Blogtober 2017

What I Learned from 3 Months of Challenges: Blogmas, NaNoWriMo, & Blogtober

What I Learned from 3 Months of Challenges | Writing Between Pauses

Blogtober. NaNoWriMo. Blogmas. 

3 months, 3 writing challenges. 

I survived--and I completed each challenge. 

Sometimes, I feel like I can't finish anything. I start stories and never finish; I start projects and lose steam; I pick up hobbies and let them languish. It's embarrassing, especially when it feels like so many people I know are so capable of completely important, exciting passion projects. 

So when I decided to do Blogtober, in the lazy last days of September, I knew I was committing to a lot because I also knew that I would be doing NaNoWriMo, as I usually do. But then, midway through Blogtober, I hesitantly write "Blogmas" on the top of my December editorial calendar. But that simple writing was enough to make me feel committed. 

At the end, I was very, very tired--a little of blogging, but I also almost felt refreshed by it. It made me love blogging again. It made me love writing again! It gave me so many ideas for content that I have through April filled in my editorial calendar! 

I wanted to talk about everything I learned from 3 months of doing writing challenges, because I think it's important to always look back and reflect on what worked and what didn't. 

1. I know my limitations. 

I was about halfway through Blogtober when I realized that, no, I couldn't really keep up with other social media while I was doing so much writing and editing, as well as graphic design. I just wasn't capable of it! I wish I was. Knowing that I wasn't able to keep up, as well as I wanted to, in regards to Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest almost gave me freedom to keep going. It removed a lot of the pressure. Instead of trying to post every day, I focused on the weekends or doing what I was able to--which almost worked to my benefit because I had more time to dedicate to content and writing. 

2. Having a goal left me energized. 

I think most people feel this way when they have a goal and meet it. Getting to December 31 and realizing I had been writing, posting, editing, and more every single day for the past 3 months was monumental. I got so much done! I felt great! I had so many ideas! More than anything, I feel like both Blogtober and Blogmas gave me really good ideas of the kind of content that people want from this blog--what they connect with, what they don't, and how I can be better. 

3. I never really know what the best content will be. 

My most popular post of the last 3 months is about tea. I'm serious. I've gotten more traffic, and retweets, and mentions, about a post about tea than any other post I've ever written. Not my post about how we don't do Santa. Not my post about breastfeeding. Not any review I've ever written. Tea. Y'all love tea! I am still genuinely stunned when I see the analytics of that post! It shocks me! But I also love it because I feel like it gives me such insight into what people enjoy and the niche I can fill. 

Would I do it again? 

When I told my husband I was writing this post, he asked me, "Would you do it again?" 

That's a good question. 

The short answer is, yes, absolutely. I had my best months ever in December and October. I got emails about sponsorship and being added to PR lists. I made friends with bloggers. I got opportunities I never imagined! 

However, the longer answer is, perhaps, it really depends. In the next year, I plan to get pregnant again, maybe, definitely, no, actually... I'm very undecided and wishy-washy about the next year. Part of me wants to just have fun and see where the current success of Writing Between Pauses takes me! But another part of me likes having the structure of knowing what's coming. So hesitantly, I say, yes, absolutely. But another part of me wonders if I'll be pregnant then! 

Did you do any challenges in October, November or December? What did you learn? 

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! | Writing Between Pauses

It's officially the spookiest day of the year! I always so look forward to Halloween. This year is going to be especially fun; I'm taking Forrest to a Halloween event while Danny is still at work, then we will meet up for dinner, then make the rounds to my parents and grandparents so Forrest can show off his costume. Then, once Forrest is in bed, Danny and I will undoubtedly watch Nightmare Before Christmas and Trick or Treat, in that order, eat popcorn balls, and drink some spooky wine. 

Yesterday, I shared my 5 favorite Blogtober posts. But today I wanted to share 5 posts from others throughout Blogtober that I absolutely love. Here they are: 

  1. How to Throw a Grown Up Halloween Party, from Cardigan Jezebel
  2. This outfit of the day, from Heart Shaped Bones 
  3. 20 Best Halloween Movies, from Carpe Diem Emmie 
  4. What's On Our Halloween Bookshelf, from Bump to Baby
  5. Taking Embroidery Into Autumn, from loulabellerose

Happy Halloween reading! 

