Monday, December 28, 2015

Blogging Year in Review

Do you look back at your blogging year in review? I've actually been doing just that over the past few weeks. As I check on things and have started making my plans for 2016, I have been jotting down some information and numbers so I can make sure I am continuing to move in the right direction providing what my readers want and like as well as the direction I want to take my blog.



My most popular post in both 2015 and of all time.

The only post I've created that has actually gone in what some would call viral (but I don't call it that for some reason.). Still received at times weekly/daily page views that outdo most my current posts. Its a post I wrote back in 2011 when I first started blogging and had no clue what blogging really was about or what I was doing.
Funny thing about this post, it only has 138 words and 3 pictures, and it only has that many words because about a year and a half ago I went in and added about a hundred words to see if it would pick up even more traffic since it was already getting. It worked, and why I haven't added to it , fixed it up more, etc... is beyond me. (Maybe a must do for 2016, LOL.)




The post is called Royal Blue Wedding. If you want a laugh, check it out and I bet you will be like, HOW can this post still get a few hundred page views each week and sometimes more than that?
Yup, go figure. Actually I think I know why it does so well, but I will keep that secret, LOL

What have I learned about blogging this year? 

#1 Sometimes the posts I create and think will do the best, rarely are. But the ones I am skeptical on or the ones I don't think will do as well, quite often are the ones that seem to get the most page views.

#2 No matter what, it's best to always stay true to yourself, and do not try to be something you are not.

#3 Posts with more than one image, (good quality) do much better than posts with one or no images.

#4 You never know where blogging may take you. I never would have imagined in January that I would be asked to get paid to teach community blogging classes. I never would have guessed that some of my most popular posts, are teaching about blogging basics. I also never would have expected so many locals and twitter followers as well as people who read my blog would send me emails throughout the year asking me if I had a book out about blogging, and if not if I would create one. (FYI: I don't...yet:)

#5 Friendships in the blogging world are the BEST part about it. I know a lot of people blog to journal for themselves and that is totally fine. But if you are blogging to share and connect these online friendships you make with other bloggers can at times just totally make your day!



My most popular posts I created and published in 2015. 

I was only going to list 10, but I had 4 posts that tied in page views so we are going to go with the TOP CONTENT 12 MOST VIEWED POSTS.
(I will admit my giveaway posts and blog hop posts have received thousands more page views than any of the below. But thousands of people come to a blog to enter a giveaway only, it doesn't always mean they return. Which is the only reason I am not including those on this list.  

However for those wondering where they would fit in, if I did include them my entire top 10 would all be Giveaway posts, and Blog Hop sign up posts.)

#1 - You Can Be a Friendly Blog Stalker Too

#2 - How to Grow Your Social Media Influence

#3 - What Becoming a Runner Does To You

#4 - What Every Runner Should Know

#5 - How to Add Mileage and Become a Distance Runner

#6 - How to Bring an Old Post to New Life

#7 - Funny Questions Runners Ask

#8 - How To Make Sure You Don't Ruin a Race For Others

#9 - How Comments Help Grow Your Blog

#10 - Hiking Catherine Pass

#11 - Who is Runaway Bridal Planner and Do I Really Want to Know Her?

#12 - How to Bring an Old Post to New Life

If your wondering, the only ones I predicted would do well on the above list are #1, #2 & #8. The rest were all a surprise that they did so well.  Although I did spend a considerable higher amount of time to polish up #11 so I hoped it would do well. That one is pretty new, so it may have time still to work it's way up a little more on the list.



My favorite post I created this year.

By far was the one I wrote a few weeks ago called Who is Runaway Bridal Planner and Do I Really Want to Know Her?
I spent a few weeks creating that post little by little. In fact I am considering making it my new About Me Page. It took so long because I formulated all of my favorite quotes into some of my favorite pictures I have taken from my travels.  Additionally, I opened up and introduced the real me, more than I ever have before. In return putting it out there who I am and what I am like, with my true personality, sarcasm and all. By far the most I have exposed myself, and at the same time the most fun I have had creating a post ever. If you haven't checked it out, and you want to know why I am the way I am or who I am, check it out!


Blogging goals for 2015 and how I did with them.

I had a few goals this year, and some worked, some didn't get done or completely finished. But that is the beauty of blogging goals, they can always be a work in progress.

#1 - Goal, build social media influence following to over 10,000.
How did I do? I made it, I have just a little shy of 11,000 right now. It's been hard work, but a fun goal to work on too.

#2 - Host a Grow Your Blog Hop.
How did I do? Well I hosted my first one back in February and all things considered it went pretty well and those who participated fully still email me letting me know how much it helped them and how because of it they have been able to maintain it even after. I hosted a 2nd and 3rd one Oct/Nov and in my opinion those went even better as far as participation. However, because they were shorter (Only 2 weeks vs. the 1 month the first one was.) I asked around and it looks like the retention isn't quite as much as the first time I did it. Basically attributed to the shorter time, less time to get to know bloggers and establish actual relationships with them. But overall, I have been given great feedback and several bloggers who participated told me the hops have been some of the best things they have done this year for their blog. So ya, that makes me happy to hear because lets face it, they are a lot of work on my part. But worth it, if others appreciate it!

#3 Post at least 3 times each week, excluding summer vacation and Holiday weeks.
How did I do? Pretty well, all the way up until the end of November early December when I got sick, and hurt my back and didn't have it in me to keep it up more than once a week.  But life happens so I am going to overall consider this a success!

#4 Maintain a monthly blog income each month of the year.
How did I do? Very well, I averaged between $150-$875 each month. December is still going, and I won't have my final numbers for the year for a couple more weeks. But December might end up being my highest month since May, so this is excellent news. Happy New Year to Me!

