Reader Survey

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Since you are probably off work for tomorrow's Holiday, perhaps you could take just a few minutes and fill out a survey for me. One of my 20 Before 21 goals is to become more serious about blogging and I am right on track for that. I am currently working on a blog business plan and part of creating that plan is building a reader profile. And to build an accurate profile, I need you to fill out this survey. There's also a few bonus questions at the end that hint at some awesome projects that are in the works!

If you are having trouble viewing the survey on the blog, click this link.

William // Two Months

Friday, August 29, 2014

My little baby is growing up so quickly! He looks more like a baby/toddler than an infant/newborn and he is trying so hard to act more like a toddler than a baby. William and I have been far more productive this month than last, we've mastered getting out of the house on a schedule and I'm actually allowed to carry his car seat which is a huge help on outings. He is developing quite a personality, just like his daddy, and I am loving getting to know him. I can't complain too much about him, for the most part he is a pretty content and happy kid who loves to smile and be insanely vocal. When he's able to talk, he will say the funniest things, again like his daddy (ha). Plus, how cute is that onesie? It says "they call me wild thing." Pretty much sums up William to a T. His onesie is brand new because Mr. William is slowly moving up to size 0-3 months! He has a few newborn onesies that still fit but for the most part my little man is getting bigger and moving onto the next size.
Last week I discovered that William absolutely loves 'Duck Dynasty.' I mean he loves that show. If he is fussing and I need to get things done, I prop him up in his boppy pillow and he just stares at the tv and laughs. This week he discovered that he loves sucking on his thumb/fingers when he's bored.
William is 23 1/2 inches long and weights about twelve pounds!
Mr. William recognizes his name when I say it and is focusing more on the faces of the person talking to him. He loves sitting propped up on his own, pretending he's a big boy, and is starting to reach out for toys on his activity mat. During tummy time he sort of scoots himself on his belly and usually ends up moving a few inches or so. Over the last week he has started to drool/blow bubbles when sitting quietly. Also this month, William has started sleeping in his own room at night with me listening/watching on the monitor. He has also started grabbing and holding onto things (hair, the giraffe attached to his pacifier, necklaces, fingers, etc.). 
We are finally sleeping!!! The last two or three nights he has only woken up once (between 2 and 3:30 in the morning) and then we are up for the day around 5:30 or 6 in the morning. Now I just need him to go to sleep before 11 when his last feeding his around 9 or 9:30pm.
William is going longer between feedings and usually eats more at each feeding than last moth. Yesterday he did want to eat like every 20 minutes for awhile, he's a growing boy. I'm fine feeding him as much as he wants during the day, as long as he goes pretty long between feedings at night. He also does not do well on days that I eat a lot of dairy or soy milk.
Likes: sitting up like a grown up, girls (no kidding, he is already a ladies' man), people in general, cuddling, Duck Dynasty, playing on his activity mat, riding in the car, and eating.

Disklikes: being put in the moby wrap while awake, kisses on his cheeks (but I do it anyway because his cheeks are so darn kissable), and being held with his back to the world.

Recipe // Basic Baked Oatmeal

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One of my all time favorite breakfasts is baked oatmeal. I love baked oatmeal hot with some soy milk, cold on top of a yogurt parfait, and every way in between. I find it to be one of the most addicting and versatile breakfast dishes. Most baked oatmeals feel very heavy, have a high dairy content, and unhealthy oils or butters. But not this recipe. This guy is made with almond milk (you can use whatever milk you'd like but the almond milk helps to keep it light and adds to the nutty flavor) and instead of canola oil or butter I used coconut oil to keep that light consistency. This is the perfect basic baked oatmeal because from this base recipe you can go ahead and add chopped nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or anything your heart desires. Note that the recipe calls for the oatmeal to be baked in a 9x5" loaf pan but it can easily be doubled and baked in an 8x8" pan or quadruple it and bake in a 9x13" dish.

Yields: 1 9x5" pan          Prep Time: 5 mins          Bake Time: 25-30 mins          Total Time: 35 mins

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup almond milk (or any milk)
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl beat together melted coconut oil, brown sugar, and egg. Then add in vanilla and almond milk and mix. Set aside.
3. In another bowl mix together remaining ingredients. Add dry to wet and mix well.
4. Pour mixture into greased loaf pan and bake for 25-30 mins or until edges begin to brown and oatmeal is mostly set and not sloshy.


Taking Stock Vol VIII

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Seth and I got to go on our first date since baby this week!
making: exciting plans for the blog! I am so excited!

cooking: salads for most lunches. Well, not really "cooking" but you know what I mean.

drinking: almond milk. Soy milk makes William sick.

reading: Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer

wanting: Reese's peanut butter cups. Trying so hard to pig out on some...

crafting: plans to craft for the house. I just got A Beautiful Mess' beautiful book Happy Handmade Home and I cannot wait to make some of their projects.

wishing: William would let me put him down so that I can go pee and so I can type with more than one hand.

enjoying: podcasts from The History Chicks. These gals are serious history nerds and it's fantastic! They discuss some awesome women from history from birth to death and the history surrounding their lives. Out of the wins that I've listen to thus far, my favorites are "Agatha Christie", "The Wizard of Oz", and "Queen Mary I."

waiting: for Seth to wake up.

liking: Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. But I totally shouldn't be eating it...

wondering: who will be on 'Live with Kelly and Michael' this morning.

loving: sleep.

hoping: William has a calm day today.

marveling: at some of these news stories. People are crazy.

smelling: my baby's clean head, he got a bath yesterday.

needing: this random anxiety to go away!!

wearing: sweatpants. Seth has the car today so Abby gets to wear comfy sweatpants since I'm not going anywhere.

following:  my blog editorial calendar (for the most part).

noticing: that William has started sucking on his thumbs...and his whole hand.

knowing: I should take a nap today.

thinking: about everything that I need to get done today.

bookmarking: any blog posts or websites on blogging as a business.

opening: William's dresser all the time because he keeps pooping or spitting up on his onesies.

giggling: at my kid. He's quite a character.

feeling: exhausted. William only woke up once to eat, at 3:30am, but then wouldn't let me put him back down for more than 20 minutes. At 5:30 we decided to just wake up for the day.

