how to

how to use an editorial calendar for your blog.

do you remember when i rebranded this blog? do you remember how little i posted prior to the rebranding, and how much more regularly i post now (i mean, with the exception of december…holidays, am i right.)?

that’s because when i rebranded, i also implemented a little thing called an editorial calendar. and it completely changed how i planned and published my posts. the silly thing is that it’s so easy, i’m not sure why i didn’t start using one earlier. i always had “versions” of an editorial calendar, but i never used an actual calendar method, and that’s what made the big difference for me.

in this post i’ll explain the benefits of an editorial calendar, how to make an editorial calendar for yourself, and how to use it to make your blogging easier. i’ll be showing you my calendar to give you a visual, but you can feel free to use your own method and make it work for you. if you’re a blogger looking for a new way to get organized, or you’re new to blogging and getting everything set up, read on!

pin this post for tip on how to make and use an editorial calendar for your blog. great for new bloggers! | everythingwithloveblog.com

benefits of using an editorial calendar

without an editorial calendar, you might have a method where you use lists or reminders to plan your blog posts. and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s not as efficient as it could be. one of the benefits of an editorial calendar is that it lets you easily see when you need to have posts written, as well as the status of those posts (whether they’re written, scheduled, or published). another benefit is that if you ever have a large chunk of time to blog, you can use the time you would have spent thinking of post ideas to write your posts, because you’ve already planned out your posts on your editorial calendar.

an editorial calendar also lets you be flexible when you need to be. if you didn’t write a post in time, or weren’t able to take the necessary photos over the weekend, you can look at your planned posts and decide where that post can be moved to later in the calendar, and if there is anything ready that can easily be put in its place. this has been a lifesaver for me…sometimes my life does not follow the schedule that i want it to, so the ability to be flexible with my blog posts has allowed me to post more regularly than i ever have in the past.

one of the most important benefits of an editorial calendar is that it gives you accountability with your posting as well. you can easily see what posts you’ve told yourself you wanted to write, which makes it harder to say that you don’t have ideas, or that you lost track of time. accountability can be a huge factor in your success in posting.

  • allows you to plan and easily see posts as far out as you need to.
  • allows you to easily see the status of your blog posts.
  • saves you time when writing your posts, because your future ideas are already planned out.
  • gives you flexibility in your posting when you need it.
  • provides accountability or your posting.

how to make an editorial calendar

now for (what i think is) the fun part! making your editorial calendar. if you’re a straight-forward person who doesn’t like a lot of fluff, your calendar will probably look a lot like mine. if you are more on the artistic side, your editorial calendar might look prettier. if you’re into bullet journaling, you can include a spot in your journal for your calendar. or you might want to keep an electronic calendar! there are so many ways to make this tool work for you and your blog.

the main thing you need to make an editorial calendar is….a calendar! whether it’s on paper or electronic, you need a calendar template that allows you to easily record and track your post ideas. once you have your calendar, the next step is identifying when you will need to have posts. my posting schedule is mondays, wednesdays, and saturdays, so when i print off my calendar, the first thing i do is highlight all of those days. that way i can easily see when i need to post and what days need ideas.

editorial-calendar-for-blogging

editorial-calendar-for-blogging

my next step is to fill in any regularly occurring posts that i know i’ll have. most of my recurring posts happen on saturdays right now (monthly goals, coffee dates, #lifelivedthoughtfully, etc.) so i write those in right away. this lets me see if i have any gaps for saturday posts and i can start brainstorming what to write for those. once the recurring posts are recorded, i start to fill in the mondays and wednesdays. because i can clearly see which posts i’m planning to write, it’s easy to spread out my recipe posts and my parenting posts so i don’t accidentally have two recipe posts next to each other. i can also leave a few days open to give myself some flexibility like i mentioned above.

editorial-calendar-for-blogging

the last step in making my editorial calendar for my blog is to make three boxes next to each post – one marked “w” for “written”, one marked “s” for “scheduled”, and one marked “p” for “published”. this is my favorite part of my calendar because it lets me keep track of where each of my posts is at in the posting process. i get so excited when i can see how many posts i have written and scheduled, because i know i’m creating good, regular content for my blog, in a way that doesn’t stress me out. your method for this may be different. maybe you only care about scheduled posts or published posts. maybe you want to add a checkbox for “photos taken”. make this step work for whatever your needs might be.

