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Aug 3, 2015

Organize Your Blog

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and DaySpring, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DayspringSadieRob http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


As my blog has grown over the past few years, one of the hardest, but most important lessons, has been realizing just how important it is to keep all things blog-related organized.  When blogging was just a sporadic hobby, there wasn't much to organize.  I'd write when I felt like it and post when I wanted to and I hadn't really fully invested time into harnessing social media to help give my posts as big a reach as possible.  

But as this space has grown and blogging has become both business and hobby, having a good organizational system has proven to be a necessity.  There's so much to keep track of when you're blogging a few days a week!  From your blogging calendar to your budget to your sponsors, keeping tabs on every little detail can be a daunting task and feel overwhelming, but really, it doesn't have to be.  While there are great planners out there designed specifically for blogging, I like the idea of having a blogging binder that I created myself so that I can customize it as my needs change.  Plus, a binder allows you the flexibility of adding in pages, like that email that you decided to print out or that receipt from some photo props.  

Personally, I like having my binder at my fingertips on my desk, where I do most of my blogging, and then also carrying around a smaller notebook for when inspiration or an idea strikes.  For my blog binder & notebook, I adore the new Live Original line from Sadie Robertson and Dayspring!  I picked up a 3-ring bider, divider tabs, and a notebook at Hobby Lobby and I love that they provide a positive, inspiring, and faith-based message, and they are a great encouragement and reminder of what I want my blog to be...a place for people to be inspired and encouraged, and for me to be able to share my faith with my readers. 

Here are a few tips for creating your own DIY blogging binder:

PRIORITIZE YOUR NEEDS //
What are the specific things that you need to keep organized?  Do you offer sponsorships and need to keep track of who is on your sidebar and when?  Do you do sponsored posts regularly and need a place to keep track of income and receipts?  Decide on the big categories that deserve their own section in your binder and break these up with a few divider tabs.  My top five that I needed in my binder were:  Calendar, Sponsors, Budget, Receipts, and Inspiration.  Once you have your categories decided upon, fill each tab with the appropriate paper.  I threw some plain computer paper in my receipts section for taping in receipts and making some notes, but I found some great monthly calendar pages for my calendar section.

COME UP WITH A SYSTEM // 
I love the look of a color-coding system, so I grabbed some colored felt-tipped pens and assigned different color checkmarks for different tasks on my calendar (i.e. blue = scheduled, purple = Twitter, pink = Facebook, orange = Pinterest, green = Instagram).  This simple, yet efficient, system allows me a quick snapshot of the work I've done on a post, and I can see that all one month at a time.  

MAKE YOUR OWN WORKSHEETS //
It took me all of three minutes, a marker, and a ruler to create a worksheet to keep track of my sponsors.  By simply creating eight rectangles on a sheet of paper, and then writing in titles for pertinent information (Name, Blog Name, URL, Email, Ad Size, etc.), I was able to quickly create a template that I can simply copy and add a header to for each month!  It would also be super simple to create something similar on your computer and then print that, obviously, and then because you own/created the file, you're able to change and reproduce it as often as you need!

STAY ORGANIZED ON THE GO // 
Like I mentioned earlier, I often come up with ideas when I'm on the go.  Carrying around a bulky binder isn't really realistic, so I like to keep a small composition notebook with me in my bag.  That way, when I have an idea for a post, think about a blogging goal, or come up with a collaboration idea, I have something to write it all in and keep that organized too!  I grabbed a cute and cheery notebook and sectioned that off using washi tape as tabs so that all of my notes can go into their appropriate sections instead of being all jumbled together.  

BE TRUE TO YOU // 
Most importantly when you're working on your binder, remember that there are no rules!  Make your binder work for you and don't be afraid to change things up if you find that your needs change or if something just isn't working.  That's the beauty of the binder, after all!  You can totally customize it to your needs! 