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Building a Blog Business Plan

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

photo via
Yesterday, on our park outing, Seth expressed his desire for me to take blogging seriously and to really make it a business like I dream of doing. Trust me, I know how lucky I am! In June, while waiting for William to arrive I started doing research on how to build a blog business plan and worked up a rough draft. After yesterday I felt even more inspired and encouraged to finalize my business plan and get the ball rolling. I'm still in the building phase of my business plan but through this process I have found some wonderful resources to share with you that will help you as you plan out your blog goals and dreams. 

The number one resource I have found for building my business plan is from By Regina and she literally writes out how to build the perfect blog business plan. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back to her post as a guide and reference for building my own plan. In my plan I've skipped or combined a few sections that Regina includes in her outline. Below is my outline (as of now) with notes and links to the most helpful resources that I've found.

1.0 Blog + Brand Summary
     1.1 Vision Statement 
- Why does this blog exist?
- Where do I see it going in the future?
- The best visions are inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise 
     1.2 Mission Statement
- What are my responsibilities and commitments to my readers?
- Why is my blog culture?
- How will I accomplish my vision day-to-day?
- How do I want my blog to be perceived?
- Shouldn't be more than 3 sentences - cut out the fluff
     1.3 Ideal Reader
- Includes the reader's basic demographics, preferences and habits, social habits, and money habits
     1.4 Blog Culture
- What quirks will you show?
- What tone and style will you write in?
- If your blog was a human, what personality traits would it have?
- culture drives empowerment which drives enthusiasm which leads to greater productivity
- your culture will include the values, priorities, and vision for your blog
- Resources: company culture
2.0 Blog + Brand Goals
     2.1 Objectives
- objectives need to be concise and measurable
- use deadlines
     2.2 Keys to Success
- items that are vital for growth
- these make your objectives possible
     2.3 Platform + Expansion Goals
- Do you want to build a community around your blog? Develop a platform for speaking engagements or book? Make a full-time income? Etc.
3.0 Blog Guidelines + Best 
     3.1 Blog Categories
     3.2 Blog Schedule
     3.3 Business Tasks + Schedule
- accounting, marketing, invoices, customer service, etc. tasks
- What regular tasks do you need to complete and when?
     3.4 Guest Posting Guidelines
- general guidelines to email out or post on blog/media kit
4.0 Blog Offerings + Monetization
     4.1 Blog Products
     4.2 Affiliates + Partnerships
     4.3 Ad Space
- What types of organizations/blogs would be a good fit?
- What types of ads/organizations will you deny?
- What requirements do you have for accepting ads?
     4.4 Sponsored Posts + Reviews
5.0 Market + Reader Analysis
     5.1 Leading Blogs in my Genre
- analyze 5-10 leading blogs in your niche, records 3-5 key points of what they do well and 3-5 things you might do to change/grow these if it were your blog
     5.2 Blog Benefits + Reader Use
- find 3-5 comparable blogs in your niche and see what they are doing, support them, etc. Do the same with them as in the above section
     5.3 Blog Benefits + Reader Use
- refer to ideal reader profile
     5.4 Blog Traffic Goals
6.0 Social Promotion Strategy
     6.1 Pinterest Plan
     6.2 Facebook Plan
     6.3 Twitter Plan
     6.4 Instagram Plan
     6.5 Email List Plan
     6.6 Guest Appearances Plan
- make a list of blogs you could write great blogs posts for and contact them
     6.7 Social Media Strategies + Best Practices
- tie together above plans into one overall strategy
7.0 Other Marketing + Sales Strategies
     7.1 Offline Marketing
- promoting your brand in "real life"
     7.2 Sales Plan
- Other than marketing on social media, how will you sell blog services and items?
     7.3 Milestones
- come up with several milestones you want to reach in growth and sales (i.e. 100 visitors per month to 10 per day to 1,000 per month, etc.)
8.0 Continued Education + Growth Plan
9.0 Blog Financials
     9.1 Startup Budget
- itemize things needed to launch your blog business (i.e. logo and brand identity design, web hosting and domain name, business cards, monthly internet fees, etc.)
     9.2 Monthly Expenses
     9.3 Monthly Product Revenue Streams
     9.4 Production Budget per Post
- How much will a post in each category cost to develop in terms of money and time?
10.0 Blog Style Guide
     10.1 Colors
- pick 2-4 colors to use consistently for text, titles, graphics, etc. 
     10.2 Fonts
- decide on 2-3 fonts to use
- make sure fonts can be used for commercial use
     10.3 Image Styles
     10.4 Tone
- include a list of words and phrases not to use (hand for guest posts)
     10.5 Post Specifics
     10.6 Category Specifics 
     10.7 Other Blog Elements

Any section that does not have notes written under it, reference the article from By Regina, it just means that I did not have any extra notes or anything special to note. What are your goals for growing your blog over the next year?