Why I Joined Style Collective

Today is International Women’s Day! I’d like to give a shout out to women all around the world!
Since creating my blog, I’ve wanted to become part of a group to interact with other bloggers to gain their perspective and support on blogging. Through Instagram I found the group, Style Collective, run by Annie Spano. Style Collective is a place for boss babe bloggers/entrepreneurs to share their ideas, tips and advice to their fellow SC Sisters. Each week Annie goes on IG Live and covers a topic about blogging. She also has a podcast-The Becoming Fearless Podcast, where she’ll interview other bloggers/entrepreneurs about their advice, authenticity and more. Once I began watching and listening to these each week, I was hooked!

I joined the group late last month (when membership was open, other times there is a waiting list to join) and absolutely love being a member! Style Collective is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people who are interested in blogging. They even have a map of the world that shows where your fellow Style Collective Sisters live so that you can meet up to collaborate or say Hi on social media! Certain parts of the world have Regional leaders who plan meet ups throughout the year-such as: coffee dates, meetings or an event to give to an organization, like donating to charity.
Here’s what I’ve learned since I’ve joined:
-I’ve gained a community of fellow bloggers.
-There are yearly conferences in North Carolina and New York City (bonus, it’s during NY Fashion Week!) that allow you to meet members in person and gain an education on blogging and business.
-When you’re a member there are: forums to participate in, a chat room, blog posts and information about meet ups and educational E-Courses.

So, to all my SC Sisters, bloggers and boss babes around the world, I’d just like to say, Cheers to YOU! Keep pushing through all of your hard work and know that you DO make a difference in your follower’s lives ❤ And to Annie, thank you to you and your team for making the group what it is and being able to share women’s stories. I wish you all much success and happiness in the future ❤

Not a member of SC? Annie announced yesterday that membership is open today only for International Women’s Day! Follow them on IG stylecollective_

The Meals I Eat Weekly

If you saw my last post How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget you got to see a list of the foods I restock in my fridge. This week, I thought I would share what I eat for breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. The meals are simple and can be thrown together/cooked quickly. I try to have at least two-three options of each meal so I’m not always eating the same thing every day. I buy medium-large quantities of items so they last a while and will make each meal different; large pack of frozen berries, eggs and almonds. Having go to meals to eat on a regular basis means you won’t have to think too much about what to eat-just remember to stock up on fresh ingredients at the store each week!

Breakfast: Eggs-sunny side up during the week and on the weekends I add cheese, toast and avocado
Cereal-Topped with berries
Yogurt-Mixed with granola and berries (use one or both)
For the cereal and yogurt I include chia/flax seed mix for good digestive health. Also, I bring a piece of fruit to eat at work in the late morning, usually an orange or banana.

Tip: On Sundays I put frozen strawberries and mixed berries into glass containers and thaw in the fridge to put in my meals during the week.

Snacks: Fruit bars
Veggies and hummus
Smoothie-My smoothies can include a combination of any of the following: Almond milk, strawberries, mixed berries, banana, chia/flax seed, peanut butter, cacao powder, avocado and spinach. Sometimes I make these for breakfast when I’m in a rush to leave for work or am going on a long car ride.

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Just one of the many smoothies I enjoy making during the weekend as a snack or for breakfast

 

Lunch: Sandwich-Multi grain or whole wheat bread, chicken (rotisserie or sandwich meat), cheese, olive oil mayo, spinach and salad dressing (if I don’t have a store bought brand I’ll make my own with olive oil, lemon, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper). I also eat a side of Greek Yogurt-I buy several flavors so I’m not eating the same thing all week.
Salad-Spinach, chicken, almonds, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, chia/flax seeds, seasoning and salad dressing. Salads are very versatile so you could switch up the ingredients weekly by using different greens, meats, cheeses, nuts and dressing or use some of the ingredients one day and all of them the next.

Tip: I put the salad in a long tupperware so I can store a fork and small-round salad dressing container in it.

Leftovers-I’ll bring anything to work that will easily fit into one tupperware dish like soup or whole wheat orzo with chicken.

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Leftover Italian soup from Christmas dinner

 

Dinner: My dinner meals are different each week but my normal routine meal is: Meat, grain & vegetable-even in the form of pizza-because this totally counts! haha.

Store bought meals-Sometimes at the end of the week I like to splurge for something in the ready to eat section of the grocery store or get a wrap with chips. If I know I’m going to do this before grocery shopping, I’ll add the cost of the meal to my weekly budget.
Check out: How to Gain Weekly Food Inspiration for more ways to find dinner recipes.

Tip: Once you have the basics down for a few good recipes that you enjoy cooking, it’s easy to alter them with new ingredients to make the meals taste new.

