Things Joshua Says

I figured it was time for a post dedicated to my silly boy. He makes me laugh daily with the things he says–his perspective on the world is so funny. I want to be able to remember what he says at the stage of life he’s in now.

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Whenever T Swift’s “Shake it Off” comes on the radio, Joshua says, “That’s ‘Sick Beats’ song!” And when she gets to the part where she says, “You could have been getting down to this. Sick. Beat!” Joshua yells, “SICK BEAT!” at the top of his lungs.

Anytime I say stub my toe, gasp in pain, etc. “You do mommy? Bonk you toe? That is too bad.”

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If I tell him he can’t do something he wants to do, like watch a show or have a treat he says, “Yeah, mommy. You tell me yes.”

Joshua points to my wedding ring. “That’s like belt. For finger.”

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When Dustin puts him to bed, he usually sings “I am a Child of God” to him along with “Rock-a-bye Joshua.” If Joshua isn’t ready for Dustin to leave yet he’ll say, “No, no, no!” Then count on his fingers, “I need one…two…three more Rock-a-bye Joshuas.”

Often, Joshua will take his socks off and put them on his hands and very proudly tell me, “Look, mommy, look! I made mittens!”

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He likes to quote Go Dog, Go. “Hello! Hello! Wike hat? Do not wike it! Good-bye! Good-bye!”

He has a plastic Easter egg that he pretends a duck hatches out of all the time. “Wook, mommy! Wittle baby duckwing! It’s so cute! You hold it? I put it here?”

7 Ways to Reduce Your Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is one of those terms I didn’t hear or become at all concerned with until well into my blogging “career”, if you will. But now that I understand it better, I’ve been on a mission for the past few months to try new things to reduce it. My bounce rate is still not quite as low as I want it, but it’s been getting progressively lower, and I credit that to a few new things I’ve been doing.

Do you know the bounce rate for your blog? Learn 7 easy ways to reduce your bounce rate and engage people with more of your content!

Before we get into how to reduce your bounce rate, we should probably talk about what it is. Your bounce rate is defined as the percentage of users who interact with a single page on your site before exiting. For most websites, a bounce rate of 45%-59% is average. Keep in mind, bounce rates for blogs are typically higher than for other websites–average for a blog is more like 60%-79%.

You can find your blog’s bounce rate by looking at the overview page of Google Analytics.

So why do we want a lower bounce rate?  [Read more…]

The Creative Closet | A Little Bit of Lace

This is my last week of The Creative Closet for just a bit! I’ll be taking at least the first 2 weeks of June off to adjust to being a momma of two! We’ll be welcoming Amanda back to host with Maegen while I’m on maternity leave–hooray! :)

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When we shot these photos, it was rainy, windy, and cold. Every time I got my bangs situated, the wind would kick up again and blow them all in my face. I’ll be honest, there was quite a bit of grumpiness on my part during this shoot. I will be so glad to have this baby and stop feeling big and uncomfortable and ready to cry at the drop of a hat.

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I am seriously loving Maegen’s bold, bright outfit with her darling lace skirt! Girl can rock hot pink! Karly looks so unbelievably classic in her cuffed jeans and lace top. Visit their blogs and give them both some love. :)

I super love this maxi cardigan from Pink Blush Maternity–I’ve never owned a long cardigan like this before, so it’s been fun to play with different ways to style it. It was fun to wear in the fall/winter, but I think I like it best for spring/summer–I love the look of layering something long like this with shorts or a shorter skirt or dress.

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Maternity t-shirt: Target
Cardigan: c/o Pink Blush Maternity
Shorts: Thrifted
Shoes: JustFab
Necklace: Rocksbox (use the code janaxoxo to try your first month of Rocksbox for FREE!)

Can we talk about how amazing Brittany from The Lady Lawyer looked last week for Pattern on Bottom? I absolutely love the way her chic office outfit gained some personality and pizzazz when she added a flirty floral skirt! Be sure to visit Maegen’s blog to see who wore her favorite look last week.

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Hooray for moving on to the month of June! We have some awesome prompts lined up for next month–I can’t wait to see how you all kill it next week for Fringe Benefit. Let’s see some tassels and fringe on your shoes, dresses, bags, kimonos, what have you. :)

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Please don’t forget to link back to my post or Maegen’s and let people know you’re joining us for The Creative Closet! Alternately, you can share the button in your post or on your sidebar.