I hope these tips on keeping all things blog organized!  It's been a learning process for me, but I can tell you with confidence that as you start creating a system that works for you, your blogging workflow will become more efficient, more strategic, and more intentional!  

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR BLOG ORGANIZED?


Jul 30, 2015

The Guys Behind the Blog // July Edition


It's so hard to believe that yet another month has come and gone!  I'm a little bit saddened that the bulk of summer is behind us, but I can't lie, I'm so excited because it means that our wedding is less than a month away!  Just four weeks from tomorrow, I'll be walking down the aisle toward AJ.  

(Confession time:  I've always had this thing where I get sad at the end of vacation or a holiday.  Not just like "oh, that's sad that it's coming to an end," but a deep ache where I really feel saddened by it being over...I've been that way since I was little and I'm already feeling that a little bit about our wedding!  That is, until I think about the fact that the marriage part is what I'm really excited for, and then I just can't wait all over again!)

Next time AJ is on the blog will be our next Guys Behind the Blog August 27, the last day of him being a single guy...but for this month, we're talking about the way to our guys' hearts....through their stomachs!  We're getting into the details of what makes our men swoon and what makes them squeamish when it comes to food...so check out AJ's answers below, and then link up with Laura and I for The Guys Behind the Blog, July edition!


1 // What is your all time favorite food?
My favorite food kind of depends on the day… But right now my favorite food is Blueberry pie as made by my lovely fiancĂ©. It’s really the best and probably the main reason that I decided to propose way back when!

2 // Who is the cook between you and your significant other?
We are both the cook.She can do everything, and I choose not to do anything the way that you’re supposed to do it… So I think we make a pretty good team. And also she is ok with cooking by my main rule which is “If you don’t make a mess, You’re not doing it right”.

3 // What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
I ate alligator once, Which is super weird for me but I think some people in the south would disagree.  I also ate Zebra once at some weird event… The alligator was like tough chicken and the zebra was really good. This confirms my suspicion that we only eat cows and chickens because they don’t bite the way that alligators do and zebras are way faster than cows!

4 // Are there any foods that you absolutely detest?
There is only really one food that I detest I think… I should clarify, I don’t WANT to detest it … I have tried really hard to be friends with it … But every time I try I feel like the relationship just leaves a bad taste in my mouth (HA! GET IT??) … That food is green beans. And Green Beans, If you’re reading this I want you to know that I still have the upmost respect for you.

5 // What is your favorite local, little-known, or hole in the wall place to eat?
It runs in my family to love what most people would consider awful little hole in the wall diner’s and restaurants so this is a great question. One of my favorite little places back home in Reading would be the West Reading Diner. It’s not really that bad in terms of being a hole.. But It is small and holds a lot of memories for me of being in a band and going to get diner food late at night after shows. Also, I ate there with Betsy and some friends a few years ago…. We weren’t even dating yet!! ;) In Boston I think my favorite little place to eat is this place called the “Hidyan Cafe”. It’s just a tiny little sandwich shop on the corner of a street in my neighborhood and they make food just like another sandwich shop called “May’s” that’s on the corner in the neighborhood that I grew up in back home! They also make the BEST froyo at the Hidyan Cafe and I want it right now……. So I’m gonna go……

(I don't often comment on his answers, but I feel like I need to say two things:  when we cook together, he is very messy, and he likes it that way. (And I follow him around cleaning up behind him, but we'll just let him think that I'm "ok" with his little rule.)  And secondly, I would have to disagree with him on the West Reading Diner...it is definitely a hole and I've never had worse home fries than the ones I had the night we ate there with some friends before we were dating.)  

Well, that wraps up July!  The link-up will be open below through next Friday,  so join in on the fun!  Interview your guy and then link up below!  And make note of the following questions for next month's link-up, which will open on Thursday, August 27!

August Link-Up Questions: 
1 // Share a funny wedding story with us - it could be from your own or one you attended.
2 // On the topic of love, who was your childhood crush?
3 // What is your top love language? What is your significant other's love language? 
4 // How did you meet your significant other? 
5 // If you're engaged or married, how did you propose? If you're not, how did you ask your girl out? 