I’d love to know what meals you eat each week! Leave some meals in the comments below.

Motivational Monday: Live the Life You Want

Every single day you make choices. Whether or not to do the dishes after eating, start and finish laundry in the same day, clean your home in one day or just lay around all day. These little things can often seem like a big chore in our head but in reality if we just get it done, we can spend the rest of the night doing what we want without thinking about getting something done later.
Side note: I’m definitely a culprit of agonizing over chores but in reality my home is small and they don’t take long to do-plus putting on music or a podcast helps motivate me to get things done. Another thing that’s helped is to pick a day for when I’m going to do chores.

Whether or not we do the small things today, we listened to ourselves by doing what we wanted to do today and left the rest for tomorrow. So what about the big choices in life? Do you listen to yourself about what you need for today so that you can feel better tomorrow? The point of this is to not burn yourself out by getting every single small thing done today but by finding balance of the small stuff so that you can focus on the big stuff you actually want to get done vs. what you have to get done (like chores).

I believe that we are living the life we want. When we wake up, we either let the small things take over our lives or we do balance the small stuff with the big things; your dreams.

The big things can be taken in small steps and are just as important to do as the small stuff. So don’t get too caught up always doing small things and remember to take care of yourself ❤

What I’ve Learned in One Month of Blogging

MM-Happiness vs. Passion

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I’ve launched my blog. I thought I’d share what I did before I started my blog, what I’ve learned and things I’m still working on. If you didn’t do the things I did before I started my blog, you can start now!

Before I began my blog:
I researched A LOT! I searched everything I could think of about blogging on YouTube; what equipment to use, what is SEO, and a bloggers life to name a few. I would watch videos in the mornings before work. I listened to two Podcasts: The Influencer Podcast and The Becoming Fearless Podcast after work while cooking and doing dishes. I watched Live Instagram videos after work and during lunch and I watched free webinars on the weekends and took notes. I did all of this because I wanted to know how others were so successful at blogging and how I can be too.
I tried the WordPress website for free-I used the WordPress domain before purchasing my domain. This was so I could get used to using the site before I launched it to the world. Having a lot of things in place before launching benefited me, so that I could then work on other things the day of launching-like my Facebook page. I had my picture taken, a Welcome page, a background picture and two posts written and published beforehand.

I began an Instagram account two months prior to launching my blog (I heard this tip from more than one influencer in the blogging world). This helped determine if I enjoyed posting pictures every day AND if I liked the public to see what I was posting (prior to this I’ve never had any public accounts).

Things I’ve learned:
I love going to cafés just to get posts written for my blog (and buy a smoothie). I’ve found that I can zone into my work and work quickly (the pressure of getting work done before the café closes helps to work fast, even if I’m there for three hours, I treat it like a countdown). I also love working from home so I can cast YouTube music videos on my TV while writing my blog posts.
The only person who will promote yourself the most is you, so if you publish a post on your blog, promote it to your social channels so they can view it.

Things I’m still working on:
Creating an editorial calendar and sticking to it. I’ve tried to plan with a physical calendar and with an excel spreadsheet. Neither of these have stuck with me, yet. I feel like I need something to see visually every day that is inspiring. I’ve seen the idea of a white out board, does this work for anyone else?

Along with the editorial calendar comes with making sure every post is ready for the week-this is important if you have a very busy personal life or if some weeks are busier than others-planning is key! Use the calendar to plan a month’s worth of blog posts before this I would just determine in my mind what I would write about and then write and schedule it on the weekends.

Managing social channels-For now I have Facebook and Instagram and I’ve heard influencers say to work mainly in the channels you’re interested in. But one of the main reasons I picked WordPress as my blogging platform is to engage with the community, so I also have to be following, commenting and liking posts. I also just joined Style Collective so I have to keep up with those girls too. While this sounds like a lot, I really do love engaging with others in the blogging community. It’s finding the time to properly engage with everyone that I need to balance-I do most of this on my free weekends. Anyone have any free tips on this?
Diving into new social channels can be a little intimidating but I know that I want to try Pintrest because of all the beautiful inspiration!

 

I’d love to read in the comments what you did before you started your blog, what you learned and are still working on.

How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget

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Grocery shopping is something I have grown to love. It’s something I do each week (possibly more than once a week). I try to focus on buying what I know I’ll want to eat throughout the week and make healthy meals that fit into my budget.
Here are a list of tips I use to stick to my weekly food budget:
• Know exactly how much you can spend each week on food. Try to make a budget that is doable as this will correlate into what you’re spending each month. During the week I sometimes run to the grocery store to grab fresh food instead of cooking I will then subtract the money I spent towards my next grocery run.

