Friday, April 18, 2014

Road Trip Weekend + GIVEAWAY

I love a good jam-packed weekend now and then. Chris just got the kids off to school and I am going to spend the next few hours working before I take off to Easter Mom it up at their class parties. Then we're packing up Vivian and heading to Louisville to stay the night with the Miller's.

My best fran Jenn has lost over 100 pounds. ONE HUNDRED. She didn't even know a goal for herself would be to run a half marathon. And now tomorrow is that race, so I plan on sticking with her and pep-talkin'-her-ass to the finish line.

After the race we're back tracking a bit to the Indiana/Illinois side for Easter with my in-laws. Chris's grandma, Mamie, boils 506 dozen eggs every year on the Saturday night before Easter. So we plan on dying eggs, eating pizza, and seeing if we can get her to eat another cherry soaked in Moonshine this year.

Then on Sunday, we eat lunch with the extended family and have an Easter egg hunt in the yard. This year is a bit different. So there have been years where we went to church on Easter Sunday, followed by brunch at a hotel. But the kids are/were so little that they just cried in Sunday School class of a place they've never been. So the last year or two, we have stayed at Mamie's house and I have helped cook lunch. I feel like we should always cook at home on holidays. I've kind of gotten over that here recently because things like THIS WILL HAPPEN.

So I told Chris that if we are eating out on Easter, then we have to go to church. Otherwise I have failed as a mother... and a Presbyterian. So I am just announcing my failure now.

In the meantime, while I am getting some work done, packing, dropping off the dog, and verbally abusing Chris for not bringing me McDonald's breakfast, please check out this great giveaway!

Cari from The Super K's recently became a Plexus Slim consultant after losing 10 pounds and 15 inches with the products. She now wants you to try out the product for yourself! Plexus Slim is not a meal replacement or a shake. It's a product that you mix with water, like Crystal Light, before or after breakfast. It helps curb your appetite. If you take it with the Accelerator, you can jump start your weight loss even further.

Cari has had amazing results with this product and has even earned a steady income from selling it. If you are interested in using or becoming a consultant, please head over to her blog HERE. Today, she is giving away a 7 day trial pack of Plexus Slim & Accelerator. All you have to do is enter in the Rafflecoptor below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you doing for Easter? 
Do you cook or go out to eat?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Checkin' In

I flew to Houston on Sunday morning for a work project and to see my younger sister. She closed on a new home the Friday before, so in true Holly fashion, I had to go micromanage which cabinets she was choosing for her plastics, plates, and glasses.

We also managed to eat four times in about 7 hours, because it's what we do best. It's my nieces birthday and she just got into Toy Story, so I bought her a Buzz Lightyear that she will eventually drop on my sister's hardwood floor 6705 times.

By the time I got to Houston, I was ready to relax. The night before I left, Chris went into one of his "I am going to die" episodes. AKA = he had a sinus infection. After going to Urgent Care earlier in the day on Saturday morning, they were only allowed to prescribe him an anti-biotic. I think I told him twenty times that I don't know how we are going to coexist when we are older because I have no bed-side manner. Maybe it's because I birthed an almost ten pound baby without drugs, so my rationale is that nothing is that bad.

So around 6pm on Saturday night, when he started dry heaving and slurring his words, I took him to the ER. And in true ER fashion, we didn't get seen until 11pm.  At that point I thought I was going to die because I was sitting there on a Saturday night with a dead phone. Chris has Kimmy's and Jenn's numbers in his phone was I was able to text them the ER updates.

There was a drunk woman with hemorrhoids, who was being chaperoned by her boyfriend with a broken flip flop.

There was a woman who looked like a brunette Mama June who was wearing a purple tie-dyed shirt with a horse running through the American flag on the front.

And then there was some guy, who was there because he woke up, fell to the side, and a water bottle WENT THROUGH HIS EAR. That was his story. And his 70 year old mom was sitting there with him.

Needless to say, Chris got some pain killers and his saint of a mother drove down two hours to play nurse, maid, and nanny while I was gone.

So back to Houston... fun, amazing, and record low temps, of course. I bought this book in my terminal right before take off. I'd give it a B+. I liked the author's writing style, I love a good ugly Oprah cry, but some parts just seemed a little annoying. The main character kind of reminds me of Juno with her sarcastic undertones through every conversation.

