Five Must Buys for Newborns

Five Must Buys for Your Newborn

Taking care of a newborn can seem like quite the daunting task. Constant diaper changes and the fear of doing something your child won’t like loom around every baby-proofed corner of your home, but it doesn’t have to all be so difficult. This list includes five must buys for newborns that have made my life as a first time parent so much easier, and I bet they can make yours easier too!

#1 – A Great Stroller

Must Buy for Newborns

This might seem obvious, but a good stroller goes a long way. As a finance guy, when the stroller research began I immediately took note of how expensive they were. Even for a generic, run-of-the-mill stroller you’re probably going to spend close to $200. Before we pulled trig on buying one we decided to run up to the local target to test out a few of the ones we had read good reviews about online. I knew within about five minutes of testing though that we wouldn’t be going with any of the basic strollers. They were all clunky feeling, and none of them were that easy to fold down. That was a big concern of mine because I didn’t want my significant other to have to struggle with a stroller once I went back to work. On top of that, none of them were all that aesthetically pleasing, which I know sounds ridiculous, but I just want my kid to look incredible in whatever he’s rolling around in (LOL).

Ultimately, we decided to get the Nuna TAVO. It’s definitely a borderline luxury stroller, but after testing out the others and comparing prices, it just didn’t make sense to be unhappy with something our child would be in on such a regular basis. The TAVO will typically run you $399, but if you grab it while Nuna is having a sale you can save a decent chunk of change! We were also fortunate enough to have some pottery barn gift cards left over from our baby shower, so we actually ended up paying even less than what we would have if we just bought a basic stroller. And let me just say, I am absolutely in love with this stroller. It has a simple one click folding mechanism with zero effort needed to fold down, it’s super lightweight yet also very durable, it has all sorts of angles for your child to lay and also comes with multiple areas where you can peel back certain areas for better ventilation. It is the Rolls-Royce of baby strollers and I would highly suggest going down a path like this if you’re planning on having multiple children. This stroller looks like it will last us our entire lives!

#2 – An Even Better Car Seat

Having a top of the line car seat is very important in my opinion. Think about how much time you spend in the car already… now wouldn’t you want your child’s time in that same car to be as safe as possible? The car is one of the most dangerous places for a child to be, especially if they aren’t in the proper car seat OR if the car seat is not installed correctly. This was another thing that we put a good amount of research into. But, since we were so sold on the Nuna brand already (and because we had already purchased the stroller LOL), we decided to stick with the Nuna car seat too. We ended up with the Nuna PIPA, and in all honesty, this car seat is also a top of the line masterpiece.

The installation was a little difficult in my car, but that was more because of my car being difficult and me not reading instructions rather than the car seat itself being difficult. Once installed though, I couldn’t budge this thing if I wanted to. It truly locks itself into your seats and it even has a neat little support that extends from the base of the seat down to the floor of your car. It is also extremely easy to snap into and remove from the base. Plus, all of that same ease is applied when moving the car seat to the stroller as well. The Nuna brand is very pleasing to the eye as well and comes in a navy blue that is to die for. I can’t imagine parenting with any other brand of stroller or car seat!

#3 – A 4moms mamaRoo Swing

Must buy for Newborn

This little swing, bouncy chair, and pure heavenly contraption has been an absolute lifesaver in my first week of parenting. It has six different motions and a wide array of soothing sounds (plus you can play music from your phone too) that perfectly mimics our movements as parents. When nothing seems to be working to calm down my son, I put him in here on the car ride motion and play the heartbeat sound effect for him. Within seconds, he is fast asleep and those frowns are turned into the cutest little smile. Thankfully, he is not a big crier and I haven’t had to use this too much yet, but it is nice to know that I have something so wonderfully helpful as back up when I need it.

Depending on what site you get this from, you could spend anywhere from $200 to $300. However, many sites now have the Affirm option, which is a simple way to make low payments on items like this over the course of a year or two. I would 1,000% recommend taking advantage of a deal like that if you can, because this swing/chair will be a bigger help than you could ever imagine. This could have easily been my #1 must buy for newborns too, but the stroller/car seat just have a safety factor that moved them to the top of the list.

#4 – Tons of Diapers and Somewhere to Put the Stinky Ones

Coming in at #4 on the “must buy for newborns” list is… diapers! Once again, this may seem like an obvious thing you would buy for your child, but there is more that goes into this purchase than you think. Throughout the entire pregnancy, we were told we were probably going to have a smaller child. Nurses and Doctors both all guessed we would have a baby that ranged from seven to seven and a half pounds. Well, last week when our child finally decided to come, he came out weighing almost nine pounds! “How does that affect my decision to buy diapers?” you might ask. Well, think of it this way: If we hadn’t bought a few different sizes of diapers, we would have ONLY been prepared for a small baby with newborn diapers. That would have been a problem, because our son probably hasn’t been a size where he would’ve fit in newborn diapers for close to a month or so. So then I would have had to run back and buy more diapers, and who wants to do that on day one with their newborn!?

