What I’ve learned from blogging

blogging

Today’s workspace

Blogging.

It’s fun, it’s creative and it helps me meet people across the country.

I’m still new at this whole blogging thing, well not really new new because I’ve been blogging on and off for about 4+ years now.  But I’m new to consistently blogging.

Here’s what I’ve learned from blogging and I’m sure I have much more to learn:

1) post often – the more you post the more your blog will be indexed with Google

2) comment on the blogs you read – I don’t get a lot of comments and that’s okay.  Someday though.  But I comment on the blogs I read and think it’s important to comment.  Commenting gets you involved and helps others to see your name and perhaps click on your link to your site.

3) pictures are key – I remember years ago reading about how you should never have a post without a picture and I try to follow that with every post.  If anything, pictures make your posts more appealing.

4)  learn the basics of social media.  I love social media, I’m kind of a social media junkie so I lucked out on this one.  I use HootSuite and schedule posts to my twitter and my facebook page once I write a post.  Now I don’t have to take time out of my day to send a tweet or a facebook status update.  It does it for me.

5) be true to yourself – my first blog was a lot about DIY projects.  I love DIY projects, but I don’t have time to do 3-4 projects a week to keep my blog updated.  Props to the people that can complete 4 DIY projects a week, I do not know how you do it!  I simply do not have it in me.  This blog is so much more me… I can talk about my real life, post some DIY projects, and share what inspires me.  I am influenced by so many different things and the idea of creating pigeon hole was not working.

Remember a blog is for you and only for you.  If you create something with this idea of making all this money or becoming an internet celebrity then it simply will not work.  I write for me.  I journal my thoughts and projects that work for me.  That is what is important to me and that is all that matters.

Happy blogging!

Cheers!

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Why am I obsessed with my dogs?

Alright, it’s not news to anyone that I treat my dogs like actual children.

I know I am not alone in this epidemic, but I might be one of the biggest offenders.  Last week Tiny had a little lady surgery performed and I took off the following day to be with her… and let’s be honest to have a day off work is always a bonus!  My poor, poor puppy was just not feeling good at all and it was breaking my heart.

dogs

Post-surgery

Look at this little face!

While Tiny was getting snipped, Maggie was at the spa for a full day of pampering.

dogs

So fresh and so clean

Less hair is always better for Maggie.

I spent the day holding Tiny and making sure that she knew she was loved.  Oh I felt so bad taking her to the Vet and somewhat embarrassed when I had to carry her back because she was thrashing against the wall to get away from the Vet Tech.  Oh these dogs!

These dogs are too spoiled!

Cheers!

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My Day: wedding planning

Wedding Planning – less than 4 months away from the big day.  EEK!

I love paid days off of work, they are my favorite.  I get to sit in my PJ’s most of the day watching trashy reality TV while getting paid.  What’s better than that?  I woke up, made myself some cheesy pasta because that’s normal, right?  Then I plopped down in the big comfy recliner with Tiny in my lap to watch my favorite TV show – Dog the Bounty Hunter.  I will pause while you laugh…. done? okay.

As you may know, I have been working on my wedding planning for awhile now:
I said yes / wedding budget tips / Ranking What Is Important / A few Engagement photos /6 months to go

wedding planning

wedding planning tips for budgeting

I have some wedding planning details to work on today, mostly dealing with money.  Think it’s time, like every bride would do … re-evaluate the wedding budget.  It’s important to take a look at the budget from time to time to know if you are still on target and don’t have any surprise expenses popping up.

For J and I we were originally under the impression that our friend’s Uncle would be our officiant and that would be our friend’s wedding gift to us; however, that was months ago and we have yet to hear anything about it.  So, now enter my panic mode and have decided that we need a backup officiant.  I talked to our wedding planner and that’s going to cost about $150.

That’s $150 that we were not planning on spending for that… we had other ideas for that money.  You know, like favors or programs.  Now, I have to re-evaluate so that we can afford it all.

Oh wedding planning!  It’s fun, but also stressful.  Don’t get too overwhelmed with it, that’s what I have to keep telling myself or that’s what J keeps telling me.