I ordered room service for breakfast both days, laid in bed eating and watched the Today Show. Which by the way, has changed so much! I am probably the only person in America who is not a fan of Savannah Guthrie. I wish the whole show was Tamron Hall and Carson Daly.

I got back Tuesday night and realized that we haven't seen the Easter Bunny yet. So last night after work, we headed over to the mall. It went better than expected. Olive hit and kicked the bunny before deciding that she would just sit next to Haven. Chris only obliges to go because his favorite thing in the world is eating dinner in the food court of a mall.

And now we are almost towards the end of the week. I still need to get the kids each a toy for their baskets. We usually just do a couple eggs of candy and a good toy, instead of a bunch of junk, because I am a sociopath when it comes to trinkets.

What do you put in your kids Easter baskets?

And while you are jumping around today, check out these blondies!

Cass from Life on Cass Lane is one of my new faves. If I was a cute, SAHM, we'd basically be the same person. She is wity, has great DIY projects, and loves to throw one hell of a party. She is a SAHM to a little boy named Brody and has a great variety of posts. Cass is pretty new to blogging, so please hop on over say hello HERE and be sure to add her to your bloglovin' feed by clicking HERE

And then there is Miss Lindsay from Bourbon, Lipstick, and Stilettos. She is probably one of the most well rounded bloggers. Girlfriend is a tomboy, sports fanatic, girly-girl, and shopper all in one. I love her fashion post, which are pin-worthy, and I wish I had her good taste. She also does a ton of makeup reviews too. Head over and check out her blog HERE and add her to your instagram (@allatimer).

How's your week wrapping up? 
Got your Easter shopping done?

PS- My girl Alicia has an awesome giveaway going on HERE.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Real Lifers

I was emailing with a girlfriend yesterday. She was telling me about how someone from her ex’s family had found her blog. Even though she doesn't post any dirty laundry, it was making her feel anxious that she had these extra set of eyes coming to her blog.

When I talk to other people that blog, I always ask them how they feel about “real life” people finding their page. And without an exception, everyone hates it to some degree.

On your blog you can be really anything you want, right? Your nicer self, your snarky self,  or where everything is raining Starbursts and Miller Lt.  You can also be pretty vulnerable, sharing before and after photos, progress updates, or maybe what bothers you.

Then these Real Lifers come in, most are interested and happy for you, but a few others who you know are judging your totes fake ass because your house ain’t that clean and your husband has no friends.

This happened to me once. I remember my first beer.

About a year after I started blogging, a washed up roommate from college, who wasn't even in college, found my blog.  At the time, I just had Haven, we were living in our first house, and I had started this blog to find other moms and to have something away from my daily wife/mom/work duties.

Back then, I would post recipes and life with Baby Glave. This was like a 180 from the person I was in college just a year and half prior. You could only imagine the horror on her face when this Real Lifer discovered that Drunk Slutty Holly had turned into a BLOG MOM. AND OH MY GOD SHE IS REALLY TRYING TO COOK! LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!

I don’t remember exactly what happened—if she posted my blog link as a facebook status or if she posted it on someone’s wall. There was a smart ass comment about what I had made for dinner because Drunk Slutty Holly couldn't cook if it was the only way to get to Heaven.

A mutual friend messaged me, back in the days before we discovered screen shots. I FELT SICK. In a panic of feeling like an idiot, I went and took down my blog. Then I started a new one, imported some old posts and moved on. {hence the Where We Can Live Like Jack & Sally not really fitting in with}  ß I was an emotional mess.  Then when they tried to come back to my page, it didn’t exist. And I was able to continue living in LA LA LAND.

A few months ago, the REAL LIFER from my college days DM’d me on my blogs facebook page. One of her friends had LIKED my page and it showed up in her newsfeed. All of a sudden when I had more than 12 followers, she was ohmygawd so happy for me! Yep.

Have you dealt with someone from another life (brother!) finding your blog? Good or bad?


