I love blogs and podcasts. You all know that. I’m a huge content consumer and I feel passionately about all my favorites.

I’ve talked about my love most recently for podcasts here and here. They are my companions in the car and on my runs. They add tremendous value to my life and my business.

Recently, Gimlet Media, producer of three of my favorite podcasts, announced a new membership program. Why? Because they don’t want to just make revenue from advertising. Because they want to make content that is purely enjoyable for their listeners, and so diversifying their revenue means they can do that with greater leverage.

So they created a membership program and I rushed to join. It’s cheap. $5/month. But you get some goodies and behind-the-scenes access, which is great.

But I didn’t join for the goodies. I joined because it’s become incredibly apparent that we all need to get used to paying some small something or pro-actively doing some small something for the content we love.

Because content is not free. Unfortunately, there’s so much of it, we take good content for granted.

But then, when favorite blogs or podcasts go silent, we are upset.

I’m ranting today not just as a producer of content, though, surely, that informs a lot of my strength of opinion on this topic. I’m more talking to you as one consumer of content to another. One podcast listener or blog reader to another. Honestly. I have no other agenda, I’m just really soap-boxy on this topic.

The truth is, as consumers, we need to do more. Or we’re going to lose a lot of what we love.

Because, again, content is not free. It takes time and effort and resources to produce it.

But, more than that, it takes the will to produce it. It takes hearing from, and feeling the support of, your audience to marshal that will.

And sometimes, in today’s “content overload” media world, it’s easy for us consumers to forget that.

We scan our Facebook newsfeed, glancing at posts from our favorite blogs, but not stopping to “like” them. We skim our Instagram feed, but don’t doubletap everything we enjoy. We’re busy. We’re moving fast. I am more guilty of this than anyone.

As a consumer, I need to do more than just following/subscribing if I want my favorites to stay in play. I need to consider myself partly responsible, in tiny ways, for helping the brands I love to grow.

6 Things Blog Reader PLL

Here’s what we need to do more of:

  1. If you read through a post on Facebook from a favorite blogger, like it. Even better, comment. We all know that Facebook is only serving posts organically that get this “engagement”. Engage, so that blogger doesn’t have to spend tons of cash just to get the post delivered to more than 26 of her thousands of followers.
  2. If your favorite blogger has written a book and you can afford it, buy it. That $25 will make a huge difference. It’s more than the cash, it’s a show of support.
  3. If you see a post in your social media feed and you want to read it in its entirety, click through to that website. Those clicks matter.
  4. If your favorite blogger has a shop or is selling a product, consider making a purchase as a gift for a friend. Target won’t miss a few of your dollars. But that blogger will be so heartened by your support.
  5. If you love a podcast, leave a review on iTunes. I bet you could do that in less than 3 minutes. And it will really, legitimately help them to rise in the rankings and be found by new listeners.
  6. Finally, if you love a blog or website or podcast, take the time to recommend it to a friend. Tag in them in a post on FB or Instagram. That is enormously powerful. I know for a website like ours, and for many others, shouting us out to like-minded Penelopes is an absolutely huge show of support.

I realize that I’m asking you to do more in a world where you’re already doing so much. But many of these things take just a second or two. A few minutes at most.

And by our accepting our responsibility as content consumers, we make it so much more possible for amazing content to come our way for many years to come.

OK, rant over.

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by Penelope Loves Lists Founder Meredith Monday Schwartz


Has this happened to you? You’re in a Container Store and you know you need… something. Everything you see looks so useful, but you can’t bring to mind the exact storage problem you’re trying to solve.

This has happened, am I right?

Today, we bring a perfect solution to you. Hair dryer/straightener storage. You need this. At least, I did. None of my drawers in my 80′s bathroom are big enough for my large hair tools and brushes. And piling them all at the bottom of my under-sink cabinet was not classy.

So, I found this Smart Store System from The Container Store. It’s totally customizable.



