Monthly Archives: June 2014

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Life in Pictures

A picture really does speak 1,000 words.  They capture moments that can be lost in time to never be remembered again.  With so much happening in our every day lives, I love the simple of idea of documenting the memories.  I think J gets frustrated with me sometimes because I want to make memories, constantly.  I want to have fun, be adventurous, try something that we’ve never done before and take pictures in the process.  When we traveled to the Dominican Republic, I kept saying that I wanted to do something to make more memories.  I wanted to try something new and so we did.  We tried deep sea fishing.  It was exactly what we had in mind, but we laughed and enjoyed one another.  It was perfect.

Here is all of our latest happenings.
life in pictures life in pictures life in pictures life in pictures

Recap of our {Dominican Republic} Honeymoon

Dominican Republic Honeymoon
Can you still call it a honeymoon when you’ve been married for 7 months?  I mean, that might be stretching it, but since it’s my blog, I get to call the shots.  J and I finally took our honeymoon.  We planned, we dreamed and then we flew our early early one morning headed to the beach.  Our flight left at 6am, which meant we had to be there a little after 4am.. UGH! I am so not a morning person. The only thing that kept me going was the fact we would be landing in Dominican Republic by noon and at the hotel within an hour.

We arrived and were handed a gorgeous blue drink before we could even check-in.  Perfection.  I am the type of girl that loves to lay on the beach, read my book and take a few naps here or there.  J, on the other hand, is more of the type that likes to be in the ocean, walking around, drinking at the bar and meeting new people.  We struggled with that a little, but survived each other.  We planned a deep sea fishing excursion for one of the days.  J thought he was going fishing and I thought I would get a nice boat ride to the middle of the ocean.  We did get a long boat ride, but the boat was smelly (like fish) and the only fish we saw was the one caught about 30 minutes from shore.  And when I say shore.. I mean, from returning to shore.  It was kind of a bust.  We did meet some fun people that travel the world deep sea fishing, which ignited a desire in J to travel to Florida and rent a fishing boat.

Dominican Republic Honeymoon
The resort was beautiful.  Palm trees, the ocean breeze and bars located throughout.  Plus, they even had a casino that J and I went to one night.  We ended up breaking even, but it was so much fun trying my hand at Roulette.
Dominican Republic Honeymoon Dominican Republic Honeymoon

I want to go back, like today.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be to the DR 3 times now.  I am never disappointed!  The beach is always beautiful, it barely rains, the food is great and the drinks are tasty.

5 Tips On Getting More Organized {Today}

I’d love to share my tips on getting more organized with you.

When I was younger and all the way through college my room always looked like a tornado tore through it.  Clothes on the floor, books on the bed, shoes everywhere.  I was a mess.  Now I will note this by saying I was not dirty.  Dirty dishes belonged in the kitchen sink, not in the bedroom.  I believe there is a huge difference between being messy and being dirty.

One aspect about myself is that I had this organized chaos going for me.  Almost always I would know exactly which pile my class notes were in or where I took off those shoes that I had to wear that night.  But I still looked unorganized.

As I’ve gotten older, married, and started my career I have found that I do not have time to be messy.  Plus, J really gets bothered by my pile system.  I was surprised he called me after our first date because it was laundry day for me and I had clothes everywhere in my bathroom.  Poor guy didn’t know what he was getting into when he asked to use my restroom before leaving.  I’m pretty sure he had to step on clothes to even get into the bathroom.  I was mortified and was sure I probably wouldn’t hear from him again… BUT I was wrong.  He texted, we started dating and are living happily ever after.  But I digress.  He really, really hates living in a messy house.  So, I have developed new systems and ways of staying organized.

Tips On Getting More Organized
Here are my no-fail tips on getting more organized.  The best part about them? They are super easy to follow and you can start today.  Not tomorrow or next week, but today.

Tip One: have a gathering spot for any monthly bills.  J and I have one drawer in our kitchen that is for monthly bills.  Every bill is opened and placed inside the drawer.  We pay our bills twice a month – on payday.  So every time we go to pay bills we open the drawer look at their due dates and pay what we can/have to.  Then any unpaid bills are put back in the drawer until next payday.  Bonus: place your checkbook, envelopes, pen and stamps in the drawer.  Everything is in one spot and easy to take care of.