If you are looking for unique and personal gift, then you need to check out my friend Lindsay's etsy shop, Love, Bug & Peanut. With Mother's Day around the corner, these high quality prints would be the perfect gift to give grandma.  If you are a mom, then you should definitely hint hint wink wink nudge nudge your husband to get this for you as well!  After I found Lindsay on InstagramI ended up ordering one for Olive's room.  It is my favorite piece! It was really easy for Lindsay to make the print too. All I did was snap a cellphone picture of Olive, from the side, while she was looking at Chris. Then I emailed it to Lindsay and she made the perfect silhouette.

Each print is made on a piece of heavy card stock. . And they are only $25 bucks. Please head over to Lindsey's shop and order one HERE. While you're there, check out her other custom print designs too.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Room

I kind of have a secret to share.

In the past, even recently, I have touted on the fact that I am a cleaning sociopath. I enjoy cleaning so much that I even had to make it one of my NY's resolution- to clean less. On top of liking things clean and orderly {if you have time to lean, then you have time to clean}, I also despise clutter. Maybe it's from my mother nailing things to every wall as a child or moving four times in six years, but I have learned that I am happier with less-- less things hanging on the wall, in our drawers, and around the house.

But I have turned into a big fat liar.

Welcome to the unfinished part of our basement, where everything goes to die.

When we first moved in at the end of summer, I had this room neat n' tidy. Then Christmas happened. And for anyone who doesn't know the secret holiday-hoarder in me that is being suppressed, the struggle is real. I have nine tubs of Christmas decor. Then the after Christmas markdowns = bags of garbage that I am saving for next year. 

In addition to Christmas trinkets, I have a catering collection of party supplies. Dozens of drinking glasses, wine glasses, champagne glasses, old Starbuck's glasses, serving plates, crockpots {which spell-check always wants to turn to CRACKPOT}, cake stands, appetizer plates, vases, and my application to be on A&E. I am also a gift wrapping snob, which is a borderline disorder and struggle I am working on. We are all a work in progress, right?

My name is Holly and I am a holiday party supply hoarder.

In the meantime, we have been doing updates around the house. We've been replacing old ceiling fans, light fixtures, window treatments, and painting. And of course, everything has been thrown into the room of death, waiting for spring when we would actually go through and THROW AWAY EVERYTHING. 

That night was Tuesday night.

We found a 12 gallon tub of Mr. Potato Heads and left the kids alone. Then spent about 45 minutes throwing stuff into garbage bags. It was therapeutic, eye opening, and pathetic. We had seven bags that went to the garbage, three boxes that went to Goodwill, and then I arranged everything on my party shelves BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM AND NOTHING NEEDS THROWN AWAY.

Do you have a room like this in your house? 
What do you secretly hoard?

We also have a "junk drawer" in the kitchen that is filled from everything from birth certificates to Angry Bird toys. I clean the mother out at least twice a month and less than a week later, you can barely open and close it. It's on my list of to-do's this weekend.


Also, there are a few things going on today and this weekend.

My friend Alicia from Brew Mama is hosting a BLOG SWAP. Today is the last day to sign up. Basically, if you sign up, then Alicia and Candra will pair you with someone randomly. You will both shop for each other, send gifts, then write a blog post about what you received. I have done a few before and they are a lot of fun. If you are interested in joining, read Alicia's post HERE. Also, stay over there and read because Alicia is awesome. I have been following her for over a year and not only is she able to keep up with her five kids while going back to school, she has also got into great shape. Go check out her blog HERE and be sure to follow her on instagram @brewmama5

Ash from Ash's Right Direction has some fun happening on her page too. Next Monday, Ash is hosting her own Diet Bet. I know there have a been a lot of them floating around recently, but they are a lot of fun. All you do is register with this website, they send you a "word" for verification. You take a picture of yourself on the scale and submit to the site. NO ONE SEES YOUR PICTURE EXCEPT THE WEBSITE. Then, as long as you lose 4% of your body weight, you get your money back plus the pot from the people who didn't win. You can register HERE. And while you are jumping around, check out Ash's page HERE, she is in the middle of training for her first half marathon! She is a great example of a healthy lifestyle! Be sure to follow her on instagram @ashz131.

Ok, now everyone share what they are stockpiling in their house... 

