Happy Birthday!

bday

I’m taking a little break from blogging today because it’s my 28 birthday! I hope you all are having a great Monday!

Picture: last night’s birthday dinner with my family

Entertaining Friends: Menu Planning

Entertaining Friends: Meal Planning | The Ashley Davis Project

Meal Planning for Entertaining Friends

For me when having friends over for a meal, I usually contemplate a lot on what to feed them. I don’t want anyone to be allergic to anything I cook and I want to make sure that they like what’s cooked for them.

To help with the stress of feeding people, I’ve got a few “strategies” that I use when having friends over.

1. Ask
Ask your friends what foods they don’t like and if there are any allergies. I’m usually the one that has to be aware of eating dairy, so I always like to ask and not make people feel weird because they are allergic or don’t like something I have served. I want people to feel comfortable and welcome in my home.

2. Make a menu
I like to make a menu, then grocery shop off that one list. I typically have some sort of crostini with toppings that people can put on themselves, while the rest of dinner is being prepped/cooked. We have a small dining table, so we serve our meals buffet-style in the kitchen. I typically have two side dishes along with the main dish. Once dinner is finished, we end with dessert.

3. Shop the day before
After making the menu and shopping list, I usually try and shop for groceries the day before people come over just in case I forget something and have to end up running back to the store. I have a second day to go, and I end up with enough time to pick up that last minute item. Instead of scrambling at the last minute.

4. Let them help you
On more than one occasion, people have asked to bring something and I always say yes. People want to help and want to bring something to contribute. If they ask and they don’t have anything in mind, I will ask them to bring dessert. Dessert is something easy they can bring and can be bought at the store in a pinch.

Below I have listed two menu plans that I have used in the past.

Dinner #1
Appetizer:  Bruschetta
Side Dish:  Avocado, Corn, Tomato Salad
Side Dish:  Coleslaw
Main Dish: Crock Pot BBQ Ribs
Dessert:    Root Beer Floats

Dinner #2
Appetizer: Oven Roasted Tomato with Ricotta Crostini
Side Dish: Fruit Salad
Side Dish: Potato Salad
Main Dish: BBQ Chicken
Dessert: Trader Joe’s Apple Tarts with Ice Cream

I hope this is a helpful start to entertaining friends in your home! Next week, will be the last week of the Entertaining Friends Series and we’ll talk about the extras.

Fave Podcasts

Fave Podcasts August 2014 | The Ashley Davis Project I love podcasts! They make solo car rides a little more enjoyable, sometimes more productive and just all around more fun than listening to the same songs on the radio. I’ve talked about podcasts before, but I have a few new one to share with you today. Just a quick note before we start, in my previous post I mentioned the Simple Mom podcast. I still love that podcast but it has been renamed to the Art of Simple podcast if you look for it on iTunes. Onto the faves……

The Lively Show – Jess Lively hosts this show and interviews a new person every week. Typically she has entrepreneurs on the show and I find it so fascinating and informative. She asks great questions and has had on some awesome guests: Kendi from Kendi Everyday, Kelly Krause, Joy from Joy the Baker and Clara Persis from ClaraPersis.com.

Elise Get Crafty – Elise Blaha Cripe hosts this show about small business knowledge, thoughts on goal setting, motivation and creativity. I absolutely love Elise’s blog and her podcast is definitely one I look forward to every week. She had Hayley Morgan from Wildly Co and the Tiny Twig, Amy Shubert from Lemon & Raspberry, and recurring episodes with Ann-Marie Espinoza from Ann Marie Loves.

A newer podcast to me is the Marketing Lifestyle podcast from Amy Schmittauer. She has an awesome youtube channel called Savvy, Sexy, Social all about using social media, especially video to promote your business. The Marketing Lifestyle Podcast is mainly interviews with entrepreneurs about how they market their brands (fair warning: sometimes there is a little language). I am about halfway through the episode with Chris Cerrone, which is good. DJ Waldow was an awesome guest and after hearing him on Amy’s show I’ve subscribed to his podcast the Work Talk Show.

The Work Talk Show is all about how people get their work done. I have absolutely loved listening to how people get things accomplished in their lives. I just find it so fascinating. I just started listening to this podcast, so I don’t have enough episodes to recommend yet. But what I have listened to has been great!

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast called This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt and has just brought on a female co-host which is great. They answer listener questions and give great advice on building a platform: The Top 10 Blogger Mistakes, Seven Strategies from Building Your Email List and How to Make $150,000 This Year from Your Platform were all great episodes. If you have any favorite podcasts, I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comment below!

Blogging Quick Tips from a Newbie Blogger

Blogging Quick Tips from a Newbie Blogger | The Ashley Davis Project

Blogging Quick Tips

I don’t write about blogging too much on this space. And I thought today, I would share a few of my favorite tips for blogging. I absolutely love blogging and now since I’ve started SSSVEDA, vlogging has been so much for fun to learn and do. So I’m going to give you some tips from newbie blogger.

