March 2016 archive

What You Need To Take On Your Spring Break

Easter is quickly approaching and that means spring break for most kids.  We are taking our annual spring break trip and this year we are going to St. Thomas.  We have been to this US Virgin Island 3 other times before, but we really love it and so do our kids.  There are some essentials that you just have to remember when you travel to any sunny destination.  These places are used to people forgetting things, but you can pay a pricey fee for forgetting an essential item.  I would suggest you make a list about a week before you go and shop off that list so you have everything you need.  We didn’t take enough sunscreen on one of our trips to the Bahamas and they didn’t carry the brand we used.  We bought a different brand and all got rashes and burned horribly.  I vowed I would never get caught without the right amount of sunscreen and other essentials from home again.

Top Ten Things to Take on Your Spring Break Trip

  1.  EARPHONES AND MUSIC PLAYLIST-  I always take my headphones for the airplane, pool area, nighttime relaxing, working out, and getting ready.  I couldn’t go a week without music.  You don’t want to forget your earphones either.  You probably want to take an extra set.  Also have your playlist up to date before you leave.
  2. PLENTY OF SUNSCREEN–  This is very expensive in destination locations.  You definitely want to purchase enough for everyone in your party to be able to reapply every couple of hours.
  3. ORDER ALL YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES IN ADVANCE–  Make sure you have looked at all your medicines to make sure they will all last you through a couple days past your trip.  If not, go ahead and reorder so you will be all set for traveling.  For controlled substances you may want to keep them in the original bottles.
  4. MAKE SURE YOU PACK ALL CHARGERS- The last thing you want is to have your devices die on you once you arrive at your hotel. You will be using lots of data while traveling so chargers are very important.  Make sure you pack all your chargers for every device you take.  I always put this on my packing list and put them in my carry on in case my main luggage doesn’t arrive.
  5. PACK YOUR COMPUTER AND ALL DEVICES–  I pack all important devices in my carry on.  You may want to make sure all your devices stay with you.
  6. TAKE YOUR SUNGLASSES– You don’t want to be at the pool or in town without a pair of sunglasses.  This is not an item you want to buy at a hotel gift shop.  They can be quite costly.
  7. MOISTURIZER–  You are going to be in the sun a lot on your trip so your moisturizer is important to your skin care routine.  Make sure you apply it twice a day.
  8. MAKE UP REMOVER–  Taking your make up off is so important at the end of the day.  Do you really want to fall into bed with a face full of make up?  Make sure you remember these important wipes. You can carefully remove your make up with wipes that you are used to so you don’t break out from unusual hotel products.
  9. CAMERA–  I’m sure your phone takes great pictures. However, taking a little point and shoot camera for capturing those important moments is a great idea.  My daughter has a little Canon that vlogs as well.  We always take this camera with us on our trips.
  10. READING MATERIALS-  One time I didn’t take books on our trip out of the country and it was the biggest mistake.  I am definitely a read by the pool kind of girl and there were no reading materials in this hotel gift shop.  I had already read all my airport materials and had nothing to read the rest of my trip.  If your hotel does have material for reading it will be quite a bit more expensive.  It is just easier to take it from home.

Here are a couple things you need to ask yourself when packing to see if it is really something you need to take on your trip.  Hopefully this can help you narrow down what you absolutely need to take with you and what can stay at home.

  1. Only take what you can carry- This is a big one with my kids.  Sometimes my husband has them carry my carry on bag in the airport.  They watch that bag closely at home to see how much I am packing in it because they know eventually they will be asked to carry it.  They have a vested interest in how much I’m packing in that bag because they may end up carrying it plus there bag as well.  Only pack what you can carry.
  2. Are you certain you need it?  If you are not certain if you need it, put it in a separate pile and if you have room you can take it.  Then when you weigh your bag you know if you can add more stuff or not.
  3. Does it fit within the 50 pounds weight limit?  I think you want to pack what you need and see if it fits in the 50 pound weight limit.  If it doesn’t, I don’t think you want to pay extra for a heavy bag so you have to take out the items that aren’t essentials.
  4. See if your hotel room supplies it-  There is no need for me to take a hair dryer if my hotel room is already supplying it.  Most hotels have room specifics on their website.
  5. Ask yourself is this item big and heavy?  Sometimes packing certain items are not worth it when they are big and heavy.  Think about what items are necessities and what items fit in that 50 pound weight limit.
  6. Will you freak out if it’s lost or stolen?  Will you be able to live with yourself if this item is lost or stolen?  If you have a pair of diamond earrings that you just can’t seem to part with; either wear them the whole trip, ask for a hotel safe, or leave them at home.  If you are afraid of items getting stolen; leave them at home with your house alarm on.

