Raising Children: Concepts I’d Like to Instill

Raising Children: Seven Concepts I’d Like to Instill

I’ve always had ideas of what I would like to teach my children once they entered the world. “Golf is the greatest sport of all time” or “Math is so easy” are two examples, but now that my son is finally here I’ve found myself thinking about things I want him to learn that hold so much more relevance and importance to life. I want him and his future siblings to be the very best humans, friends, and all around people that they can be. I’ve learned many lessons throughout my life, but I think the next seven concepts will help in raising my children, and I also think these ideas will help my children traverse this crazy world all that much easier.

Relaxing Without Technology

To me, this is the most important thing that I want to instill while my children are young. I don’t want them to be reliant on a phone, tablet, or computer to relax or settle themselves down. I’m sure there will be a time and a place when my significant other and I will use technology to soothe our children, but I would like those times and places to be very few and far between. There are so many other things that can be used to calm that fussing, and many of those also offer tangible benefits to development and brain activity. I’m sure there are countless individuals right now saying something along the lines of, “But Dusty, introducing children to technology at a young age helps them better understand it as they grow.” I can see your point with that statement, but I also think you can teach your children about technology without allowing them to glue their faces to a screen in order to stay calm.

I want my children to be as unplugged as possible. In fact, I want this to carry over into their adult lives as well. I’ll admit, I’m no saint when it comes to screen time. I’m a huge gamer so if I have any free time away from work you will more than likely find me plopped right in front of my TV grinding away at whatever game I’m currently playing. Clearly, I’m also a blogger (and I happen to be working on a novel as well), so you can see how I have a requirement to use technology there as well. But the thing is, I can distinguish when I need to set my phone or controller down to spend time with those around me. Nothing bothers me more than when I’m surrounded by friends or family and every single person is on their phone. I hope that by raising children to soothe themselves without technology they will also learn the social cues that will help them avoid becoming a nomophobe later in life.

Reading is Awesome

I don’t think there will be any problem instilling this within my children. I love to read, especially if it is anything within the realm of fantasy. Granted, working full time, blogging on the side, and writing a book doesn’t leave much time for me to read much outside of my own work, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. My significant other is an English and Reading teacher as well, so she constantly has her nose in books too. On top of that, I am a firm believer that reading grows one’s creativity exponentially, and I can say that I wouldn’t be as creative as I am today without the countless books I’ve read throughout my life. Ideally, I’d like to tie this directly into tech-less soothing and have my children remain relaxed via reading. It’s been proven time and time again that reading helps so many people deal with high levels of stress or anxiety, so why can’t it be used to calm down or relax a child?

Education Over Everything

This also ties into the previous concept since reading is such an integral aspect of education. When I was growing up, school always came first. The second I was home I sat at my desk and pumped out all of my homework before doing anything else. This not only taught me valuable time management skills that I still use to this day, but it also taught me how to prioritize the things that are most important, and to plan for things that are on the horizon. A good education can also bring a child much needed scholarship and grant money if they’re planning on going to college. Some people may argue that education may be important but athletic scholarships are more important. While I don’t completely disagree with that, what happens when your star athlete child is injured and can no longer play? They need that education as a fail-safe for any and all unfortunate occurrences, which is why I will try to instill in my children that their education stands well above anything else.

Be Outside During Daylight Hours

This was something that I wish I would’ve adhered to a little more when I was younger. As I mentioned previously, I am a huge gamer and have been ever since my dad bought me my first Game Boy back in ’98. The second I finished my homework I dove into video games until I went to bed. On Saturday mornings you would find me up at the crack of dawn watching cartoons, and I wouldn’t move from that couch until I was told to. Both of these things led to me being a pretty obese child, which is something I think could have easily been avoided if I had been an outside more.

Other than the clear increase in exercise or activity, there are many other additional benefits that we receive from being outside. The vitamin D our bodies absorb from the sun is a key ingredient in developing strong bones and immune systems. Their creativity and ingenuity levels have a strong chance of developing as they try to keep themselves entertained with new games and activities. It can also teach children important social skills that will help them socialize with other children their age.

Practice Makes Perfect

I know, what a cliché, but it is 100% true. I learned this very early on in life from my father, who believe it or not, bought me a multiplication book that changed how I did math for the rest of my life. That may sound extremely lame, but I am dead serious when I say practice does actually make perfect. I was probably six or seven when he bought me that book and I tore through it once he showed me how to do a few problems. From there I started doing math in my head whenever I had the chance. I was that weird child who would calculate tax out at dinner or figure out the cash back at the grocery store before the teller input the amounts into the computer. I still to this day am the friend in my friend group who everyone looks to when they need any sort of math done.

Now, this obviously doesn’t only apply to math. It can apply to sports, reading, playing an instrument, or even something as simple as riding a bike, and that is what I want my children to know. They will fail at some point, but getting back up, dusting themselves off, and trying again will lead to better results. Along with all of this my children will hopefully realize that all of that practice also instills other key life skills: drive, dedication, a solid work ethic, and how to have fun just to name a few.

You Can be Anything You Want To Be

This is something that most children probably hear from their parents at some point in their lives, but I don’t think many kids realize how true that statement actually is. I want my children to know that they can be anything they want to be, but that sometimes, you won’t actually know what that thing is until later in life. For example, when I was growing up I told everyone I could that I wanted to be an architect. Funny thing is, I got to high school and my architect teacher told me that I would be a better engineer because I was good with math and science. So I went to college to be an engineer… and hated it so much that by my second semester I switched to economics. From there, I changed my mind three more times before settling back into finance which is what I do today. But I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a writer until I was two years removed from college! It’s hard to find something in this world that you are truly passionate about and can enjoy doing for work, so I will urge my children as they age to cast their net wide in the hopes of finding what they truly want to be.