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Grow Your Readership and Keep 'Em Coming Back

I mentioned last week that I would be presenting at a Bloggy Bootcamp here in St. Louis. After going out for Mexican and two grande margaritas on Friday night, I woke up Saturday with a pit of regret. I didn't know which end of my body wanted to kick out the spinach enchiladas and well tequila, but dammit, the shit was being evicted. {all pun necessary}

Chris and I practiced my presentation in the bathroom before Jenn, Royal, and I left for the conference. I could tell he started to pity my face and that's when I started debating whether I should fake my death or his. 

My presentation was up right after lunch, so Jenn and I went into the room alone, while I cried and she held me in her arms. Just kidding. It was more like me pleading with her, offering her $100 to stand up there and act like me. In her deep woods, Arkansas accent, she was all like "Nawt-a-chanceee."

In the end, it went over well. I indeed went off on 17 tangents because I "had an audience" and if someone laughs at something I say, I CAN'T STOP. My name is Holly and I am an attention whore. Anyway, I wanted to share with everyone what I put together for my presentation at the conference. If you loved me with all of your heart, you will pin the shit out of this when you are done reading.

My presentation was about finding you writer's voice, engaging your readers, and then hopefully growing your blog. I started off the presentation by listing a few things that can help someone with their blog, even if they don't feel like they are a great writer.

  • escaping the "niche": VARIETY, VARIETY, VARIETY. While I know that my blog is weight loss driven, I try to have posts about other things in my life besides wanting to lose 15 pounds in one week. I mentioned that Pioneer Woman does this very well. I talked about how I cannot even boil an egg but how I still go to her site to read about her ranch, kids, and remodeling posts.

  • fresh and simple design: I think you could write in some indigenous tribe language, but if you had a good looking blog, I would probably try to figure out why I can't understand what you are writing. So many people design blogs now. Find a few that are your style and look at the bottom of their page to see who designed them. I think Hubby Jack is the best, but I am not biased at all.

  • edited photos! : I made all of these graphics with PicMonkey and Paint just to show that you don't have to have fancy or expensive software to make good graphics. PicMonkey is free and so easy to use. You can adjust the color of the picture, add text, and build photo collages.

  • say HELLO: If someone leaves a comment on your blog, follow up via email. I respond back to anyone who has their comments linked to your email and that is how I have built some of my best relationships through blogging. If you like reading someone's page but don't say hi, come outta creeper status and say hello. One thing that also helped me branch out was going to my favorite blogs, reading their comments, and then clicking on those people. I knew we liked the same kind of blogs. This will keep people coming back to your page more and more.

I have used too much hair dye in my life to make up this acronym on my own, but I wanted to incorporate it into the presentation. I have noticed that some people feel like they have to post everyday. And if they don't have a post, then they have a guest post just to have something on their page. While posting consistently is good, people come to your page to read you. And it's important that if you don't feel like you have something to say, that you don't feel pressured to type up something just for the sake of typing something. I only post a few days a week, because for me, it's a struggle if I am going to take the time to write up a story in the morning or wash my hair. Sometimes I don't like going to work looking like a skank, so I will save the post idea for later. Don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself. This is supposed to be fun and all about you. 

When I think about how to engage readers and grow a blog, these are the three things that can really help.

  • content: If you are a new blogger, try to get a few posts that really tell your story on your page before branching out. What kind of blog do you want to have? What do you want to say? I have noticed that my readership grew when I started typing like how I speak. I mentioned in the conference that there is a fine line in being yourself and airing your dirty laundry. You can be your authentic self without hurting anyone's feelings. I could probably quit my job and wipe my ass with money if I talked about some crazies I know. But calling anyone out would be tacky. So just take my word for it and have a drink for me.

  • promotion --> BRANCH OUT: After you get a few posts up on your blog and you've been leaving comments and following up with people who have visited your page, then you might considering sponsoring a blog.  This just means that a blog with a decent amount of traffic will add a button to their side bar that takes people to your page. My only advice when looking at what kind of blog to sponsor is: don't sponsor someone who has the same exact readers as you, don't spend a lot of money, and make sure that they give you a spotlight in a post. I offer sponsorship on my page and you can read more about that HERE.  