Wedding planning helps you get an idea of the big picture.  Know what parts will cost the most, for us it was the venue, photography and alcohol – you know, the important parts – the booze and the part that will capture those moments!

I will be sitting in this big, comfy chair for most of today working on some wedding planning – crunching numbers, stressing out, and thinking that I’m wanting to do too much; however, in the end it will all work out and I will get to marry my best friend.

Cheers!

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27 things to do while 27: My goals for the coming year

goals

So lovely for the big 2-7

I turned 27 last week and I thought what better way to celebrate than to come up with goals for the coming year; 27 to do while 27.

Let’s face it, I am no longer in my mid-twenties.  I have crossed over to my late-twenties.  AHHH!

I came up with 27 goals  while I’m 27 (get it? ha).

  1. Get hitched!

  2. Continue to work and build up this little blog of mine

  3. Add more and more designs to my Etsy shop, MereLynneConcepts

  4. Take a trip out of Missouri with J

  5. Get heavily involved in Crossfit, because I love it and need it in my life

  6. Move to a home with a basement.  If you live anywhere near Southwest Missouri then you understand the crazy amount of tornadoes we get around here.  Plus, J really would like a man-cave.

  7. Do 27 DIY projects

  8. Pay off some bills.  Not the fun exciting thing you would expect to see on a birthday wish list, but hey! I’m 27 now and I need to be a responsible adult.

  9. Teach Tiny a few new tricks, like play dead, roll over, or perhaps just not to jump on me when I get home.  I’m pretty easy to please.

  10. Go to a concert (or 2 or 3…)

  11. Take a drive down to the local drive-in for a date night with J

  12. Become an avid amatuer photographer

  13. Do an overhaul on the site’s design

  14. Setup work space at home

  15. Have a mother/daughters trip

  16. Have a family Christmas photoshoot

  17. Host a ‘family’ dinner with my closest friends

  18. Start a small garden… and keep the plants a live

  19. Control my road rage.  It’s bad people, real bad.

  20. Create a journal of our engagement

  21. Learn to successful do a fishtail braid

  22. Be more adventurous in my cooking

  23. Eat out less

  24. Maggie and Tiny photoshoot

  25. Create a blogging routine

  26. Make a t-shirt quilt from my college Tees

  27. Go camping

There is my 27 goals to do while I’m 27. Wish me luck!  I’ll keep ya updated throughout 27 on how I’m doing with these goals.

Cheers!

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Easy-peasy Healthy Breakfast Bar Recipe

Healthy Breakfast Bar Recipe

Looking for a healthy breakfast bar recipe?  Want a recipe for a delicious chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal bar for breakfast?  Well then you have come to the right place.

J asked for breakfast food the other day and  suggested granola bars.  The pre-packaged ones are good don’t get me wrong, but I just have a problem with filling our bellies with junk.  I looked up a healthy breakfast bar recipe and found one that caught my eye.  I did a little edit to some ingredients to make it a little healthier.  And I ended up with a tasty, healthy breakfast bar recipe.

Healthy Breakfast Bar Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. sugar substitute
5 t. baking powder (you can use 2 t. baking powder and 1 t. baking soda, but I was out of baking soda)
1/4 c. milk chocolate chips
1/8 c. Peanut Butter
1 large egg
2 large egg-whites
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. milk, fat free
1 c. mashed bananas (approximately 2 full bananas)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 24 muffin cups

Stir flour, oats, sugar, baking powder (and baking soda) and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

Whisk egg and egg whites together; mix in applesauce, milk, peanut butter and banana.

Create well in middle of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients.  Stir until moisten.

Fill muffin cups until about 1/2 full.

Bake for about 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool before serving.

Healthy Breakfast Bar Recipe

There ya have it a healthy breakfast bar recipe that was super easy to make.  Oh and the best part one of these little bad boys is only 2 weight watchers point plus value.  Sweet!

Looking for other uses for Oatmeal around the house? Check out how I gave my dog a homemade oatmeal bath to soothe her itchy skin.

Cheers!

I adapted from this recipe from allrecipes.com. 