Be Confident in Yourself

As an obese child, confidence was something I severely lacked. As I aged, I gained little chunks of confidence here and there, but nothing ever really helped. However, by my junior year of college I finally became comfortable and confident with myself, and since then I’ve felt like a completely different person. I was no longer afraid to be in large groups of people. I no longer afraid of getting called on during class. That confidence even carried into my career and has helped me become a better analyst. I no longer fear what could happen if I make a wrong assumption with my work. I’m not afraid to ask a tough question if I know the answer will better me or the company. Like I said earlier, sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed, and as someone with little to no confidence you may be afraid to fail. That fear of wondering what may happen if you fail can eat away at you, and that is why I want to be sure my children are confident with everything they do at a young age. I don’t want them to worry about standing in front of people to read, perform, et cetera.


While all the above are important, the one concept we want our children to adhere to day in and day out is to be kind. That goes above simply “treating others the way you want to be treated”. We want our children to know what it means to be a good friend or a good partner. This means our children will be willing to be helpers as well as listeners, they will stand up for what is right even if that means they will stand alone, and they will not pass any judgements on others. Kindness is something this world needs more of and the best place to start in creating more is raising our children with it.


For more original content, be sure to follow the link below. From there you will find all of my blog posts, anything related to my book or mini-series, and even some bonus content every now and again. Thanks for stopping by DustyPosts!

Round 2: The Big Easy Travel Guide

Round 2: A Big Easy Travel Guide

As I returned home from what is now my annual trip to New Orleans, I couldn’t help but miss everything that I was leaving behind. It’s a place I wish I could visit every day, but my body thanks me for choosing not to. For those of you who have never been, I highly suggest visiting. Whether you’re there to drink, eat, or simply enjoy the company you’re with, the Big Easy has a spot or two for you. If you take any suggestions from one of my prior NOLA posts or follow even one of my suggestions below, I guarantee that you will have an exceptional time while in the Cajun capital.

#1 – Any Big Easy Ghost Tour

When I say any ghost tour, I literally mean any ghost tour. Walking through the dimly lit back streets of the Big Easy while listening to a tour guide story out all of the sadistic things that have happened there over the years makes for quite the spooky experience. You can learn anything from the zombie rumors that surfaced during the plague of the 1700’s to the possibilities of what happened to Delphine LaLaurie after the slave fire of 1834. The history and architecture of New Orleans is absolutely spectacular and it amounts to loads of great ghost stories for your vacation.

#2 – A Drink from Pat O’Brien’s

Pat O’Brien’s is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, drinking destinations within the Big Easy. They’re known for their Hurricanes yet their cocktail menu is endless. Whether you decide upon a Hurricane, a Cyclone, or a Cat-5 Margarita, you absolutely must try one of their drinks. Besides the taste, all drinks have their own unique, exotic color scheme, and the Rainbow even contains every color of… you guessed it, the rainbow! I highly suggest going on a football Sunday when the Saints are playing at home too. You’ll experience a little of the local flare along with your tasty drink and I doubt you will lack amusement.

#3 – Johnny’s Po-Boys Fried Chicken Biscuits and Gravy

If you’re familiar with any of my other New Orleans pieces, you know how much I love Johnny’s Po-Boys. Every time I’ve eaten there its always been slammed packed full of patrons but it is well worth the wait. This time around while visiting my favorite Big Easy dining establishment I branched out from my typical Surf-n-Turf Po-Boy to try Johnny’s fried chicken biscuit and gravy. If I thought their Po-Boys were good, there wasn’t a word to describe how I felt while eating this masterpiece. It was probably the best fried chicken I’ve had in my entire life. The gravy was loaded with sausage and was the perfect consistency for the warm, buttery biscuit underneath. Plus they give you a massive portion so you know you’ll be full by the time you’re done!

#4 – Willie’s Chicken Shack

Many may disagree, but Willie’s is one of the greatest quick chicken spots to eat at in the Big Easy. They’re sprinkled all over the French Quarter and its surrounding streets, so if one is busy just head to the next one down the block. They also have an entire wall of frozen drinks that are a perfect pairing for that basket of chicken. Be sure to try their special sauces while you’re there as well, they’re very tasty!

Many people associate New Orleans with partying and absurd drunken conduct at all times of the day. While that may be true during Mardi Gras, anytime LSU has a big game coming up, or random weeknights, there is so much more to the city than that. Exquisite cuisine, great historical stories, and beautiful architecture are just a few things that envelop this magnificent city, and those are the real reasons why one should visit the Big Easy.


Thanks again for reading my guide on things to do in New Orleans. As always, please leave some feedback and give my page a follow so you can experience all of my content. I’d love to hear from all of my wonderful readers, so be sure to rate/comment often!

Six Things to Know About Owning a Husky

Six Things to Know About Owning a Husky

Are you looking into getting a husky? Are you curious about their temperament or what you’d be in for if you found yourself with a cute little husky pup? Well then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide I’ll cover some key topics that many people don’t know about huskies and I’ll even provide some real life examples from my husky, Addison.

A Husky Can Survive Outside of Cold Weather

Do you know how many times people have asked why I would own a husky in Florida? The answer to that is WAY too many. Just because huskies are typically cold weather dogs doesn’t mean they are struggling to survive in warmer weather. The crazy thing is that they actually adapt when in warmer climates. The same fur coat that keeps them warm during harsh winters is also what cools them down when they are hot! Granted, warmer temperatures require more attention, such as giving plenty of water and always making sure there is some shade nearby, but it is not a life or death situation to have a husky in sunshine. This actually leads me directly into my next point, which is…

You Should Never, and I Mean Never, Give a Husky a Haircut!