  • get a calendar!
  • identify what days you need to write posts.
  • record any recurring posts.
  • brainstorm additional posts for remaining days, leaving some open spots for flexibility if you need it.
  • create checkboxes for your tracking and accountability needs.

editorial-calendar-for-blogging

how to use an editorial calendar for blogging

now it’s time to go and write! once you’ve spent the time making your editorial calendar, you can spend your time writing instead of brainstorming. which is why you blog in the first place, am i right? once my calendar is done, i try to grab a long chunk of time, either at home or at a coffee shop, to write or at least set up some future blog posts. i don’t like to write full posts too far ahead of time, because i feel like it makes my writing feel stiff, but if i can at least get outlines written, it helps me write a lot faster once i’m ready.

if i know i have recipe posts i want to do, i use my calendar to help me plan when i’m going to make and photograph the recipes so i can ensure i have them done when i need them. this way, i can even plan my recipe posts into our weekly meals so i kill two birds with one stone! and if i find that i don’t have time to write one before it’s due, or i like the idea of posting one early, i can just record any adjustments on the calendar. for example, this month i didn’t post on january 2nd, because i was sick with a terrible cold. i moved the post i was going to have for that day, along with the one a week after and just shifted them both a week later. and while i planned on having this post go up two days ago, i decided i wanted to swap it with my last post, so i recorded that change on the calendar.

editorial-calendar-for-blogging

editorial-calendar-for-blogging8

and that’s how it’s done!

  • schedule time to write your posts.
  • spend less time brainstorming.
  • write your blog posts like crazy!

if you blog, do you use an editorial calendar? what’s worked well for you? if you’re new to blogging, or thinking about starting, let me know if this was helpful!

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our favorite baby food tips.

favorite baby food tips

as we inch closer to the day we will officially have a one year old in the house, i’ve been thinking a lot about the different milestones this year has brought. as any new parent knows (and any expecting parent will soon find out), food takes up a large portion of your brain in the first year. when they eat, how much they eat, what they eat, it goes on and on.

one of my favorite parts of amelia getting older was when she started to eat solid food. we didn’t rush into it too fast, and we chose to start with purees, because our girl loves to eat, and we wanted her to have some practice chewing and swallowing before she took bites of whole foods. that being said, each baby is different and will move into solids at their own pace. some of my favorite memories with her are feeding her and eating meals with her at the table this year.

favorite baby food tips

here are some of my favorite tips for all things baby food

1) wait until your baby is ready.

we waited until we saw a few signs that amelia was ready for purees. one was that she was constantly hungry after nursing, and no matter how much i let her nurse, a milk-only diet was not cutting it anymore for her. another was that she was SO interested in what her dad and i were eating. the third was that she was sitting up well and had teeth, so physically she was ready to eat as well. this happened for amelia at about six months old. if your baby isn’t ready until later, that works fine too!

2) make your own baby food.

making our own baby food was one of those things that made people think we were way more intense than we really are, but in actuality was really easy and really cheap. i would shop for produce, either fresh or frozen (frozen organic food is the best invention ever), once a week with our regular groceries, and then on a sunday or monday would spend 1-2 hours cutting, steaming and pureeing it. i would freeze the purees in baby food containers or ice cube trays, and then the next day when they were frozen, i would pop out the cubes and transfer them to labeled freezer bags for easy access. this way, i could grab one or a few different cubes of food, defrost them in the microwave and have a meal ready for her in just a couple minutes.

the hardest part at first was figuring out what foods to make, so here’s a tip from me to you: go to the baby food aisle and make a list of the varieties of purees. you’ll notice that there aren’t actually that many, and so when you branch off from those, you’ll feel pretty special. also, we used happy baby organic pouches for when we would eat out or travel, and we will still use them if we are going to be on the road during a mealtime.

favorite baby food tips

3) start small.

the one drawback of introducing foods is that you are then tied to your house for mealtimes. so start small, with one meal at a time. we started with dinner (in the hopes it would help nighttime sleep…it didn’t), then added breakfast, and waited as long as we could before introducing lunch. now that she eats more quickly it’s not as much of a hassle to be home or out for mealtimes, but starting small and introducing meals slowly will really help ease you into the new schedule.

