory if I don't spend a chunk of time each day maintaining it.

Mamas always write me saying how overwhelmed they feel and their day is so full of chaos and putting out fires. It breaks my heart! I know how that feels because it absolutely used to be my life!

Scroll down for info about "Unburdened", The overwhelmed beginner's guide to a simpler motherhood 

But this is what I'm always telling you beauties - minimalism and simplifying your home and schedule will set you free from that!

Take action on that ish for yourself, mama by clicking right here and choosing what will help you the most right now...

Is it time management?

Decluttering?

Doing a surface sweep of your entire life?

 

Get straightforward help with what YOU need right now.

Whatever you need, I got you and I want you to know there is so much hope!

 

Love sharing with you all and I hope this is a fun read!


“Hey mama!

Do you feel like a simplified day is totally undoable for you?

I’ve been there!

LET ME HELP YOU GET UNBURDENED AND START THRIVING!

This small, straightforward course is everything for the mom who feels like she needs a total overhaul, but is too overwhelmed to start. 

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How I Set My Intent & Plan For A New Year

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This morning, I was sharing a bit of my end-of-year planning process on my Instagram Story, and I received so many questions that it got overwhelming to share there! I love IG Stories for the simplicity and ease of sharing there, but some things need more space for sharing, and I think planning a new year is one of them. 

I don't normally feel compelled to share how I do every little thing, but so many of you were struggling and needing ideas for how to go about this, I really want to share. I think getting above an overwhelming task (like setting your intent for a new year), and sort of gaining an aerial perspective is something that comes naturally to me, so I love to plan things like this. However, if that's not your strong suit, I can imagine it being very difficult, frustrating, and feeling insurmountable. 

I'm actually setting my intent for the year right now, as I type - it makes sense to actually do this and write a blog post about it at the same time ;)

My hope is that seeing me do it will give you some clarity on how to go about it for yourself, or at least inspire you a little. Ready? Let's do it. 

I just use the Notes App in my iPhone. I'm normally a pen and paper girl, but when I do this in my journal is ends up taking up pages and pages, and I want it all on one page, in one place nice and neat. Lucky for you, that makes it easy to take screen shots and share what I am planning :)

The first thing I do is reflect.

What didn't work for me last year? What made me feel disconnected from my core values? What have Brian and I been talking about doing a lot lately - is this a good year to do those things? What needs to be a higher priority than it's been?

Here are some things I have realized in the end of this year, and today as I was reflecting...

1. I am not connected to my core values as a mother right now with my children in school. I miss homeschooling, and the best choice for us is to pull the older two out and begin our homeschool year after winter break. 

Note: this was not how I felt in August when I was completely overwhelmed with my business. Things change, seasons come and go, people change their minds. Flexibility is a wonderful trait to possess. It's okay to go against the grain!
 

2. We really love traveling with our kids and want to take a lot of trips this year. 
 

3. I have slid back into old habits, and my health has not been a priority lately. I don't feel good, Im sluggish and cranky, and my sugar/junk food addiction is in full swing. I need to make healthy choices a higher priority this year. 
 

4. I am tired from last year's whirlwind success in our business. I hired new people, delegated everything I can, and need to remain consistent with my new work schedule of two days per week. 

The next thing I do is write out what matters most to me this year. 

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This list is based off what came from my time of reflection, and it's basically a list of priority focus. For example, I noticed that several of the problems I faced (or am currently facing) stem from not spending much time on my walk with the Lord. I have felt disconnected and busy - that's not how I want to live! So one thing that has made its way to the top of my What Matters Most list is building a closer relationship with Jesus.

See what I mean and how this works?

This is a really helpful soul check that I do every year and it keeps me intentionally focused. Last year, my list looked very different, with a focus on my marriage and learning to manage the business well. Make sure your list is what you need to focus on, not what you wish you needed to focus on. 

Next, I write down what each of these focuses will require from me in terms of time spent.

This is where I see a lot of well-intentioned people fail - they don't realize that meeting these goals, making these changes in their lives... it requires time from you every week, sometimes every day. If you don't plan for that, it's not likely to happen. 

I make bullet points underneath each goal/focus, so there is a list of what it will require from me right next to it. 

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Next, I establish what rhythms will make my life easier. 

Time leaks through the cracks without rhythms. Simple things like rhythmically putting a load of laundry in every night, then switching it every morning make my life so much simpler! 

If there are no rhythms, then the day-to-day stuff will end up filling all my time blocks and I will stay still; and I want to be moving forward, accomplishing things, reaching goals. 

There are two types of rhythms in my life: 

1. Calendar

2. Household

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Sometimes our rhythms need a reboot, sometimes they stay the same, sometimes new ones are added. It's all about where you're at in your life and how happy you are with how things are currently going. 

I have noticed that not getting dressed in the morning (and my "dressed" I just mean under-eye concealer and a bra) I don't feel very good during the day, even though I work from home and don't really have to get dressed. 