Along with the diapers, you will also need an airtight, stench free zone to put them in. Personally, I like stainless steel the best because it has that sleekness factor that fits just about anywhere in your house. Not to mention, a stainless steel trash can at Target is about half the price of the usual diaper pail. So it seemed like a no-brainer to save that extra money! Another fun tidbit about diapers is that they are exchangeable, so even if you do end up with loads of the wrong size you can easily exchange for the size your ever growing baby may need!

#5 – A Bottle Warmer

As a dad, I think bottle warmers are easily must buys for newborns. I know, technically, you can warm up bottles or milk with warm water from the sink. And breastfeeding or formula are already both at the temperature they need to be at, so you wouldn’t need a warmer then. However, when your newborn wakes up at 3 A.M. and you grab them to let your child’s mother get that well deserved extra few hours of sleep, a bottle warmer will come in so clutch. It’s perfect for one hand use while holding a baby, and they’re extremely simple to use. Ours has five warming options, all with pictures to easily identify what you need. It is definitely much easier than attempting to hold a bottle under warm sink water for 5-10 minutes while your newborn is screaming for some food. On top of their extreme usefulness, they’re also relatively cheap. The Phillips Avent model that I have only cost us $23!

Being a parent is no joke. It comes with loads of stress, countless sleepless nights, and thousands of poopy diapers. But with this guide, I think I can assist in easing some of that stress and allowing you to enjoy more of the little things with your newborn.

Thanks again for the read! Be sure to check out all of my content over at DustyPosts, and be on the lookout for more parenting guides as well!

Keto Chili Instant Pot Recipe

How to Make Keto Chili in your Instant Pot

As the temperature dipped down into the low 50s this weekend I decided to bust out my old keto chili recipe. There’s nothing better than a warm, hearty bowl of chili when its chilly, am I right!? This recipe is extremely simple and only requires about 45 minutes until you’re enjoying that satiating bowl of chili. So go turn your favorite playlist on, get your Instant Pot preheated, and get to cooking!

The Tasty Ingredients

chili ingredients
  • Two 12 oz (ca. 454 g) cans of diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, and oregano flavored preferably)
  • One 12 oz (ca. 454 g) can plain tomato paste
  • 1.5 lbs of a ground beef/ground pork mixture (you could substitute with whatever meat you prefer here)
  • One yellow onion, diced
  • Two fresh garlic gloves, minced
  • Three-fourths cup of beef broth
  • One-third cup of water
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, Cumin, Chili Powder, and Smoked Paprika to taste
  • Additional Items: Avocado, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream

How to Make Delicious Keto Chili

instant pot
  • Turn your instant pot on to sauté mode and drizzle a little EVOO into the pan
  • Once preheated, add the ground beef/pork and brown for 10-15 minutes
  • This step is optional: If you aren’t a massive fan of all the grease produced here, simply grab a ladle and an old cup and scoop some grease out!
  • Add onion and garlic in with the meat and cook until onions are nearly see through
  • Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, water, and seasonings (totally your preference on how much you add here) and stir
  • Place your instant pot lid on and switch from sauté mode to pressure-cook (high)
  • Let cook for 25 minutes, and then let it sit on “keep warm” for an additional 10 minutes (this will allow some pressure to naturally release)
  • Switch your release valve to “vent” and let remaining pressure out
  • Stir, scoop into bowl, add cheese, avocado, bacon bits, and sour cream, then enjoy!

Be sure to take an aesthetically pleasing picture of this hearty chili before you eat it, because it will look good! This keto chili is full of flavor, protein, and healthy fats, plus it essentially has no carbs (depending on what additional items you add) so you will be more than full once you’re done with your first bowl. Be sure to let me know how your chili turns out, and if you have other tasty keto chili recipes leave some links in the comment section for me to try!

As always, be sure to check out all my other recipes at

How To Make Keto Friendly Chicken Alfredo

How To Make Keto Friendly Chicken Alfredo

Are you avoiding chicken alfredo while on your keto diet because of all those carbs that are in pasta? Well I have just the meal plan hack for you then. This simple recipe will satiate your craving for delicious alfredo all while keeping carbs low and fats high. The trick, replacing that deliciously unhealthy pasta with one of my favorite sides, carrots! You may be wondering, “how exactly do carrots replace pasta?” And to that I would say, you use matchstick carrots my friend. This keto friendly chicken alfredo recipe hack will have you enjoying your favorite meal again in no time.

