Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Hostess Gifts

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, summer parties are starting in full swing!
Which means you better get your hostess gift wheels turning!

You can never go wrong with flowers and a bottle of wine, but if you're looking for something extra special, check out my favorites from Etsy!

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Making the Most of Your Blog Content

Summer is always a slow blogging season for me, and since I'm not blogging as much, I do my best to find ways to make the most of my previously written content.  

It's so easy to let old posts sit and die, but with these few tips, you'll be able to be able to make the most of previously written content without having to always rely on a new post for page view.


1  |  Organize your content via tabs
Filtering blog posts on key words is great, but I can find it difficult to sort through all of the content.  In addition to key word filters, I created an index of categorized posts to allow for more visibility in regard to previously written content.

I organized my blog content around DIYs, recipes, and our story... other pages could include travel, fashion, pregnancy, kiddos, etc.  I've seen some people just list old posts (which I still prefer over key word filters), but I included a small photo to make each blog post title more visually appealing.  It's a great way for people to quickly (and easily) view past blog posts by topic without too much searching.




2  |  Pin your posts
More than half of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest.  Recipes, DIYs, how-tos, etc... they all are pin-able!  And no need to pin only one photo per post - pin a couple if you have more than one great photo to share.  I pin my blog posts to my personal Pinterest page (my DIYs go on my DIY board, recipes go on my foodie board, etc.).  

It often seems like the majority of people that read my blog are other bloggers, so pinning posts to Pinterest is a great way for random people to find my blog via pinned recipes, DIYs, etc.  Also, when you pin photos, make sure you're linking them to a specific blog post and not your homepage.




3  |  Link to applicable old posts in your new content
A lot of bloggers link key words in their new blog posts to past blog posts that they've written... it's a great way to reference past blog posts that are applicable to what you're currently writing.  The key here is to keep it applicable...!  No one wants to be linked to a random post that doesn't have anything to do with what you led the reader to believe they were clicking on.  

Also, decide what you're going to link wisely.  If you're linking every other word to random posts, none of them will have any meaning, and no one will keep clicking on them.  Lastly, when linking to different posts, make sure what you're linking to opens up in a new window; that way the reader can easily get back to what they were originally reading.  And remember, this tip only works if it is obvious that something is linked - so make sure your links are a different color (or font).




4  |  Install a "you may also like..." widget
This widget is a perfect way to display past posts at the end of every new blog post.  It encourages the reader to stick around (and click around!).  

You can create this widget by utilizing this website - free, easy to install, and it will start sharing old posts so your previously written blog posts don't get lost underneath a pile of new ones!




5  |  Write a round-up post
I will often write a "round-up" post for holiday themed blog posts.  For example, if a year ago you posted about some awesome Cinco de Mayo recipes and DIYs, don't feel like you can't share them again this year!  

It's likely that your readership has changed in the past year, and unless they've gone through old posts, it is likely that these old posts will be new to some readers!  This is essentially making an index of commonly themed past posts and sharing them for current readers.




6  |  Republish
I can't totally decide how I feel about republishing, but since I'm just blogging for fun, I don't see any harm in it.  I don't do this often, but every now and then there's a really great post that deserves to be pulled out from the archive, spruced up a bit and shared again (I did this with my DIY wedding hangers).

As mentioned in #5, readership can change quite a bit in a year, so it's likely that it will either be new to many people or they won't even remember they've read it.




Okay, now spill!! 
What are your tips for making the most of your old blog content?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Happenings!

John and I recently went to dinner with friends at a lovely restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale called The Upton!  We had a great time catching up and eating delicious food - can’t beat a double date night.



To celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, John and I had a tasty dinner out at Cornish Pasty Co.  Although it was certainly not fine dining, we wanted to go there in anticipation for our trip to Europe - and eat some English pub food! Tasty indeed!



The past week has been hot.  Like, really hot.  The high was 115 for about 4 day straight, and my car thermometer read 120 while parked under a carport... basically, it has been an inferno!  Thankfully, it's now back down to the normal 108... ;)



Did anyone watch the premier of True Detective this past weekend?  You best believe my hubby was all over it!  He wasn't so sure about the first episode of this season... Any thoughts?