The Creative Closet

Let’s see your lovely lace looks! (Hooray, alliteration!) ;)

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Lessons Learned from My Favorite Bloggers

Happy Memorial Day! I hope your long weekend has been treating you well and that you take some time today to think about and honor the men and women who have died fighting for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

This summer will mark 4 years since I started this blog. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the things I’ve learned since I started blogging–lessons that have made me a better blogger–and I’ve realized that so much of what I’ve learned has come from observing and getting to know the most positive qualities of some of my favorite bloggers. So today, I want to share some of my favorite ladies from this blogging community with you so you can get to know them and hopefully learn from them the way I have!

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Madison: Wetherills Say I Do

I started reading Madsion’s blog when she was a pretty new blogger. I was always impressed with her authenticity and the way she genuinely wanted to connect with people in the blogging world. It didn’t surprise me at all that her blog readership grew quite rapidly! Madison has an incredible knack for using her blog not only as a creative outlet, but for building a community of friends–not just followers.

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Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest

“Building community is something that doesn’t happen in the blogging world over night. Once you start to have a readership, no matter how small, you will probably find that you crave a bit of community and support within the blogosphere. The biggest thing I have to remind people of is that this is not an overnight process. It takes authenticity, diligence and care. If your heart is not in the right place to genuinely build community and all you desire is to see numbers grow without connection, people can tell. Be authentic and genuine and take the time to really connect and care for your readers and followers on social media. Engage with them by favoriting their tweets, following them back or at least engaging with their accounts, and responding to emails and comments. It will set you up to be someone that they trust and value.”

Jaelan: Making Mrs. M

I first “met” Jaelan when she purchased ad space on my blog. As I read her blog and got to know her better, I completely fell in love with her writing style. As I’ve continued to watch her blog grow, she has blown me away with how she stays true to herself. There are SO many competing voices in this blogging world telling you how to grow your blog and offering formulas for success. Jaelan has the incredible ability to take that advice and those success formulas and change them to meet her needs, so she always comes across as her genuine, unadulterated, Jaelan-self. :)

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Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

“Staying true to myself has always been my top priority in blogging. I love getting to know others, and I want others to feel like they’re really getting to know me, too. In my time as a blogger, there have been instances where it could have been easy for me to tell a little fib. After all, very few people who read my blog know me in real life. But that’s just not how I operate. 

I’ve grown my blog with tips from amazing bloggers (like Jana!). The tips I’ve used are amazing in their own way, but every time I take a piece of advice, I spin it and figure out how it will work for me. I’ve worked hard to figure out how I can learn from others and use their tips in my own way to promote the genuine spirit of my blog. I think by making these small changes, I’ve really made my blog my own.

The blogging world is full of politics, believe it or not. People do some shady things to get ahead of the competition and to make money. To that, I say this: If you don’t have your integrity, you don’t have anything. With everything you do, do it honestly and you’ll win in the end. 

When you’re true to yourself, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. That’s not only a great blogging lesson, but something we should all strive to do in our “offline lives” daily.”

Amberly: A Prioritized Marriage

I can’t remember when I first came across Amberly’s blog, but I’ve been reading it for a good long while. I’m also fortunate to not live too far away from Amberly, so we’ve hung out in person too! What impresses me most about Amberly as a blogger is how intensely focused she is on her blog’s purpose. Amberly knows why she blogs and she doesn’t stray from that. She isn’t trying to be trendy, she doesn’t get caught up in crazy blogger fads–she blogs for her purpose and hers alone and it makes her blog a joy to read and it makes her trustworthy and fun to get to know!

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Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

“A couple of years ago, I decided to narrow the focus of my blog and write solely about marriage relationships. Picking such a specific niche for myself worried me at first. I was afraid that I would run out of ideas for posts and get burnt out quickly, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Blogging about something that I am so passionate flooded my mind with ideas and I get inspiration when I’m least expecting it. As a student studying to become a Family Life Educator, I love being able to share my excitement for marriage and family relationships. My goal is to have each of my posts tell a story that is personal and that my readers are able to relate to. I also want to share something that I have learned, whether in my personal life or from school and hopefully inspire other couples to make their marriage more of a priority in their every day life. Every one of my posts relates to marriage in some way and I haven’t ever regretted my choice to make that change in my blogging.”

Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What have you learned from what they do really well? 

Classic Chicken Piccata

Of all the dishes I learned to make during my time working at Vivace in Albuquerque, Chicken Piccata is my all time favorite. Classic Chicken Piccata sauce has such a bright, tangy flavor that I totally swoon over. What I also love about this dish is how much my husband loves it–I remember the first time I made it for him, he was completely blown away. Now every time he sees it on our menu for the week, he gets really excited. And that makes me oh so happy. :)

With bright, fresh flavors and a short prep time, this classic chicken piccata is sure to become a favorite meal!