Keto Friendly Ingredients

Note: This recipe will feed two to three people.

  • Two chicken breasts
  • One bag of matchstick carrots
  • A bag of your favorite cheese (I recommend Gouda or mozzarella)
  • One large carton of heavy whipping cream
  • Fresh, minced garlic
  • A pinch of garlic Salt and oregano

Making the Keto Friendly Chicken Alfredo

  • Step 1: Cook your chicken. I leave this step extremely basic because not everyone likes their chicken cooked the same way. Typically, I throw mine in the oven the second I get home from work. It saves me time and I don’t have to worry about using two pans for later steps, but I know a lot of people don’t enjoy oven broiled chicken breast!
  • Step 2: When your chicken is almost cooked, throw the bag of matchstick carrots into a medium to large sauce pan and cover on medium heat. This will allow the carrots to soften a bit and get that spaghetti like texture.
  • Step 3: Pull the chicken from the oven and dice, slice, or prep your chicken however you prefer.
  • Step 4: Drop your chicken in with the softened carrots and add a pinch of garlic salt, another pinch of oregano, and some freshly minced garlic.
  • Step 5: Cover this mixture and let sit for five to ten minutes, allowing the chicken flavor to settle in with the carrots.
  • Step 6: Pour in the heavy whipping cream until almost all the carrot/chicken mix is covered.
  • Step 7: Immediately dump your favorite cheese on top and cover one final time.
  • Step 8: After another five or so minutes, remove the lid, drop the heat to low, and stir. Your alfredo should start to thicken now and will more than likely be to the appropriate thickness in another five minutes.
  • Step 9: Enjoy your keto friendly chicken alfredo!

Bon Appétit

I know it isn’t the exact same thing as a heart bowl of chicken alfredo, but its about as close to it as you’ll ever get while being on a keto diet! It really is quite delicious and more filling than you would think too. The taste and simplicity of preparation make it a staple in my weekly dinners, and I would strongly recommend you adding it to yours as well. Thanks again for visiting DustyPosts to check out my content! For more recipes and how to guides, be sure to follow this link. Be sure to comment how your keto friendly chicken alfredo turned out, and if you have any of your own recipes drop a link for me to give them a try!

Setting Goals: Blogger Edition

Setting Goals: Blogger Edition

As we near the halfway point of Q1, it’s officially time to take a peak under the hood at those goals we set back in 2019. As a new blogger, writer, site owner, I wasn’t really sure what to expect or anticipate going forward into my first full year in the game. Without saying too much, I completely undershot my goals for the first quarter of the new year! I decided that I would rework them for the remainder of 2020 and ended up with some pretty valuable insight as I began.

Setting Goals Is All About The Analytics, But…

Google Analytics

You were probably thinking, “Duh. How else would you set goals” as you read that header. The funny thing is though, just because you have data and analytics doesn’t mean the way you interpret that info will be even 1% beneficial to you. My issue was I was somewhat “half assing” my first six months as a blogger, dipping my toes in the water if you will, and I would really pick it up once I began my first new year. I, of course, took my analytics and adjusted to them to what I thought would be reasonable as I began “full assing” my blog, but at the end of the day it was simply a guess.

Originally, I was writing two to three posts a week, one of which was a shorter review that I wanted to turn into a full-fledged review of. I also wanted to add at least one more post a week when time allowed. So, with all of that analysis I assumed the longer, more relevant review with an additional potential post would lead to about 1.75 times more views. (Example, if I had 100 views in Q4 2019, I was anticipating another 175 in Q1 2020, putting me at a total of 275).

Well, since I was only really looking at views and some other smaller analytics, I was completely wrong. In January alone my site saw nearly half of my entire 2019 traffic, views, ads published, and whatever other analytic you can throw out there. Safe to say what I thought was an educated guess was actually more along of the lines of a completely random guess.

Analyzing Those Analytics

And that brings us to the “but” from my first header. Simply looking at basic analytics will not help you make educated guesses for setting goals! You have to take a (somewhat) deep dive into your data before you can even begin to understand what it all means. It also helps a lot if you actually know what things like “impressions” and “bounce rate” mean too. Surprise, surprise, I did not know what they meant (lol).


(Web) Traffic: Setting Goals

Depending on where you look, “traffic” can have many meanings. “The amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website” and “the number of web users who travel to any given website” are just two of the endless definitions one can find on the Google machine. So, the way I took it was simply this: Traffic is the number of people I can get to my site in any given period. But there is so much more that goes into it. Below are some of what I think the more important things to know about “traffic” are.