We are officially packed and ready for our European vacation!  I'm feeling a little bit surprised that I was able to pack everything I needed in a backpack (granted, it is 60L, but I am the ultimate over packer...). We leave tomorrow, and I feel so incredibly blessed and thankful that we get to go on this (perhaps) once in a lifetime trip.

Winnie is kind of mad about us leaving, so she made sure to make our clothes nice and furry before we packed them up! ;)



Monday, June 22, 2015

Pins for Summer Living

It’s crazy to think that yesterday marked the first official day of summer.  
Where in the world has 2015 gone?!  

To celebrate this change in season, I’m sharing some of my go-to summer pins.  
I mean really, who doesn’t need grilling tips and lemonade recipes?!

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 *Source*











Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a Five on Friday, so I figured I should join in on the fun this week... linking up with April to celebrate!


ONE  |  Vinho Verde
When John and I were in New Mexico recently, our friends introduced us to Vinho Verde wine, and I have since become a little bit obsessed.  I’m not a white wine kind of person, but this wine is fabulous! And the best part? It’s cheap! At only $7/bottle, it’s a perfect pool wine to drink in the Arizona heat (something just doesn’t fit drinking red wine when it’s hot out!).



TWO  |  Southwest Quesadillas
John and I were doing so great with meal planning the past few months, but have recently fallen off the bandwagon! I swear, all it takes is one Sunday that we don’t grocery shop, and we fall out of the rhythm for the next few weeks.  I was rummaging through my refrigerator and was trying to find something to make, and we had all the ingredients for Southwest quesadillas... and they were fabulous – a perfect twist on a simple meal!

Simply layer pulled pork, shredded cheese, corn, black beans, avocado, and cilantro in a tortilla and heat in a frying pan until hot and the cheese is melted.  Serve with ranch dressing or salsa, and you’ve got yourself a simple and tasty meal!



THREE  |  Baking with Protein Powder
Has anyone baked with protein powder?  My coworker has this cookbook, and some of the recipes look so tasty!  Think banana bread, but with a ton of protein (from using banana flavored protein).  I’m kind of intrigued!



FOUR  |  Europe
John and I leave for Europe on Wednesday, and to say we are excited would be a huge understatement.  We will start in London, head to Paris, and finish in Rome.  We have tours booked, restaurants picked out, and are looking forward to exploring the cities!  If you have any last minute recommendations, please let me know!



FIVE  |  Birkenstock Gizeh
I just bought a pair of Birkenstock Gizeh, and I'm basically super excited about them.  I pretty much live in flip flops during the summer, and I wear through them so quickly.  This will be a perfect compromise between a good looking flip flop while still being durable and comfortable!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

F-O-U-R Y-E-A-R-S

It’s really hard to believe that John and I are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary today.  I feel beyond blessed to have John as my husband, and it’s crazy looking back to our wedding day and seeing how much we’ve grown as people and as a couple.

John is absolutely the most thoughtful person that I have ever met, and I am always caught off guard and thoroughly impressed with his heart for me and others.  He really does lead our family by example.  I am so incredibly thankful to spend forever with him!


You can read about our wedding day and view photos here.


You can read about how we met here.


You can read about how John proposed here.


You can read about 5 things I’ve learned since getting married here.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Father’s Day Gift Guide

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to put together a last minute gift guide!  My daddio’s gift is already in the mail, and will hopefully be delivered by Sunday, but either way, it’s the thought that counts, right?! (My husband would disagree with this - real thought shows forethought... oi!).

If you haven’t already purchased a gift, here’s a quick guide of five items that were on my radar.


Peter Millar Shirt 
These shirts are great for running around town, playing tennis or golf, or hanging around home – basically, it’s the perfect weekend shirt!  And, according to my fashionista husband, the 3 buttons with the sleeve trims that blend into the shirt are totally in right now.



Office D├ęcor 
People spend so much time at work, and you can never have too much personality in your office (okay, yes you can... stuffed animals? Not into them… at home or at work – yet they seem to be a pretty popular office accessory everywhere I go... I just don’t get it).  Anyway, I’m more of a picture frame kinda girl.  Which, if you ask me, is a pretty perfect office accessory for Father’s Day!