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable break with your family.  We all deserve a little time off now and then. I am looking forward to not having a schedule to follow for a couple days. Leave me a comment below and let me know your awesome spring break plans.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

My Easy to Follow Nighttime Routine

If you read my Morning Routine post on Tuesday you know that I am not a morning person.  I am definitely more productive in the evenings.  I get a lot done when everyone is down for the night and I can get my jammies on and get right to writing and editing.   There are some things I do to follow a nighttime routine of sorts.  I like things to be put away so when I wake up in the morning the house is picked up and everything is fresh and ready to start another day.

My Nighttime Routine. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Tidy Up for the Morning

I definitely do things that I feel will make the morning go smoother.  I clean up from dinner and  wipe down the counters.  I put all the dishes in the dishwasher and run those so they can be drying over night.  I make sure the house is picked up and ready for the morning.  Lastly, I do one last load of clothes before going to bed.

Quality Time with Kids

The first thing I definitely have to do in the evening is have some quality face time with my kids. Due to after school activities we may not eat dinner together every night, but I definitely need to spend some time with them checking out their day and getting the scoop on all the details of what is going on in their lives.  They are at an age where I really need to stay a big part of what is going on in their Iife. I can’t sleep well if I haven’t had quality time with my kids. I definitely believe if you haven’t done all the things you need to handle during the day it can affect your sleep.

Keep a Notebook by your Bed

I keep a notebook by my bed to jot down any ideas I have in the middle of the night or as I’m going to sleep.  As a blogger, I am constantly thinking of ideas for posts so my mind wanders at night as I’m trying to unwind.  Keeping a notebook by my bed helps me quickly get my thoughts down without using a computer or phone which can really hinder your sleep.

Keep Your Room Screen Free

I try to keep my room screen free after a certain time.  I have had trouble with this in the past. When I have had trouble sleeping I would automatically grab for my computer and then that night’s sleep would pretty much be null and void.  There was no way I was ever going to get sleep once I opened my computer.  I would either start working or get into a Netflix show and both of those options are going to hinder sleep every time.

Have a Skincare Routine

I always clean my face to get all the make up off using Neutrogena wipes.  I have very sensitive skin and these have worked for me for years.  They are scent free and have never broken me out before like some other products.   After this step, I moisturize with Clinique’s Moisture Surge Intense. This moisturizer has done the trick for me.  I have tried several other products thinking other brands were more age appropriate for me, but I always go back to this one.

Ways to Relax

Some days have just been hard days.  Either I’ve had a hard workout or just a rough day in general.  On those kinds of days, I like to soak in the tub and take an Epsom Salt Bath.  I always have this on hand for my son since he plays sports. It really is a great way to relax and prepare for bed.  I find that I usually sleep well after I have had a relaxing bath. Check out how I use my bar cart in my bathroom as a spa retreat.

Read a Good Book

Lastly, I love falling asleep to a good book.  Unfortunately, I am a book hoarder.  I have a ton of reading material by my bed that I have yet to read.  I often have a book folded over my chest in the morning when I wake up.  Books to me are a leisurely way to calm my mind at the end of the day.  I would love to fall sleep every night reading a book.  You can check out my top ten favorite books here.

What are some of your nightly rituals and routines?  Do we share some of the same habits?  I would love for you to comment below.  Check me out on my social media sites above.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

How I Changed My Morning Routine

I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.  I love staying up late.  I do better late at night.  I don’t have very good sleeping habits anyway so I tend to be up late quite often.  I became a school teacher right after college and had to be at work around 7:15.  Luckily, I lived very close to work.  However, staying up until 2:00 every morning got old real quick.  I had to get my sleeping habits under control.  I worked on it a little bit, but didn’t have a consistent routine.  Then I had kids and well you know the sleeping habits you have when you have kids.  My kids are now 16 and 13 and I would still consider myself a night owl.  I have been diagnosed with insomnia.  I do a lot of writing in the middle of the night.  I try to catch all my errors in the editing process, but I’m usually doing it in the dark as to not wake my husband.  I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person by any stretch, but I do feel like I have changed my morning routine so that I can be as productive as possible.

How I changed my morning routine www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Have a Quiet Time

I have noticed as daylight savings was approaching I started getting up earlier.  I love this quiet time to myself.  I don’t like being rushed to wake up.  It is nice to have a little time to wake up peacefully instead of a beeping alarm clock forcing me to wake up and quickly pushing me out the door.

Have A Set Schedule

I am up at the same time every morning on school days because that is our set schedule.  I like that because everyone is up and out by a given time.  This keeps us on a good schedule.  Believe me, in the summer it is a lot harder for us to be on scheduled time.  I had to give my son a strict time to be ready by.  As spring break has neared, I have noticed he was taking longer each morning to get ready.  Kids need a set routine so they know what is expected.  He has a set time to be ready by or there are consequences.

Do Important Tasks Early

I heard somewhere that if you haven’t started your tasks at hand by 10AM they won’t get done.  I totally believe that.  I won’t say all the time, but most times if I don’t work out right after I drop my son off at school, I tend to not go back through the day and do it.  I dress in my workout clothes and hit the gym right after I drop him off.  I’m already out and it is done first thing in the morning.

