Why Small Businesses and Bloggers Need Private Cloud Storage

Why Small Businesses and Bloggers Need Private Cloud StorageCiera-Design-Studio-DeskCiera-Design-Studio-DetailsCiera-Design-Studio-Computer Ciera-Design-Studio-Workspace

Today I want to tell you about why you should set up your own private cloud for your home office or creative business, but first a story.

My business has been going through quit a bit lately. Some good, some bad. Let’s get the bad out-of-the-way. I have been having some serious computer issues. I limped it along for months but finally had to send it off for repairs. As y’all know, my computer is a major part of how I make a living and it’s really not possible for me to get much done without it. Luckily I was able to borrow a computer but it still hasn’t been easy. I had to save all my files to a drive making sure I didn’t forget any fonts, graphics, working files, estimates, etc. Not fun.

Another challenge is that I’ve always worked from a laptop. I like the versatility but it’s not ideal as my only computer. I have been contemplating getting a desktop but I wasn’t sure how I’d work on both without constantly sending files back and forth.

Now the good! Something else going on behind the scenes right now is that I’m bringing on some part-time help in the design studio, exciting but scary! I’m so used to working alone. Everything is organized in my head but having employees means that everyone needs to be on the same page. So I’m working on some new processes and implementing some new technology. We all need access to the same files, otherwise things will get very confusing.

I wasn’t really sure how to achieve all of this seamlessness that I was after. Then with absolutely perfect timing WD, a Western Digital Company saved the day by providing me with a My Cloud EX2 to use and review… serious dream come true. This is what I was looking for and I didn’t even know it. Personal cloud storage! Basically, it is a physical hard drive connected to your Internet that you can access from anywhere. Totally ideal for small office and home office businesses.

 

Why I Love Private Cloud Storage

  • one-time cost – unlike many public cloud options, the My Cloud EX2 just has a one-time cost, purchase the drive and you’re done. You can also add as many users as you need!
  • easy setup – plug it in and go through the simple setup and you’re up and running with an intuitive interface
  • security – allows you to set up permissions-based folders so you can give an employee or family member limited access to access or upload files
  • peace of mind – knowing your data is backed up and secure with cloud storage for small businesses makes it easier to focus on other things to make your business successful
  • wireless back ups – the drive gets plugged into a power source and your internet during setup but never directly to your computer so your backups happen without you even thinking about it
  • file sharing – easily generate email links for files or folders. When a client clicks on the link they are given a zip of the files you selected. This allows you to send files that are too large for emailing.
  • anytime, anywhere access – with mobile and desktop apps you are not limited to what you can fit on your phone – if you download the app you can view all files from your drive at home. You can connect multiple computers and devices for seamless integration.
  • automatic transfer via camera - you can connect your camera directly to the My Cloud EX2 and it copies files automatically
  • storage space – photos from my blog take up a lot of space and I NEVER delete client projects. Luckily the My Cloud EX2 provides several capacity options, up to 8TB, to choose from.
  • speed – files load much faster to the EX2 than they do to a remote cloud.
  • working remotely – I want to be able to travel and I want employees to work from anywhere. My Cloud EX2 is such a huge benefit when working in multiple offices, computers or on the road.
  • streaming – stream videos and photos to connected TVs, media players, gaming consoles

If you have a small business, you really need to get one of these systems! I can’t believe I’m only now setting one up! Be sure to check out more of the features at Western Digital’s website and share this story with other small business owners, this knowledge is major!

Many thanks to WD for letting me try the private cloud with the EX2. Thank you for supporting this blog by allowing me to post occasional sponsored content. All sponsored posts feature products or services that I truly feel would be of interest to you and all opinions are my own. The two photos of me are by Hannah Hudson Photography.

Free and Affordable Stock Photo Sites That Don’t Suck

Free and Affordable Stock Photo Sites Great For Bloggers

I think by now we all know the importance of using great imagery, whether it be for blog posts, design projects, social media or anything else where you are trying to look professional as well as capture your audience’s attention.

While I’m a huge fan of completely custom imagery, we don’t always have the skill set, time or budget to do that. But that shouldn’t stop us from having great photographs. For me, those classic cheesy stock photos are not an option, I like stock photos that don’t really feel like stock photos! While I’ve been searching for the perfect, affordable image time and time again, I’ve also been bookmarking those image source sites, and today I’m sharing my favorites!

Free Options

Affordable Options

Any other ones that I missed out there? I’d love to hear about them!

Please check the licenses before using photos from any of these sites.

Darby Smart Studded Baggu Tote DIY Kit

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded ToteI’ve got some fun news today! Have y’all heard of Darby Smart? They work with a fabulous community of designers to launch simple DIY projects based on the latest fashion and home trends. They turn these projects into kits that include chic materials and simple instructions, and send them right to your door! Such a great concept, right?! Well I have partnered with Darby Smart and designed their latest DIY kit, the studded Baggu tote!

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Styled

What better way to amp up your everyday tote than with a rockin’ new look? Choose from 5 colors and with some studs and trusty E6000 glue, you’ll be looking extra stylish in no time! The kit is on sale now for $31, which includes shipping (such a good deal)! Yep, no shopping around for the perfect materials. Click, buy and a box of all the supplies arrives at your door. So head over to Darby Smart to order your kit!