This is actually like the worst thing you could ever do for a husky that lives in warmer weather. As I mentioned above, that fur is what keeps them cool, but without that fur your husky could also get sun burnt. Huskies have extremely sensitive skin when it comes to sunlight and can get burnt very easily. So if you’re truly worried about your husky’s body temperature, buy them a kiddie pool and let them soak a little after play time!

Huskies are Vocal, Extremely Vocal

Now when I say vocal, I don’t mean they are constantly barking at every dog, squirrel, or human that walks by your house. I mean that when they want something, or sometimes just because, they will make the funniest howling noises directly at you. Of course, this also comes with a lot of whining when they want something you aren’t giving them too. It’s actually pretty entertaining to have such a talkative dog though. I can have entire conversations, full of different whines, growls, and howls with Addison.

They Are Some of the Most Energetic Dogs

This is no joke, huskies will run you under the bridge twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You should anticipate giving the typical husky at least an hour of exercise a day, but should probably keep that closer to two hours if you ever want to sleep. Our husky will literally run sprints around the inside of house on days when we can’t go outside. She also loves fetch on a ridiculous level and will chase a ball across our back room for hours at a time. Lately, she’s also picked up this strange new habit where she will kangaroo hop around the house while chasing toys. The funny thing is, even if you can’t get them that full hour or two a day, they will find a way to get it themselves.

The Intelligence of Huskies is Underrated

According to canine psychologist Stanley Coren, the typical husky is only of “average” intelligence. In his trials, they landed at 74th of 138 dog breeds. His test, essentially, only factors in the number of attempts to learn a new command, and the success rate that a dog will obey any given command on the first try. Addison could be an outlier, but she has picked up on every command we have given her in much less time than what this experiment shows. For instance, when we got Addy she was only 8 weeks old and one of the first things we taught her was ringing the bell when she needed to use the bathroom. Within five or ten bathroom trips in her first few days with us, she was already religiously ringing that bell. She also picked up on “leave it” and “gentle” with only about a half day’s worth of practice.

But this leads me to a third category that I believe should have been included in Coren’s trials; stubbornness. Huskies are notoriously known for being some of the most stubborn breeds and I can wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I think it’s important to factor this into the intelligence rating though, because 100% of the time, Addison knows if she is or isn’t going to follow our commands. Her mood and our tone can lead to immense stubbornness or little to none. But if removed, I’d bet huskies ranked much higher among those same 138 breeds in Coren’s trials. It goes without saying though that huskies are much more intelligent than they’re given credit for.

Your Husky Will NOT be an Off-Leash Dog

Another thing you should probably know about huskies is that they aren’t the greatest off-leash dogs. They are crazy quick, very agile, and more intelligent than one may think. Those three things combined equal the perfect escape artist. We almost never take Addy off leash when she’s outside purely for precautionary reasons. In the past, She has snuck through multiple people to make it outside and taken off after the first thing that steals her attention. Luckily for us, she was smart enough to realize she needed to come back after about a 100-yard sprint down the street!

So for all of you thinking about bringing a husky into your life, remember the six things I’ve mentioned above. While you may think some of these things are deal breakers or that they make huskies bad pups, just remember this. For all the stubborn sass, intense energy, and vocality your husky will provide, they will bring even more joy, cuddles, and laughter.


Thanks for reading my guide on huskies! I read something similar to this before Addison joined our family. It was such a great help I thought I’d write my own for all of you. If you like this content, be sure to check out the rest here. Thanks again!

Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

My Proprietary Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

Do you have a hard time waking up early to cook breakfast before heading in to work? Is that cup of coffee you’re clutching the only thing making your morning tolerable? What if I told you that there was a way to enjoy a breakfast and that lifesaving coffee at the same time… all while only drinking between 250-450 calories? That’s right, I’m talking about a healthy breakfast smoothie that will satiate that morning hunger and get you that much-needed caffeine your body has become reliant on. Not to mention, you only need three to five minutes to prep the entire thing! If that sounds like a savior to your morning, then continue down the page for a simple healthy breakfast smoothie recipe that will change your life forever.

Ingredients

  • A blender or magic bullet (magic bullet preferred)
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter
  • One cup water or cold brew coffee
  • A splash of milk or your favorite coffee creamer
  • One cup of Ice (preferably crushed)
  • Protein powder of your choice (Vanilla, Banana, or Snicker doodle tastes best!)

Instructions

  • Add ice, your choice of water or cold brew, and protein powder to your blender
  • Blend for 15-20 seconds and remove the lid
  • Add two tablespoons of peanut butter and a splash of milk or your favorite creamer
  • Place the lid back on the blender and blend for another 20-30 seconds (This can be done longer if you do not have a great blender or crushed ice. The last thing you want is chunks of ice in your smoothie!)
  • Remove lid once again, pour, and enjoy as you head off to work, practice, or whatever you may have going on that day!
  • NOTE: If you want to make enough for the entire week and freeze it, all you need to do is multiply the ingredients by however many days of smoothie you need. Then, pour an even amount into whatever drinking containers you own that can be place din the freezer. Simply pull out and thaw when needed!

There you have it, an easy and healthy breakfast smoothie recipe that will satisfy and simplify your daily breakfast routine. One of my favorite things about this smoothie is that it can be made so many ways too. If you don’t want that milkshake type smoothie for breakfast, remove the ice and simply shake in a protein shaker. Want some additional coffee flavoring… use a mocha flavored protein powder. Not a fan of peanut butter? Replace with any other form of nut butter that you enjoy! Looking for a fruity flavor? Switch the cold brew to a refrigerated blonde coffee and add fresh fruit. This healthy breakfast smoothie recipe is extremely versatile and will 100% change your breakfast game for the better. So change that alarm from 6:00 AM to 5:55 AM and test out this awesome smoothie for yourself!