At first, I bought one for my 3-year-old’s art supplies. It worked well. But, once I had it home, I knew that it might solve my tangle of hair tools.  Now, this next photo is NOT sexy, or high quality, so brace yourselves.



See? Not sexy, but totally functional. Here comes another sub-standard, yet useful-for-our-purposes image:



Every single day that I reach for my straightener or my hair dryer without looking and bring it to hand immediately, I think about how much I love this storage solution.

Here’s what you need to buy. You need a medium tote and 6 of the tall inserts. You can find them here.


Now, you’ll think of me every time you blow dry your hair. And that makes me happy.

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by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Jenna Miller

My name is Jenna, and I’m addicted to taking on way too much. I live a ridiculously busy lifestyle which consists of juggling many different responsibilities and wearing many different hats (all fashionable, clearly). Wife, mom, wannabe domestic goddess, full-time marketing professional, giant dog owner, dance team director, online course-taker, part-time Penelope contributor…yeesh. Even typing all that out is exhausting.

I chalk it up to the fact that I get bored easily, I have an insatiable ambitious streak, and a sort of sadomasochistic fascination with testing my sanity limits. But I digress.

When I take the time to sit back and actually reflect on everything, I start to feel the overwhelm creep in. There is a constant conundrum: How do I purposefully balance all of my different roles? More than that, how do I give 100% of my focus and energy to each role?

The good news is, most days I feel pretty on top of things. One key to this balancing act is that although I’m a good 85% Penelope, I’ve also got some Type-B characteristics. Most notably, I’m pretty laid-back and not easily stressed or rattled. That certainly helps.

My other keys to maintaining a work–life–play balance are listed below. Notice this post is about how I maintain balance. This is purposefully not a “How To” article because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to balancing all of life’s responsibilities. We each have different roles, different jobs, and are at different points of building our families and careers. These are the methods that help me, but I’m hoping some of them will work for you, too:

Okay. So how do I maintain balance in my life?


HA! I had to. #kiddingnotkidding

Here’s the real list:

PLL Balance

1. Be Present

In order to give 100% of myself to any given role or responsibility, I must be fully present and focused on the task at hand. If it’s watching MJ in the morning before work, I set my phone aside and get my happy ass on the floor so I can roll around and play with him. If it’s the work day, I force myself to limit distractions so I can put my head down and get through as many items as possible in the time allotted. If it’s the weekend, I’m face first in a glass of vino. Catch my drift? Commit to it, my friends. In doing so, you won’t waste time because you’re focusing on what really matters. And this leads me to my number two method…

2. STOP Multitasking

There. I said it. I’m as good at multitasking as the next Penelope, but I’m more of a “quality over quantity” type of gal. My belief is, multitasking at best is a good way to half-ass several different tasks at once—due to insufficient attention and too many workflow interruptions—as opposed to completing tasks with full effort. I do much better work when I can drill down and concentrate on one thing at a time. My favorite trick to keep me focused on just one important task? See: The Life-Changing Magic of Block Scheduling.

3. Find Your Flow
As in, when are you the most productive? When are your mental clarity and focus at their peak? I feel like most Penelopes are morning people… Me? Not so much. I do my best work closer to lunch time, after I gently ease into the day. So, I plan my day around my peak performance window. Emails in the morning (gasp!) followed by my highest-priority tasks, whether that be a phone meeting with a client or a big organizational project at home, followed by a late lunch so I can prolong that uber-productive window. If you’re like me, don’t let all those sunny, happy morning people make you feel like you can’t be as productive as they are. Sure you can! It just happens a bit later in the day. And that’s A-OK.

4. List & Prioritize

Find organizational systems that work for you, whether it’s a good old-fashioned written to-do list with boxes to checkmark, Evernote, Teux-Deux, Wunderlist or even just the notepad on your iPhone. I need to be able to jot things down as I think of them so that no responsibilities get overlooked. Hard to miss things that are in black-and-white in front of your face, amiright? I also combine my to-do lists, so that at-a-glance, I can see everything I’m up against. This way, I can prioritize all responsibilities in order of importance—in one place. I’m pretty brutal about my priorities, because I can only get so much done in a day. If I can regularly check off my highest priority items, the rest is gravy, baby.