4) don’t be afraid of finger food.

when you’re ready to move past purees, the same rules for starting food apply; follow your baby’s cues, and your gut. we started very small, with just cheerios for a while, and then moved to things like soft cheese cubes, quinoa, and soft steamed veggies. once amelia had the chewing solid food thing down, we pretty much gave her whatever we were having in a deconstructed form; tacos, spaghetti, lentil soup, you name it, she’s tried it. this is easier to do if you tend to cook a lot in your house and don’t eat a lot of processed foods, but it can also be a good reason to start cooking and eating whole foods more…your baby needs it anyway so you might as well make one thing for the whole family instead of separate meals!

favorite baby food tips

5) embrace the mess.

this is just a good metaphor for having a child in general, but especially when it comes to eating.  just remember, you can clean anything off the ground, and babies are cuter when they have a messy face. don’t fuss over flung cheerios or smashed berries under butts – embrace the mess.

favorite baby food tips

favorite food ideas

favorite purees:

  • apple with cinnamon. great to mix with almost anything else, especially with squash and with the morning oatmeal.
  • pears. see above for reasons.
  • spinach. maybe this is just our child, but she loves dark green veggies. don’t know how or why, but i’ll take it.
  • broccoli. again, with the green veggies. but this puree is great to mix with other veggies as well.
  • carrots. this was our first puree, and amelia still loves carrots. they are just sweet enough.

favorite finger foods:

  • cheerios. this is the best invention in the history of food when it comes to babies. there is even a hole in it so choking is not as scary!
  • toast. dry toast feels great on sore, teething gums, plus it has a lot of iron in it.
  • peas. amelia loves them. they’re the perfect size, and they’re healthy.
  • blueberries. these are just the right amount of mushy, and the frozen ones are easy to keep on hand (same goes for frozen peas).
  • cheese. amelia is her mother’s daughter and loves her some cheese. but i mean, who doesn’t?
  • happy baby organic snacks. our favorites are the yogurt and coconut milk creamies and the rice cakes. we can pass on the puffs, cheerios are better in our opinion.

if anyone has suggestions for their favorite baby food ideas, leave them below in the comments. have questions? leave them there too, or email me at hooleywithaz [at] gmail [dot] com. happy eating!

favorite baby food tips

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baby stuff: cloth diapering (part two).

as promised, part two of the cloth diaper post is here! cue the confetti! i mean not really, it’s a post about diapers, so, you know, but maybe some of you are excited? question mark?

in part one of my cloth diapering post, i talked about the reasons we decided to cloth diaper, and why it was an important decision for us. in part two, i’m going to share what diapering “system” we use and how to wash cloth diapers (at least how we do it). i hope it’s helpful for anyone who finds it!

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OUR DIAPERS

one of the hardest parts of doing cloth diapers is choosing what type of diaper to use. it feels like there are about a million different diapering systems out there nowadays, and for every one, you will find a million people who swear their way is the best. my thought process went something like this: what’s the cheapest method? what method has the highest chance of working with any shape baby? what method will last through multiple babies?

that’s how we came to our cloth diapering method: cotton prefolds + fasteners + pul diaper covers.

cotton prefolds are those old-fashioned looking cloth diapers that you actually fold and fasten with diaper fasteners. then, because the cotton prefolds are not water resistant, you need a pul diaper cover to go over it to keep the wet from getting all over everything. once you learn how to fold your favorite way, and perfect your fastening, it’s about as fast as a disposable diaper to change.

we have 24 prefolds for each size that we have used and about six diaper covers in each of two sizes. we are currently on size medium prefolds, with size one covers. we’ve found that 24 diapers are enough for us to go two days between washings, and we have a child who cannot abide being wet any longer than she has to, so for most people 18 would probably be enough. Six covers are plenty to last between baby laundry days, even during weeks with lots of blowouts (sidebar: i’ve only had two blowouts in cloth diapers that have left the vicinity of the diaper…another benefit to cloth. we have had many outfit-ruining blowouts when she’s been wearing disposables).

we ordered our diapers and fasteners from green mountain diapers, which is seriously the best site ever for all things cloth diapering. things you never thought you’d need to know, am i right? our covers are thirsties brand which we got on target.com.

amelia cloth diaper

OUR METHOD

can i just say thank the good lord for my mother? without her, i don’t think we would have gone through with this cloth diapering thing once the baby was actually here and the reality of taking care of her set in. the logistics just seemed to be insurmountable. where do we put the diapers when we’re done? where do the wipes go? HOW DO I WASH THEM? the list of panicky questions was long, so she showed us the way. and lo and behold, it wasn’t that scary after all.