Tip Two: Schedule your week out before it starts.  I love my new planner and every Sunday I spend 5-10 minutes to look at the week ahead.  I make sure we know of any appointments for  us or the dogs that are coming up.  We plan time with our friends and family then we schedule time to workout and eat right.  I live by my planner so for me it’s our family’s lifeline.  If you don’t spend a few minutes organizing your week before it starts then things you want to do and need to do will just slip away.

Tip Three: Plan at least 3 meals each week.  Think about three meals (the whole meal – entree, side dish, etc.) that you can have this next week. Make sure you have the ingredients or buy them during your weekly trip to the grocery store.  That way on the nights you don’t want to cook or are tired, you don’t have to think too much about it.  You know you have the ingredients for three whole meals that you want waiting for you.  Plus your spouse/roommate can help you out by getting it started before you get home.  If we know what we’re having then J usually will defrost the protein, start grilling, and have it mostly ready by the time I get home.  Then all I have to do is make the side dish and put the finishing touches on.  Teamwork is the best.

Tip Four: The basket routine.  Because J hates my pile system and I have learn to not like it as much, I have developed a new system.  Meet the basket routine.  Every few days I walk around the main living areas of our home with an empty laundry basket in tow.  I gather anything that doesn’t belong in that room.  Shoes, jackets, dog toys, necklaces (because I have a tendency to leave those laying around), etc.  Then once the family room and kitchen are back in order I walk through the rest of the house emptying the basket.  I usually only have to make one trip around the house and in less than 10 minutes my house is straightened.

Tip Five: Two Chores every two days.  Some others out there like the one chore a day technique.  That’s too much for me.  There are some days I want to come home and lay on the couch while watching TV.  I don’t want even want to think about cleaning something.  So instead I space it out a bit more.  Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I clean.  Typically I clean at least two things those days.  It doesn’t seem to be such a daunting task by having a day off in between and it’s not as overwhelming by only having two tasks to do those days.  Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday: dust the furniture and wipe down the kitchen

Thursday: vacuum and sweep the kitchen

Saturday: bathroom and clean mirrors

Now I wipe down the counters after cooking every meal, but on Tuesday I really spend some time scrubbing the countertops, wiping out the microwave, etc.  Plus I steam clean our carpets about once every other month and I tend to do that chore early Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Simple and super easy tips on getting more organized that you can start {TODAY}.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started.  Living a more organized life is really satisfying.  Plus not having a husband moan about your clothes on the bed is really peaceful.

What are you tips on getting more organized?  I’d love to read about them.  Go ahead and leave me a comment.

 

Virtual Blog Tour

You may have seen this virtual blog tour on a few blogs lately.  I am so happy that Dani from over at This Workman Life invited me to play along.  I am so happy to share my little piece of the blogosphere with you all today.
merelynne about page

Q. What are you working on?

A. I am always daydreaming new posts and ideas for this little blog.  Right now I am working on a few decorative DIY projects for our new home.

Also, I am working on launching the perfect planner for the entrepreneur.  It has a section for your daily agenda, blogging and even your online store.  I am very proud of this little creation of mine and cannot wait to see it come to life.  The website is in the works right now and the final copy is being tweaked to perfection.  For the blog – I am constantly daydreaming new ideas and have a few DIY projects in the works, too.

Q. How does your work differ from others of your genre?

A.  I do not focus all of my posts on DIY projects or recipes.  I am more of a one-stop shop.  I offer tips on how I juggle my busy life, mix that in with some recipes and gorgeous photos then I add a dash of DIY projects.  I am honest with myself and that translates into my posts.  I do not try to be something that I am not.  I write about what’s important in my life, at that moment.  I’m newly married and just packed my husband with our two dogs up to move to my hometown.  We are both starting new careers and new lives in a whole new place.  It has its ups and downs and I like showing that part of me to my readers.

engagement photo
Q. Why do you do what you do?

A. I blog because I’m passionate about it.  I love to share my ideas and dreams with others.  I have multiple passions in life.  I am a driven businesswoman that has a strong love for my family and taking care of my home.  My blog is my escape and allows me the chance to focus on me for a moment.

brewery
Q. How does your writing process work?