5. Limit “Time Sucks”

You know, those people, things, or tasks that swoop in and suck your precious time away? It could be the siren’s call of a vapid website or reality tv show (here’s looking at you Facebook and Keeping Up With The Kardashians). Or maybe it’s a super chatty co-worker who pulls you away from an important project for much longer than truly necessary. Yeah, limit those.

6. Work Hard, Play Hard

This, friends, is my motto. I respect my downtime. No, scratch that, I live for it. Though I don’t have a lot of free time, I usually get at least one Saturday or Sunday each week to call {mostly} my own. And I make it a point to live it up! You may need to schedule your downtime, like Lisa did hereHow do I make sure I get some playtime in? I set boundaries. For example, I only allow myself to work on the weekends during MJ’s nap, which is 2–3 hours, tops. The rest of the day, I disconnect and it’s family time. And after he goes to bed, it’s ME time. My hubby and I regularly call the nanny in so we can have a much-needed date night. Or we’ll make it a Netflix night and binge-watch Orange is the New Black. These little pockets of downtime keep me feeling energized during the busy day-to-day and leave me feeling refreshed overall, and more like myself.

7. Just Do It

Nike got this one right. I don’t think too hard. I know what’s on my plate, and I just mother ‘effing DO it. No whining, no complaining, and no feeling sorry for myself. And I try my best not to procrastinate. Even the seemingly insurmountable tasks WILL get done if you just keep plugging away. That being said, if you do need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. I have a cleaning service come to my house monthly to help out with the deep cleaning. Ain’t no shame in my game.

And this goes without saying (which is why it didn’t get an official number), but there’s no way you’re gonna wake up each morning ready to take on the world if you don’t feel good. Eat healthy foods, exercise, stay positive, listen to your body, get a pedicure every now and then…and you’ll have the wherewithal to G.S.D. Read more about being a bit healthier each day here.

A funny thing happens when I maintain a healthy work–life–play balance. I’m happier overall, and I’m a better wife-mom-wannabe-domestic-goddess-full-time-marketing-professional-giant-dog-owner-dance-team-director-online-course-taker-part-time-Penelope-contributor because I feel confident that I’m doing my very best to fulfill each of these much-loved life roles.

That’s what works for me. What works for you? How do you balance your overly full life?

4 nicely neat comments

An End to Cupholder Schmutz :: A Car Hack for the Perfectionist

July 24, 2015

Let me state two things, right off the bat, so we’re all crystal clear. 1) This is a first world problem. It bugs me, but there are millions of worse problems. Billions. I realize this. 2) I am so delighted with this little fix that I can barely contain my excitement. I like a clean […]

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Why I love Causebox, and you will, too

July 23, 2015

by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Stephanie Petersen It has arrived! My favorite blue box. Remember Causebox? In my first Penelope post I mentioned how I recently signed up with them. While I had yet to receive a shipment at the time, I was pretty confident they meant what they said and it would be worth […]

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How I Had a Successful Staycation With a 3-Year-Old and Came Back Re-charged

July 21, 2015

by Penelope Loves Lists Founder Meredith Monday Schwartz Aaaaaaaaand, we’re back! Taking a break is so nice and so necessary, but it also makes me miss my work. What can I say? I like what I do. As I mentioned, I took a break for the last 10 days to stay home with my 3-year-old, […]

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Summer Break

July 10, 2015

Hi Penelopes! Just a very quick post to say that we’ll be taking our summer break for the next 10 days. We’ll return with new posts starting on Tuesday, July 21st. During that time, we’ll be quiet on the blog AND on the Facebook page. As I was preparing for this break, I thought about […]

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