1) where do the diapers go? when we change a diaper, the dirty wipes go into a small, lined garbage can we keep next to the changing table. the diapers that are wet only go straight into our diaper pail next to the changing table, no other step necessary. if the diaper is just a little bit dirty, that also goes straight into the diaper pail. if the diaper is very dirty, the extra step of rinsing is not required for a baby who is still exclusively breastfed but is highly recommended if you want to avoid staining. if a baby is on formula or solid foods, rinsing becomes more necessary.

2) rinsing out the diapers. we set the very dirty diapers on top of the diaper pail clean side down so we can grab it and bring it to the bathroom after we are done changing amelia. (if you have a big enough bathroom to have a changing station in there, then good for you, one less step!) we put the dirty diaper in the toilet to soak for a bit, and then when we next have a chance to put down the baby, we go back to rinse it off. we invested in a diaper sprayer, and could not be happier we did. you can survive without it, but you’ll stick your hand in a lot more poop, and really, as parents we touch enough of that, so why make it worse? once the diaper is sprayed/rinsed off, we wring it out and bring it to the diaper pail.

3) washing the diapers. for whatever reason, this was the part that confused me the most, but ended up not being hard at all. you’ll find your rhythm, but a safe bet for when to wash the diapers is when you are down to about 6 clean diapers. we have a cloth diaper pail liner, so we just take the whole bag out of the pail and bring it down to the laundry room. we fill a bucket (we have a 5-gallon bucket that we use just for diaper soaking) with hot water, a tiny bit of dreft detergent and a splash of bleach, then we dump the diapers in the bucket to soak. we normally let them soak anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. once they’re done, we put on gloves (to protect from the bleach; again, touching diapers is the least of my worries), wring out the diapers and throw them into the washing machine. we wash the diapers with just detergent on a hot cycle with an extra rinse and high spin. the extra rinse makes sure that all the detergent and dirtiness is out of the diapers so they won’t irritate the little one. then we dry the diapers on high heat with some dryer balls instead of dryer sheets (again, don’t want any extra product residue on the diapers). done!

4) storing the diapers. we have a changing table we use in amelia’s room for all our diaper changes at home, because we have a very tiny house and have no need for a changing station anywhere else in the house. we keep diapers in one canvas storage bin under the changing table, and covers in another bin. right now, we have only the medium size diapers that we use as diapers, but we also keep the newborn size diapers in a bin to use as doublers for night time, and as burp rags, dust rags, etc. we keep lotions and wipes on the top of the changing table, where we can easily reach them. the diaper bins and trash can are just to the right of the changing table for easy access as well.

diaper storage

diaper storage

the moral of this (fairly long) story is that if cloth diapers seem right for you, go for it! it’s not as hard as you may think, and you will save some money in the long run that you can put towards more wine for you as a reward for changing all those diapers!

happy diapering mamas and papas!

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baby stuff: cloth diapering (part one).

the most common responses i get when i tell people we are cloth diapering are:

1) oh wow, you’re really brave!

and,

2) oh. nice. *grossedoutgrimace*

which, both of those are actually fair. the thought of “extra” work when it comes to the dirty job of diapering a baby is hardly something that makes people excited. but the amount of work it adds to your day is in reality so minimal that it’s hardly noticeable. and the benefits of cloth diapering (for us at least) are so worth it.

diaper change

pre-baby practice.

we decided to go with cloth diapers for a few reasons. not all these reasons mean the same thing to every one, or even are the least bit important to anyone. but for those mamas that are thinking about maybe, possibly doing cloth diapers, maybe some of our thought process will help you make a decision one way or another. the first part of my cloth diaper posts is going to go over some of the decision points you want to consider when making the decision of cloth diapers or disposables.

BENEFITS OF CLOTH DIAPERING

cost savings: the biggest reason for using cloth diapers is that i am incredibly cheap. when we were planning, the idea of spending thousands of dollars on something that my baby would literally be crapping into was just too much for me. we registered for and were gifted all of our diapers and covers up through her first year (we may have to buy some bigger size diapers in a few months, but that is a minimal cost). so our upfront costs were negligible. upfront investment can be more depending what type of diaper you choose; we chose the most classic and least expensive cloth diapering method (which i’ll talk about more in part two). however, had we had to purchase all the supplies ourselves, they would have run us about $350, including the diaper pail. if we had gone with disposable, we would have easily already spent around $450 on just diapers (assuming $0.33/diaper x 10 diapers/day x 140 days of amelia’s life), and our cloth diapers will last us through multiple children.