I've also noticed that not having the kids' outfits laid out makes for a really hectic morning. I haven't had the head space to make this small change, so by sitting down and planning how things will change this year, I was able to set an intent to lay everyone's clothes out the night before. It's a small change that will have us all feeling better and our mornings running more smoothly. 

I will implement new rhythms by writing them in my weekly planner (here's the one I use) for the first month, and after that they become habits. 

Then, I write down any problems that need to be solved or questions that need to be answered. 

Sometimes, there are decisions that need to be made that I've been avoiding or feel really big and overwhelming, so I just do nothing about them. This is a time to sit with Brian and actually make the decisions. 

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This year, as we get back to homeschooling, it's the first year we've had a very open-ended schedule. We work from home, we'll be doing school at home, we can have whatever schedule we want, and that freedom is great but it also stresses me out to an extent. We have to create our own barriers and boundaries. 

One thing we've been talking about but hadn't decided before today was regarding our weekends. There are lots of pros to having "week day weekends", meaning we can pick two week days to make into our days "off" from school and have a weekend. Less crowds, cheaper prices when you're out doing stuff, less traffic. 

There are also pros to having a traditional weekend. Everyone else is "off" and ready to do stuff, more places are open, etc. 

Brian and I have been talking about what to do with this issue for weeks and just going in circles. Today we sat down, talked it out, and actually made a decision. You know what happened? It wasn't as big a deal as we were making it. 

Homeschooling takes about two hours a day, and my new work schedule is only Mondays and Fridays. We came to realize we can kind of have both kinds of weekends! We ultimately decided to make Sundays and Thursdays our days totally "off" of homeschooling (we enjoy not having two days totally off in a row, but spacing them out a bit), but to also enjoy Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays with no work. 

So with this decision, our homeschool week looks like this: 

Monday: school

Tuesday: school

Wednesday: school

Thursday: NO SCHOOL

Friday: school

Saturday: school

Sunday: NO SCHOOL

We really like this because it's broken up, and we know that the "school days" are only a couple of hours ;)

Do you see how making that one decision gave me so much clarity and I can now see what a typical week will look like for us this year? Such a burden lifted!

Finally, I get detailed. 

The last step is to pick up all the little pieces and put them in place. 

Examples: 

How am I going to get my health in order? (make a list of healthy groceries, pin recipes to pull from on meal-planning Sundays, download a hydration app to remind me to drink water, set workout days, etc)

If the goal is to enjoy homeschooling and not have it feel like a point of stress, what curriculum am I going to choose? (I already went through this step with homeschooling last week, but do you see the breakdown of following through with the goals and intents you set?)

When are we going to have breaks and take trips to ensure we are enjoying this year? (Brian and I sat down and actually penciled in one major vacation, an adults-only getaway, and three small trips to take as a family)

You can do this with any goal or focus, and I encourage you to! Follow-through is something that rarely happens, and I really think this is why! People don't write out how and when they're going to do things they'd like to see happen in their lives. This is the difference between a sayer and a doer. 

This is a lot of planning. One thing I want to say here is that flexibility is KEY! 

The heart of man plans his way, but God directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

The goal with this process (for me) is to be intentional, and to use the past year to reflect and learn and grow. I do not want to be stagnant; I want to leave a legacy of purpose behind me when I'm gone. That doesn't mean being a control freak or unadaptable. In fact, it means just the opposite. 

I hope this helps you guys! Share your planning session with me on Instagram by tagging me! @allie_thatsme

Want to declutter your life this year?

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Wrapping up 2017 & Running Toward 2018

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At the beginning of this year, I was hopeful, but sort of terrified. I was just a few months in to my blog turning into a business with global reach, going on Good Morning America, ABC News, The Today Show, talking to Jenny McCarthy in my living room, and being featured in every major news site across the world.

I was getting used to (more like trying to get used to) being exposed to the world of virality, living in a fish bowl, and cyber bullies. We were moving out of our little rental in Northwest Arkansas and gearing up to embark on our full-time travel journey in our camper. So much has happened, so many things have changed. I'm looking back on this year and feeling shocked. 

How does so much happen in such a brief period of time?

I thought it might be fun to talk about what happened, what's changed, and what's coming in the new year in the different areas of my life and the blog. I've been getting lots of questions on Instagram from you guys about what is going on with the podcast, why the blog has been so silent, and all that stuff. So let's catch up a bit. 

Let's start with the blog.

To be honest, things have been silent here for longer than I planned. What started as a "quiet month" in October turned into a nearly-three-month hiatus. I needed a break, quite simply.

I was burned out and writing had turned into a source of stress instead of the relief it used to be. I've always struggled with spotlights, being seen, and being judged, and I think knowing my posts were being seen by so many people all of a sudden freaked me out. I'm a very vulnerable, open person when I write. What used to be 350 people exploded into millions and that really effected me. Coupled with exhaustion, traveling full time with four kids, and lots of life changes, I just needed to press pause on blogging and not share everything for a bit. 