• Know your weekly schedule when planning meals. Keep your plans written in a planner to determine nights you’re free vs. busy. On the nights you’re free you’ll have time to cook a meal that will provide left overs for the nights you’re busy. Also, plan when you’re going to eat out so that you don’t have to buy/make any food for dinner that night.

• Know what foods you have in your kitchen. This all comes down to making a list of what you need and what you buy on a regular basis. Before you run out to the grocery store, consult the list of what you normally buy to see if you’re missing anything from your list. When you’re planning a meal you’ll know what ingredients to buy at the store vs. what’s already in your kitchen. Buying 1 or 2 ingredients because you know that’s all you need saves you money over buying what you already have.

 

 

• Shopping around is something I just started doing. Each week I buy from two grocery stores: Wegmans & Trader Joe’s. Each store has different items I buy weekly. Some of the items I buy at Wegmans are water, yogurt, almond milk, eggs, sandwich meat & at Trader Joe’s I buy fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and frozen meat. In order to stay within my budget I compare costs of items I buy regularly at both stores and buy the items that are inexpensive at that store, this is how I save money and how I keep a low food budget.

• Know what you’re in the mood to eat. If you feel like eating fried rice and orange chicken this week then make sure that’s what you buy, otherwise you won’t feel satisfied eating food you didn’t really want because you kept thinking about eating food you don’t have. Also, if you buy frozen food, like a batch of chicken that you’ll need to cook during the week, make sure you’ll want to cook it. A helpful tip is to cook during a night you’re free and you’ve recognized it will take a certain amount of time to cook. While cooking chicken you can also cook a grain and vegetable with it, and do some dishes while everything cooks!

Do you stick to a weekly food budget? What are some tips you have that help you stay on track of your food budget? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook @stylestomakeyousmile

Motivational Monday: Happiness Vs. Passion

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One New Year’s Eve I made “being happy” my New Year’s Resolution. I failed miserably. I thought if I told myself “I’m going to be happy this year” that I would be. The problem was I didn’t do anything to consistently make myself happy that year because I continued to go about life the way I had always known.

Looking back I realize happiness is an important part of life but you have to do things you enjoy to get yourself there. This is where I’ve realized that you can make yourself happy by doing things you are passionate about; whether it’s working out, cooking, a hobby, and the list goes on and on. I’ve found my passion through blogging because I’ve always loved to write and now that I’m actually blogging I’ve found happiness. The reason I turned to blogging is because I was tired of not doing anything other than my daily routine of get ready, go to work, make dinner, watch TV and go to sleep. I felt I needed something more and especially something creative that I wouldn’t tire of quickly.

Now that I’ve found something I’m passionate about I can turn my regular routine into scheduling what I want to do next for my blog. Sure I may not be able to blog every day as life gets busy, but it’s something I can always be thinking about to come up with new content. I can even turn a bad day into a better one by focusing on writing a post for my blog. This is all a mind-set of turning the negative into a positive and once that sets in it creates happiness. I encourage you to take something small you like doing and turn it into a passion.
What is something that makes you happy or something that you are passionate about? Let me know in the comments!

Motivational Monday-Acceptance

I began writing this post last week but didn’t feel like I was at a good place in life to talk about accepting life for where I am now, so I didn’t write it. I then talked to someone who gave me advice about acceptance. She made me realize that my life is going to consistently change (think of an up and down hill that I’ll forever be climbing) and that acceptance is something I am working toward. As my mother says, “It’s always something.” Meaning, if it’s not one thing going on in your life right now, it’s another; your health is fine and then suddenly you get really sick or you just bought your car and you need new breaks on it.
I believe that by accepting life for where you are without comparison to others or judgement from yourself is key to moving forward. When I was in my early 20’s I imagined what my life “should” look like at 31. Eleven years later it doesn’t look like what I thought it should and that is okay. I think it’s important to go through life learning who you are and a part of that is accepting everything you’ve gone through in life. No one has been through the things I have, thinks the way I do or owns my life. Once you’ve thought about these things on a grand scale, it shows that you can’t compare yourself to others and why your life is much different than someone else’s. It also means you can’t compare your life to how you thought it would work out because of life’s changes.

Acceptance means you’re facing reality. Don’t tell yourself sayings like: Get Over It (this saying sounds harsh and is not a nice way to treat yourself). You can accept things by fully living within the present. To stop thinking about the past, breathe and focus on the present moment. Accept your life as a whole, every challenge and success you’ve faced has led you to the present moment. While I know there will always be setbacks in life, acceptance is something that I am working toward.
How do you accept your life for where you are?