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Outfit

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE STUDDED TOTE KIT

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Box

 

DIY Air Plant Terrarium

My dad gardens more than anyone I know. He is always outside planting new things, repotting, rearranging and watering. Growing up, my yard was basically a jungle. Unfortunately, I did not inherit a green thumb from him. I’m VERY bad with plants, but I finally found a type that I haven’t killed (well not yet, at least)! Air Plants (also known as Tillandsia) don’t require soil to grow, only moderate light and a good soak every week or so—very low-maintenance! They are kinda weird-looking, but these little guys have so much personality! I find them so unique and beautiful!

Tillandsia Air Plant Glass Globe Terrarium Hanging from rope

 

Once I realized that I could keep these guys alive, I became obsessed with making little terrariums for them. They are super easy, affordable and very versatile. I made some for hanging and some for sitting flat on a table or shelf.

MATERIALS:

1: container – a glass globe or any glass container (mason jars also work great)
2: base material – moss, gravel or glass pebbles
3: plants – it is nice to have a few different sizes to add interest (I got mine here)

DIRECTIONS:

Once you have your materials gathered, just cover the bottom of your container with the base material and add your air plants on top. Told ya it was easy! Feel free to get creative with it, you can really add whatever you like to the terrarium, I added some special shells and rocks that I collected from a few vacations.

 

Close Up of Tillandsia Air Plant Glass Globe Terrarium with Gravel on Table

Tillandsia Air Plant Glass Globe Terrarium on Shelf with ramones album and candles

Two Tillandsia Air Plant Glass Globe Terrariums on Table with Rope

Hanging Tillandsia Air Plant Glass Globe Terrarium

 

GIVEAWAY TIME! (CLOSED)

I want to share the air plant love, so today I am giving away an air plant globe terrarium to 2 lucky readers! UPDATE: Winner announced here.

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: I’m using Rafflecopter to track entries so you can login below through Facebook OR your email and it will allow you to enter multiple ways! Good luck!!

If you are in a reader click out to access the Rafflecopter entry form. This giveaway is open through August 9.  The winner’s name will be chosen randomly and announced soon after. Please note that your entry will be removed if you do not complete it correctly. Must have a USA shipping address to be eligible for entry.

Travel Map Pin Board DIY

Since we moved up North, Zander and I have been doing quite a bit of weekend traveling. I really wanted a special way to keep track of the places we have been together (and our bedroom walls were bare) so I decided to make this travel map cork board! It was pretty easy once I figured out the logistics… so now I’m going to share the how-to with you!

travel-map-pin-board-diy-title700

 

MATERIALS

paper // printer // tape // frame // cork roll // spray paint // exacto knife // spray glue // map tacks
These links are what I used but feel free to be creative!

 

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 1

1. Decide what size your map needs to be to fit in the center of your chosen frame. Print out and tile together a map of the US. My map is about 20″ wide for a 18″ x 24″ frame. The map I used can be downloaded here: US Map

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 2

2. Once your map is tiled together, tape it to a piece of cork just big enough to fit the map. Work on a cutting mat and trim around the outer border with an exacto knife (making sure to trim all the way through the cork). You will not be able to get very detailed here, and that’s okay (as you can see I chopped the little hook off of Massachusetts all together)!

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 4

3. Once you have cut around the entire map you can go back in and cut out any additional details. Remember, it is easy to cut more away but not to add back on!

paint-and-glue

4. Trim your next piece of cork into a rectangle that fits snugly into your frame. I used the cardboard backing that came in the frame as a size guideline. 5. Bring the trimmed rectangle outside and paint one side white. 6. Once the paint dries, use spray glue to attach the cork map to the center of your (now white) cork backing. Remember, spray the backside of your cork map only!

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 7

7. Place your map board into the frame (using the cardboard the frame came with as a backing). You can glue to the cardboard to the cork back if you prefer.

8. Print out and trim your title and location flags. 9. Fill in your flags with places you have been and places you want to go! 10. Add your title and destination flags to the cork map with pins and your done! You can download my template here: Map Flags

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 11

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 10

Travel Map Pin Board DIY 12

The measurements above are what I used for my frame, but make sure to measure yourself, as frames will differ. You know the saying, measure twice, cut once! And please be VERY careful with the exacto knife, I actually cut myself while working on this project!

Homemade French Fries

Okay, this was SO much easier than I thought it would be! And SO much more delicious than I expected too, I couldn’t stop eating them! Check out the simple instructions and photos from my first fry cooking experience!

homemade french fries 1

Ingredients

- Potatoes (1 or 2 potatoes per serving depending on the size of your potatoes)
- Vegetable Oil (2 to 4 cups of oil depending on how many servings you are making) Overcrowding your fries will cause breakage and uneven cooking. To use less oil, prepare in several batches.
- Salt

Directions

- Wash and peel potatoes
- Slice potatoes into strips
- Drop potato strips into 375 degree oil
- Fry until golden brown (about 5 to 10 minutes)
- Remove from pot and drain on paper towels or paper bag
- Sprinkle with salt
- Put fries in the oven to keep warm while the next batch is frying
- Serve immediately

homemade french fries 2

homemade french fries 3

homemade french fries 4

homemade french fries 5

homemade french fries 6

homemade french fries 7

homemade french fries 8

homemade french fries 9

homemade french fries 10

(as you can see a lot of ours broke into little pieces… but they still tasted amazing!)