Chicken Piccata is really simple to make–it has only a handful of ingredients and takes about 20 minutes to whip up. You can serve it with pasta, but we like it best with garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes and lightly sautéed veggies.

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Classic Chicken Piccata

serves 6

3 chicken breasts, split in half crosswise (so you get 6 thin chicken breasts)
1 cup flour
3 TBS olive oil
1 TBSP garlic, minced (2-3 large cloves)
1 cup dry white wine
juice from 1 lemon
2 TBS capers, drained
1 1/2 TBS cold butter
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Over medium-high heat, preheat a large skillet (a skillet that isn’t nonstick is best).

Add the flour to a wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Add the olive oil the the preheated skillet and sear the chicken on both sides until browned. Once browned, remove the chicken to a separate, oven safe dish and place in the oven to finish cooking through–this will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, turn the heat on the pan to medium and add the garlic to the pan, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook for about 15 seconds, then add the white wine. Reduce the wine by half, then add the lemon juice. Remove the pan from the heat and add the capers, parsley, and butter, stirring to melt the butter and combine. Taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the oven, return to the pan and serve.

•••If at any point your sauce breaks (the fat separates out), simply add a bit more liquid (about 1 TBS white wine, lemon juice, even water) and return to the heat while stirring.

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Have a happy weekend, and enjoy! :)

Growing Baby Number 2 | 38 Weeks

Exciting thought: this will probably be my last bump update! I’m sure hoping so. If I post a 40 week update, it means a VBAC is not in the cards for me and we’ll be doing a scheduled c-section the next day. So some labor inducing thoughts and prayers sent my way would be much appreciated. I really want this VBAC thing to work out.

I know several women report having mixed feelings about their pregnancy drawing to a close, but I am not feeling any sort of mixed feelings. Nope. My one and only feeling is HALLELUJAH I’M ALMOST DONE!! I will not miss this belly. No ma’am.

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Baby’s Size: 19.75 inches–about the size of a leek

At my appointment on Monday, my doctor did some feeling around on my stomach to get a rough idea of our little girl’s size. Pointing to Joshua he said, “I really don’t think she’s going to be as big as he was–she feels like she’s around 6.5 pounds right now. I think you have a really, really good chance of having a successful VBAC.”

Music. To. My. Ears. :)

Symptoms: Baby Girl has dropped–quite a lot actually. My doctor was surprised how far down he could feel her head–which is another awesome sign. Joshua was too big to drop into the birth canal all the way, which is why his birth story ended with a c-section. While I love that her dropping means things are probably looking really favorable for a vastly different birth than I had with Joshua, having her so low means a slough of really unpleasant things:

The bathroom trips I thought were so frequent before have now increased a bunch.

I can’t even walk. No, no. I am full on waddling. Penguin style.

My hips hurt like you would not believe.

And OH THE PRESSURE I AM FEELING DOWN THERE!!!!

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Cravings: All the food. Just everything. Feed me now!! I need to stay off of Pinterest because it makes me want to devour everything. I go from seriously craving Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookie Bars to majorly jonesing for grilled shrimp kebabs with the slightest swipe of my thumb.

Wearing: Like I said on Tuesday, I’m seriously wearing the same 10 outfits again and again. My warm weather maternity wardrobe is pretty small–thank goodness I have a few ultra cute pieces from Pink Blush Maternity! It’s making it possible to hold out for the next 17 days and not go completely crazy over wearing the same stuff over and over again.

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Joshua: Has been really clingy towards Dustin and me for the past week or so. I think he’s beginning to sense the impending demise of his only child status. He’s been more emotional and sensitive lately. He asks me to hold him and after snuggling for a bit, he’ll lean back, look into my eyes and say, “I need extra love, mommy.” You got it kiddo! Let’s just sit on the couch and hold each other while we eat popcorn and watch TV….:)

Progress: With Joshua I didn’t have contractions or cramping up until the moment they gave me pitocin in the hospital. This time, I’ve had mild contractions fairly consistently, so I was hoping for a little bit of progress when my doctor checked me at my appointment on Monday. Nope! He said I’m maybe 1cm dilated. Oh well. All of the other news at my appointment was good, so I can’t be too bummed. I’ll just try to accept the idea that I’ve got another two weeks to go.