Thanks for stopping by DustyPosts and checking out my healthy breakfast smoothie recipe! For more recipes, how-to’s, and other original content be sure to follow the links above.

Child “Milestones” I Can’t Wait For

Five “Milestones” I Can’t Wait for My Son to Reach

Before you read any further, I just want you to know what type of post this will be. I’m sure you noticed that I have the word milestones in quotations, so this will not be an ordinary dad blog factoid milestone post. My child “milestones” will be much less developmental and will mainly just be things I want to see my son do. I’m obviously still excited for his first words and all of that other stuff, but these upcoming items are things that I rank much, much higher in the grand scheme of things.

1 – The First Time He Swings a Golf Club

It’s an understatement to say that I love golf. My friends and I have been playing together since freshman year of college and I have been playing since I was in elementary school. My grandfather got me into golf when I was about eight years old so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I played up until my sophomore year of high school, which was when baseball began taking up every waking second of each and every day. Looking back, I wish I would have stuck with golf rather than baseball, but you live and you learn.

I’ve always known that I wanted kids, and on top of that, I’ve always known that I wanted to be able to share the game of golf with them at a young age. So, when my son Jack was born, I started planning it all out in my head. The second he could stand and start to put steps together, he was getting clubs. When we’re bored with whatever is on TV, the swing tip and trick shot videos are getting busted out. I would build a putting green in my backyard so the two of us could challenge each other to putt and chip-offs whenever we want. All of this will be followed by a full ride to Stanford too if you were wondering (LOL). And the funny thing, my friends have the same mindset. My best friend’s fiancé told me that she had to remove a set of toddler clubs from their Amazon cart before they came to visit us in the hospital!

Golf clearly runs deep in our veins, and the mere thought of my little boy wrapping his hands around those cute little baby clubs and taking his first hack gives me butterflies. I know it may sound like I am doing this to make my son become the greatest golfer to ever play the game (which isn’t an awful idea), but it’s truly not my goal. Golfing with my buddies is one of my favorite hobbies and the joy, memories, and endless loops of laughs will always be remembered. But I imagine having all of those same memories with my son and I can think of nothing better. It’s something we will always have too. I will play until my back breaks, my legs give out, or a doctor tells me my body can no longer take the strain of the greatest game ever played. I know that first swing is going to melt my heart like an ice cream cone taken outside on a warm Florida afternoon, and I can wholeheartedly say that I can’t wait for that day to arrive.

2 – His First Bite of Ice Cream

This is a weird one, but if my son is anything like me, I think this will be quite the sight to see. If I had to pick one food item that I would eat no matter what time of the day, how full I was, or where I happened to be… I would choose ice cream. More specifically, Publix’s very own Moose Tracks ice cream. I’m not sure why, but eating it makes me so happy. It’s probably because it’s one of those things my dad would always have for me when I went to visit him growing up, or it could be because I’m just a tub of lard (LOL), but either way it always puts a smile on my face. So, now I just sit here imagining that same ridiculous smile spreading across my son’s face when that delicious vanilla ice cream filled with peanut butter cups, chocolate chunks, and fudge swirl graces his taste buds for the first time. It will be pure bliss for both of us, and I can guarantee you that I’ll capture it on video.

3 – When He Finishes His First Harry Potter

If you’re familiar with any of my content, you know that Harry Potter was a cornerstone of my childhood. I’ve read each book many, many times, I’ve seen all the movies and played all the games, I own an array of HP blankets, and have even dedicated an entire shelf to the Harry Potter aesthetic on the book case in my home. Granted, the latter part is mostly because my son’s mother is an even bigger Harry Potter fan than I am, but you get the point. We’re both super nerds when it comes to Harry Potter (which makes sense as we’re both Ravenclaws) and we’re itching to see our boy dive into one of the greatest novel series of all time.

Along with answering all the questions he will have as he speed reads through each book, I will have a permeant excuse to binge all the movies whenever “he” wants to watch them, tell the story of how I once corrected a few mistakes on a librarian’s Prisoner of Azkaban test after she told me I didn’t get a 100%, and seeing the joy on his face when he also finds out that he’s a Ravenclaw (otherwise we’re disowning him LOL). Sounds like a win-win-win in my book.

4 – His First Steps

I know I said I wasn’t talking anything “developmental”, but I lied. This is probably the thing I am most excited for over the next year of my son’s life. The first steps mark an incredible monument for any child, but it also means he can stand… which means steps to begin developing numero uno can finally be put into action. I’m pretty sure my boy will be walking very early since he has the strongest neck and legs of any two month old I have EVER seen, but even if it happens around the usual mark, I know that means the other milestones I’m itching to see are around the corner.

5 – That First T-Ball Game

You may be wondering why this isn’t “his first swing of a baseball bat”, but I can explain. As excited as I am for my son to follow in my footsteps and play baseball, I am probably more excited to watch his mother’s face when he begins to play baseball. Earlier I mentioned that golf was the greatest game ever played. However, if you asked my son’s mother what the greatest game ever played was, she would simply respond by claiming that it was on a Wednesday in Cleveland. She is a die-hard Cubs fan and has already assured me that our son will be too. She’s one of those people who will watch every single game that’s televised, and if she can’t watch, you damn well know she is checking the box-score on her phone. When we first met, she actually paid more attention to the Cubs game that was on the TV at the bar than she did to me! Her love for baseball makes me so happy, so you have to imagine how important his first game will be for me. I’ll get to stand by her side as she coaches our son, and the second he does anything, whether good or bad, I will get to watch her fill with joy knowing that our son is finally a baseball player.