All in all, the time of rest served me really well. I was able to take a step back, get some perspective, and make some decisions and changes that are going to be better all around. I found a love for Instagram Stories and began sharing my day-to-day life there since I was writing less, and now that's turned into a super fun community that I look forward to sharing with each day. I got lots of new ideas during that time of no blogging, and God restored me in many ways. 

I'm excited and expectant instead of exhausted now. 

Your Uncluttered Home now has THOUSANDS and thousands of students enrolled, and lives are legit being changed every week - it's absolutely incredible and invigorating to see! I wake up every day with the best job in the world. I love helping you let go of the clutter that's been weighing you down. 

I launched Unburdened - a mini course for mothers who are overwhelmed to the extreme and can't focus on just their homes just yet - and it now has over a thousand mamas enrolled. Crazy!

I launched The Purpose Society - a monthly membership site for moms who want community as they reach their goals. 

Brian and I started and quickly stopped a family vlog - totally not our thing!

I launched Made For This Mom with Kendra Hennessy, and we turned our collaborative project Rock Yo' Mom Life into its own entity. 

Look at all that good right there! Ahh thank you Jesus!

We grew and grew and GREW. 

I started this year with two part-time sub-contractors helping me with emails and social media. I thought that was a lot! God must have been laughing when I thought that...

We are ending this year with SIX contractors working for us plus a full team of creatives managing Facebook and Pinterest. 

We were able to take our friend (who's also an amazing husband and father) out of a terrible job that was sucking the life out of him, exceed his pay, and bring him over to do what he loves and work for us from the comfort of his home as our designer. 

We were able to fly my Chief of Staff from North Carolina to San Diego and spend three days in a seaside hotel and plan out the entirety of 2018 while also figuring out how to get my weekly work hours from 38 to 6. SIX! 

This year, I left "blogger" behind me and stepped into being a CEO. It's been dang hard. 

Firing people sucks. Giving bad news is so hard. Laying down the law feels weird sometimes.

But you know what? This business isn't mine, it's God's, and I have a responsibility to run it well. I am still learning and have such a long way to go, but I do feel like I'm getting the hang of this more and more every week. 

What's changing in the new year?

Last month, Kelsey and I made the announcement in our final episode together that The Purposeful Home Podcast is becoming The Purpose Show (with just me) and Kelsey's starting her own podcast next year. 

It's been weird and sad, but also incredibly exciting. The split needed to happen and was covered in prayer (Kelsey and I are friends and our relationship had nothing to do with this decision), but it's always more fun to record with another person. 

The Purpose Show has been getting situated behind the scenes and it's been so fun! There's been lots of branding, photo-shooting, planning, editing and recording. 

I will be producing two episodes a week, and a special Friday segment with Kendra Hennessy is making its way into the schedule in February. 

The new show launches January 1st with new episodes every Monday and Wednesday. 

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One thing you can really look forward to with the new podcast is the fact that I get pretty vulnerable and am opening up a lot to share stories and experiences I've never shared anywhere else, including the story I've had the hardest time sharing - the story of the blog and Brian leaving his job and how my business saved our family. I end that episode literally sobbing into the microphone, and I can't wait for you to hear it. 

If you were subscribed to The Purposeful Home podcast on iTunes, you won't need to do anything to find The Purpose Show - it's the same thing on there, I'm just taking over it. If you're not subscribed and you want to be, click here. (you can still listen to all of me and kelsey's episodes, but just subscribe and you'll see my new show when it starts! i'm just taking over the old show)

What's going on with us...

Our family has gone through so much this year, and for the first time I don't mean that in a negative or difficult way. Of course, we had hard days and problems, but this year was really great! It was our first year in the green pastures God promised us a long time ago after wandering in the desert in a lot of ways. 

We pursued our dream of traveling full-time while also taking on sort of a dare and seeing how small our family could live. We did our traveling in a 26-foot travel trailer with no pop-outs. You can read my very honest post about it here

We prayerfully decided to stop homeschooling and enrolled the kids in school in August. That was hard and weird and a relief all at once. I'll be really honest with you... I've cried a lot, questioned myself a lot, and run to the feet of Jesus a lot.

Here's what I know: 

Sometimes God gives you peace and asks you to do something, and it's our humanness that causes us to feel like the decision is final.

He never told me homeschooling was over for me. I took the peace I felt about public school and read it that way - final. Now that we're on winter break and I've run to Him a thousand times with tears on my face, I see that I needed my kids in school for a period of time. I needed to work extra for a little while. I needed to get the business ahead of schedule. I needed it to be able to run without me every day. I needed to hire and train people to take over so that I could get back to my roots and handle homeschooling and business owning at the same time. 

Before we hired six new people, I was overwhelmed. I couldn't run my business and do all the work I was doing AND home educate four kids at the same time. There are only so many hours in a day and there weren't enough for me. 