Jul 29, 2015

My Summer Skincare Routine




My skincare routine changes with the seasons. Throughout the fall and winter, my skin often needs a little bit more moisture-care, but come summer, I'm all about going light and free, which mostly means minimizing the amount of makeup I wear. I love the sun-kissed glow that summer brings, but if my skin isn't in great shape, I feel super self-conscious not wearing anything.


I've always struggled with having really large pores and in middle and high school, I had bad acne. In fact, it still rears its ugly head now and again, and I always think that I must be too old for this! I went through so many different prescription skin-care treatments during high school and know how hard it is to struggle to feel confident in your skin. Now that my acne is (mostly) gone, I realize that taking care of my skin is even more important to keep it in good shape. I'm not afraid to invest in good products and find the right routine for me.




Like I said, my skincare routine changes with the seasons. Not all makeup is created equal, and my skin has different needs depending on the weather. It gets pretty humid in PA during the summer, so often, my winter makeup routine ends up feeling a little sticky when I follow it in the summer months. When it comes to summer skin care, my typical routine includes keeping it light with some BB cream, blush, and mascara.


The most important thing, in my opinion, is to not get stuck in a makeup rut! It's ok to break up with your makeup routine if it's just not working for you! Maybe you're like me and you just need to adjust and tweak with the seasons, or maybe your makeup routine is due for a complete overhaul.




Remember that makeup is meant to enhance your natural beauty, not to cover up issues you're having with your skin! If you're having more serious issues like rosacea or acne, then I really encourage you to find products that work to treat the root of the problem and not just cover them up. Think of it this way: your skin is the one thing that you wear every day. So why not invest in taking care of it? That means investing time into making sure your skincare routine is right for you!  Whether you have acne or rosacea, or another skin issue, it's incredibly important to treat your skin well and take care of it!



Rosacea, in particular, is one condition that is important to treat and not just cover. Rosacea can often affect your confidence.  Galderma is on a quest to help people break up with their makeup, and if you have rosacea, then I encourage you to check out their products that are specifically designed to treat rosacea! One of those treatments is their Soolantra® (ivermectin) Cream, 1%, which is FDA-approved for once-daily topical treatment of inflammatory lesions, or the bumps and pimples, associated with rosacea.

Learn more about rosacea and other treatments offered by Galderma on the Break Up With Your Makeup page. While you’re there, be sure to vote for your favorite no-makeup selfie and story, and you could win one of three $500 gift cards.

Important Safety Information - Soolantra® Cream
Indication: SOOLANTRA® (ivermectin) Cream, 1%, is indicated for the treatment of inflammatory lesions of rosacea. Adverse Events: In clinical trials with SOOLANTRA Cream, the most common adverse reactions (incidence ≤1%) included skin burning sensation and skin irritation. Warnings / Precautions: Not for oral, ophthalmic or intravaginal use.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Jul 28, 2015

A Beautiful Bridal Shower


A few Saturdays ago, things got real.  My mom, mother-in-law, and bridesmaids threw the most beautiful bridal shower and all of a sudden, the reality of this is actually happening sort of hit.  (Did anyone else experience this?  it didn't feel real until your shower?)

My shower was a gorgeous surprise.  Despite the fact that I found out about it about a week before, it was still filled with so many sweet details and touches.  The entire theme of the shower was such a surprise and nothing like what I expected (though apparently, all the inspiration was drawn from my Pinterest!).  They went with a black, white, and pink theme and it was really just perfect.  From the floral centerpieces to the games to the food, everything was handpicked and thought out.  

The menu included croissant sandwiches, chilled strawberry soup, and my favorite, a replica of Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding, among other treats!  Everything was delicious and made by my mom, who put so much thought into every menu item and tried to craft it around things I love...needless to say, she did a great job!  