After all is said and done, if my boy ends up hating golf, if he tells me that Moose Tracks is the worst flavor of ice cream he has ever tasted, or even if he ends up being a Slytherin, I will always be proud of him. I know he will grow up to be an incredible man who will accomplish whatever he sets his mind to. I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by with him, and before I know it, all of these “milestones” will have come and gone. So as much as I can’t wait for everything mentioned above, I’m also completely content with waiting for them. I’m going to enjoy every single waking second with this handsome young man, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in our next chapter together.

My First Year of Blogging

What I’ve Learned Through My First Year of Blogging

It’s hard to believe that its already been a year since I started blogging. Originally, I started out more or less blogging to promote the book I am working on. However, that quickly changed when I realized how much I loved informing everyone and then getting feedback on what I was doing. I did have a somewhat rough beginning with another website that I will not name, but I’m thankful for that experience as it taught me many valuable lessons as a newbie blogger. Then, in June of last year, I officially made the switch to WordPress and haven’t looked back. I’ve uploaded over 70 original posts and re-SEO’d everything from my prior site for my new site. I’ve had weeks were I had hundreds of views and weeks were I had 3 views. There’s been countless late nights and insane amounts of research on topics I never thought I’d know, but in the end, I wouldn’t change a single piece of my blogging journey. Along the way I’ve learned quite a bit, and it only seemed right to share what blogging has taught me with anyone who may be playing with the idea of becoming a blogger.

Always Do Your Research

As I mentioned above, I had some rough goings with the site who must not be named early on in my blogging career. When I decided I wanted to start writing my book, I figured blogging would be a great way to easily brand myself and the book, as well as post periodic update son said book. However, I kind of just dove into the first site I found and didn’t do much research outside of cost. Little did I know, the site I chose had almost no customization aspects and it was very hard to update anything aesthetically outside of blog posts. This, along with a poor name choice for my first site, led me to very quickly regret the decision I made for which site to use. I took the next week to really research a ton of different blog-hosting sites, and eventually landed on WordPress. If only I had done all that research from the beginning.

It Will Take Time to Find Your Niche

If you’re familiar with my site, then you should 1,000% know this as true facts. My blog is labeled as a “Lifestyle Blog”, but in all honesty, that’s because “Lifestyle” is the only term broad enough to capture everything I blog about. There’s been a few instances where I thought I found my niche, but things didn’t end up working out in the long run. The first was sports writing, and after that came movie reviewing. I landed Internships/jobs with both, but as time went on I decided I still wasn’t ready to settle into just one content area. It’s very similar to our careers: sometimes it takes time to truly know what you want to do.

Coding is More Useful Than You Think While Blogging

Blogging Coding

Now, I’m no expert coder (hell, I’m probably not even regarded as a novice coder), but the bit of coding I have picked up over the last year has gone an extremely long way. If you peruse my site, you’ll notice a lot of matching colors and texts that vary depending on what page you land on. Almost all of that variation is due to CSS coding. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and it allows you to store style information (such as colors, fonts, and layouts) separate form your HTML code. Without this coding, my site would look identical to the theme that I, and millions of others, have chosen from the basic WordPress theme bank. CSS does a lot more than just adjust colors though. I’ve used it to hide areas of my site I don’t want to be visible. It’s very useful for enlarging images and boxes that an image may be sitting in. You can even use it to add in things such as sticky menu’s, return to top buttons, and much more. Of course, WordPress also has an amazing team of CSS coders that are almost always readily available to assist with any questions too, which is a total lifesaver!

SEO is Critical to Driving Traffic

As I mentioned in my intro, when I switched over to WordPress I had to go back and completely re-SEO all of my old sites articles. When I first started blogging, I had no clue what SEO was (if you don’t, check these articles out). I was just coming up with super crafty titles for my articles that didn’t have any keywords that matched my writing and throwing headers into my content willy-nilly when I saw fit. That wasn’t good for traffic though because my articles weren’t being pulled up in searches. I had no relevant keywords, links, or content in all honesty. I was lucky if I had 5 clicks a week! But once I figured out what SEO was and how I could effectively implement it into my blog, those numbers began growing exponentially. I’m still not pulling in massive numbers weekly, but what I pull now makes my old site look like it was built (and written) by a child.

Quality over Quantity

When I first began blogging, I had a post work routine to write “x” amount of words for my blog and “x” amounts of words for my book before I went to bed later that night. At first, this was the exact thing I needed to get the site up and running with some quality content. However, over time, this became unfeasible… yet I was still doing it anyways. This led to what I thought was a great idea at the time, a short weekly review of whatever I was stanning in any particular week. However, writing only 100-200 words for a post is not great for a site and leads to sub par work – not to mention it kills any shot of solid SEO. This idea eventually led to all of my articles becoming smaller, and I quickly realized my desire to push out “x” amount of posts per week was resulting in a decline in my quality as well as my site’s traffic. Since then, I’ve really pushed myself away from word/post counts and more towards posting articles once I feel like they’re ready. This leads to weeks without posts sometimes, which probably isn’t great, but I’d rather have a smaller inventory of great products than a massive inventory of crappy products.

Social Media Can Drive Massive Traffic

This is probably pretty self-explanatory. If you have another platform where you can promote your blog, do it. Social media gets more eyes and clicks to your blog, especially in times like these. Almost everyone is stuck at home and glued to their phones due to COVID-19, and a few well-placed grams, tweets, or even Facebook posts can go a long way. Plus, all three of these have options for you to promote your work, which can get your blog content out to thousands of people who may not typically be looking for what you may be offering. I started with only a Facebook page a year ago, but now I have an IG for each section of my site (due to the fact that a good chunk of my site is also relating to my novel series), a twitter, and two Facebook pages that relate to separate areas of my site. I draw in a good chunk of my traffic from these three mediums, especially as my following grows day by day.

