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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fall 2016 Bucket List

Fall is my most favorite season (Christmas season--yes it's a thing--is basically tied though) for a few reasons: the weather, the smells, and the activities!

I love that it's no longer 100 degrees with 1000% humidity. Literally sweating even thinking about it. Summer is great and all, but give me sunny and 70 degrees and I'm one happy camper. I love the smell of bonfires and the local fair. I also love the smell of coffee, even though I don't drink it anymore! And, oh, the activities. Since the beginning of fall last week, I've had some time to think about all the things I want to accomplish this season and I'm sharing a few of them with y'all below!




1. Go to Bath and Body Works and stock up on my favorite "fall smell," Autumn.

2. Get married! It's getting so close and I'm so excited and there are still so many things to be done. #neverendinglists

3. Go to a fair. I love the fair. I've loved going to the fair since I was a little kid. Last year, I went with my dad and sisters and while we didn't ride any rides (as a kid they didn't look so dangerous), we stopped and visited ALL of the animals!

4. Bake a pie! I'm attempting gluten free quiche this week for dinner so if that goes well, I may go on a baking spree.

5. Get all of my fall clothes from last year from my parents house and buy more, of course. I left them all there and only brought my "summer clothes" when I moved into our house. And now that chokers are a thing, I may have to go buy me one (or at least a dress with one built in)!


What's on your bucket list? 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Save the Date Magnets

There are so many different kinds of save the dates out there. Postcard style, DIY, magnet, the list goes on--How's a girl to choose? Let me give you a hint: I didn't! I made Josh choose. I gave him a few options after deciding I couldn't narrow it down anymore. I'm working on "delegating", can you tell?




We found our Save the Dates on Minted.com and decided to with the magnet style! (You can find the specific style we picked, here) While it's a little pricier for the magnet, it's so convenient. 

We thought of it this way: our magnet supply is dismal having just moved in a few months ago, so anything that's sent as a magnet already, is a-ok in our book! We figured our guests would think about it the same way.



We also decided to slip in a card for family members that we may only see once a year, once every five years, never met before (I haven't met some of Josh's extended family and he hasn't met some of mine!), to visit our wedding website! I actually used the "business card" template from Minted.com for these and they turned out so good.



My next challenge is picking out invitations and I'll likely get them from Minted because it's just so easy! P.S. If you shop Minted.com, use my code for a free $25 towards your next purchase!


Monday, September 19, 2016

Back Porch Reading

One of my favorite past times and stress relievers is getting lost in a good book. I know I'm stressed when I haven't read a book in a while! If it weren't for Josh forcing me out of the house to do things, I'd probably stay at home and read all the books and eat all of the soup out of this mug (kidding, but only slightly).


P.S. Only 75 days until I'm a MRS.

My mom and I have a book trade going where she'll read a bunch of books and then pass them to me. When I'm done, I'll trade them in at a local bookstore and the cycle continues. Recently, she gave me 
the best book to get sucked into, so to speak. 

The Little Beach Street Bakery. Set in a quaint English village, a failed business woman learns to love and start over again. As with most stories, it's a little more complicated than that (otherwise it wouldn't be much of a book). I liked the book so much that I immediately downloaded the sequel, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery and finished that one in record time.

NOTE: You'll want to read The Little Beach Street Bakery first. It's one of those series where you can't just hop in, even though the author does a great job of catching you up.

Now that the weather is starting to get cooler (only slightly and early in the mornings), I'm trying to utilize the back porch more...to read, obviously! And, I can't wait to decorate for Fall and Christmas!

You can shop some of my back porch picks below!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

While the Guys Watch Football, The Girls Will Play

Lately, every Thursday after work, my friends and I go out for margaritas. A little bit of good ole fashioned gossip and Mexican food is good for the soul, right? I'm here to tell you--IT IS!

Best part? I don't have to watch Thursday night football. Don't tell Josh.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like watching THE STEELERS play, but I don't have to watch every.single.game. See post here.

Girl's nights are the perfect way to get through the rest of the week (aka Fridays) and to get over the first part of the week. We like to pretend we don't have to work the next day and end up talking for hours.

Popular topics include: our fur babies, blogging, boyfriends/fiances/husbands, the fact that chokers are actually back in (but really--we saw like 40 last time we went out), and how we can put away so much salsa, queso, and chips! 


