Here we are. 1 down and only 51 more to go. Weeks of 2014 that is.

I’m still on the new year, self-improvement train so I’m actively seeking new inspiration, creating goals and taking stock of what my year is going to look like. Are you there too or have you already jumped ship?

Friday Faves and Blogger Meet-ups FoodieCrush.com

This was your most liked Instagram pic of the week

 

While I’m knee-deep into healthy saladsslow cooker recipes and Instgramming it all as I go, I’m already dreaming of new recipes for Valentine’s Day cookies and summer cookouts. It’s what sitting on my couch in front of a gas-lit fire, day dreaming of wild visions and FoodieCrush plans for 2014 will do for this gal.

Even though I spend most of my days solo when I’m cooking up a storm or playing with pictures on my computer, I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to spend good old fashioned one-on-one time—live and in person—with several groups of very creative cohorts who are in the same blogging boat and happen to live nearby.

This week I went on two blogging brainstorming dates with two different groups of blogging buddies. Our goals were to talk shop and bounce new ideas off of one another, explore new ideas and take a hard look at the big picture and the nuts and bolts of our businesses.

We all walked away feeling inspired and ready to move the needle forward. Are you ready to move forward too?

Do you have a blogging buddy group to help you move your blog forward? If not, here’s how you can make it happen:

Reach out to social media to find bloggers in your area. Don’t feel like they need to be in the same niche as you, just make sure they want to improve their blog, and have ideas for yours too. Sometimes a different genre’s perspective is exactly what you should be looking for.

Choose the day for a meet-up. Ask each participant to choose 3 goals/tasks/dreams they’ve been aching to achieve. These can be big ideas or small housekeeping tasks, just make it a wish you need help in coming true.

Meet in person to discuss/brainstorm/talk your ideas out. Ideal spots are coffee shops, one of your living rooms, the local library or even a park. This is a working date so be sure there’s room to open your notebooks and keep distractions to a minumum. We like to plan a lunch or team workout after the bizness gets done.

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Be honest about what you want to accomplish and realistic in your expectations. Once you’ve voiced your goals and aspirations, you’re more apt to make it happen. And be ready for constructive criticism to come your way. These friends are guides to give you an unbiased opinion to make you and your blog better.

Set the date for the next meet-up. Follow up is vital to achieving goals. Where would Weight Watchers be without it? Update everyone with the progress each of you has made, choose new tactics or goals to achieve and motivate one other moving forward and dreaming big.

It’s grounding. It’s inspiring. And it works. And it’s far more productive than book club where the wine is flowing and The Bachelor gossip takes over.

Not to say I haven’t been known to drink wine when talking business…but The Bachelor? Never. Just sayin’.

Do you have a group of blogging buddies near you who can help coach you on your way to success? Even if you don’t have fellow bloggers in the same city, town, or even the same state, thanks to the wonders of technology you can still move your business forward with those you admire and who understand your challenges.

Here’s how to create a virtual brainstorming meet-up:

Take advantage of the awesomeness and ease of face to face online communication. Invite a few comrades to join in a Google video chat (where you can share desktops and even record your visit) or Skype session. Or if you’re Apple geeks, take a cue from my 9-year-old and her friends who do their homework vrtually on Facetime.

Create a private Facebook group where bloggers of a feather can flock together, to encourage, motivate and share behind the scenes information. If you’re already a member of a group like this, offer an invitation to a blogger who has something to share.

Chat with other bloggers via instant messaging. Bounce quick ideas off one another or give a quick and easy word of encouragement with Gchat, Adium or Pidgin. Voxer is a two way messaging app that’s kind of fun to use if you’re on mobile. Facebook also has video capabilities as long as you don’t get distracted by the status update of how your cousin’s sister-in-law’s dentist appointment went.

And if it all seems too techie for your taste, go old school and actually pick up the phone and make a call. While it may not have the flash and the dash, it’s still my favorite way to get things done. Don’t let the advantages of tech take over the opportunity to connect with those you admire in a personal way.

The start of awards season kicks off this weekend so let’s whet our whistle with the opening monologue of the 2013 Golden Globes by two of the freaking funniest women ever, and which is STILL, one year later, freaking funny (and don’t miss that last shot of hottie boom body Bradley Cooper. Oh my, my.)

I’ll be watching the Globes from the sports book in Las Vegas with one of my besties as we sip birthday champagne and work on winning big. Who wants me to put down $20 bucks on the first wardrobe malfunction of the night? I’m here to serve.

Now onto this week’s Friday Faves.

1. 10 small ways to organize your kitchen. Everyone needs to do #9!

2. This is fantastic! It’s my favorite and now I can have as much as I want! Well, kinda.

3. Seriously, you need to check out the Ham and Bananas Hollandaise. 21 truly upsetting vintage food recipes. Ew.

4. Great tips and relatable stories in this G+ hangout video on how to lose weight and keep it off for good.

5. This version of my all-time favorite sauce is tempting me to tell my diet to take a hike.

6. I’m getting myself and my blog organized with this free downloadable blog content planner. So much good and free stuff online.

7. A burrito vending machine? Will this be the end of the Taco Time drive thru? What’s next? The legalization of marijuana in Colorado and a Velveeta shortage? Coincidence?

8. What great tips for an ordinary kitchen tool! I’ve used it for #1 before but am totally trying #7 once April rolls around.

9. These little notebooks in orange AND gold? Be still my favorite-colors-loving-heart.

10. If you shoot video with your Canon camera (I have this one), bookmark this immediately. You can thank me in chocolate, cheese and ramen noodles.

11. How much fun is this free downloadable party planner? In three different color combos no less. Tangerine, navy and pink are WINNING!

12. Not-Fun Email No. 6: “Hello, you don’t know me but … you offend my sensibilities + I just felt you ought to know.” How to tactfully answer those emails you never want to receive and not sound like a jerk.

13. Are you stuck in a rut and can’t figure out what in the heck to write about for your next post? Take a cue from this post of 32 of the most popular blog post ideas.

14. What exactly is a Phythalate and why am I putting it on my face? If you’re going the au naturel route, here are 10 ingredients to avoid in beauty products.

15. Something like this Polaroid meets instant printer is probably the only reason I’d ever go with an Android phone. Instant Instagram printing!

And now from healthy to oh-so-naughty, the photos and recipes I saw this week that made me want to ditch the diet and Pin with wild abandon (follow me here): 

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We’re only 6 months away from the height of summer  and classic fair food and the beauty of these Churros With Chocolate Dip from Call Me Cupcake could teleport me there now.

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I love the lifestyle photos from the post that features The Best Toasted Oatmeal from A Couple of Cooks. They make me want to eat oatmeal everyday.

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Show me a photo of a recipe with a gooey, drippy egg on it and I am immediately attracted to it like a teen girl and Harry Styles. But top it on a melted ham and cheese? This Croque Monsieur with Poached Eggs from Alexandra Cooks has it all. Dipper-iffic.

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When I gather the courage to make my own buns, these Perfect Chewy Pretzel Buns from Savory Simple are at the top of my list. Don’t you love those perfectly crusted salty tops?

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I can’t say no to Asian soup. It just doesn’t happen. Mi-so-love Miso Shiitake Mushroom Soup from Love and Lemons. At least I can make myself laugh. I’m just not that funny to the rest of you.

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Oh man. Topping off the list with this seriously-must-make recipe because it has every single one of my favorite flavors in it. Dark Chocolate Chunk Coconut Key Lime Pound Cake from Baker by Nature. Oh Ashley, why don’t you live closer so I could eat this hot out of your oven?

Happy weekending and make and eat something good. Viva Las Vegas!

As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. 

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