You Won’t Always Meet Your Blogging Goals

This was a tough pill for me to swallow right around the time when I started not meeting daily word and weekly post goals. I wanted so badly to have a consistent routine that allowed me to pump as much content out to my followers as possible, but life doesn’t always let you do what you’d like. Some layoffs at work led to me working longer hours and having less time to write, then I moved into a new house and spent weeks getting everything situated and livable. And on top of all that, my significant other and I found out we were having a baby boy! This mixture of things led to an extreme lack of content from me between mid September to Late December. The key here though is to just remember you can’t always do it all. You need to stay positive and take whatever you can get sometimes. Instead of having a word limit goal, have an idea or concept goal. Then, once your hiatus ends, you will have a backlog of ideas and started projects that you can dive into to reach whatever new goals you may want to set!

Sometimes You Just Need a Break

This somewhat ties into the above lesson, but since I’ve started blogging I’ve released you sometimes just need a break. I’ve taken two two-week breaks over the last six months. The first was in November. Among the things mentioned previously, I was also in the process of rebuilding my blog. It was near impossible to teach myself CSS, write my book, and blog. So I nixed blogging for a bit to focus on the site, and then came back with all cylinders firing in December. The second break was for the birth of my son. To me, the two weeks I was allowed to take off from work felt like they needed to be spent solely on my son. I did a little idea jotting here and there, but my handsome boy (and the lack of sleep that he brought with him) took up most of my time in late February. A lot of people may be within the mindset that you constantly have to be grinding, but for others, that can lead down a spiraling staircase of lost content quality. So remember to do what’s best for you in the long run, you will have plenty of time to figure out what’s best for your blog after.


I honestly can say that a year ago I knew I would have grown and learned quite a bit, but I never thought I would be where I am today. Within that incredibly short 365 day span I’ve closed in on 100 blog posts, 1,500 views, and over 700 unique visitors. I had no idea that I, as a full time worker and parent, would be able to reach and influence 700 people! I hope that the things I have learned can help you on your journey, and I hope we both grow our blogs and brands exponentially over the coming years. Be sure to check out the rest of my content at DustyPosts, and let me know what you’ve learned early in your blogging lives as well!

InstantPot Chicken Noodle Soup

InstantPot Chicken Noodle Soup

So far, cooking while under quarantine has been very intriguing. Most dishes that I want to make, I can’t, simply because I’m missing one or two things. I’ve really been trying to avoid the grocery stores as well unless its an absolutely dire necessity. Luckily for me however, when digging through my pantry yesterday I realized that I had all the ingredients for chicken noodle soup. Thus, my InstantPot Chicken Noodle Soup recipe was born.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) of chicken
  • 1 Bag of carrots (Your preferred carrot will work, but I enjoy crinkle cut carrots in my soup)
  • 1 Bag of Egg noodles (or whatever noodle you prefer)
  • 1 Diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 Cups Water
  • A few pinches of oregano and garlic salt
  • A sprinkle of Cajun seasoning (optional)

InstantPot Chicken Noodle Soup Process

  • This first step ultimately has two options – 1) Dice chicken to cook, or 2) Leave chicken whole and shred later on after the lid has been removed and the quick release has been performed. I personally enjoy diced chicken more than shredded chicken in soup, so that is how I will be explaining the rest of these instructions.
  • After chicken is diced, turn the InstantPot on to high sauté and let it warm up
  • Once warmed, melt the butter in the InstantPot and then drop your diced chicken in to cook for roughly 10-15 minutes (or until done)
  • Add the bag of carrots, the onion, the few pinches of oregano and garlic salt, and the optional dash of Cajun seasoning
  • Stir all ingredients together, then let sauté for another 8-10 minutes
  • Pour in the chicken broth and water now, then cover the InstantPot
  • Switch from sauté to high pressure and let cook for another 10-12 minutes
  • Once the high pressure-cooking timer has rung, let your soup natural release for 10 minutes
  • Quick release any remaining pressure and remove the InstantPot lid (HERE is where you would shred your chicken if you chose not to dice)
  • Add the egg noodles (or whatever noodles you purchased) into the soup and cook until they’re complete (another 8-10 minutes)

And that’s that, a deliciously simple InstantPot chicken noodle soup recipe that will be sure to leave your stomach rumbling for seconds. Pro-tip, this chicken noodle soup pairs extremely well with some homemade garlic toast (recipe on the way) or even Ritz crackers (crazy, I know). As always, be sure to visit DustyPosts to see all the other recipes I’ve thrown together throughout my life, and leave some comments below with how it turns out. Enjoy!

SEO Optimization: Blogger Edition

SEO Optimization: Blogger Edition

Welcome back to the second installment of DustyPosts SEO for Beginning Bloggers! In our last discussion, we briefly covered Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how it could be beneficial to someone who has just entered the blogging scene. This post will snake its way deeper into the grass that is SEO Optimization, the tools I use to push my searches to the next level, and hopefully, shed some light on some SEO best practices I try to adhere by.

What is SEO Really?

SEO Optimization

To briefly recap our last discussion, Search Engine Optimization can be defined as the process of getting free, organic traffic from a natural search through a search engine. As you can see from the picture above though, SEO can look much more complicated to the untrained eye. There are many things that roll up into the ever-changing traffic optimization technique, but many don’t realize that a lot of those things go hand in hand with one another.

Take the entire “content” section from the above image. Search Engine Land broke down SEO into two main areas, On and Off page SEO, before breaking those down even further. The content section consists of six positive items and one negative item, which seems like a lot of information to digest. But, if you really look at what the positive items are – Quality, Research, Words, Fresh, Vertical, and Answers – almost all of those come with the actual writing and research of your piece. So, SEO is all the above things plus some other stuff mashed into an article for your blog, but at the same time, it’s truly only two things: Promotionaly unpaid, well researched content.