#5 Build my blog tribe, the blogs I follow on a daily/weekly basis.
How did I do, I have to admit I follow some amazing bloggers. They really do create some great content, inspire me with their lives and I thoroughly look forward to reading their posts and seeing the new things they come up with and reading about their achievements.  I enjoy watching us all grow together, even if we may all have different goals and different ways to grow our blogs.
Truth is, I read more blogs than I actually comment on. (Some blogs there is just no point in commenting because they could careless, but if I like what they write I still come back for more.)

When I started the year, I had a great group I followed. But life happens and about half the wonderful people I followed decided life needed to take precedence and they quit blogging.  I don't blame them a bit, I totally understand. I would choose life over blogging too, if it comes to it.

This year I was always on look out for great new blogs to follow. I used my own hops to reach out and find new bloggers. I don't like to follow blogs that are exactly the same as the next, I am just as versatile in what I like in reading blogs as I am with adventure in my own life. New bloggers, Experienced Bloggers I enjoy both. I run my blog alone, so obviously I only have so much time to spend daily visiting other bloggers, so yes I do look for quality, difference, great interesting inspirational fun people and bloggers who enjoy interaction.

So yes, it's been a successful year, I follow some amazing people who I like to call a blog tribe of sorts, and they don't need to be mentioned all by name because they know who they are because I leave comments (sometimes way too lengthy, LOL) on a constant basis, and I seriously enjoy having them in my life. If 2016 becomes my running year again, I can't tell you how much I look forward to meeting up with some of them at different races around the country!

#6 - Go self hosted.
Ya, this didn't happen. A couple of reasons, but lack of time was the biggest factor. I am going to push this goal to next year. On the plus side, I did switch to the Disqus comment system and it has made a world of difference on blog comment interaction and my blogs SEO. It may not be the most perfect comment system, but for those on blogger like me who want to monetize their blogs it really is one of the best choices

#7 - Do less paid reviews on products I may not use again.
In 2013-2014 I would do paid reviews for products that at the time I thought were great. But in retrospect, they weren't things I was using before and after I used them I found I didn't try to use many of them again.  Oh sure a few were fabulous, ones I use(d) and still do. Those are the only types of posts I wanted to do reviews on this year, and have to say I did succeed in this. I won't lie, it was hard turning down some easy money on what are likely great products. But this year I wanted to build a higher creditability with my audience and I couldn't do that if I kept on the track I was in previous years.



#8 - Create better images to go with my posts
I struggled with this earlier this year, I just hadn't found the best way to create images. Let's face it, images take additional time to create, and sometimes as much time as writing a post. But they can be worth more than the post when done correctly.
My images may not be the best out there, but if you compare the past 3 months to my past I think you would notice a 80% improvement rate! I took a few online classes to gain a better education on this subject and they are paying off. I do think I will continue to get better at this. What do you think, have you noticed a difference on my blog on this?

So, this is probably a bit too long of a post. But it really is fun to look back and see what has gone on with the blog and what goals have been made, which ones didn't.
Before I end this nearly a novel of a post, let me share:

My current goals set for 2016

I do have several, and a few still undecided or in the making. But a few things you can expect next year, as I hope to move forward; going self hosted, start a new inspirational fitness series, work on getting a few weeks to a month of posts created in advance, keep on being true to who I am. Begin a new post format and set out on every bloggers dream attempt to see if I can make a post go viral. (I do believe even if it is chance, it's possible!)



What are some of your blogging goals (if you make them) that you are most proud about?
What is a goal in 2016 you have for your own blog, if you blog.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advice on a Class I will Be Teaching

Are you ready for Christmas? 
This past week, I sat down and made a list of everything I needed to do. Then Monday/Tuesday I set time aside to do everything and now I am officially ready. YAY ME!

I literally got ALL my Holiday shopping done in 20 minutes flat, thanks to Amazon! 
I gave 5 minutes of searching per person on my list and if I hadn't decided on anything for them in 5 minutes, they got the last thing I looked at.  I know sounds, slightly non personal. But seriously, I found some awesome gifts that way.

I actually took some tips from my new friend Rachel McMichael's Blog, she shared a few weeks ago about planning. I made me some lists and goal lists for the week, and wahoo they all got done as well as one that I had been putting off for over a year! Guess, I have hit that point in my life that I need a list to motivate me more than just knowing it needs to be done.  But hey, whatever works right!

This morning I have my Dr. Appt about my back. 
I wasn't going to tell you all this, but I am seriously worried about it. I cannot sit or stand in the same position for more than 2 minutes before I am in excruciating pain. I can't walk around much, definitely bending is out, no lifting. I almost cannot even stand up straight anymore, I have this pathetic leaning thing going on. And I officially cringe at the thought of having to get out of bed in the morning and have the pain start. (I know I sound 90 years old, and not a healthy 90.)
Pretty much the only thing I can do that makes it feel better is putting heat on it and laying on my side.

I have an incredibly high amount of pain tolerance, always have (think that's what makes me so perfectly fit for running a marathon, lol.) but that tolerance is reaching its limits, I definitely need help! Wish me luck and if you're a praying person, I'd be incredibly thankful for a prayer that the Dr's can get this figured out quick for me.

Finally writing again.
When I first started this blog, I would share this next bit of info quite frequently, but this past year I have allowed my writing to take a back burner to the rest of life.

So some of you may or may not know, a few years ago I wrote an Adult Historical Fiction Romance based during the Vietnam War. I got so busy and never got around to seeing if I could get a publisher to like it enough to give me a chance and publish it. I am finally getting on that, and I am going to get it ready to go.