  • promotion --> SOCIAL MEDIA: One of my biggest pet peeves is when I look at instagram, then I look at twitter, and then I jump over to facebook and I see the EXACT SAME PICTURE/SAME CAPTION/ SAME LINK TO A BLOG POST. Stagger that 'ish. Each of those outlets are so different. I noticed that I could get more people to come to my page if I re-worded what I was trying to say on each of those sites and posted the links at various times of the day. Like DJ Lance says, "Try it, you''ll like it!"

I built this graphic just to show how to organize a post. I know there have been times when I wanted to write something but didn't know how to organize what I wanted to say. This also helps getting readers from search engines. For someone that is posting about a popular topic, fad, recipe, etc., this is a great way to organize a post so that people will find your blog. It's called SEO-- search engine optimization. Be very specific in your title, bold the key words, and name the pictures in the post by the keywords too. This is why my Dr. Oz 10 Day Rapid Weight Loss Plan is my number one post. And also why when someone googles "villager teeth," that my teeth molds are the first image on google. Make your family proud and use SEO to your advantage. 

The "Show Me" means to add a picture to your post. It breaks up your words and will probably get someone to the bottom of your page to leave a comment. I always try to end a post with a question or takeaway. This is a great way to engage in the comments via email and build relationships.

After this slide, I wrapped up the presentation by saying 11 more inappropriate things. I wish you would have been there. Thank god Suze sat in the middle of the room so I could just awkwardly stare at her the whole time. 

Anyway, I hope this helps in some kind of way-- and shoot me an email if you have any questions. I like to act like I am a KNOW-IT-ALL.

What are your blogging questions?
 Are you trying to grow your blog? 
What has worked for you?


Also, on a side note, Alicia and Candra are hosting a blogger gift swap. Go check out their pages HERE or HERE to join in on the fun. You get matched up with another blogger and swap goodies via snail mail.

And I selected a winner for the Edith Marie Jewelry (see rafflecopter below). If you are not the winner, you can get 15% off your order by using the code: holly15. The code is good all this week! Go treat yourself to the cutest and most affordable jewelry I have ever seen on the internet HERE

Friday, April 4, 2014

Blog Friend Weekend!

This week has crawled by. Thank Mary and Joseph it's Friday because I can barely even speak in a pleasant tone. I decided to do my coworkers a favor and take a mental health day... otherwise known as clean-my-house-like-a-sociopath-before-people-come-over.

I am getting ready to flip this week around because I am picking up Royal from Royal Proclaims at the airport this afternoon and I am taking her sightseeing around the Lou. After the Miller's arrive, us girls are meeting Mel, Laura, Tori, Mary Beth, and Suze for mexicano. Quiero nachos!

Jenn is in town because her, Royal, Suze, and I are going to a blog conference this weekend. I am doing a presentation on content and engaging readers. When I have to speak in front of people, I slowly sway back and forth, until my weak cervical wall from birthing two 9 pound children feels like it's going to plop on the ground.

With all of the being said, it's Friday, bitches. And if we can't have a getaway, then let's have a giveaway!

My friend Amber started her own jewelry website called Edith Marie Jewelry. Now, before you go running off, you have to listen to me. THIS STUFF IS CHEAP. Cheaper than your mom. I kid you not, it's the most affordable jewelry I have even seen on a website ever. And it's very, very stylish. I don't know how she is even making money.  Please go check out her site for yourself HERE. Let me know how many pairs of earrings $20 gets you.

And since Amber is awesome, she is letting one of you pick out one piece of jewelry of YOUR CHOICE! There are three ways to enter: follow them on facebook, following them on instagram, and/or leave a comment letting Amber know your favorite piece of jewelry from her site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Friday! Be sure to follow me on instagram (@hollystanfield)  to see all of the weekend debauchery. A very special guest is coming to St. Louis Saturday night..... :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blogging About Blogging

Last week, I asked for some help on prepping for my blog conference presentation. My presentation is about engaging your readers and finding your writer's voice (I will be sharing the images next week). I also asked if anyone had other blogging questions that I could answer.

A few people didn't have questions, but instead left comments about the kind of blogs they like to read.