Having the kids in school was a relief and a wake up call for me. It gave me the time and space I needed and it lit a fire under me that had me moving quickly, delegating everything I could, and working hard towards a meaningful goal. 

We will be getting back to homeschooling very soon (I'll share more with you when the time is right), but my message for you readers for now is this: 

Don't put your own meaning or limitations on what God tells you. Just listen. 

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2018, here I come. 

I am so freaking excited for this year, you guys. There's going to be so much good!

Don't think that the blog is going to die now that the podcast is my main source of content. Each episode is being transcribed into a blog post, so you can still read my voice if you prefer. I'll also be writing posts that aren't podcast episodes as the inspiration strikes (like right now... it feels so good to be inspired and not forced!). 

I have big goals both in business and in my personal life. I've found myself slipping back into some old habits that don't make me feel very good, and I'm really looking forward to breaking them again and stepping into more joy in those areas!

I am so grateful for the place that Brian and I are in as a married couple after this year. We celebrated ten years of marriage in September and I feel like it was a pivotal turning point for us. Something just clicked and we are more in sync than ever. God is so good. It has NOT always been this way! We have a ton of episodes on marriage coming in February and lots of them feature the two of us talking together about this kind of stuff!

We have some big announcements coming soon about our family and where we're headed and how we're growing in the coming months. There's just a lot of GOOD, and no matter what happens or how life tosses and turns as it always does, there is always grace, love, hope, and the joy of Christ. 

Merry Christmas, my friends and happy new year!

xo Allie

Our Time Living in A Camper + Traveling with Four Kids

My family and I recently wrapped up a few months of full-time travel in a super tiny travel trailer. This post is really long, and it’s a summary of how it went and why we stopped. Keep reading if you’re interested in this, otherwise, head to the archives to read posts on the things I usually write about!


Late last Fall, my family and I were in Northwest Arkansas- the place we’d called home for one very difficult year- looking for a house in Southern California. We’d followed God’s call across the country and gone on an incredible, wild journey. We’d started out as a stay-at-home mom and an internet technician and ended our time in Arkansas in a very different place.

I was now an entrepreneur with an armful of high-profile media features under my belt (I talked to friggin Jenny McCarthy in my living room! What is happening?!), a book agent, and the possibility of a reality television series on the horizon. Brian was still shell-shocked. Did this all really even happen?! Our lives had totally turned around so quickly. He was no longer bound by the job that had kept him away from his family for years- missing soccer games and prenatal appointments. We had no more ties in this beautiful state, and we could feel our hearts being pulled back to our roots. It was time to go back home and be near friends and family again.

We sat in our office on the phone with landlord after landlord hearing the same words over and over. Nobody wanted to rent to an out-of-state couple with a brand new business (no matter how much we had sitting in the bank), a dog, and not-so-great credit (we had struggled so hard to get to where we currently were).

We sat there feeling frustrated. I mentioned that one idea we’d always talked about since four years earlier… living in a camper and traveling a little. We tossed the idea around a bit but it didn’t really stick because we were tired and needed to sleep and start fresh tomorrow. The next morning we went to church and then took an afternoon drive. We saw a vintage Airstream travel trailer on the side of the road with a “For Sale” sign on it, and it seemed perfectly timed, so we pulled over. It was unlocked, so we snuck inside for a peak. It was so amazing, but so old, and it needed tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of work. Not for us!

Seeing that trailer made last night’s idea catch a new spark though, so I opened Craigslist up on my phone and we found another trailer for sale just down the road from where we were. We called the couple that had posted it and headed over. We talked, bursting with excitement about what it might be like to leave everything behind and live in a camper, visiting friends around the country. Even the kids were into the idea!

The trailer was perfect. It had a little water damage, but nothing my handy hubby couldn’t fix. It was decorated, well, like a camper, so we decided we’d renovate it. We still weren’t sure about living in it, but we knew we could at least use it to get back to California until a house worked out. We were feeling excited and a little trigger happy, so we handed them cash and left with a camper attached to our Suburban. Crazy.

December came around and we wanted to spend Christmas with family, so we said goodbye to the friends we’d come to love, packed our furniture into a POD storage container, and rolled out. December and January were spent on renovations, and finally, after what felt like years of painting and fixing and planning, we were off to live beachside for awhile.

It was sort of a weird place to be in… we’d just finished renovating our camper, but our hearts weren’t quite ready to go. We’d just come back from more than a year away from family; we found ourselves wanting to be around them still. The city Brian and I grew up in is just forty minutes or so from the beach, so we landed a site at a beautiful RV resort in Oceanside and decided to spend some time there so we wouldn’t be too far from loved ones.  

We’d also realized, after renovating the camper and getting all the furniture and belongings we needed into it, that it was WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY WAAAAAAAAAAY too small for a family of six (plus a dog) to be living in. Like, way way way way way (okay, you get it) too small. Honestly, neither of us had a clue about camping, travel trailers, what kind of RV’s were even available (we now know there are basically estates on wheels out there), and like I said… we were a little trigger happy and just tried something crazy and ran with it. So we would keep running with it even if it was hard and imperfect. Because this camper was ours and it was special to us.