I've also got a few other books in progress. One particular YA that I have started working on the past few weeks a little.

I've been asked by so many local friends to write a beginners book to blogging, which I haven't really done, but I have been compiling stuff for it. Which I will tell you more about in the next section, but since I will be teaching blogging classes, it may be in my best interest to finally get around to.
One thing that is definitely not going to get put off any longer is my love and dream of becoming a published book author, so time to get moving on that!

Last, if you're a blogger I would love your advice.
I have been asked by the County I live in to teach a introduction to blogging/beginners blogging/all the things you need/like to know to begin blogging etc... class in February.
It will be held in a conference room at one of the county libraries. I will share more information on it, soon in case any of you locally may like to attend.

But I need a title for the class, and a short catch phrase (call to action) to grab attention for the advertisement on it that will be going out.  I could let their marketing team do it, but then again they know nothing about blogging. So I asked to title it all myself, well myself with the help of some of you:)

So my creative blogging friends throw your thinking cap on, and if you have any ideas for me, I'd love to hear them!

If it goes well, I may be doing more of these. The best part is, I am actually getting paid as a public speaker to do this:) Just another great way blogging is the fun gift that has been so generous to me this year!

So that's pretty much it! 
I will quickly mention, the time off since September I have been taking for my foot/ankle work injury I believe is paying off, I've seen significant healing. If it wasn't for my back, I'd be out walking/running right now to know for sure. I am bound and determined to make 2016 my comeback year. I know what you're thinking, I said that about 2015. But when first you don't succeed, try try again, right!

Oh, I have a giveaway going on that started today as well.  Click on the Mid Winters Hop image on my sidebar for a chance to win a great prize.


If your a follower of mine, you probably know I don't believe in being politically correct, and I never will.  
So I would like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, and may you and your families experience the true meaning behind it, and share that meaning with others this week!





I am linking up with HoHo Runs and Mississippididdlin today for their Weekly Wrap!


Are you ready for Christmas? What is your favorite Christmas Tradition?

Do you have any ideas I could use as a title for the blog class I will be teaching? Or a catch phrase for it?





Sunday, December 20, 2015

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

I am excited to participate in another fun giveaway hop. I want to thank Bookhounds &  I Am a Reader Not a Writer for taking the time to host this Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop.



There have been LOTS of great books that have come out this year.  Last week, I participated in the Shadows of Angels book tour, and gave you all a sneak peak at what you can be winning in this hop. I've read the YA Dark Fantasy Shadows of Angels myself and really enjoyed it.
If you wan to check out my review of this book, to see if it interests you, you can find it HERE.

Or, here is a quick excerpt from Shadows of Angels, by L.G. Rollins.

"Stay calm, her father’s words echoed in her head. When you find yourself in danger, above all, stay calm. Aerbrin took a deep, steady breath and leaned down, reaching for her bow. one of the Forest Dwellers charged. It collided with her and knocked her to the floor. Raising a knotted fist, he bashed her head.
Sparks exploded across her vision. She tried to raise an arm, tried to call out. Her body wouldn’t respond. The Forest Dwellers grunted again. The creature above her raised its fist again. She looked up. This was the end, she knew. When these monsters attacked, they killed everything. Animals, plants, and particularly humans. No one survived.

Closing her eyes, Aerbrin forced her body to relax. This time, there was no pain."



Here is a small synopsis of the book: 

After the forest dwellers destroy her home and kill her father, Aerbrin sets off on a journey to find the truth about her people, her kingdom, and the mysterious Zaad stone that contains a power she never imagined. Magic and mystery join forces in this intriguing fantasy world. Full of shifting alliances and twists you won't see coming, it's a can't-miss read.

Does this sound like a book you'd be interested in winning?

If so, for ONE lucky winner, you can win your own Paperback copy of Shadows of Angels.
The book giveaway (because of shipping costs) is for US residents only.  However, if the winner is INTERNATIONAL, I will send them a $10 Amazon gift card, and they can use it any way they choose.

I am making it really simple to enter.  
The Rafflecopter form below, enter in the way(s) you choose.




Again, the book giveaway portion is for entrants who have a US mailing address.  However, it IS open to INTERNATIONAL entrants for a $10 Amazon gift card.
You must be 18 or older to participate and you must leave a valid email address on your Rafflecopter entry, as the winner will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond.  If no response, they forfeit their win, and another winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it, this is a blog hop so here is the list of all the participating bloggers. Go enter as many giveaways as you can between now and midnight on December 31st - Good luck:)


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shadows of Angels

I am excited to participant in the Shadows of Angels blog tour. L.G. Rollins is actually one of the gals in a local writers group I belong to. So it was even more fun to read the book, since I had met her a few times before this. Plus it is always exciting to see the talents of others you know.

I was provided with a complimentary ARC copy of this book from the publisher to read and review. However, like ALL reviews I do on this blog I give you my true honest opinion.

I never give spoilers so you can feel safe to read on!


I know I have a lot of book lover readers out there, who enjoy tossing the days stress aside and diving into a great action-packed fantasy novel that allows you to totally escape into another world. For those of you specifically, I think you will find Shadows of Angels an enjoyable read!

Because of a terrible evil called Forest Dwellers, Aerbrin is left to watch her father’s death. In his last dying breaths he places a uniquely magical object and bestows it upon her along with simple instructions, to keep it with her always and never leave it behind. Forced alone into a cruel world she ventures out to discover the truths behind the Forest Dwellers and sets out with plans to seek her own revenge on all they have taken from her.