This one was obviously my favorite. I don't think anyone has ever left that nice of a comment before. My month was made.

One thing I do want to mention is that I respond to the comments left through email. If you have left a comment but never received an email, it's probably because your comments are not linked to your email. You can fix it by following the instructions HERE.

I wrote up some blogging basics before HERE and HERE but it can be very intimidating, especially to a new blogger.

Nina & Devon asked: Tell me your magic! People stalk my blog and social media but don't engage. HELP!

I always try to end the blog post with a question. After talking about myself for a whole post, it's nice {and sometimes funny} to read the responses below. I then always follow up via email to any comments left. Keep in contact with people who read your blog-- follow them back, leave them comments, etc.

Cassidy and  Heather asked: How do you decide how much to share about your kids? How do you decide what to share and not share?

This might sound really selfish, but I look at this as my page. I started the blog to have something to do away from the kids, where I had time alone. I was a new, first time mom and didn't have many friends around me who were in the same canoe. So it was my thing for myself, and of course the kids come up, but I don't want them to ever be the main focus. They will already have enough therapy as adults. Other than that, I am an over-sharer in general, but I try not to share anything that would embarrass/hurt anyone I know. There is a fine line in being yourself and airing your dirty laundry-- I try to do the Singles Ladies dance in the middle.

Jennifer, Jennifer, and Julie asked: What are the steps to begin sponsoring? Also, how do you come up with blog ideas?

Sponsoring is so sticky, but I talk about it in the reference post at the top. When I started blogging, no one had sponsors-- only big time people. Now when Chris does blog designs for brand new bloggers, they want a sponsor icon added to their page. Things are just different now. I have only sponsored a few pages here and there when I was trying to grow my blog. The best results came from people who had a large following and did a great job at promoting their page. Also, be sure that they post consistently and that they mention your blog in one form or another.

As far as hosting sponsors on my page, I started that when I was getting consistent page views. When I hit 1,500 views a day, on average, I began hosting other blogs on my sidebar for $10/mo. As readership has grown, that price has went up, but I try to give everyone the most for their money.

And blog post ideas-- I try to write about what I would tell a group of friends. Even if you feel like you haven't done anything "blog worthy," there is always a story. When I am having a blogger-block, I will google fun post ideas. I'll put together a post all about this next week, with some ideas everyone can use.

Nikki asked: How do you find new readers?

I've mentioned this before, but I blogged for three years and didn't have more than 30 followers. It wasn't until I branched out of my shell, started leaving people comments, sending them follow up emails, and really engaging, is when my blog grew. Obviously, Brandi's guest post was good for me. Linkups are also a huge help in meeting other bloggers.

ALG asked: Are there any hard and fast "blogging rules"?

Oh my god, do you want me to haze all of you? :) No rules. But the snob in me thinks that you should always reply back to comments and check out the blogs that read your page.

Steph and Royal asked: How do you balance blogging in between life and work?

It's really hard for me. I cannot blog at work or even login to any social media. All of my blogging is done before my family wakes up and we work on Chris's designs when the kids go to bed. Lately I have learned that sometimes I can be a nicer mom and wife if I just skip the post and sleep in. So you might have noticed that lately-- I am turning into an old hag.

Tisha asked: What suggestions do you have for newbies?

Oh you wittle newbies! Ok, read the Blogging 101 and Blogging 102 posts at the top of the page. It will help you turn off those caption boxes, link your comments to your email, and make a fancy button for your page. Also, your annual dues of $500 are due to ma-wah.

What are some of your blogging questions? 
Leave them in the comments below. 

I will go through tonight and answer the questions inside the comments, so be sure to check back later.

Also, do y'all remember from friend Tia? She just rebranded her blog and is now posting over at Hands On. Pants Off. I love that Tia is Tia. She is funny, well rounded, and a great blog read. This month, since she is promoting her new page, she is hosting a series of giveaways. The one today is great because it is giving 25% of her etsy shop sales to the Animal House Shelter. Tia started her own etsy shop and is creating graphic artwork of pets. These would be great gifts for your animal-loving friends or one for your own home. This week she is giving away a free print! Please head over and check out her new digs HERE and be sure to browse her etsy shop, Crash & Burn Graphics, HERE.