Monthly Archives: January 2014

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{vlog 1} Thankful Series in 2014

thankful series vlog
Here we go.  I am back at it again.  Apparently I didn’t find myself too awkward in my first vlog post.  Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that this one goes off without a hitch, too.

I am hoping that next month I will feel a bit more comfortable in front of the camera or at least improve my editing skills…  I kept notes on my phone like a true nerd.  Mainly because I didn’t want to forget anything!

What are you thankful for this month?  

Leave me a comment and let me know! 

Newlywed Myths Debunked

You know what I am sick of hearing?  “Oh enjoy the honeymoon stage because it doesn’t last forever.” That statement usually precedes a bunch of chuckling or a tap on the arm.  But c’mon! I am so tired of hearing that.  Do people really believe the first year of marriage is perfect and that the rest are horrible?  Because if they do then that might explain the divorce rate in America.

myths about newlywed lifeI know that J and I look like on this blog that are marriage is great.  Honestly, I would not change one single thing about our relationship.  However, there are some newlywed myths that need to be debunked immediately.

1) It’s not all rainbows and sunshine.  Every moment of the day I am madly in love with J, but that does not mean we get along every second or do not have our disagreements.  The key is that we are communicating and learning how to disagree with one another.  Not so that we can get the upperhand over the other person, but so we can effectively come to a conclusion that is best for us as a whole.

2) Money does not cause us to fight with one another.  We have out talks about money and budgeting, but we do not fight with each other.  There is no blaming for who spent what and where it was spent.  No, our discussions consist of who is paying which bill and making sure that I actually mailed the check.  It’s absolutely silly to fight about money and blame one another.  I’ve talked before in the past how we budget our discretionary money and it still works for us.

3) Weekends are not always for running errands and working around the house.  I have seen so many unrealistic TV shows that depict newlywed couples running errands, painting a room, or building something together on the weekends.  Now, we do work around the house and maybe when the day comes that we own a house this might change.  But for now, we do not work around the house all weekend.  We really spend the weekend to be together, hang out with our friends that all work real jobs, too and travel to see family.  There are a lot of Sundays I wake up and go from pajamas to sweat pants so I can watch the football game in our big fluffy recliner.

4) You want to do everything together.  That myth is so wrong!  I love J and I do love spending time together, but I do not want to spend every waking moment together.  Plus, I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.  I think that our relationship is stronger because we do have our circle outside of our marriage.  I think what works here is that we do not mind that we have our own interests and hobbies.  That’s what is so great about it – J is really supportive when my friends are here visiting and realizes that I may want some girl time and I do the same for him with his guy friends.

With any relationship the key is balance.  I really think that J and I have it and hope that other couples find it too.  J supports my dreams and goals, and I support his.  We push one another to be better versions of ourselves and to grow.  I’m sure there are other myths out there that need to be debunked, but I’ll save that for another day.

 Background photo by DColeman.

Pause.

blog I’m at it again.  Needing to take a quick pause from the blog until Monday.  It’s only 2 days, but I really need a break.  I have some really exciting news that has happened and I cannot wait to share.  However, today is not the right time.

I will be back on Monday the 20th with a new spark in my step!  I am also working hard on keeping up with my Thankful Series that I started this month.  At the end of this month I will be sharing my second (ever!) vlog with you.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t be so awkward.

Cheers!

Easy Pita Pizza Recipe

pita pizza recipe It’s hard coming up with creative and delicious dinner recipes every night.  I always look for something that is somewhat healthy, easy to make, and does not require me to get 1000 pots and pans dirty.   I had this idea to create some pita pizzas from a recipe I found years ago.  All I needed was protein and then it hit me – this past week after eating out for a few dinners we had collected some leftovers.   Steak and teriyaki chicken to be exact.  They were just the amounts for an individual pizza.

I took the steak and J took the chicken.