Of course, all those back-end, architectural and web based items still matter, but without that strong piece of content no one will be searching for your blog post anyways. I know it seems like a daunting task – and in all honesty, when you first start it may not feel natural – but it becomes second nature after a while. You will optimize your articles with perfectly placed keywords, titles, URLs, and more, all without even trying.

SEO Optimization Tools

There are hundreds and thousands of SEO Optimization tools out on the web, but I really only use two at this point in my blog’s life.

Yoast SEO

Yoast is probably the easiest SEO tool to use if you’re a WordPress user already. It’s a plug-in that adds itself right to the bottom of your block/classic editor and helps with a few key areas of SEO optimization: Titles, URLs and Slugs, Links, and Keywords.

On the title side of things, Yoast will let you know if your title is too long, too short, whether your designated keyword is within the title, or even if your designated keyword is in an appropriate place within the title.



URLs, Slugs, and Links are all somewhat related to one another and can easily be distinguished within Yoast’s plug-in. These areas make sure that your content is easily accessible to search engines via the URLs, and it helps your patrons more easily clarify what may be found within a specific page/URL.


SEO Optimization

However, the Keyword analysis is where Yoast really shines. They will tell you if your keyword density, or the number of times your keyword has been used, is acceptable for your variable length of text. Yoast will also let you know if the key phrase you’ve entered has been previously used and if your keyword is placed in all the optimized areas: Title, URL, Sub-headings, and Meta description just to name a few.


SEO Optimization

On top of all that, it also has a really neat readability function that helps determine weak points in your article as well as sentences/paragraphs that may come across as “difficult to read.”


SEO Optimization

Google Analytics

Another incredible SEO Optimization tool is Google Analytics (GA), which is probably very underutilized by newbie bloggers. GA is a much larger, more complex beast in comparison to Yoast, but if you can learn it you will vastly improve your optimization scores. With GA, you can drill down into specific keywords and see what times, days, or even months that those keywords perform best. You can also more readily dive into your user data with Google Analytics and see how organic your blog actually is. It’s such an incredible tool. Not to mention, it can also be very helpful for those of you who are trying to set goals for your blog for the first time.

SEO Best Practices

Even knowing all of those tips and tools won’t make you an expert SEO optimizer though. So, it’s also paramount to have some important things to take note of while creating your content. A “Best Practices” list if you will, and my three things I always strive to optimize while blogging.

Keyword Location

I touched on how Yoast SEO does some of this for you, but it is hands down the most important thing a blogger can do to help drive traffic to their site. With well-placed keywords your site will be more easily recognizable by search engines for whatever it is you’re trying to optimize. So, if your blog is not on WordPress and you do not have access to Yoast, try the following to ensure you optimize those keywords.

  • 1 – Make sure the keyword/phrase you’re trying to optimize for is in your title AND introductory paragraph (preferably towards the beginning of both)
  • 2 – If you’re writing a listicle or something with a lot of sub headers, be sure to include the keyword in a healthy amount (probably around half) of those subheadings
  • 3 – Always, always, always, have your keyword in your meta description and your URL slug

Optimized Images

Optimizing images within your posts or blog is also a must-do to drive the most traffic your way. This is a pretty simple best practice, but it can get tedious if you have a backlog of images that you have NOT been doing this for. All you need to do for this best practice is make sure that when you upload the image you add your key phrase into a) the image title, or b) the alternate text area of your image. In doing this, you’re adding another layer of key phrase crawl to your site, and search engines have one more thing to grab onto when someone searches for that golden key word.

Useful Linking

Optimized linking is also very important, but it may not always be relevant. For example, if I’m posting about my book, the only thing I can really do is throw a link to the page itself (since there isn’t anywhere else that has information on my book… yet.), which is kind of redundant. With that being said, you should always double check that you are including links and making sure that those links will take viewers to trustworthy sites that help convey the point you are trying to get across.

So, by following all the SEO Optimization techniques I’ve listed above, I believe you can start setting your blog site up to efficiently drive traffic your way. Remember, SEO is promotionally unpaid, well written content, and with some plug-ins and best practices, you can step up your SEO optimization game to the next level before you know it.


Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out all the other original content I produce weekly at DustyPosts.com.

Six Newborn Diaper Bag Essentials

Six Diaper Bag Essentials for a Newborn: A Dad’s Perspective

As a first-time dad, there’s a lot of strange, new things that get thrown your way within the first few weeks of your child’s birth – much of which you have absolutely no idea how to handle. Like when your little boy continuously pees out of his diaper because no one at the hospital told you to point his downstairs mix-up south when changing diapers. Or the fact that babies sphincters don’t always fully close, which causes reflux, so they can sound really phlegmy and sick (which is big deal with COVID-19 looming over everything) after eating. With all of that being said, one of the biggest struggles I’ve faced so far has been packing the right items into the diaper bag at any given time. So, for all the other first time dads and moms out there who have no clue what to bring, enjoy my newborn diaper bag essentials list. Most of which were things I had to learn the hard way, but you may not need to.

The Diaper Bag Itself

It’s pretty hard to do just about anything for your newborn once you’re out of the house if you forgot the one key item that holds all of their key items. If I’m being honest, of the ten times I’ve left the house with my son in the last month, I’ve forgotten to grab the diaper bag on seven or eight of those occasions. I’m usually the least forgetful person, but for some reason that darn diaper bag never hits my radar of things to grab as I’m leaving. So don’t forget this, or you will be the butt-end of some jokes… trust me.