Hilfawn is flirtatious and a little too trusting and desperate for adventure to seek escape from the life she was born into. Little does she know, the risks she takes for escape could find her falling down a path that may bring her into touch with the real truths and far more danger than she could have ever imagined possible.

Along with a few other fun characters; Timbrick a monster of a man trapped by a magic, who may be far more than he seems. Sir Vita a soldier who may or may not be playing both sides. Lady Teepin a sympathetic sole with more knowledge and kindness than one would think possible from a woman who's been kept away most of mankind for far too long.  Throw in players and Kings who are power hungry and deceitful. Add a few demons and places with some seriously dark magic and few very powerful mysterious Zadd stones and you’ve got Shadows of Angels.

Interlaced with fabulously visually descriptive writing, dangerous magic and some definitely unique settings. L.G. Rollins weaves it all together in a highly action-packed fantasy adventure. 


I really enjoyed this book, at one point it was hard to put down because there was so much going on and I didn't want to stop reading so I could keep up with it all. I also found it to be a fairly quick read, which for those of you who know me, you know I put value into book on how well the writing is, the better the writing, the easier/faster the read. In my opinion.

One other slight difference I found in this novel, than most fantasy’s on the market right now, there isn’t much if any romance. I saw a few hints, which I would guess may come into play later in the trilogy. But in this instance, I found it quite refreshing especially with all the different avenues this author takes us on, it was nice not to have to figure romance into the fold yet...

Another thing I enjoyed, in my opinion there was not just one main character, there are a few and although they all are intertwined. We get to jump around from each ones story and point of view as they take off into their different parts of the adventure. The only bad thing I decided was the fact that now I have to wait for book two to find out what happens next.
So who will enjoy this book? My recommendation is for those who like to read a fantasy that takes you into an entirely different magical world. It's not easy to compare it to other books.  However, for readers who enjoyed the enchanted settings of the Dorothy Must Die series, I think you will really like this intriguing world within Shadows of Angels. There is a fair share of death and violence, but not overwhelming. However, this is an exceptionally clean read, no profanity or explicit scenes! So if you need a great read, definitely pick up a copy of L.G. Rollins Shadows of Angels.

Also, just a quick heads up.  I am going to be giving away a paperback copy of this fabulous book to a lucky reader.  Check back on my blog, December 21st and enter for your chance to win your own copy.

You can find Shadows of Angels for sale today on Amazon.com


L. G. Rollins grew up in a far off land fighting dragons, stealing talismans, and traveling with dwarfs and elves. She is especially skilled at bribing giants with sweets. Currently, her husband and four kids live in Utah so that is where she spends most of her time. She may, or may not, have a Zaad Stone. To learn more about L. G. Rollins and her books visit LGRollins.com. Shadows of Angels comes out December 8th and is the beginning of the Zaad Stone trilogy.




Vist the Author L.G. Rollins Website or Facebook Page as well as feel free to check out the others blogs on the Shadows of Angels Blog Tour







So tell me, does this sound like a book you or someone you know would enjoy?
What are your favorite types of books to read?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

California Coastal Drives

Today for Travel Tuesday I am going to showcase a drive along the California Coast. Obviously, they have a very long coast, some of the best views are further north.  I decided to pick a shorter section the area between Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey, California for today's post.


I know I have mentioned this before, I have found beauty in almost every state I have ever visited. However, if I ever had to move from the beautiful state of Utah, California would be my next choice!


I'm showing you scenic views along the coastal HWY 1 between Big Sur and Carmel, CA.  If you take the drive it's about 1 hour.  However, you will likely add another hour or two if you take the time to stop and enjoy the views or do a little coastal hiking!


In this section of HWY 1, you will come across the famous Bixby Bridge.  Big Sur itself has lots of hiking and camping up in and around the big massive beautiful sequoia tree's.



If you like to run, I highly recommend the Big Sur International Marathon, as you'll get a first hand view on foot as you run 26.2 miles along this exact sections of the coast.




As you come up to Carmel, and the Monterey area you will find lots of parks, and beaches.  You can also visit Lovers Point Park, which is one of the only spots on the West Coast that you can watch the sunrise come up across the coast in the morning.


There are lots of sights and stunning views and things to do along this section of the California coast.  If you are ever visiting the area, I highly recommend you take the drive and spend a little time sight seeing.  It's definitely more than worth it!

Have you taken the Coastal drive in this section of California before?
What are your favorite Coastal drives to take?



Monday, December 14, 2015

Breaking All My Rules

I almost made it an entire year, without messing up any of my blogging goals this year.  Of course with only 1 month to go, I blow it for like 3 weeks straight.
If you are a regular follower of mine, you likely noticed my huge absence the past three weeks.

Without going into it too much detail, I hurt my back really bad.  Then I caught the 72 hour flu, right after that an upper respiratory cold, and a couple of days ago caught yet another cold.

So obviously, I don't have much on the exciting news front to report.  Although last night, my pothead neighbor provided me with a little excitement  (well technically he is just staying with my real neighbors).  I doubt I ever mentioned pothead before, but lately he has been quite obvious with his drug deals right out in front of my house.  People would pull up to the side of his house and double honk, and he would come running out to meet them.

(On a side note, can I just say most the people who came were surprisingly normal looking, with nice cars. Just goes to show you just never can know people, even the clean cut ones can have drug issues!)

Well, of course I provided my own amusement at his expense. Often when I would come home late, I would do a quick stop honk twice before driving around the neighborhood coming in a different direction (so he wouldn't know it was me).  Truthfully, I only started doing it when it got cold out. When it was snowing or raining, was always a plus! The thought of him running out freezing to or to get cold and wet and arrive at no drug/money exchange, oddly amuses me, LOL
Let's be honest, just thinking about all the times I did it now has me laughing.