Here’s what you need to make your pita pizza:

pita bread
steak – 2 to 3 oz.
string cheese
grape tomatoes

pita bread
teriyaki chicken – 2 to 3 oz. (make sure the chicken is fully cooked)
teriyaki sauce
string cheese
pita pizza recipe On his pizza I spread a little over a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce onto the pita, cut up the leftover chicken and piled on top.  Then I took a piece of string cheese to cover it all.
pita pizza recipe For my pizza I cut up a few grape tomatoes, I just love the sunburst ones.  I then cut the steak into bite sized pieces and piled both onto the pita.  I again, took a string cheese and placed over it all.

Bake both pita pizzas at 400F in oven or toaster oven for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
pita pizza recipe It’s a nice, light and easy dinner recipe that I can’t believe I forgot about for years.  You can also spread a laughing cow cheese mixed with a little garlic powder to use with plain chicken, but I did not have any on hand.

Signs It’s Time For A New Job :: My Experience

signs it's time for a new job The end of the year has come and I can finally make a big announcement that I’ve been keeping from you.  The title probably gave it away, but I have decided that I want to change jobs.  It’s been a long time coming and a pretty hard decision.  I don’t love my job, but I am absolutely crazy about the people I work with.  It makes it so hard when you dread going into the office each morning, but know that you are making a difference with the people you work for.
signs it's time for a new job What happens when you think you are ready for a career change?  There has to be some signs that lead you along your way, right?  Well, I had a few signs it’s time for a new job:

1) I dreaded going into the office.  I am never one to dread talking to people and helping people.  So when I started to hate it, I knew I was in the wrong field.

2) It’s not where I saw myself in 5 years or even 1 one year from now.

3) I want to own a business some day and there was no potential for me to own a part this one.

4) I was tired of complaining.

A few simple and direct signs is all it took, well that and about 3 months.  The next step was talking to my boss.  I’ll go more into that in another post.

Image via behappy

Lightened Up Chicken Salad Recipe

chicken salad recipe

Want a delicious chicken salad recipe that is easy on your pocketbook and on your hips?

Trying to save money is pretty tough work especially when you get sick of your daily lunch routine.  It gets boring!  You can find yourself wandering out for a side salad here and there, and then it can develop into a full lunch each day.  So to keep my mind entertained I developed my own twist on the normal chicken salad recipe.
chicken salad recipe It’s a bit lightened up so that way I can stick with my resolution of eating healthier and it’s pretty tasty, too.
chicken salad recipe My Chicken Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
12 oz. Cooked Shredded Chicken
⅓ c. finely chopped celery
⅓ c. finely chopped carrots
⅓ c. light mayo

Mix all the ingredients together and voila!  Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Creating the Perfect Budget Checklist

Budget Checklist download Want to learn how to budget smarter?  Then look no further because have I got a great tool for you.

I have created the ultimate checklist to help you create the best budget for you.

Budgeting usually has a negative connotation to it and can have people running in the opposite direction.  However, if a budget is used the right way then it can help you pay down debt, grow your wealth, and provide more than you ever thought was possible.

Think of a budget as a guideline.  Budgeting is a way to look at where your money is going, what your plans are for your money and helps you see how to get there.

First up – let’s look at our checklist.  You can download the checklist for yourself here.  I recommend printing the checklist and keeping it with you while you cross items off.

Once you have all the information, next it’s time to compile into an organized system.  Next in our series I will show you how to list out all of the information in a standardized manner so that it makes sense and allows you to see the big picture.
Budget Checklist download Download the Budget Checklist.

Now I want to hear from you…

What do you struggle with when it comes to budgeting?

Is it the idea of having a budget?

What about having to gather all the needed information?

Do you have any great tools that can help someone out?

Our Money Story

money story
What’s your money story?

Usually anytime I can find a free webinar, call or download about budgeting or personal finance I jump all over it.  You remember how much I love reading and developing my personal money skills.  I had to opportunity a few weeks ago to listen in on a teleconference call about money.  It was hosted by Jen Hemphill and Amanda Abella.  There was a lot of ideas that I feel J and I are already doing well, but there was one part that struck a chord with me.

Your own money story.

Everyone has a money story and by thinking it as a story is so much easier to understand.  We all have stories about why we are the way we are with money, with relationships, and our jobs.  Why do some spend every cent they earn (sometimes even more than they earn), why do some pinch every penny they get and other budget somewhere in the middle?  It all goes back to the stories we’ve learned from our parents, from our idols and from our own life experiences.