1. Schedule your content
There are many bloggers that give the advice of scheduling your content. I like to schedule my content for about 4 to 6 weeks in advance. I most definitely do not always stick to the schedule and I will move things around or write a different post if I feel like it. A schedule helps me to see what’s ahead, what I should be working on and helps me get ahead. A schedule also helps me stay consistent in my blogging. I may move things around on the schedule “behind the scenes,” but I’m almost always consistent. I strive very hard to be consistent. If I know that I will be having a busy week ahead, I will write and schedule my posts to go up for that week. Since I have a wordpress blog, my favorite plugin for scheduling content is Edit Flow. Edit Flow has a great calendar plus editorial metadata. You can add in your own editorial metadata to remind you to add a picture to a post and you can see all that info from the calendar view. I can also see the progress of my posts using Edit Flow. I can see if the post is in Idea status, progress status or just needs some editing before I hit schedule. You can also make your status of the progress of your post to fit how you blog.

2. Schedule your tweets
I’m not always the best at this, but I love to use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets. When I tweet, I like to share interesting/informative posts, youtube videos and quotes. I also tweet my own blog posts as well. Jana from Life Could be a Dream Blog wrote a great post about having a tweet schedule.  You definitely need to check it out!

3. Write down ALL your ideas
I have post-its, notebooks, scraps of paper and notes in my phone with ideas for blog posts or videos. Make sure when you have an idea for your blog, you write it down so you don’t forget it. I’ve had great ideas and now they are lost because I didn’t write it down soon enough. Write down anything even if it sounds lame or uninteresting, it may spark something else later on.

4. Give yourself a break
Remember this is just blogging. Unless this is your job, if you miss a post it won’t be the end of the world. If you really don’t want to miss a day, write out a few posts ahead of time that can fit in any time. Then when you’re sick or too tired to write you can schedule that post to go out. Those ;backup posts do need to be replenished, so you don’t run out in a time of need.

5. Don’t work hard, work smarter.
Use different tools and plugins to help you work smarter. Revive Old Post is a plugin that will tweet older posts that you have written. This way you’re tweeting great content, while you are sleeping. SEO by Yoast helps to make sure that your posts are optimized for SEO. It give you a red dot for not being optimized, yellow for kind of being optimized and green means its optimized. Yoast also has a great post explaining WordPress SEO, it’s pretty long, but if you can read it over a couple of days it’s incredibly informative.

I hope these blogging tips were helpful. If you would like anymore blogging quick tips or plugin recommendations, I could always do a part 2. Let me know in the comments!

Entertaining Friends: Prepping your Home

Entertaining Friends: Prepping your Home | The Ashley Davis Project

Prepping your Home for Guests

Today, I’m going to talking about prepping your home for friends, family or whoever coming over for dinner or anytime!

Expected Guests

A few days before we have friends are I start to de-clutter the apartment. I make sure and really pick up after myself and tidy up anything thing that is out of place and needs to be put back. Life gets crazy sometimes, or I just get lazy, so picking up the clutter is necessary.

If I can swing it, I like to vacuum, swiffer, clorox and clean the living room and bathroom the day before people come over. Lately, my husband has been doing that since I’m still in recovery from my back surgery in April. No ever sees our bedroom, so we don’t clean it up too much and that’s the drop zone area for any extra clutter. Eek.

I also like to pick up some flowers at the grocery store to make our home more inviting and warm. Lighting a candle can also do this. I put out books on the bookshelf, with the covers facing out. It’s a great conversation starter.

This prep isn’t necessary when having guests over, but I feel more comfortable when my house is picked up and cleaned. It most definitely is not spotless by any means, this is just what makes me comfortable.

Unexpected Guests

So what happens when you have an unexpected guest drop by? Hopefully, your guest gives you a few minutes notice and you can quickly pick up anything that’s completely out of place and through it in a closet. Light a candle and take the trash. If I have extra time, I clear off any counters, tables or desks and then hit the kitchen. Dump the dishes in the sink and turn the coffee pot or kettle on.

There is this great website called FlyLady. She really preaches having a morning and evening routine that can help you to keep your home in tiptop shape. I really try and abide by these rules as much as possible, but sometimes life gets in the way and you’re just too tired to deal with anything. If you’re interested in getting started with morning and evening routines, make sure to check out flylady. I also have posts about morning and evening routines.

Get Your Heart Ready

The last thing you have to do when having guests over, expected or unexpected, is to have your heart ready. Remember you are opening up your home to your friends and you want them to feel welcome and loved. Let them know where the glasses are and that they are welcome to grab something out of the fridge.

What tips do you have for prepping your home for guests? Next we will talk about meal planning. And I’ll share my top two go to menus for dinner guests.

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