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Top & Jeans: c/o Pink Blush Maternity
Sandals: Aldo
Necklace: Rocksbox

DIY Accessory Organizer

Since I posted my first fashion post over a year ago, and especially after falling in love with Rocksbox, my collection of jewelry has jumped from pretty non-existent to a growing mass of bling that desperately needed to be organized. In our small apartment, most organization needs to be on the wall to conserve precious counter/desk/dresser space–which lead me to create this DIY hanging accessory organizer over the weekend.

This DIY accessory organizer takes about an hour and $15 to make–easily customizable too!

I’ve had the idea in mind for this baby for a while, but finally got around to it on Saturday. It took me about an hour and it only cost me $15. By the way, this post isn’t exactly a tutorial–I’m not going to go super in depth about how I made it, because it’s very straightforward and there is no reason to do it exactly like I did if you choose to make one for yourself! There is a myriad of ways you could choose to tweak this to fit your own needs. So lets call this…an inspirational, and not a tutorial. :)

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The Creative Closet | Pattern On Bottom

Oh you guys. My wardrobe is shrinking really fast. I’m at the point where I feel like I’m wearing the same 10 outfits because most of my stuff fits so awkwardly! I am so ready to have this baby and get my body back! Thank goodness for my tops from Pink Blush Maternity–they’re the only ones that are long enough to cover my giant belly anymore!

Top from Pink Blush Maternity

I’ve been mostly wearing skirts and dresses, but it was a little chilly this weekend–cozying up in some leggings definitely felt good. I was having hot flashes while shooting these photos, so I ditched my cardigan I had been wearing for most of the day! :P

The Creative Closet | Pattern On Bottom

Okay, who else super loves it when Maegen wears glasses? SO cute! And Jacqui is definitely one of those people who can majorly rock the crop top! I’m having some tummy envy over here….:P

Here’s to comfy, patterned leggings and cute maternity tops!

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Top: c/o Pink Blush Maternity (also in mint, yellow, emerald, coral, and light blue)
Leggings: White Plum (old)
Sandals: Target (old)
Bracelet: LE TOTE

How awesome were last week’s East Coast prep looks?  I was totally blown away by Jenna’s look last week! The little pop of stripes on her polka dot top and her sweet, floppy hat totally captured my heart! Be sure to visit Maegen’s blog as well to see who she’s featuring from last week!

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Do we seriously only have one more week of The Creative Closet in May? I can’t believe it! Make sure to join us next week for A Little Bit of Lace and be on the lookout for June’s prompt list next week! :)

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Please don’t forget to link back to my post or Maegen’s and let people know you’re joining us for The Creative Closet! Alternately, you can share the button in your post or on your sidebar.

The Creative Closet

Patterns galore, here we come! :)

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Updating Old Blog Posts: Making Your Content Work Harder

How long have you been blogging? I’ve been working on this little creative space of mine since July of 2011. My blog has evolved A LOT over the years, from design, to purpose, to content. If I look back through my posts from the past (almost) 4 years, there are some posts that don’t fit my blog at all anymore, and others that have good bones–AKA they still fit my purpose and they are well written–but they need some updates in order to bring me any amount of traffic.

Have you been updating old blog posts? You definitely should be. Read how to make your old content work harder for you!

In the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on slowly going through my blog archive and making a note of posts that need updates. It’s definitely been a chore, but in the long run it’s worth it to make these updates–I’ll get into why that’s true in just a bit, but for now I want to focus on how I’ve been updating my old posts.

[Read more…]

Maternity Maxi Dress and Motherhood

With celebrating Mother’s Day this past Sunday and the days until our new little one arrives ticking down, motherhood has been on my brain a lot lately. My thoughts have been completely centered on my pregnancies, thinking back to when Joshua was brand new and what it will be like to have a newborn in our home again, as well as how fun it is to be Joshua’s mom right now–I can’t get enough of this stage he is in!

Maternity maxi dress from pinkblushmaternity.com

Being a mom is such a beautiful, sacred thing to me. The fact that I have the ability to co-create with God to bring little lives into this world makes me feel honored, awed, and so grateful that God would give me such a precious gift. Sometimes our sweet girl gives me a big old kick in the ribs and I suddenly think how absolutely amazing it is that I’m growing a person. A person! An entire human life is shaping up to be, inside my body right now! And then I look at Joshua and can’t believe how much he has grown since that first day I held him–he’s gotten so strong, confident, creative, and curious. My heart swells with pride when I look at him and think, I made him. He blows me away with how much he is learning. I can’t wait to see him learn his new role as big brother. :) [Read more…]