Well guess his supplier (my guess) may have caught up to him not paying and pothead gets himself shot last night as he was leaving his house (he's apparently going to be fine). So ya, that provided some interesting window watching late last night.  I feel bad for my one neighbor their garage is all shot up, from the stay bullet holes but other than that thankfully no one innocent was hurt.
Despite what you are currently thinking, I actually live in a really great neighborhood, minus a few, and that is one of the few.  On the plus side, the kid would be stupid to ever come home, so I think he will no longer be a problem, yay!



Although, I did have to suck it up and push the illness aside and get ready for a Harry Potter Yule Ball, that I decorated for on Friday. (Ya, oddly lots of adults love to get dressed up to go to these things, 750 to be exact... crazy how many "geeks" as they call themselves (their words) are out there.)
But all in all, it went okay and looked really nice when we were done. I also tried out a new crew member and she was fabulous, pretty excited about using her in the future!
The above picture was one of the backdrops we did at one end of the ballroom, I love how it turned out! I will have pictures of the rest, I'll share another time. One of the photographers there loved it so much they took some professional ones for me of it, and will send them later this week, so sweet of them!

I should mention I did very little lifting and carrying things at this event to save whats left of my back.  My dad literally had to sit me down beforehand and say, you pay your people to help you at these events, let them do all the hard work and lifting, don't you dare. Don't ask why but I am so not easily able to not do the hard work to, but I did manage to resist. Of course it was mostly because I literally lift a few too many things and I am crying in excruciating pain and can no longer move, so that helped me make them do most of it for me. I just did the fun parts lol.

I have finally gotten back into reading again, and am enjoying a good book right now.  Think I'll even throw a review up later this week, maybe even offer another giveaway as well.

I am a several weeks now addicted to the Vampire Diaries (did I ever tell you that?) So my friend Rebecca over at Press On and Run (She doesn't even know this.) is to blame for my addiction.
About a month or so ago she was raving about a show called The Originals on her blog.  I happened to have nothing to do that night so thought I'd check it out, but first a show called Vampire Diaries came on, and it looked great so I went on Netflix and decided to watch the first episode while I waited for The Originals to come on.
Well short version, never saw The Originals, I became addicted to Vampire Diaries and a few nights a week before I go to bed, I enjoy catching an episode even if I can't get to it until near midnight, LOL. Good news is, there is lots of seasons, bad news is there is lots of seasons. But I am absolutely addicted, and oh ya if Vampires looked like Damon (pic below) on the show, I'd totally want me one of them... so hot!!!



Ya, so that is literally and sadly how my past few weeks have gone... a whole lot of nothing but being sick in bed mostly, and wondering why my back refuses to get any better on it's own. (Dr. visit is coming, just as soon as I am in the mood (over these colds) to make the appt.)
I don't even want to begin to think how even more out of shape this has all made me... but I am sure one day it will hit me.

On a side note, I haven't even started Christmas shopping, or sending out Christmas cards. I am terribly behind, and have lots and lots to catch up on this week.  Not to mention a butt load of linen laundry from Friday's event that I have put off all weekend...

Are you ready for Christmas or behind like me?
Have you ever had to break all your blogging goals, because life gets in the way? (I should feel guilty about it, but I don't. Terrible, I know!)


I am linking up with HoHo Runs and Mississippididdlin today for their Weekly Wrap!




Friday, December 11, 2015

Best of 2015 Giveaway Hop

I am excited to participate in this fun giveaway hop. If you are a book lover and you follow my blog, you are going to love all the chances to win some fabulous books in this large giveaway hop.  I want to thank Bookhounds &  I Am a Reader Not a Writer for taking the time to host this Best of 2015 Giveaway hop.



There have been LOTS of great books that have come out this year.  Earlier this week, I posted a shopping list for those who have booklovers on their to buy list.  If you want to check it out, you can HERE. As a portion in it, I included a few of my favorite YA reads this year, which are pictured below.
So for ONE lucky winner, they may have their pick of any of the books listed below.
The book giveaway is for US residents only.  However, if the winner is INTERNATIONAL, I will send them a $10 Amazon gift card, and they can use it any way they choose.

(Your Choices are ONE of the following books.)
Winter by Merissa Meyer
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Heir by Kiera Cass
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas




I am making it really simple to enter.  You've got the Rafflecopter form below, with a few options.




For those who have a little more time, and are interested in earning additional entries, you'll also see a few other things you can do in the Rafflecopter form below.

Again, the book giveaway portion is for entrants who have a US mailing address.  However, it IS open to INTERNATIONAL entrants for a $10 Amazon gift card.
You must be 18 or older to participate and you must leave a valid email address on your Rafflecopter entry, as the winner will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond.  If no response, they forfeit their win, and another winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it, this is a blog hop so here is the list of all the participating bloggers. Go enter as many giveaways as you can between now and midnight on December 18th - Good luck:)


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Best Books to Buy as Christmas Gifts 2015

If you read my blog, you know I am a book lover. When I first started blogging, I put out my favorite books each year and I realized I didn't do this last year and wanted to share some of my favorites in case you are looking to gift a book to the book lovers in your life this year.



The best part is, I read books of all levels.  Ya sometimes when it gets slow at the library I do read kids books too, and I have my favorites for pretty much all ages.
Also, if you know me, you know I enjoy reading YA books that were written more for adults in mind than just teens.  So here you go a few of my favorites this year.