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Homemade Oatmeal Bath for dogs

homemade oatmeal bath

A homemade oatmeal bath for dogs can soothe itchy, dry skin from allergies.

homemade oatmeal bath

My poor pup, Maggie has been suffering from itchy skin for way too long.  I even resorted to covering her skin with an old Halloween t-shirt so that she couldn’t scratch.  How embarrassing for her!  I could just imagine her at the dog park with another dog giving her a funny look like, “girl, don’t you know it ain’t halloween?” and then Maggie sheepishly going, “ya, my mom hates me for some reason.”   Then all the other dogs would gather around her laughing.. I’m picturing Rudolph not being picked for any reindeer games here.  Ya, I don’t know why I’m on a holiday theme today.

Anyway… That wasn’t going to happen.  No dog was going to make fun of my Maggie!

I did research and found a homemade oatmeal bath that I could use the oats I bought for the Healthy Breakfast Bar Recipe.  So to me that was win-win.  I didn’t have to go buy anything.

homemade oatmeal bath

All you need is 1 cup of oats (quick or regular) blended in a food processor or blender.  Mix the oat powder in a luke warm bath.

homemade oatmeal bath

I took a plastic cup and poured the mixture over Maggie for about 10-12 minutes.

That’s it.  No rinsing.  A simple homemade oatmeal bath.

I noticed an immediate difference; however, she was amazed by her smell for awhile.  Maybe it was too close to food… I don’t know.  Overall it worked and that’s all that matters.

Oh and just a fair warning this homemade oatmeal bath is a pain to clean up out of the tub if you don’t process the oats to a fine enough powder.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Need another use for the large oatmeal that you bought?  I adapted a great, super easy recipe for an oatmeal breakfast bar.

Cheers!

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Today is My Birthday

young
Look at how cute of a kid I was!

Happy Birthday to me, happy Birthday to me!

Today I turned 27 years old young.

When I was a little kid I hated having a summer birthday.  Mainly because I could never have a party at school.  All the other students got to have an entire afternoon dedicated to them and we got to eat cupcakes in honor of their birthday.  I didn’t get any of that!  Teachers always said that they would host an end of the year birthday celebration for the kids with summer birthdays, but that never happened.  Ever.

As I’ve mentioned, I also always thought that the fireworks on the 4th of July were just for me.

21
Fast forward fifteen years and my birthday was filled with booze, short dresses, and staying up all night.

IMG_3686 copy
Fast forward five more years and I’m happy with a quiet night at home with J.   We spent the night at home, together with the dogs.  It was perfect.

This birthday was like any other day.  It started early with having to take Maggie to the groomers and Tiny to the vet for her “lady” surgery.  Then I headed into work.  The best part of it is that I took off work for tomorrow… the day after my birthday.

You know you’re growing up when you are responsible on your birthday and take the next day off work to care for your pup.

I am working on 27 things to do before I turn 28… that’ll be posted in the next few days.  It’s time to set some goals.

Oh and just one more time, Happy Birthday to me!

Cheers!

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A Night In My Hometown

A Night in my Hometown

I live in a small town outside of my college town and some times when I venture into town I see things/people that I don’t like or understand, but it’s my hometown.

 I’m going to tell you a story of my Friday night, well part of it that it is.  It all started when I tried to be a good fiance to J who had already clocked a 14 hour day with no end it sight.  So, I thought food.  That’s the way to any man’s heart, right?  I mean that’s what I was always told by family and it always seem to work.  It’s funny because the way to my heart is chocolate and that’s technically food, so I guess that’s the way to anyone’s heart – their favorite food.  

Anyway back to my hometown story…

My hometown doesn’t offer too many options for good food, so, I ordered some wings for J at a local pizza joint.  I went to pick them up and they weren’t ready so I grabbed a seat to wait.  In walks this man, I instantly got a weird vibe from him and hoped that he wouldn’t sit next to me to wait for his order.  Now, let me say that I am never that person.  I really can talk to anyone, but some people give me the creeps and this man was no exception.

He sat down and said hello.  I said hello back.  Then he starts making fun of one of the workers.  I wasn’t a fan of that so I just sat there nodding, which I guess that opened the door to more free conversation.  The next topic he decided to talk about was boobs.  Other women’s boobs …for about five minutes.  All I kept thinking was really, seriously?