Diapers and Changing Pad, Duh

Newborn Diaper Bag Essentials

Another no-brainer that I have left out of the diaper bag a handful times is spare diapers and somewhere to change my son when the time comes. Luckily for me, the only times we’ve had to change him in public I had remembered to pack the changing pad, but there have been times when he needed a diaper change, and he didn’t get one because there were no spare diapers. Good thing for me that we haven’t been any more than ten minutes away from our house at any given point over the last month LOL.

Extra Outfits for Unexpected Messes

Another area we have been very lucky in so far has been the explosive poop everywhere category, which has only happened once. We were at home when this happened, but let me tell you what, we will never leave the house without extra clothes after seeing what that boy did to them with that poop! I could not imagine that happening and having to walk, carry, or smell him any longer than the walk from our living room to his room took.

Wipes and Hand Sanitizer for, Well, More Unexpected Messes

Newborn Diaper Bag Essentials

One thing I never thought I’d be okay with was having baby poo on my hand, but over the last three weeks, I’ve just grown to accept that it’s going to happen and I’m going to have to get used to it. All it takes is one swift leg kick while changing a diaper and the hand holding that leg slips from your newborn’s leg and slides right into some liquidy brown child matter. Which is where the saviors of all saviors, wipes and hand sanitizer, come in. If my hand touched poop while I was in public with my son and I didn’t have wipes or sanitizer, he would be getting handed off ASAP in order for me to sprint to the nearest restroom and wash my hands before I got sick.

Pacifiers and Pacifier Clips

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but having a pacifier (or three) nearby can always be handy. They’re perfect for right after feeding and burping when your newborn is acting like they want more food. It can calm them down just enough for them to drift off to sleep, or it could just soothe them to continue that feeding motion and feel like they’re eating. However, at a certain point, your newborn will not want the pacifier anymore and it will fall from their mouth. Or, in my son’s case, will projectile out of his mouth with such velocity you would have thought a five-year old just threw it across the room. And this is where the pacifier clips play a crucial role, because they save that binky from flying away from you and onto the filthy floor. These clips have saved countless binky rip outs, spits, and falls so far and you will not catch me without one attached to a binky at all times.

A Spare Bottle and Some Formula

Newborn Diaper Bag Essentials

Now this one falls more towards the first time father side of things, but having a spare bottle and some formula packed in the diaper bag can be quite the life saver for any dad roaming on his own. I’d like to think that seven out of ten times when your newborn is crying, they’re hungry. So if you run out for what you think will be a quick trip somewhere but end up being out longer than anticipated, that baby is probably gunna get hangry. And, as a father, if you aren’t with the child’s mother or if she isn’t breastfeeding, you’re kinda SOL since, you know, you can’t breastfeed. So, be sure to always have that bottle ready with the formula on hand to make your newborn happy.

Parenting can be rough some times. The sleepless nights, the endless flow of poop from your child’s rear, and the constant worry of something being wrong already make life hard enough. With the help of these newborn diaper bag essentials, you don’t need to let a disgusting poop hand, a stinky diapered baby, or the absence of a diaper bag make your life any harder.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the parenting tag on DustyPosts often for more advice, life-hacks, and all around general baby knowledge.

InstantPot Rib Recipes: Sweet Thai Chili Edition

InstantPot Rib Recipes: Sweet Thai Chili Edition

Welcome back to another installment of DustyPosts recipes! Today, I’ll be teaching you one of my favorite InstantPot rib recipes, which you should have plenty of time to make with all the COVID-19 quarantining as of late. To cook, you’re looking at anywhere from 25-40 minutes (depending on style and size of ribs), and with prep you’re looking at maybe another 15-20. I know, you’re probably thinking Sweet Thai Chili shouldn’t be a rib flavor, but if you give me that hour of your time, I’m 100% positive I can change your mind.

Ingredients & Kitchen Requirements

  • One rack of ribs (Baby back or short ribs both work)
  • One bottle of your favorite sweet thai chili sauce (my favorite is Mae Ploy, which I typically get from Publix)
  • Garlic salt and Oregano
  • Liquid smoke or any smokey seasoning you can dump into the water
  • A splash of soy sauce
  • 1 cup (0.24 l) of water
  • An InstantPot
  • An InstantPot Trivet Stand
  • A sharp knife or kitchen shears
  • An oven with the option to broil
  • A baking sheet large enough for your ribs
  • A basting brush
  • One small to midsize mixing bowl

Instructions for Perfect InstantPot Ribs

  • Grab your ribs and separate them into quarters (if possible) with your sharp knife or kitchen shears
  • Pour one cup of water into your InstantPot and add your liquid smoke or smoky seasoning (it totally up to you how much you add).
  • Place trivet stand into InstantPot, and then set quartered ribs onto trivet stand (it’s ok for them to be stacked here, that won’t change anything).
  • Turn InstantPot on to High Pressure cooking and set timer based on following: Baby back ribs should cook for 26 minutes on high, whereas short ribs should cook for 35-40 minutes on high.
  • While ribs are in the InstantPot, pour the entire bottle of sweet thai chili sauce into a mixing bowl and add a splash of soy sauce, some garlic salt, and a dash of oregano.
  • You can also get your oven preheated here if, like me, you have an oven that takes forever to warm up.
  • Once the ribs are done cooking, you will also need to follow one of these for venting: Baby back ribs should naturally release for about five minutes, and the short ribs should naturally release for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Remove the ribs and place on your baking sheet, then proceed to completely slather in the sweet thai chili concoction you mixed earlier.
  • Place ribs into your broiling oven until they have a perfect crisp along the top and outer edges of the ribs. This time varies for all ovens, but for me it typically takes anywhere from eight to 12 minutes to be crisped the way I like.
  • Carefully remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!

In less than an hour, you could have a heaping stack of warm, caramelized sweet thai chili ribs on a plate in front of you. I know it still may sound out of the ordinary, but I guarantee you that these ribs will forever change the way you think of rib flavors.