For me, money is something that I struggle with.  I like to save, save, save.  However, I get hit with a bug that forces me to go shopping every once in awhile.  I have to work hard to keep my shopping spurts in line and think about the bigger picture.  J is steady with money.  He always knows how much he has, where it needs to go and a plan for what’s left.
money story
For us, our money stories are becoming one, single money story.  

We sit down once a month to talk about our budget, bills, and plans for our money.  Sitting down for our monthly budget date is not fun for me.  In fact, I pretty much hate it.  So there are some things that we have developed so that we can sit down in a calm environment to discuss everything.

First, create a comfortable environment.  By setting up an environment that you feel relaxed in will help.  You can think clearly and have minimal distractions.  In this environment it’s important to turn off the TV and any other distractions.

Second, I have to eat before we talk money.  I have a tendency to get grumpy if I don’t eat.  With knowing that about myself, J and I make sure that we eat dinner before we talk money.

Third, knowing that it’s okay to take a break.  Some months are tougher than others when we talk money.  When you get frustrated you might say things that you do not really want to.  At the point any frustrations starting piling up, we know that it’s okay to take a break.  I will take the dogs outside to clear my head, turn on the TV for a few minutes, or just talk about something else.

Creating an environment for talking about money will help your story have a happy ending.  In the end, knowing that many marriages end because of money disputes is enough to know that J and I do not want that.  We are being smart and having open communication to create a successful money story.

FREE Grow Your Blog Goals Template

blog goals template

As we start off another year I have big dreams for merelynne.com and my Etsy shop.  I have tried to capture every idea on paper or in a Google Drive document, but after awhile I seem to be overrun with ideas.  I really do not want to lose one or worst – never take the time to actually achieve one of my goals.

In an effort to be organized this year, I created a blog goals template to capture my ideas and set a time frame with action steps.  Here’s what my template looks like with a few of my goals listed.

grow your blog goals templateHere’s how I plan to make this goal sheet work for me:

1) divide and conquer – by setting up a category section then I know where each goal belongs.  I can spend time working on building my Pinterest following and if a new idea for content or Twitter pops into my head then I can write down the goal.  I do not know about you, but I have a tendency to get easily distracted.  If a new idea pops into my head I am immediately down the rat race of a new plan and sometimes forget to finish my original task.

2) list the goal – by specifically stating what you want to achieve then that will help develop a plan to get there.

3) action steps – I believe that the action steps are a vital part of goal setting.  These can be anything that will help you get to the final goal.  For me, this includes a brainstorming session where I sit down with a paper or sit in front of my computer and just start thinking.  What do I need to achieve this goal?  What resources do I already have?  What do I need to buy/learn?

4) projected time frame – to me this step is important, but is also negotiable.  I like to have a target date in mind, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t hit it.  Let’s say it’s now March and I take a look at my goal sheet to see that I have not achieved my goals for January yet then I can take a look to either revaluate the goal or the time I spend on the blog.
Growing Your Blog Goals Template Let’s make 2014 the best year for growing our blogs and our brands.  You can download, for FREE, the growing your blog goals template here to help you get off on the right foot.  Leave a comment and let me know what your biggest objective for 2014 is.  I would love to hear all of your fabulous goals.

{Vlog} Thankful Series in 2014

thankful series vlogHey y’all! I have uploaded my very first video blog post to Youtube… eek! I am not afraid to admit that I am terrified for people to watch it.  But I have to face my fears and get moving.  I told myself that I wanted to work on posting some vlogs in 2014 and what better time to start then now.

I wanted to create a new series that talks about being thankful.  I know that on here you are only getting a glimpse into the part of my life that I want to show.  But there are so many more facets to my life, my marriage and my job that you do not see.  Sometimes in the real world it’s easy to get bogged down with what’s bad.  I have high hopes of staying more positive in 2014.  I thought that sharing what I am grateful for every month would be the perfect way to force the positivity out of me.

Here we go, my first (and hopefully not last) vlog.

I would love to know what you are working towards this year?  Let me know by commenting!

Leave me some comments letting me know what you think of my first vlog post.