With what I do in my business, it was a fun challenge - minimalism to the extremest point. And that it was…

We spent two months living literally on the beach in beautiful So Cal. We would wake up in the morning and walk to get coffee and breakfast at the Buccaneer Cafe, watch the waves while we talked and ate eggs, go back to the camper to get some work done, and every time the kids needed to burn some energy or we felt cramped, the beach was right there.

We quickly learned that it’s hard to be productive in work and homeschooling when everyone around you is on vacation. You have to create your own boundaries and structure, and that’s really hard to do when the beach is outside your window. I’d hired several people to take on important roles in my business (a VA, a customer service rep, and a social media manager) in order to make my work load lighter, but working without an office was still a challenge that I was determined to figure out.

We had made an amazing deal with a huge website- they wanted me to create a mini course for their audience (a bite-size version of my full decluttering course). This was a huge opportunity for us and we were so excited about it! Brian had taken courses and learned to do the video/photo/media work I really needed done, so we worked as a team and took this project on.

It was terrible. There were so many problems and hurdles because of our lifestyle. The situation made us look so frazzled and unprofessional...we needed an office.

We tried renting a cute house in LA to record the course at, but the neighbor was working on his roof and it was so loud we couldn’t record, and we couldn’t convince him to stop either (he was kind of a jerk…).

$350 down the pipes.

We borrowed a friend’s adorable shop in Oceanside and spent an entire day recording with the camera set up on auto-pilot (so Brian could be with the kids while I recorded), and the footage turned out unfocused on fuzzy.

Seven hours of me sitting in a chair talking into a camera, for nothing.

We spent another $500 on furniture and set up a faux living room in the empty cottage my parents had in their backyard. Third time’s the charm I guess, because this time worked. However, we had leaked money on this very simple project and it had taken so much extra time… all because we didn’t have a home office to work from. We started to feel worried. Could we really do this with the type of business we had?

Pretty soon it was time to leave- we could feel the urge to travel and do what we’d bought the camper to do, so we planned a trip south and rolled out again. Our goal was to end up in Florida. My best friend of twenty-three years lives in Clearwater with her husband and two kids, and I hadn’t seen her in way too long.

We planned to stop in Arkansas for a week on the way to visit the friends we’d made while we lived there. We hiked, laughed, had slumber parties, met friends for lunch, and had a blast! We did all the things we couldn’t do while we lived in Arkansas because of the chaos of starting a business.

We left Arkansas feeling grateful for friendships but very behind on work. No matter what we did, this felt like vacation and it was nearly impossible to balance visiting with friends and not being “home” with getting steady work done. One of us needed to be with the kids at all times and we both had a list of work tasks to handle.

The camper was so small and cramped we really couldn’t all be in it at once, which was a really difficult problem to have. Every day felt like a battle we were losing and it really sucked the fun out of traveling. We decided to work harder to find a way to make this work because this life was a dream (and it seemed like everyone else’s dream) and we didn’t want to feel ungrateful.

I started staying in hotels whenever I had a live workshop to host or needed a couple days to catch up on writing. There was (pretty) reliable WIFI there and a nice background for videos versus the kids’ bunk beds or my tiny, always-messy kitchen with way-too-bright-and-unflattering lighting in the camper. Can you guys feel my stress as you read this? It was so. stressful. All the time!

As we traveled from Arkansas to Florida, making stops along the way, I had meetings while in the car with my four (very loud) children and spotty service and dropped more calls than I can remember. I wrote while Brian drove, and Brian edited videos while I took the kids to get dinner, I even hosted a live webinar from the camper pulled over in the parking lot of a Denny’s. Even though we got by and accomplished the bare minimum, none of it was really working. The stress of doing this and making it work wasn’t quite worth it to us, and we were really starting to realize that. 

We saw some neat places, spent a day in Nashville (which I LOVED), and finally made it to Florida. We spent nearly a month there with our friends. It almost felt like the whole process- buying the camper, renovating it, traveling back across the country- like all of it had been to get to Florida to be with these people we loved so much. And if that’s true, it was so worth it.

I think we would’ve stayed in Florida longer if we hadn’t had a deadline. My little sister was graduating from high school and I didn’t want to miss it. We drove all the way back across the country in just three days. Our car made a huge difference though so don’t be too proud of us, ha! We ditched our beater Suburban and got a shiny new Yukon that came with a DVD player…. Yeah, road trips are much easier with a TV! But I’m really grateful we didn’t have one until last month. We had so many wonderful conversations, listened to great audiobooks, and built road trip habits that will last forever, DVD player or not. My kids don’t expect constant entertainment and they know how to busy themselves and have conversations during a long stretch of driving.