If I'm being honest, it's kinda sorta hard to make new friends after college and keep in touch with your old ones. Guys can grab a beer watch some football and instantly be BFFs. Girls, not so much. So, I'm entirely grateful for GNOs, the friends I've had for years, and the new friendships I'm forging now!

Cheers to the weekends, handcrafted margaritas, and many more GNOs!

P.S. You'll want to check out Kait around the Kingdom and Live FabuLiz!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Coffee Chat Volume 2

Happy, happy Thursday! One more sleep until Friday and then it's the weekend! So, grab your breakfast drink of choice (if I weren't heading to work, I'd grab a mimosa) and join us for another round of coffee chat. For this month's installment, each of us will be discussing what improvements we have made to our blogs over time.


  coffeechat2 

 Allison
"I've found that what works for me is blogging when I truly want to. This may go against what you read everywhere else about needing to get something out 5x a week, etc. But by blogging when I truly want to and really believing what I'm writing about, it lets my readers know I'm genuine.  If I crank out a post in 5 minutes just to get one out, you'll be able to tell--it's not my best and that's not something I want. So be consistent, but be genuine!"


Cara: "Blogging is such a continual learning process and I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my blog I consider my blog as my own little space of the internet, so since the beginning I’ve really focused on creating a brand and identity that is uniquely my own and lets my personality shine through. For my blog design I chose to go with a bright and white look with hints of pink and green and feminine touches. I’m a huge fan of using Picmonkey to design my blog post images, and I try to always use similar fonts and styles so that my blog maintains a cohesive look.

 For me though, blogging has always been about engaging with my readers and followers, so I’ve always tried to make my blog super user-friendly. I made sure to install a commenting system that worked well early on, and I recently organized all my blog posts using an index organizer plugin, which I love. It makes it really easy for people to go in and look at the different types of posts on my blog and keeps everything nice and neat. I also recently updated my about me page to better reflect the focus of my blog. I think as bloggers it’s important to realize that we all are constantly learning and improving but at the end of the day it is all about the journey. I’m so thankful for blogging and all of the connections I’ve made throughout the process and look forward to all the fun adventures ahead."

Chandler: "Growing my blog has been a long process but I'm so happy with where I am at currently. Everyone grows their blog differently and I've tried everything from sponsor programs, collaborations, giveaways, etc. but the biggest thing that helped me grow my blog was staying consistent. As soon as I picked my niche (which was a process on its own!) I knew I had to commit to it. I did some reader surveys which helped me get an idea of what people wanted to see more/less of and I did those things! Not only did becoming more consistent with my blog content help me grown but being consistent with my social media helped big time. On Twitter I only promote blog posts and day to day happenings and on Instagram I share pictures from posts and daily life with a "theme". 
Getting actively engaged on Instagram and Twitter has also helped immensely!

People want to know that you actually see their comments and support and I honestly I love talking to them, so I respond to them. I check out their profiles, like some of their photos as well, and together we build an active community. Checking out popular hashtags I use to see what others are posting is fun and helps us all grow and connect; and knowing when the best time to post for your area and readers is important. These couple of things are a little time consuming but so worth it! Be patient and consistent and even if you don't see big growth you will at least have very loyal, active readers - and that to me is the most important."
Kara: "What a great question! Ever since I turned my blog from hobby to business - about a two years ago - I have made a TON of changes and I'm still learning and growing. I feel like I've talked about this before in my post about What I wish I knew before I started blogging and in my Blogology-101 posts but actually, I have never talked about what exactly I've done to improve. So I'll give a list of the top five things [because I feel like it's been everything lol]. I would say giving my blog a complete 'face lift' was the biggest thing. I took my blog's look from amateur to professional overnight just by changing the overall look. I invested in myself and enrolled in a phenomenal course. Kimra's course taught me SO much but mostly about photo editing, website and content creation, and email marketing.

I also started focusing on really speaking to my audience and connecting with them through various social media platforms. Another improvement and one of the biggest ones I made was in my photos. I consumed everything I could learn from Pinterest on how to take better photos, about lighting, editing apps and about cameras. Lastly, I found out that consistency is key! I'm not just talking about posting on the same day(s) every week. I'm talking little details as well. Something as simple as using a "&" sign vs a "+" sign. In all of my posts you will see a "+" sign. It's just what I prefer but my readers would notice if I use an "&" sign here then a "+" sign there. It sounds silly but it makes a difference and my readers feel more comfortable seeing the same things. I also edit ALL of my photos the same way. If you look at my IG you will see a white border around each photo and similar colors throughout. That was something I started doing more recently but it gives a consistent look or theme. I could talk about all of this for days but I'm going to ramble if I carry on so let's just recap quickly: 1) Giving my blog a 'face lift', 2) Investing in myself and taking a great course, 3) Focusing on my readers and building my tribe, 4) Photography is a game changer, and 5) Consistency is key! :) I hope this helps and if anyone has questions please ask below!"