KIDS PICTURE STORY BOOKS

These were my 4 favorites this year, they have both great illustrations as well as very cute story lines to go along with them.  All the kids I asked, said they love them too:)


Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen
How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
Because I stubbed my Toe by Shawn Byous
I Hate Picture Books by Timothy Young



Kids Ages 7 - 15

A few of these books (series) have been out for years and kids just love them and all the books in the series.  Technically the Michael Vey book is considered young adult, but my nephew who is 12 and all his friends just love the series.  I see kids between ages 10+ loving the Michael Vey series at the library so I decided to add it to this section.

Captain Underpants Series by Dav Pilkey
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney
Dork Diaries Series by Rachel Renee Russell
Big Nate Series by Lincoln pierce
Michael Vey Series by Richard Paul Evans
YA BOOKS 
(for both Young Adult and Adults)

These were my top 4 favorite YA books I read this year.  I should mention that Winter is the 4th and final book in a series.  The Heir is the 4th book in that series.  However, the other two books listed are the 1st books in their new series, with the next in the series scheduled to come out in 2016.

Winter by Merissa Meyer
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Heir by Kiera Cass
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas





So there you have it.  I would do a section on just specific adults, but truthfully I haven't read many this year that I really liked enough to show off.  


Do you have a book lover on your shopping list this year?
Did my list give you any ideas?  Do you have other great books to add to this list?


Monday, November 30, 2015

Life Always has Different Plans for me, Than I have Planned

I hope everyone of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend filled with lots of great family and great friends! I did have a great time myself, lots of yummy food and lots of laughter and fun!

We finally have winter here, I don't think it's gotten above 30 degree's all week, and Saturday it just lightly snowed all day.

I already bought myself a Christmas present, so excited. Season tickets to Tuacahn, wish if you aren't familiar with it, it's Broadway in the desert down in St. George, UT. The plays there rivial those you would see on Broadway in New York, seriously! Next years plays are  Peter Pan, Disney's Tarzan and Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame and I will be seeing them all!  Totally excited.  YAY, me!

I did have a wedding over the holiday weekend, it went well. Oh, and I was reminded quickly how much I don't particularly like pulling a trailer on icy roads.  I had a scary 50 feet sliding down a hill, fortunately I have been pulling a trailer for years and with a great truck I was able to correct things before sliding through a red light into traffic.
But even so, I still dislike pulling a trailer on black ice roads.  Everything went great at the wedding, but towards the end I had a little accident of sorts (not with the trailer, thankfully).

In short, I have had some gradual pain over the past few months that I couldn't shake kept getting a little worse and worse by week in my L4 region, (which happens to be the same place I have a bulging disc from car accidents years ago.  )
Saturday while I was taking down the wedding.  The pain kept getting more and more intense and to the point that I could no longer use my back.

It's so bad,  I can barely move around much right now. In fact I had difficulty lifting the milk out of the fridge and pour it in my cereal bowl. I also can barely take the pain from pushing my muscles to stand up straight, so ya I am an embarrassing leaning person walking around. I am sure I look like a leaning 90 year old as I walk.


I won't see a Chiro, I will wait for a Specialist. I had a few bad experiences many years ago with dishonest Chiro's, and I don't trust them for anything. I have a few close friends who have been injured worse by them too. Plus, I have had many doctors and specialists tell me not to take the risk of seeing one.  So despite that I do know some do say they find help with them. I refuse to see one myself. So if your wondering why I haven't ran down to a nearby office of one of them today, that is why.  All that, and even though I am no doctor I am pretty sure things are aligned, this is something else.

Sleeping on my side, taking good drugs is pretty much the only thing that keeps the pain to a minimum. I cannot be on my back or stomach at all and I can only sit or stand for short periods of time.
It doesn't help the fact that of course I would come down with a flu bug as well this weekend. Which is why I attribute the fact that I slept in until 1pm today, and seriously could go right back to bed and not blink an eye right now. In fact, I just might!
I am hoping this is one of those 72 hour things and tomorrow I will wake up flu free again, wishful thinking never hurts anyone!

I meant to take last week of blogging for the most part, and just enjoy a little break.  I did, not mean for it to have to extend beyond that.  But due to current circumstances, I may have to drop post frequency down this week a little. We will see what happens.  But I wanted to let you all know what is going on, and why I might not be around quite as much this week.

There are still MANY awesome giveaways going on right now.  On my sidebar, you will see a link to the Holiday Giveaway Hop going on right now, click on it and take some time today to enter to win some awesome prizes!


So tell me, did you have a great Thanksgiving?
Do you buy yourself a big present each year like I do? If so, what are you buying yourself?



Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 Holiday Giveaway Hop

Welcome!  If you're stopping by my blog today, you are on the first stop to entering several awesome giveaways.
I really enjoy hosting these giveaway hops, there are always so many amazing bloggers participating with us.  

Special thanks to my Co-Host Tutus and Tennies for helping spread the word so we could gather such an awesome group of bloggers to participate with us.


My giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY


First what is a giveaway hop?  
At the end of this post, you'll find a list of other blogger names.  After you enter my giveaway, click on the next name on the list HOP on over to their giveaway.
Each blog you visit, has the list posted at the bottom.  We make it easy to visit and quickly enter lots and lots of great giveaways, and give you a chance to come across some amazing blogs you might not have otherwise.




Like the new blog you stopped by to visit during the hop? Make sure to add them to your blog watch list so you can stop by and check out their future posts.


Okay, so now down to what you stopped by for today.  It's the early beginnings of the Holiday season, with Thanksgiving and Christmas on their way. What better time to enter a bunch of giveaways and increase your chances at winning some awesome prizes for yourself this year!