We’ve just gotten settled into a three-bedroom apartment on a short-term lease while we wait for the house hunting chaos to settle after summer is over. At that point, we’ll start looking into settling somewhere more permanently, and I can’t wait.

All in all, we feel that full-time travel isn’t for our family in this particular season. We think if we had known more going in and purchased a much larger travel trailer or RV with a space that could’ve acted as an office, things would’ve been easier. But that’s only part of it. We ached to be home. It felt like we weren’t home the whole time. Yes, wherever my family is is “home”, but we ached for a place to come to after a long day or travel. A place with the things we loved, a place to invite friends over to, a place to stretch out and not feel so squished, a place near family, a place with my personal touch all over it (I love to decorate and to live in a place where I feel inspired). The camper just wasn’t those things for us, as much as we wanted it to be.

Brian and I are so glad we bought the camper! It’s paid for and renovated and it gave us some amazing memories and adventure, and we will use it often (it’s being stored nearby). One of the biggest benefits to our business is that we have full control over planning the workload. If we plan ahead, we can take a very extended vacation, use the camper, and leave work behind while we take the kids on another adventure. But that is a totally separate issue from living and trying to manage a global business in it ;)

There are a lot of questions I get asked about living in a camper and how it worked, so I’m going to answer the most common ones here to clear the air.

Camper Living Q+A


Q: How did doing this change your family?

A: We are so much closer! My kids' relationships with each other is much closer, Brian and I are closer, and we each feel closer to our kids as well. It bonded us together in a way I didn't think was possible. We've always been a very tightly knit family since we've homeschooled our kids and are always together, but this brought us to another level that I'm very thankful for. 

Q: How did sex work in the camper? TMI?

A: Not TMI- I get it, you’re curious how we could make it happen with the kids literally RIGHT THERE in their bunks. Let me first say that where there's a will, there's a way, and Brian and I defintiely had a lot of will! Here’s how we got it on…

  1. Quietly.

  2. Behind what Brian calls the “security curtain”, haha! This was a doubly thick black curtain with sound-reducing cushion sewn in between the layers. The curtain was up 24/7 and closed like a bedroom door every night at bedtime.

  3. Thanks to stabilizers. If you’re going to have sex in a camper, get the best stabilizers you can find. We did, and the camper didn’t budge. It took a huge worry off me and helped me enjoy the ride ;)

Q: I noticed you stayed in hotels pretty much every night you were traveling from one state to another. What’s the point of having the camper if you’re going to stay in hotels?

A: What most people don’t understand is that we were not camping, we were living on the road. This means that we didn’t just have a week or even a month’s worth of stuff in the camper… everything we needed to have with us for living was in there. When we were actively traveling, bins of clothes, chairs, tables, our rug, everything that lived outside against the wall when we were stationary went inside the camper and you could barely squeeze in to use the bathroom! Hotels took a ton of time and work out of the experience for us, and obviously we lived in the camper once we got somewhere.

Q: What was your daily routine like while you traveled?

A: It was constantly changing depending on where we were, what time zone we were in, and what we had planned for each day. But a typical day looked pretty normal. I didn’t wake up very early while we lived in the camper because it was such close quarters that I’d wake the kids and they’d be grumpy later (although some days I did rise early and just head to Starbucks right away before waking anyone). We’d wake up together most days and start with coffee and breakfast, then spend the late morning getting work done before moving into some homeschooling, then spend the afternoon exploring our area.

Q: What was the hardest thing to get into a rhythm with while living in the camper?

A: Homeschooling, actually. By the time we did breakfast and cleaned up, worked for a few hours, made lunch and cleaned up, the last thing any of us wanted to do was school.

Q: How did grocery shopping and meal prep work with such a small fridge?

A: This was almost my answer to the last question- it was HARD. We ended up choosing to eat out a ton. It ended up taking a burden off of us. We eat very clean most of the time (for me it’s a necessity because of health issues) so when we eat out the price difference isn’t very much more than when we shop at Whole Foods. We grocery shopped every other day for fresh produce, snacks, and breakfast foods and still barely had enough space to store things in the fridge and pantry.

Q: How much did it cost to renovate the camper? Was it worth it?

A: It cost about $6,000 - $7,000 in renovations. Yes it was worth it! I recently did a really long Instagram Story about how home matters and I care about how I feel when I walk into where I live. I want it to be decorated well, to feel like mine, to have my touch all over it. Whether we're in a home we bought, an apartment we'll live in for less than six months (currently), or a camper, I want it to make me happy when I walk in. That's why we renovated the camper, and it was worth it. 

Q: What was most surprising to you about the full-time travel lifestyle?

A: How expensive it is. I’ve always heard a lot of people say they live in campers and travel to save money, but this doesn’t make much sense to me. Yes, rent is less. I mean, we lived beachside in Southern California for $1,000/month. And we bought a Thousand Trails membership which let us stay at their sites free of charge, but they didn’t have many sites in the states we stayed at. There’s also a lot that increases in price when you decide to travel full-time, like the phone bill. We needed to have constant access to strong internet connection because of homeschooling and running the business, and the best way to get that is through your phone (personal hotspot), so our bill went up to $280.