Katelyn: "When I launched Katelyn Blogs, I did a ton of research and was able to start out self-hosted with a custom domain name. But as much as I knew about website coding, writing, and the behind the scenes stuff, I knew relatively little about design. (And let me tell you, it was obvious!) I used to have a plain black and white logo in a really fancy calligraphy script (That was probably a little too hard to read in retrospect) on a plain white theme. I’ve since learned that color isn’t something to be scared of and can add a ton of personality to your blog. So I added some pretty pops of blush pink here and there in my blogs header and footer, and it has really been working for me! Using color and changing my logo to something more readable have been huge improvements since my early blogging days. The other way I’ve really improved my blog over time is by utilizing Pinterest to promote my posts. I’ve been really stepping up my game in making “pin-worthy” images and it has paid off big time with traffic! But overall, I think that improving your blog should be a continuous effort. There’s always a way we can keep getting better and better, and I can’t wait to see where Katelyn Blogs is a year from now!"

Lexi: "Blogging is something that is constantly changing, from algorithims to trends to even styles, there is always something new to learn.  When I first started A Blissful Haven, I was pretty clueless when it came to blogging. I had read a blog pretty religiously (The Hungry Runner Girl) and her style of writing was more of a journal.  So I thought when I started ABH that I would keep it as some sort of a journal.  Starting out, I barely did any research on what it takes to be a blogger, all I knew is that I needed some sort of creative outlet. One day I stumbled upon a post about blogging with tips on being more successful and earning money, that's when everything changed. I decided enough with the everyday journal, my life wasn't that interesting and nobody cared about me going to work, coming home, making dinner, and random shopping hauls. That wasn't interesting. I decided to join Facebook communities and change my writing style (while still having my voice).

Since starting blogging about two years ago, my writing style has changed, I've made income, worked with brands, and I'm currently working on branding."

Sami: "As someone who is constantly educating and researching topics, overtime i have researched how to monetized my blog, dove into SEO, ensured all of my website creative matched in graphics and theme, and found an effective way of writing style through experience. I do credit my prior experience with PR/COMMUNICATIONS/SOCIAL MEDIA/EDITORIAL for allowing me to advance within my first year of blogging to really catch on and believe that without those fields of knowledge, I would be farther behind. You either understand how to market something orits a learning curve that can take years. I monetized my blog after 5 months of creating the domain and somehow became sponsored by several brands to put me in the category of being a full-time blogger. I learned though, that less is more. One can really get burnt out trying to set goals of "blogging every day". It's not sustainable. After the creation, must come cultivation. If you are creating too often the chances of overlooking recently created blogs, is high. Quality over quantity, my friends. Focus on engagement."

Sarah: "I feel like the blog world is ever changing and it is hard to always keep up with the newest trends, blog designs, and topics. When I first started blogging, it was solely a hobby I didn't think anyone would read what I was writing. About a month after I started blogging, a pet company contacted me asking if they could send me treats for my little furbabies after posting Instagrams and little blurbs about them here and there. I thought that was pretty cool but I didn't even know that that was a thing. I then started getting involved in various blogger groups and link ups. I was so obsessed with getting a post up and making sure it got promoted properly. But I have since realized that it is so easy to get caught up in the numbers and free stuff that sometimes the actual quality starts to lack. 
I think that overtime the most important thing is to remember WHY I blog. I started as a hobby and that is what I want it to be. I want to use blogging as way to network and meet new bloggers who will become friends. I want to create quality content with high quality pictures. I also think it is important to realize you don't always have to post. This was the best lesson I learned. After taking a few blogging breaks from blogger burn out, I realized that I can only really commit to 2-3 posts a week and that is okay. I need to be able to live life to write about it!"