A. I try to stick to a schedule of posting 3x a week, but that doesn’t always happen and I’m 100% okay with that.  I don’t want to make this blog feel like work because I have enough of that with everything else going on.  I start with an idea, whether it is a tutorial, DIY or a recipe.  I then start dreaming of how to accomplish my dream, which then starts the writing process.  Once the copy is finished for the post I then turn my attention to photos.  You need killer photos for a great post.

 

Tag some great friends:

1)       Mary from ModMommyMK

2)       Toni from 1ChoclateBox

 

Revamping a Blogging Schedule and Editorial Calendar

I have tried a different blogging schedule and editorial calendar almost every 3 months over the years. I find one and settle for a few months then it just seems to overwhelm me and I can no longer keep up.  J and I just moved, not only to a new home but a whole new town.  Our lives have been a bit of a mess and I’m sad to say my blogging schedule for the last few weeks has been a bit wacky.  I do not believe that blogging should feel like work, I mean I’m not making a 6-figure income from this little hobby of mine. Until that time comes, this hobby will be just that – a fun side project I’m passionate about.
However, I do like having a routine I can stick to. Something about being organized makes my heart happy. I have been working with one for the past few months and it seems to be working well. I thought it would be great to share my blogging schedule and how I organize my editorial calendar.

blogging schedule, editorial calendar
Creating a blogging schedule.

I typically post 3x a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The posts go live early in the morning thanks to my WordPress scheduler. Plus I have it setup so once the post goes live a tweet and facebook post are sent automatically. Thanks to the Microblog Poster plugin, it does all the hard work of posting to Twitter, Facebook, etc. for me.
I am not opposed to posting more than just 3x a week, but long gone are the days of feeling a need to post Monday through Friday. Again, I’m not making buko bucks over here.

editorial calendar, blogging schedule
Organizing my editorial calendar.

My editorial calendar is nothing more than a spreadsheet located on my Google Drive. There are 6 columns: Subject, Pictures-to do, when, posts-to do, when, date to be published. Each one is pretty self-explanatory, but let me break it down for you.
Subject: what is the title or gist behind the post
Pictures – to do: A simple reminder that pictures either need to be taken for the post or edited.
When: The first “when” column is for the pictures. When do I need the pictures fully finished and ready to be uploaded?
Posts – to do: Do I need to write the post, proofread, edit, etc.?
When: The second version of this column is for the copy. Same idee as the pictures – when do I need the copy finished and ready to be posted?.
Date to be published: The date the post is going live on merelynne.com
Pretty simple, right? I’m going to tell you though, the moment I started with this spreadsheet it was like the stars aligned and it was magical. My new editorial calendar is a running idea keeper for me.
I then use my Google Calendar. I created a new calendar titled “merelynne posts.” Here I put the title of the post on the day it will be published. Now I can look at the entire month and see which days I don’t have a post for and make sure my order makes sense. Sometimes I like to connect my posts to one another and it’s nice to see it all laid out for me. There is also a handy plugin in WordPress called WordPress Editorial Calendar. It’s the same idea as the Google Calendar but you can actually drag and drop to change your publication dates instead of having to go into the actual post. It’s neat. I use that too, but it’s more of a scheduler for me.
As of today, I have ideas that run all the way into mid-July. It doesn’t mean that I have each posts written or even started for that matter. But I do have the idea behind those posts and really, that’s the starting point.
Thanks for letting me share with you how I organize my blogging schedule and editorial calendar.
How do you organize your ideas? Leave me a comment letting me know. I would love to share ideas and maybe learn a few things.

Protein Pancakes Recipe

protein pancakes
Sometimes I get a craving for pancakes.  Like an overwhelming need for pancakes.  You just can’t ignore that feeling, right?  Instead of blowing my healthy eats I found some healthy recipes over on Pinterest and created some protein pancakes that are so tasty you don’t realize how not-bad for you they are.

Here’s what you need:

1/2 c. oats
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
dash of cinnamon
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
mix-ins (chocolate chips, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)

I had a chocolate craving so I cracked and added a tablespoon of mini chocolate chips.  Grease a skillet heated over medium heat and cook thoroughly.  Top with a few berries, chocolate chips and there you have it.  So good!  My recipe made 3 pancakes, but I was stuffed about half-way through.
protein pancakes protein pancakes

These protein pancakes will be staple for breakfast now.  Yummy!