It's Time for a Blogtober Round Up: My Favorite Posts

It's Time For a Blogtober Round Up | Writing Between Pauses

I'll be sharing my final thoughts about Blogtober next month... but can I just say? I'm so excited that I set this goal and I met it! Blogging challenges can be very difficult; it's so easy to lose steam halfway through or to get overwhelmed. And there were a few days where I thought: should I really be taking this on? Is this just too much? 

But I persisted. At the end of this month, I will have published 31 posts in the month of October. 31! That's insanity. That's more than I published for the entirety of a bundle of months between January and August... I really lost my blogging stride midway through this year, but I'm rounding back to enjoying it again. And I really think Blogtober is to thank for that. 

I wanted to share my five favorite Blogtober posts. I wrote so many, it was hard to pick favorites, but these are ones that I just really enjoyed writing, creating, and editing. I hope you enjoyed them as much! 

1. 3 Outfits Perfect for the Pumpkin Patch

2. My Favorite Autumn Activities 

3. 4 Ideas for Fun Fall Dates

4. 4 Outfits for Rainy Days

5. What's In My Make Up Bag?

Inspiration Sunday: October 29

Sunday Inspiration: October 29 | Writing Between Pauses

Welcome to another Inspiration Sunday! I can't believe I'm on the home stretch of Blogtober... I'm ramping up for NaNoWriMo and I've already got my first week of November blog posts planned. Who am I? I feel incredibly accomplished. 

I had a hard time narrowing down my last Inspiration Sunday. I had a lot I wanted to include! I decided to include some things from all of October. Let's jump right in! 

1. My Number One Spit Take of October

Um, so did anyone else not know this? I didn't know! I never knew! This changed my life: honestly, truly, changed my world. I want to shout it from the rooftop! I want to put stickers of this tweet on every magazine! I wish I had seen this when I was 15 or 16. How different my life would be... 

2. My Number One Laugh of October

This is an extended joke: I am always making fun of LinkedIn to my husband. Also, one of my favorite podcasts, Wine & Crime, had an extended LinkedIn joke in their occult crimes episode. (Which I highly recommend!) So when I saw this tweet... I started laughing so much that Forrest started doing his fake, "I know why you're laughing!" laugh too. 

3. My Number One Inspiration of October

You Are Enough | Writing Between Pauses
Don't Stop | Writing Between Pauses

Do you ever see a picture at just the right time? These two were ones I saw at just the right moment. Blogtober has been really daunting for me to take on and I'm so proud that I've made it. But at the same time, I've been working on being realistic when I set goals: it's good to be proud when you've accomplished them, but it's also ok to not finish. You're enough even if you don't hit every single goal you set for yourself. 

Things I Love: October 28

Things I Love: October 28 | Writing Between Pauses

It's my last Things I Love for the foreseeable future (I might bring it back for Blogmas)! I thought I'd do a round up from my favorite things from the month. The last week I've been working on preparing for November, NaNoWriMo, and of course, getting ready for another month of daily blogging during December. I am really questioning why I took on three month-long writing challenges in a row, but c'est la vie! I think it's been really good for me so far. I love having goals to hit and staying motivated!

So let's get into the things I loved throughout October.

1. Just Peachy Velvet Mattes palette from Too Faced 

Just Peachy Mattes | Writing Between Pauses

I treated myself to this palette for my birthday. Technically, it's from my husband, but I bought it... and I used a Sephora friends & family coupon on it, so I got it for 20% off! It is absolutely gorgeous. At first, I was worried that using only matte shadows would be limiting, but I really love the vibe and how easy it is to add a shimmer from another palette... or just keep it matte for day. I find these shadows really blendable and lovely, and I love a warmy, peachy eye look, of course. 

2. My Halloween costume from 1990 

My mom posted this photo of me on my birthday, for good reason. This costume was iconic in my family: I was well known for being obsessed with pumpkins. Clearly, Forrest took after me in that regard; he's going to be wearing this same costume on Tuesday! I'm so excited to get a photo of him wearing it. 

3. Jojoba Oil 

I've written before, but it's worth explaining again: when I was 12, I started getting acne and it literally never cleared up. Never. From the age of 12 to two months ago, I had acne every single day. Nothing I did worked; your girl tried EVERYTHING. When I was 20, I started getting cystic acne and from that point on, I had 3-5 cysts on my face at all times, worse when I was on my period. Nothing worked on my acne. It was awful. Two months ago, I made the choice to start washing my face with jojoba oil (I double cleanse and follow it with Soap & Glory's Peaches & Clean face wash) and adding 2-3 drops to my moisturizer day and night. Since then, my acne has cleared up significantly. I also haven't been getting hormonal outbreaks. It's truly amazing how much having good skin has impacted my attitude and outlook. I'll write a full post on my acne journey & jojoba oil soon, but I had to share this in my Things I Love! 