On my blog, you can enter to win an Amazon gift card.  The great part about this and Amazon is you can spend it on something you need or want!

I am giving away to 1 lucky winner a $25 gift card to Amazon.com.



How can you enter?

It's very simple.  Just below this you'll see a Rafflecopter form.  As a way to thank you my fabulous followers, there is a FREE entry for everyone.
If you'd like a few additional chances at more entries, there are a few additional ways to earn entries.

It's that simple!

Giveaway runs between November 23rd - December 6th.  You must be 18 or older to enter, and have a valid email address.  Winner will be posted on this blog between Dec. 7-8th, and will be notified via the email provided.  Winner has 48 hours to respond, if no response winner forfeits winnings and another winner may be chosen.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, hop on over to the next blog on the hop, and then the next...  


Enter as many awesome giveaways as you have time for between now and December 6th.  Feel free to share the all the giveaway's with your friends too!



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Who is Runaway Bridal Planner and Do I Really Want to Know Her?

Welcome all of my incredible blogging friends.  I have really enjoyed hosting the two hops over the past month, I really appreciate all your hard work and participation it makes everything  I have put into it feel so worthwhile!

I'll be the first one to admit that I am different, completely non-perfect, a little odd, strange or weird at times. But I am sure about a few things, I am happy, I love life, love adventure, enjoy the big and little things and I am more than okay with being me.

So I am going to introduce myself to you, in the form of a bunch of random facts, mixed with my favorite quotes with my own photography from places I have been.  Allowing you a little insight into who is the gal behind Runaway Bridal Planner and do you really want to follow her blog.




I am a runner, up until a work injury I received almost 3 years ago I had been working on a goal to run a full marathon in each of the 50 states & D.C. I am currently at 32 completed and I am really looking forward to finishing battling back from this work injury and getting back into it and finishing the last 19, because frankly it's just a fun goal, and I want it badly!
Yes, I have hope I will heal and one thing anyone can say about me is, I am a gal who never gives up on that hope!


My main job, I am a wedding planner/decorator. I went to college for Interior Design and took a little time after to figure how the best way to use my skills and degree.  7 years ago I went out of my comfort zone and purchased an existing wedding decoration company and through the ups and downs have built it up to what it is today. I employ some of the greatest decorating team members ever, we seriously do make an amazing team, we make our clients very happy and have such a fun time doing it! Even on the crazy insane wedding days!


I've run 39 marathons. About 7 half marathon races.  I lost track years ago on how many 10k's and 5k's, but I do know the combined number is well over 100.  I seriously love all distances, even if my race of choice is 26.2.


I love to travel, and if it's a racecation all the better. I also like to take my camera with me and snap away with it. Which is why I host a Travel Tuesday series on my blog, and showcase a new place to visit, hike or see.  I've already showcased over 60+ destinations, if you want to check them out you can visit the Travel Tuesday page. Let's just say, being single does have it's benefits when it comes to being able to up and travel anytime I want!


In all the marathons and races I have done. I've never had a serious injury from running.
Sure, I have had injuries (like the current work one) that have kept me from running, but all were done while doing other things, because sometimes I forget I need to be careful at work or playing around! (It's true, I forget to think before I act, I'll be the first to admit I have my dumb moments.)

I attribute being a mostly injury free runner to a couple of factors. First, I train old school the way my dad trained me.  I believe in putting the weekly training miles in 5-6 days a week and definitely understand the importance of all those long runs!
But mostly think it's because I haven't gotten into any of the newer training trends that have come out on the market for runners over the last 10+ years.  In my mind I figure if most marathon runners in the 70's-90's were pretty healthy and injury free, and it seems like newer runners trying all these "new" methods nowadays get injured all the time.  I figure the older ways are good enough for me and why change what works for me!


I am the (self proclaimed) worlds greatest aunt.  I am an awesome aunt to 8 even more awesome kids and when I am not working I am usually out playing with them. They help keep me young, and I can pass on my love for camping, hiking and running to them.


I ran my first race (1/2 mi.) when I was in the 2nd grade and I remember it in detail to this day. Because I was so mad I came in 2nd and only 1st place got these cool Coke trophy's. When I was upset about it, I remember my dad taught me a valuable lesson.  He was proud of my accomplishment but reminded me if I want to do better and I want the trophy's, I could get them but I needed to work harder at it.
He was right, and I thank him and my mom for passing down hard work ethics and goal oriented determination that has helped me have the work philosophy and success in my life that I have had.
I do believe one of the reason's society is so messed up right now is because so many think no matter the effort everyone is equally deserving.  But nothing teaches you better long term life lessons than learning to work hard to get what you want and not stopping until you get it.  I think that is why I love running so much!


I am weird, If I run the entire way in a marathon and I am talking about the race to others I will say "I ran a marathon."  However, if I walked in the race at all (minus a few steps at water stations if its forced because they are crowded. ) I will tell you is "I finished a marathon."  I have a story behind this, as to why I am weird this way but it would make everyone roll their eyes. FYI, believe it or not, my mind doesn't generally think this way when others tell me about their races, it's just a personal thing and frankly it doesn't even really matter so I don't know why my mind keeps on this way. Again, like I said above, I am odd sometimes... lots of times, LOL


I am a thrill seeker and I am a little fearless (yet still careful) when it comes to exciting things. These are a few of my crazier adventures; Skydiving, Shark Diving, Kayaking in a portion of the Bermuda triangle, Para Sailing, Cliff Diving, Repelling,Rock Climbing, Caving, Canyoneering, Bungee Jumping. Mountain biking Moab Slickrock and Alaska Glacial landing near Denali.
Sometimes there is nothing better than the adrenaline you get trying something that scares you a little, or something that you know not everyone would be willing to do. (FYI: for skydiving, I made an attempt to pick the highest dive so I could have the longest freefall, just over 60 seconds of freefall from a little over 18,500 feet. So AWESOME! - I recommend a long freefall to anyone wanting to try it!)