My bridesmaids planned out some games that were a ton of fun.  They asked AJ a bunch of questions ahead of time and then we played a game where I tried to guess his answers.  If I didn't get the answer right, I had to stick a piece of bubble gum in my mouth (and they didn't choose small sticks either!).  They also had some printed games for people to fill out while I opened gifts and even had people leave me advice and date night ideas.  It was so much fun to read through those later that evening and we will definitely be keeping all of those on hand!

I was so blessed by my bridal shower.  The expert planning that went into it, all of the people that attended, and all of the gifts that AJ and I were given all made us both feel so so loved.  I think my favorite part of the day was just being surrounded by so many women who have spoken into my life and have watched AJ and I fall in love.  I'm not sure what it is about it, but it feels like this whole wedding thing is actually happening now, and not just some distant event we've been planning!




The girls put together a cupcake decorating station.  Once everyone had decorated their cupcake, I chose which one I thought was the best and that person won a prize.  Then, everyone was able to take their cupcake home as a favor!


Some of the decor included photos of AJ and I from our relationship and engagement session.  It was so special and fun to see those photos displayed around the party!  


My mom's friend has a daughter who likes to bake, and my mom knew how smitten I am with naked cakes, so she called her up and asked if she'd be willing to try making one...it was such a hit!  Filled with raspberry and frosting, it was delicious, and it looked absolutely gorgeous with all of the berries and flowers on it!




When I walked into the party, everyone was lined up to throw glitter on me...I definitely ended up with some down my dress, but I thought it was a fun and unique idea and it was a special start to a special day!




This is my grandmother and I...she just had her knee replaced in June, so I was so happy that she was able to make it to the shower!


While I opened a few gifts, Amanda (AJ's sister) called him so that he could "be there" with us.  His two aunts gave him a drill, so he was able to be on the phone while I opened that gift, and our moms gave us a gorgeous set of Calphalon cookware, so we called him while that one was being opened.  I can't wait to decorate and set up our future home!  We are definitely blessed with so many generous friends and family!



I made sure to take photos with each of my bridesmaids...this is Jen, my Matron of Honor (and our little ring bearer in her tummy!).  I had the joy of being her Maid of Honor, so it's so fun to have her by my side through all of this!


This is Chelsea.  She's my cousin's wife and she's also pregnant with a little girl (yay!).  Her husband, Matt, and I are only a few months apart and were best friends as kids (and are still close today).  I was able to be in her wedding as well, so it's really fun to have her as a bridesmaid in our wedding!


This is Natalie, another one of my lovely bridesmaids!  Many of you know her as the girl behind A Tiny Traveler, but she's also about to be my sister-in-law!  She'll be marrying my brother at the end of September, so AJ and I are excited to be in their wedding while they're in ours!  


This is Amanda, AJ's sister.  She was one of the masterminds behind the decor for the shower, and came up with the idea that the shower should be unexpected and different than what our wedding will look like, which was a terrific idea!  Amanda is headed to law school in just a few weeks, but luckily will be flying home for the wedding. 




This is my dear friend Courtney.  She sadly won't be at the wedding, as she lives in Argentina, where she's a teacher, but she was able to be at the shower while she was home for the summer and she and her mom, Sherry, did all of the beautiful florals!



And here are my moms...my mom (on the left), and AJ's mom (on the right), played a HUGE role in making my shower absolutely perfect.  They are both so great and I'm so excited and blessed to be marrying into such a solid family.  Just last night, these two ladies got a head start in tackling our seating chart and they handled it like a boss!  I couldn't ask for better women to be by my side during this planning process.



And last but not least, this is my Aunt Chrissy.  She's my mom's sister and also my godmother and we've been close my entire life.  She was a big help to my mom in prepping all of the food for the party and I'm so grateful to have her in my life! 

I loved everything about my shower and wish I could do it all over again!  It was so much fun and AJ and I are totally blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives!
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