Make A To Do List

I am a list person.  I have to have my to do list or I feel something isn’t right.  I like to have my day planned out by what needs to get done. Whether it is errands to run or phone calls that need to be made.  Plus it’s just fun and you feel so accomplished when you can keep marking things off that list. This may help you organize your day.  Try writing it down and keeping your list with you while you work to accomplish your goals for the day.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

I also try to eat something healthy in the morning to get my day started off right.  I never skip breakfast even if I’m not super hungry.  I think there is something to the fact that it really does get your metabolism going for the day to get something in your body first thing in the morning.

Are you a morning person?  What are some of your morning rituals or habits?  I would love to hear your morning routine.  Leave me a comment below.  I love to hear all about you guys.

  Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

A Good Day To Have a Good Day

I have been a little under the weather and then we’ve had a couple gloomy days in the forecast and I’ve just felt kind of blah.  I haven’t had any big projects or assignments due so I’ve had to really push myself to stay focused and motivated to get anything done.  Do you have times like that where you feel you’re in a rut?  As soon as you wake up in the morning your attitude sets the tone for the day.  Why not make it a good day to have a good day?  I saw this sentence on an episode of Fixer Upper and just thought it made a lot of sense.

A couple of years ago when my kids were a little younger, I remember we had a ton of after school activities on Wednesdays.  We would actually call it “Wow Wednesdays.”  But we would gear up each Wednesday morning and prepare ourselves to make it through the day.  We just had to set the tone right from the start.  We could be glass half full or half empty.  We chose from the very beginning to just get through it with a good attitude.  There was no point in dwelling on all the things we had to do that day.  It was too overwhelming to focus on that.  We just took every activity one step at a time and focused on completing each task at hand.  That really helped us keep a positive attitude.

Pink flowers and pink artwork. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

Making a choice each day to be happy is something that takes positivity and effort.  Think of the little things that we take for granted. At the end of the day I try to think of several things that just made my day special such as; the sun shining, being on time, seeing an old friend, and getting my favorite magazine in the mail.  Ending my day on a positive note helps me have closure and be thankful for the things that are going well.  Of course things are going to go wrong.  There will be those days that I’m not productive and I have doubts about my creativity and projects I’m working on.  However, I can steer myself in the right direction with a positive attitude.

 

 

Pink flowers and chocolate cookies.

 

A Day In The Life of a Blogger

There are so many things that come together to make a blog successful. I think some people just think you write for a couple minutes a day and hit publish and you have all this free time during your day to do whatever you want.  The other half have no idea what I do.  I’m going to give you a run down of a day in the life of a blogger.  There are lots of moving pieces that have to come together to make this work.  It is a true business.  If you don’t treat it like a business or work on it everyday, you lose the readers you worked so hard to gain.

Find out what my schedule is like as a blogger. www.yourstrulyjenn.com

On a typical work week I take my son to school and return around 8:45.  I workout for an hour and start working around 10:00.  I find if I don’t workout in the morning sometimes it gets away from me.  It’s easier for me to get it over with first thing.  On a day I publish a post, I will go through all the social media to promote the post.  Then check google analytics as well for a check of my numbers.  I think this is important for me to work on my short and long term goals.  I am kind of into all the number games.  I like to compare monthly growth.  It helps me see what areas I’m doing well in and what areas I need to work on.

I try to use my time as wisely as I can.  I will make a list of my projects using my editorial calendar.  If I know in the next two weeks I will need stuff from Michaels, Target, and Pier 1 then I try to do all the shopping in one day.  For me that is working more efficiently.  Then I have all my materials for when I’m ready to work on that project.  I also like to write in bursts.  When I’m in the zone I usually write 3-4 posts at one time. Of course they are rough drafts, but at least I’m getting my thoughts down.  Then I can go back and do tons of edits.

The busiest days are photography shoot days.  There is a ton of work that is involved with that.  You have a lot of work in set up, shooting, clean up and then editing.  I usually like to do these projects when there is a nice day with lots of natural light so I play it by ear.  I also have times of the day that work best for different rooms in the house depending on where I’m shooting that day.  I can get this all done before I have to pick up my son.  However, I like to edit pics late at night.  It is just my thing.  I put my earphones in and just go to town.  The house is super quiet when everyone is asleep and I just get a lot of work done at night.  I have insomnia and unfortunately I’m up a lot of times in the night so I’ve made this my editing time.

I’m going to briefly touch on the business side of blogging.  There are lots of things bloggers can do to make blogging a business.  You can do sponsored posts with brands, you can do affiliate links or post ads on your blog.  Lots of bloggers are heading into selling services and goods such as coaching, ebooks, and classes they create.  When you’re ready, there are lots of opportunities out there for bloggers.

I hope you enjoyed a little look into the life of a blogger.  Every blog is different and every blogger’s schedule will be different.  I have finally found something that works for me and my family and I’m excited to keep plugging away.  I would love to hear your comments.  Please leave a comment below.  Follow me on all my social media in the links provided on this site.

Yours Truly,

Jenn