Q: What size trailer do you have?

A: A 26' travel trailer with no slide-outs. 

Q: How did you do laundry while living in the camper?

A: The resorts we stayed at always had laundromats. Once a week either Brian or myself would spend most of the day there catching up on all the laundry. With four kids and basically camping full-time, it was hard to not be able to wash whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but we made it work, just like everything else about this lifestyle!

Q: How did your kids feel about this lifestyle?

A: They loved it. It was such a sweet adventure, even with all the hard parts. Brian and I were afraid it’d be too squished and they’d hate it, but they loved snuggling into their little bunks every night and giggling themselves to sleep. They were constantly telling us how much they loved living in the camper. Towards the end, they started talking about “going home” and missing everyone. I think we all felt the pull to call it quits at the same time.


So there's my super honest post all about our time in the camper. I hope it answered your questions! Now back to my laundry, which I can now wash anytime I want to in the machines inside my house.... ;)

xo Allie

How I Use Trello to Organize My Entire Life

This blog post is more of a description of how Trello helps me manage my life. If you want a more in depth training on actually setting up and using Trello for yourself, I've included the link to the video training I put together (it's free) and it's at the end of this post :)

What My Life Looks Like

For those of you who might be kinda new here, I have four kids. They are 8, 6, 4, and 2 years old. My husband Brian and I homeschool the first three (Emmett just colors and pretends to be a part of it), and I own my own business based on this website. I’m CEO and president of creative content and Brian is CFO and vice president of media. I also co-own The Purposeful Home Podcast.

Brian and I recently ditched the whole 9-5 job, house in the suburbs thing and are currently traveling full-time in our renovated camper. This means our family of six lives in a space smaller than the average kitchen, and that space is not only our home, but our school and our office.

Yeah. We have a lot going on.

I get asked a lot of questions about my personal life, and the one that is probably more common than any of them is, “How do you do it?!” It’s usually coupled with a face of shock mixed with a little stress.

Honestly, I don't do everything all the time. Something is always thriving and something is always needing a little more of my focus - that's just life. 

But in short, here’s how I do all that I have going on:

  1. Jesus

  2. Coffee

  3. Trello

And I’d have to give a shoutout to my noise-canceling headphones. They my boo.

This post is all about number three - Trello. Because the truth is, I absolutely could not run my business, my homeschool, or my life in the smooth way that I do without it.

And you should know before we even get started - this is NOT a sponsored post. Trello has no idea who I am as far as I know, and they have no idea I’m writing this. I don’t do sponsorships, I only share what I truly love with you guys. That’s how this blogger rolls.

The Big Picture

So listen. I believe that I am called to a purpose. Part of that purpose is to raise my babies to be world-changers. The other part of that purpose is to spread the message of abundant life and simpler living to my fellow women - that’s my job, and I love it. The thing is, I can’t do either of those things well if I don’t have some kind of plan in front of me. It has to be visible, I need to be able to pull it up and see it on a regular basis.

Usually, I’m a pen and paper kinda girl, but there is so much that needs to be written down and so many changes I need to make all the time, that it just has to be digital. Otherwise I’d end up with pencil eraser remnants coating my floor and my planner would look disgusting. We can’t have that.

Organizing and scheduling everything out goes against my DNA. Although I feel the need to know what’s coming next in life, I like to be spontaneous and untied day-to-day - free to pack up the kids and head to Disneyland at a moment’s notice, but the life God has led me into requires some structure in order to live well, and so, I Trello. And yes, I am officially making that a verb.

I Trello because with four kids and a husband who is always home with me (and schooling with me, and working with me, and cooking with me…) I am always being talked to, interrupted, and distracted. Literally nothing would get done if I didn’t have Trello to reference.

My Typical Day

So to give you an idea of what I do day-to-day and what I’m working with (so you can see and compare and figure out how you want to use Trello in your own life), let me tell you what a typical day looks like for me. Keep in mind there aren’t really a lot of days in a row that look the same for me. “Typical” is very fluid here.

I usually wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning. 4:30 if we have plans in the afternoon and I have a lot of work to do, 5:30 on most normal days. I believe that if something is important and needs to be done during the day, then it needs to be done first, otherwise life happens and kids happen and it usually ends up not happening, and I don’t like who I am under that kind of stress. And so, I wake early. I usually have my quiet prayer time, exercise, and accomplish my most important work tasks, like writing. It’s quiet, it’s still dark, and I can give the most crucial tasks of the day my full attention (thank you, coffee).

If you want more helpful information on how I wake up early and get stuff done, click here.