Seriously?!?  Do I look like I am open to that type of conversation?  I don’t want to hear about how five years ago you got to see a girl who was probably 15 at the time that had ginormous boobs.

I just sat there with my fingers crossed and hoped that my order would be up and I could hear that magically words, “Meredith To Go.”  I may or may not have jumped up so fast that I almost face planted into the counter.

Oh it’s just another night in my hometown.  Got to love it!

Cheers!

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It is the 4th of July

happy4th

Hope everyone has a joyous 4th of July.

This holiday is my favorite. Possibly because my birthday is only 5 days away and when I was little I thought the fireworks were just for me. Self-absorbed much? Probably, but I’m okay with it.  Secretly I still think the fireworks on the 4th of July are just for me!

J and I have plans of grilling some food and drinking some beer in the backyard because that’s what we do! Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!

Cheers!

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A tough subject: My Weight Loss

beforeandafter

As I sit here with my fingers on the keyboard the only thing I can is let out a heavy sigh, my weight loss is a tough subject for me.

  The subject of my weight is really, really difficult for me.  I’m sure it is for a lot of people and I hope that someone out there can relate.  Truthfully, I am scared to write this post, I need to set aside this fear that I have building in me with every keystroke and get down to it.  Enough stalling already.

My weight loss and weight gain is a sore subject.  I have never been this super fit girl, I was not athletic in school, and I love sweets.  Actually, I have an unhealthy relationship with sweets.  People laugh at me, but if I see sweets or know they are nearby it’s ALL I can think about.  The thought of a cookie in the kitchen will consume my mind.

Let me preface this with – I was never heavy in high school.  I maintained a good balance between running around with friends and having a Mom prepare dinner for me.  Then when I moved to college and started living in a place where I had a choice that is when the weight gain started.  I could choose between dorm food, the Taco Bell that was in walking distance or ordering a $5 large pizza; let’s face it, those are not good choices.  So, the weight gain started.  On May 4, 2010 I was the heaviest I had ever been and I had enough.  It was time to focus on my weight loss.  I stopped complaining and I stopped feeding my sadness with more bad food.  I joined Weight Watchers.  It just clicked and I loved the Weight Watchers program from the start!

In the next year I lost over 50 pounds.  50 pounds!  That’s crazy people!  Then the best thing happened I got offered a job to be a leader for Weight Watchers.  I was ecstatic about this opportunity to share my story with others and help them along their weight loss journey.  All was going great for a year and then I started slipping and the weight started creeping back on.  I finally quit my job at Weight Watchers convincing everyone that it was because of a new full-time job and I could not simply take off for 2 hours every Tuesday to lead my meeting.  In reality though it was because I had gained weight and was no longer at my goal.  I was/am ashamed about that fact, but I just could not stop the landslide.  I could not find the drive or motivation to track, get in my healthy guidelines or be active on a regular basis.  I do not know why my motivation was gone.

It just was.

weightloss2011

Now fast forward a few months and I am further away from my goal weight and my wedding is just 4 months away.  I’m sickened by my actions and my ability to let myself lose what I had worked so hard to gain.  Or is it gain what I had worked so hard to lose.

It’s time I do something about it… again.  I figured posting on here with pictures would really help my motivation.  I can do this again.   I know I can.  I know I can.

weightloss2012

So, here we go.  I will commit to tracking my food – all of it, every day.  I will attend Crossfit 3x a week because I really do love it and feel so good after I am done, I will stop saying the words “I’m fat” because that is doing absolutely nothing for my self-esteem.  I will replace those words with “I’m learning” and “I will be healthy.”  Finally, I will commit to a weekly roundup on le blog of what was successful and was not successful.

If you want to join me then please do.  I would love the company and we can support one another.  I know that I will not reach my goal within 4 months, but I will look damn good in my wedding dress.

I will not let tomorrow’s holiday or a weekend at the lake break my confidence or give me an excuse to slide a bit.  It’s going to be a good week and I will be proud of my accomplishments.

Cheers!

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