good for baby: babies feel wetter faster in cloth diapers, which means they let you know they need to be changed sooner, which means less time sitting in their own refuse. their sensitive skin is also wrapped in soft cotton instead of synthetic material all day. both of these things are good for minimizing or avoiding diaper rash. in amelia’s five months, she has only had very mild diaper rash, usually related to teething, and never lasting more than a day. bonus perk: cloth-diapered babies tend to potty train earlier, due to that wet feeling mentioned above, and i can definitely get behind less diapering in my life.

green living: this is really up for debate, because i’ve read studies that say that cloth diapering and disposable diapers are equally as bad for the environment; cloth diapers use hot water to wash them, disposables end up in landfills. so basically it’s a pick your poison kind of deal. for us, minimizing the physical trash we would have with a baby was important to us. now that i know how much laundry the cloth diapers create, it’s definitely not as much as i expected, so i’m happy with the direction we went. but this is definitely more of a side benefit that you can take or leave when making your decision.baby diaper

teeny, tiny, wiggly baby amelia.

DRAWBACKS OF CLOTH DIAPERING

laundry: there is no denying that there is more laundry with cloth diapers. and there are some weeks (especially in the beginning) where you feel like you are washing diapers every.single.day. because you are. and it’s a bit rough. but as baby gets older, diaper laundry stretches a little longer, and you get so good at it that it doesn’t even feel like extra work anymore. we wash diapers every two days now, and it’s second nature to both of us.

learning curve: there is an art and a science to putting on the type of cloth diapers we use, and when you start out, it feels slow. it feels so much easier to just throw on a disposable. but let me tell you, you will change so many diapers in your first weeks as parents, that you will get really good really fast. Mister Man had never changed a diaper before having amelia, and he was a pro by week three.

portability: cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables, and also you can’t, you know, throw them away, so leaving the house with cloth diapers takes a little more thought. you need a wet bag to put the dirty diapers into so you can bring them home. you need an extra cover in the event of a blowout. full disclosure: we usually take disposable diapers with us in the diaper bag because it’s just easier to throw a bunch in there and not take up too much room. my goal for this year is to leave the house with just cloth as much as i can though.

obviously there is a lot to consider when making this decision. and for a lot of people, the ease of disposables outweighs the cost savings of cloth and that’s definitely okay. we used disposables on amelia the first week of her life because we were just trying to keep everyone alive. we compromise and use disposables most of the time when we’re out, and even at night when amelia is having a fit and it’s worth it to save the 5 extra seconds on the diaper change. we’re definitely not perfect!

if you do end up making the decision to use cloth diapers, the next step is choosing what kind of diaper to use, and developing a system for storing and washing the diapers. i wish that i had been able to find a practical example of how to wash cloth diapers before we had amelia, so my next post will include my step by step process for how we store and wash our cloth diapers.

for now, i’m off to feed and change that baby of mine!

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how to: topknot tutorial.

i said i wouldn’t do another tutorial. and yet here i am posting another tutorial for you. i’m nothing if not ridiculous…

that said, i got such great feedback on my crown braid tutorial, that i thought i would show you all how i do a topknot. it took me SO LONG before i knew how to do a topknot that i would even consider wearing out in public. i finally learned back when i had proper bangs, and my life was forever changed. i only wish i had known how to do one when i had shorter hair too, because i missed out on some prime topknot time. (how many times can i type the word “topknot” today?)

topknot

sidebar: i think it’s a law that women who blog are required to know how to do a topknot, so i’m really just doing a public service for many of you. hah. jokes. i love the stereotype of the selfie-taking, topknot-wearing, starbucks-drinking blogger, it’s simultaneously so spot-on and so far from reality at the same time. see above.

some things to remember when trying this out for yourself:

  • translation: i call hair ties “hair binders”
  • bobby pins are your best friends.
  • do yourself a favor and go out and get a bun doughnut. do it. just go.
  • this looks good on everyone.

is it weird that i don’t dress up put on a nice shirt when i’m filming videos? i mean, it would be a lot more “professional” to look like i’m a civilized human being who stays dressed in regular clothes for more than 20 minutes after she gets home from work, but who needs that? i’m not pretending to be a fashion blogger here. (plus, i love my irish hooley t-shirt and it needs to be shared with the world!) although i may go back to my other filming location next time, that purple wall horrifies me.

alright, enough talk, now go out and do your hair!

here are some other how-to posts to check out: fall lip colors || crown braid

[don’t forget to check out my sponsor deal going on until the end of the day! you should join all the cool kids over there!]

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Always Ashten