3 Genius, Last Minute Kids Halloween Costumes

3 Genius, Last Minute Kids Halloween Costumes | Writing Between Pauses

Originally, for Halloween, Forrest was going to be going as one thing... but then, my mom found my vintage, circa-1989, pumpkin costume. And considering Forrest is absolutely bonkers for pumpkins, it was meant to be. However, we have his other costume as a back up for pre-Halloween parties and activities; it's much easier to wear than a pumpkin costume! 

This got me thinking though: sometimes, it's just not practical to dress a toddler or young child in their "official" Halloween costume, either because it is too bulky or not appropriate for school. (An example is one of my friend's is dressing her child as the Little Mermaid; it has a flesh colored netting that isn't allowed at a school function, so she can only wear it trick-or-treating.) 

So here are 3 easy, last minute kids costumes: things you can make with just a few hours notice or that you already have. 

1. The ABCs

This was Forrest's original costume! I bought a black long sleeve and a pair of black sweatpants from Target, plus foam sticker letters and fabric glue. Wash the clothes, then unstick the letters and fabric glue them. (Make sure to put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent it from gluing it together!) Once they're dry, voila! You're the ABCs. Quick, easy, education, and affordable; the entire thing cost about $14. 

2. Cat (or dog) fan 

This costume sometimes gets called "Crazy Cat Lady," but I hate that term. (It's ableist and sexist.) Even more fun, you could make this cat or dog Instagram star! Basically, dress in normal clothes, carry around a dog or cat toy, and either a toy phone, an old phone that you're not using anymore, or make one out of cardboard. Perfect! 

3. Bat

Almost every kid has a slightly raggedy, almost-outgrown sweatshirt somewhere. It's so easy to turn into a bat costume! Just cut fabric into two triangles, with a triangle-scallop on one edge. Then fabric glue one straight edge to the torso of a sweatshirt, and the other straight edge to the arm; repeat on the other side. Voila! You've got a quick-and-easy bat costume. You can add a black hat with ears (you can fabric glue these on too or find one with ears at Target or TJ Maxx). With a few changes, this would also be a cute vampire costume: just add teeth, a little bit of make up (pale face, dark under the eyes), and all black clothes. 

5 Snacks to Make For Halloween

5 Snacks to Make For Halloween | Writing Between Pauses

1. Hocus Pocus Halloween Punch 

This punch uses V8 juice, Mango Izze, and peach sherbet. Does that not sound like the greatest thing ever? Plus, it's orange, fizzy, and looks deliciously cool. The V8 is a nice touch if you have kids! 

2. Caramel Apple Slices

I love caramel apples, but dipping entire apples is really daunting. These slices are a little bit more manageable, plus they reduce the amount of sugar you end up eating. 

3. Fruit Kabobs

Forrest is still a little too young for marshmallows, but, I am fully planning to make these fruit kabobs somehow! They're so cute and perfectly healthy. 

4. Halloween Pretzel Rods

Chocolate covered pretzels are actually my favorite dessert or treat. These pretzel rods are super easy to make and really delicious. 

5. Mummy Brownies

These brownies are so cute! And how easy? You could use boxed brownie mix or even premade brownies if you're short on time. 

3 Ways to Spruce Up Your House for Autumn

3 Ways to Spruce Up Your House for Autumn | Writing Between Pauses

Every year, I take on a few Autumn crafts. Mainly, it's just fun to make something to decorate your house with. I keep a collection of potential crafts throughout the year and then once Autumn roles around, I pick my favorites. 

This year, I'm sticking to some kid-friendly crafts so Forrest can help me with them. However, here are 3 that I'm going to take on in the evenings sans Forrest! 

1. Paper Leaf Wall Hanging

This is so cute! It uses watercolor paper (perfect for older kids to take on) and then a cutting machine to create them. However, I really think you could just use a larger leaf pattern and cut them out by hand. Click here

2. Autumn Candle DIY

This is a super easy craft! You can buy the supplies for it at the dollar store too, which is really cool, and it would make a great Thanksgiving centerpiece. Click here

3. Autumn Embroidery DIY

I'm really into embroidery lately and this craft would definitely be a little bit more of a challenge for me! It's so cute and would be perfect for the entirety of Fall and Winter. Click here