I tried an ice bath twice (the NYC Marathon and Little Rock Marathon), I didn't notice it did much for me other than reward my efforts with freezing cold misery.
So I don't do them anymore, instead I have found a mile walk or very easy short run/hike the evening after a marathon helps the healing process and swelling even better or just as good.

I know several runners beg to differ, but I mean I just ran 26.2 and gave it my all, why on earth would I want to sit in a tub of cold water and ice cubes as a reward?  No thank you, I would rather reward myself with an ice cold Pepsi and a juicy burger or fat slice of pizza and enjoy rather than freeze to death after my accomplishment.

Just a few of my medal bling pretties :)

I grew up in a family that hunted, but somewhere through the years I found I enjoyed shooting them with my camera far more than a weapon and so did most of my family. Now I take my camera with me hiking each time just in case I see something amazing and I have given up hunting (for now)!
On a side note, I am an excellent shot and as the guys in my hunters safety class back when I was 13 learned as do the few I meet at the ranges now. I am one girl, you definitely don't want to bet against, I rarely miss and always hit my mark!
You can just see me dripping in humble pie now can't you, LOL.  But hey, if something about you in life is true, good or bad, you just gotta own it right!


I only display my marathon finisher medals, and first place finisher medals (even as few 1st's as there are.) The rest are in storage boxes or scrapbooks, however, I have also boxed up all first place medals and ribbons from my younger years.  There is just a point where too much is too much!
Additionally, I'd also rather not receive finishers medal in shorter races, I would much rather fun runs go back to how they used to be have some fun creative swag I could actually use or a free race picture instead. (I am well aware I am in the minority on this, and that is definitely okay:)


In my perfect world, I would be camping at a different location every other week! Oh, and there would be a considerable amount of hiking and fishing thrown into that!  I might as well throw in, that marrying an incredibly gorgeous guy both inside and out would also be a great bonus to bring along to my perfect mountain loving world! (As for the last part, I am working on that:)


I love to read, I have read 45 books this year, however I haven't had time to sit and read since before Labor Day. *insert my sad face* Last year I finished the year with 75 novels read, and I am pretty sure this year I won't come close to that. But I am definitely looking forward to Winter by Marissa Meyer that just came out last week.  I have it on hold at the library and hopefully it arrives asap and I will make time to read that one!


Different than many runners (unless you live out west) I HATE flat marathon courses, they are too boring.  I actually enjoy hills. ( I know you are either thinking, she's nuts or rock on!)

I also like race courses that take you back into places where you can go miles and miles without seeing anyone other than the other runners. Sometimes I find its nice to allow your own thoughts to motivate you rather than cheer support and the ever annoying "your almost there" shouts.


I am a people person and can be found talking to complete strangers at any given time. Because hello, people are fascinating interesting and crazies in both good and bad ways.

However, I am NOT a people pleaser or one who joins in with the crowd. (Unless you hire me for your wedding, and then it may only last one day. LOL)
It's a fairly decent bet that if I am not okay with a conversation or something going on. I will be the one to stand alone against it and by the time I am finished, others will either agree with me or know there is no changing my mind!


The greatest running advice I have ever been given, was given to me by my dad just about every race I have run since I was 7.  If you are a runner and he has trained you or talked with you before or even if he comes in contact with you as he is dropping me off at a marathon starting line.  (Yes, I get the people person, talk to random stranger thing from him. ) He will share his famous yet excellent words of advice to have the best race possible. "Start out fast, pick it up in the middle and pour it on in the end." Quite great advice to race your best race each time!


So now you know a little bit more about me and I can say if you like what you read above, then you will probably enjoy my blog because I bring in my different passions for life into the subjects I write about and share on here.



If you didn't like it, or can't relate, no worries.  That is the beauty about life and people, we all like and enjoy different things, and that is actually a great thing!  There are so many awesome different types of blogs out there, and I am sure over the past few weeks and tomorrow there will be others you do relate to and want to continue to follow!  You can learn more on my About Me page, but I am going to leave you with my mission statement.

My Blog and Life Mission Statement

I believe goals are meant to be made and achieved.
Dreams are meant to be big, bigger and lived.

I truly believe with all my heart, that absolutely anything is possible 
if I want it bad enough. But may only be achieved if I am willing to put in 
all the hard work necessary to get it! I also believe very little will naturally fall 
into my lap if I don't take the initiative to do what it takes to earn it!  

I believe I have the ability to learn how to do anything
and the sky is really only the limits I make it.

I don't believe quitting is for losers, because I understand goals may have to change.
However, I do believe quitting on things you are passionate about is a sure way
to miss out on a life of happiness.  Even if it takes the rest of your life working to achieve it.

I believe not everything you do should only be about yourself.
Being kind, charitable and showing awareness towards the needs of others 
will bring you far more happiness than the biggest dream you can imagine!




Now that you know some Random things about me, share with me something totally random about you! 
Oh, and if you want to know where I took any of the above pictures, just ask and I will let you know!

Also, if you are kind enough to leave a comment I use the Disqus comment system, it is pretty simple to use but if you don't have an account will you please leave me a link to your blog, so I can come check out your latest post too?