The kids know that breakfast is around 7:30 and they aren’t allowed to get out of bed and go crazy until then (except for using the potty of course). At that time we all make breakfast and start our day. Brian usually works after breakfast (he mostly does editing and video work, so he can do it right in the midst of our chaos - lucky) while I start on the homeschooling, and after lunch (11:30-ish) we switch. I accomplish a little more work and he takes over the schooling. The rest of the day is up for grabs. Naptime is involved and sometimes errands or something fun, usually outdoors. The kids go to bed at 7:30 most nights and Brian and I follow around 10.

The problem before Trello was that I would always drop the ball on exactly what work needed to be done during my work times during the day. With my life, I couldn’t remember that I was supposed to schedule the social media content for the next day and plan the photo shoot for next week’s blog post. I would forget where we were at in our homeschool and wasn’t keeping track of the kids’ progress. I was totally scattered.

Enter Trello

Trello is my secret weapon for life management. I can’t say enough about it!

I use Trello to organize my personal life, plan out my blog content, work tasks, homeschooling, everything. I have a board titled My Week in which I store all my tasks.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for the podcast, the blog, homeschooling, working out, or running errands - if it has to be done by me, it’s scheduled into my week in Trello. I check this board every single day, multiple times (Trello is a web-based program as well as a smartphone app for on-the-go use). If something is an actual event (like a meeting, speaking engagement, flight, coffee date, etc) it goes on my calendar (I use Google), but Trello holds my heart when it comes to task management.

I also have a board called My Month where I store my themes for each week of the month. I am all about batching my work in order to be more productive (to learn more about this concept, read this) and theming my weeks my task really helps me do that.

The first week of the month is for media work (this is mostly Brian, but I help with the creative aspect of it and am always the one IN the photos and videos), the second week is when I hit reset and just take a break and get some fresh ideas, the third week is for planning new content and getting all my new ideas out on paper (or Trello), and the fourth week is always for taking action and actually writing my content for the entire next month.

I have labels in place so I know which business each task is for (pink means it’s for the podcast), so I don’t have to write that out each time. Trello thought of everything!

I also have a board for running The Purposeful Home Podcast. Kelsey and I collaborate on this throughout the week and then meet up online three times a month to record episodes and have a monthly business meeting.

One of the boards that really help a lot is my homeschool board. Our school is called The Arrow Academy, so that’s what my board is titled :)

I use the labels in this board to distinguish between each student so I’m not writing their names on every single card.

I created a video to really show you how I use Trello and how to set it up, because photos don’t really do the job and I want you to be able to take this action in your own life. 


 

If you want a more in depth training on actually setting up and using Trello for yourself, I've included the link to the video training I put together (it's free) and it's at the end of this post :)


How Trello Works

Trello is made up of boards, lists and cards. So my Editorial Calendar board is its own separate page on Trello. When I have it open, none of the other boards are open. Same goes for all other boards.

 This is a board. It consists of lists and cards. 

This is a board. It consists of lists and cards. 

Each board is made up of lists, and each list has cards underneath it - how many lists and cards there are in each board depends on how many you create.

 The arrows all point to the lists within this board. 

The arrows all point to the lists within this board. 

 The arrows each point to a different card on this list. This view shows the FRONT of the cards. 

The arrows each point to a different card on this list. This view shows the FRONT of the cards. 

Every card has a front and a back. The front is what you see when you’re looking at your board as a whole, and the back is what you see when you click on a card.

 This is the BACK of one of the cards. I have written out a description of the task that was on the front side, and have also created a checklist of things that need to be done in order for that task to be accomplished. 

This is the BACK of one of the cards. I have written out a description of the task that was on the front side, and have also created a checklist of things that need to be done in order for that task to be accomplished. 

The back of the card is where all of Trello’s best features live. On the back of each card you can assign it a color label, create a checklist for accomplishing this particular task, set a due date for it, add a photo or file, tag another person in it, and other stuff like syncing with DropBox and Google Drive.

Let’s pretend we’re creating a new board with lists and cards right now. Say I’m taking on a big project - renovating a vintage camper - and I want to organize the tasks of that project with Trello. I’d start a new board titled Camper Renovation, then I’d start a few lists.

Let’s say list #1 is all about repairs. List #2 is all about interior remodeling. List #3 is all about decorating. And list #4 is where I’ll keep my timeline for the entirety of this project.

Underneath each list I will create cards. Cards are meant to be more specific for single tasks. So for example, I wouldn’t write “remove mold, replace panels, & paint ceiling” on the front of a card.

Instead, I’d make a card that says Water Damage Repairs and then on the back of the card, write out remove mold, replace panels, & paint ceiling because those are the details of accomplishing that task.

I could also just give each one of those three tasks its own card and then have the task breakdown for each one on the back of each card.

Trello can be overwhelming because it’s all what you make it and how you set it up. There aren’t a lot of boundaries or pre-set ways to use it. Don’t let that intimidate you because it’s an awesome perk and one of the reasons Trello is so awesome!

** Trello also has a mobile app that lets you set up notifications so you can be reminded of all you have going on while you're not on the computer. Two thumbs way up.