Meet our two new hosts!
IMG_9219

Hi Loves! I am Sarah. I am a full time teacher by day and the blogger behind Sarah Emily Blogs by night. I am so excited to also be apart of this Coffee Chat Collab with some of my blogger besties. 
I am a 20-something newlywed just trying to figure out this whole wifey thing. On Sarah Emily Blogs, you will find the rantings of my day to day life, beauty and style, travel tips and recipes. I am obsessed with coffee before 5 and a good white wine after then. Be sure to stop by and say hi!
Follow along here: Blog|Instagram|Twitter|Facebook|Snapchat: ssarahhhh14


samicoffeechat

Someone visiting my blog for the first time would gather that it's wellness oriented with a high emphasis on mindful living and safe beauty. They might come there for a gluten free recipe but also discover that I give advice on why a body part might be hurting during working out (exercise science). Overall, it is the science behind all things mindfulness and wellness, very fact-based about creative ways to health in a comprehensive voice anyone could understand. 
I started blogging to feed my passion for journalism. Since I was a young girl I have always been fascinated with journaling thoughts and fiction stories. They were deep and spiritual mainly, even at that young age. The older I got the more into editorial I got but discovered the creativity was taken away by way of several edits from people behind the scenes, putting words in my mouth along with adding words that didn't even sound like something I would say. So I left editorial and created my own self-hosted WordPress blog with team of 2 other girls who helped create content. Now, I do editorial but on my own terms and independently contracted.
Follow Along: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Are you a blogger? If so, how has your writing changed over time?

Stay tuned next month while we shift our topic to something more fall related! Be sure to check out and follow your hosts!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Three Things They Don't Tell You About Wedding Planning

I've been in my fair share of weddings. I've written about difficult bridesmaids, being the best maid of honor ever, and the best wedding movies to watch. (My all-time favorite? Father of the Bride) But never ever did I think it would be this tough or stressful to plan my own wedding. Newsflash it's kind of hard.



Here are a few things that they (whoever "they" maybe to you) never told you about planning a wedding:

1. You'll want to elope (or call the whole thing off) no less than 3 times. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. And don't worry, it's normal from what I hear. I blame stress. And hormones.

2. If you can make it through the wedding planning, the marriage will be a breeze. These words of wisdom come from my mother. She's probably told me a dozen times and I'm starting to believe her. After all, we've already established that planning a wedding is hard, if not just a teeny bit stressful.

3. Everyone has an opinion. They are kind of like armpits and they all stink. I'd like to think I knew this going in, but not to the extent that it has been taken. Don't like the dress? Tough. Want to invite everyone we've ever known or talked to? Nope. You don't agree with the music selection? I don't care.

Wedding Planning, Wedding, Mr. and Mrs.
When in doubt, hit 'em with the sass.

Pro-tip: Take everyone's opinion with a grain of salt--accompanied by a margarita--because those make everything better and you can laugh about everyone's outrageous opinions.

P.S. I've linked a few fun wedding things below! The one thing I like about wedding planning is buying all things Mr. + Mrs. because like what, I'm going to be a MRS!

Photography c/o: Aperture Photography

 

Monday, August 29, 2016

5 Reasons Getting Your Braces Off Is The Best

I've been waiting for today for two and a half years. I got my braces off! After years of tightening wires, new rubber bands, and multicolored power chains, I'm so excited to have them off and to not have to do that anymore. I now feel the joy that every other twelve year old before me experiences. It was a grueling 3 hours at the orthodontist this morning, but I survived and have a pretty new smile to boot. 

If you just got braces or are in the throws of getting your wire changed every month, there's hope. Here's why getting your braces off is actually the best thing ever (and what you can look forward too!):




1. No more wire tightening. 
Anyone that's ever had braces will tell you that the monthly checkups to poke around in your mouth and tighten your wires and basically cause you more pain, are the worst. Just as I would get over one tightening, they would tighten them again. 

2. My teeth are SO SMOOTH. 
I can't stop running my tongue over my teeth and looking at them in the mirror. They're so pretty! (No, really. I saw my impression that they took before I had braces and OMG my teeth were so ugly!)

3. I can eat whatever I want! 
I don't have to stick to soft foods or "braces friendly foods" anymore! OH HAPPY DAY! I ate rice and Starbursts and Skittles for dinner tonight and it was great!

4. I don't look twelve years old anymore. 
Whenever I had braces, I felt like I was always getting carded (not just for alcohol--I'm 25, but for R-rated movies too). Maybe I'll look closer to 25 than 12 now! 

5. I can smile with my teeth. 
When I had wires in my mouth, I felt like I couldn't smile with my teeth. I'd always "hit 'em with that soft smile." Now, I can't STOP smiling. And, I'm ready for my bridal portraits!