Steaks 
Did you know that you can order nice meat online and have it delivered? Because you can
And if your dad likes to grill, then this may be a pretty perfect gift.  First, who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail? And Secondly, who doesn’t love steak and summer grilling?  When you combine the two, it basically becomes the best gift ever.  The man’s version of flowers!



Sporting Tickets 
Unfortunately I don’t live near my dad (otherwise this would always be my go-to gift), but if you do live nearby, buy you and your dad tickets to a baseball game (or some other event that he would enjoy... concert, golf tournament, etc.).  I have a lot of fond memories going to baseball games with my dad when growing up, so this would be a fun way to continue the tradition!  As they say, experiences (and memories) are more precious than possessions.
 


Home Depot Gift Card 
 Okay, call this unoriginal if you’d like, but if you ask me, this is a pretty practical gift... and I don’t know about your dad, but mine’s a pretty practical guy.  Not to mention gift cards are like the gift that keeps on giving – you get to be excited when you open it, and you get to be excited when you use it.  Can’t go wrong with that!



No matter what you get your dad, I am sure he will love it... That’s what so great about them!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! 
I am so thankful to have you in my life.  You’ve provided such a great example of Godliness, selflessness, and hard work... thank you for all that you’ve done and continue to do for me.  
Love you!
 


Friday, June 12, 2015

Happenings!

John and I have been so busy lately, and well, the summer doesn’t really look like it’s going to be slowing down anytime soon.  Here’s a quick look at what we’ve been up to lately.

The weather has been getting a little steamy, so to escape the heat we have taken a couple of fly fishing trips to Tonto Creek and Horton Creek.  John does the fishing and I basically just hike around with Scout, but we enjoy being outside and exploring!



Speaking of Scout, John and I were proud parents this month as she was selected as “dog of the month” for the day camp that we send her to.  Basically this means that we pay them way too much money, but whatevs, we were proud parents anyway! 

John’s law firm hosted a food tour of Downtown Phoenix for attorneys and their spouses, and it was great fun!  Basically, we had a tour guide who took us to 5 different restaurants for food and drinks and told us about historical spots along the way.  It was fun getting to learn more about the city and chatting with his colleagues… not to mention to food and drinks were quite tasty!  It was my first food tour, and I will definitely look into these next time we travel!


I’m all about a feel good movie, and McFarland USA was definitely that.  John and I had a date night in with a little wine and cheese and we enjoyed watching the movie.  I don’t even remember it being out in the theaters, but it’s definitely worth seeing if you look for a quality movie with a positive ending.



And of course, my schedule would not be complete without a little Bachelorette action!  
Any thoughts on this season?  I'm not super into it yet... it has all seemed a little haphazard.
 Now that Tony and Clint have left, I feel like the majority of the major weirdos are gone (which I always appreciate).  Any thoughts on Nick’s return?  I say let him stay!
 
 
 
John and I are hoping to do some backpacking this summer, and we finally broke down and bought me a pack!  I look forward to using it... hopefully a few times this summer!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A summer couscous salad!

I’ve had a box of Israeli couscous sitting in my pantry for literally 2 years.
Yes, I moved from Michigan to New Mexico to Arizona toting around this box of couscous.  

I’m generally not a pack rat, but much to John’s dismay, I always insist on packing our non-perishable food items when we move (even if it is 1,200 miles away and it would only cost us $3 to buy a new one...).  John has moved a lot in his life, so he is extra sensitive to "stuff."

Anyway, after cleaning out our pantry this weekend (doesn’t having a clean/organized pantry feel amazing?) I decided that this box of couscous either needed to be made or thrown in the trash.  
And given my attachment to this couscous (which, honestly, may have been gifted from my mom’s pantry when she moved to Minnesota), I was not about to throw it away after all we had been through together.

I found this amazing summer salad recipe and knew that it would immediately be the perfect use for this couscous.  It’s light, fresh, and oh so tasty!



For the salad:
1 box of Israeli couscous
1 avocado
6-7 strawberries
1/4 cup of cilantro
1/2 cup of corn



For the dressing:
Zest from 1 lime
2 tbs of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar



How to:

Prepare the couscous per the directions on the box, and dice your avocado, strawberries, and cilantro.


  
To make the dressing, mix all of the ingredients together and toss with all the ingredients of the salad.



This is a perfect summer salad... flavorful with beautiful colors!
 
 
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