  • Organic Traffic: Any visitors that land on your site via “unpaid” (ad-free) means.
  • Referral Traffic: visits that come to your site from sources outside whatever search engine you’re using (Outside = links from other websites, social media, etc.)
  • Direct Traffic: When someone goes directly to your page by entering the URL.
  • Users: Individuals who visit your site (can help track return rates, unique views, etc.)
  • Views vs. Unique Views: Views refer to the total number of views on your site. But, you could have 95% of your views from one user that could skew data. Example, if you have 100 views on a post and 95 of them are from subject A, but Subjects B through F all had one view, you would have 6 unique views.
  • Sessions: Sessions are tied to users in a way that shows how many views one individual may be bringing to your site.


Impressions are a strange beast, so they get a new section for discussion. Many claim that impressions are just views, but they really are more than that. For a view to become an impression, the ad/content must load. So, if someone were to scroll down your page slowly, you may get 100 impressions. If someone opens the page and immediately scrolls to the bottom before anything loads, you may get 20 impressions. Look at this explanation on Quora for another take on impressions.

Duration and Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate and Duration are also pretty important, but they’re a little more straightforward than some other things we’ve discussed up to this point. Duration is simply how long a user/viewer has been on your site, whereas a bounce is a single-page session on your site. Basically, it is the percentage of all sessions in which users view only one page and trigger only one request to your server.

You typically want your duration to be high and your bounce rate to be low, but they don’t necessarily have to follow that guideline. If the purpose of your site is to get people looking at more than one page though, then you 100% want to lower that bounce rate! Google Analytics has an excellent explanation of these two things here.

Timing of Posts

Setting Goals: Timing

This is one that I didn’t pay too much attention too until recently, but it may be the most important thing you will read here today. I originally was uploading posts willy-nilly at all times of the day. But the thing with that is, if I post at 7:00 PM on a Friday, who is going to read it? My demographic is definitely geared towards the younger to middle-aged adult so most of that group isn’t even home at 7:00 PM on a Friday!

You can see where the disconnect in setting goals here would be, right? If I’m getting an average of 10 views per post at all times of the day on all days, but 50 views on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM, wouldn’t it make the most sense for me to post on Tuesdays or always at 4:00 PM? So you absolutely have to pay attention to your post-timing and popular day analytics to set accurate goals for yourself.

Setting Goals While Keeping Limits In-Check

All of this, of course, has to be attainable too. You can’t set to lofty of goals for yourself, and if you do, don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit them. It is, after all, the beginning of your blogging career, so it won’t always be smooth sailing. Trial and error will lead you to success nine times out of ten, so just keep pushing through to your goals and you will eventually excel at accurately predicting what you’re capable of!

Thanks for stopping by to read my post on setting goals. For more original content, be sure to visit DustyPosts. I’d love to hear more about how you set goals and if these tips helped you any, so leave tons of comments below!

Is College Still Worth It?

Is College Still Worth It?

Now nearly five years removed from college and four years removed graduate school, I oft find myself wondering if the six years and thousands of dollars of debt was worth it. Granted, I would have never landed my first job as quick as I did without my Master’s degree, but my undergraduate degree has honestly been 1,000% irrelevant to where I’ve ended up in my career.

A little background info before we move forward: As an undergrad, I hopped around four different majors before finding myself happy as a psych major, and my masters is in Finance (LOL). I know, two completely different areas of study, right? But my reasoning is simple. I’ve always been great with math and finance so its always been my backup if you will. On top of that, the graduate sports psych program I wanted to go to was very hard to get into and extremely expensive.

So, I couldn’t bring myself to drop another forty or fifty thousand dollars into an already pretty sizeable pool of debt. I ended up falling back on the “safe” plan, and now Four years later, I’m very bored with my career and wish I would’ve done something else. I was very young and I honestly still had no idea what I wanted to do, so it seemed mature and adult-like at the time. But looking back I can’t help but wonder, was it really worth it? Let’s jump into some possibilities if I were making this decision today.

#1 – Minimum Wage May Double Soon

I usually try to keep my posts void of politics, but this is too large of a reason to leave off. Technically, this still could not happen, but a good amount of presidential candidates are really pushing for a $15 minimum wage. This is massive in the scope of college, as some post-college jobs now barely even pay that much. When I graduated with my psych degree, most jobs within a reasonable distance of me were starting around $13 an hour. I moved home to save up for grad school, and eventually ended up cleaning pools, where I made $15 an hour. Do you see the issue here? Why would someone go to college and immerse themselves in mountains of debt when they can go fold clothes at a department store and make the exact same hourly wage? Really makes you wonder doesn’t it.

#2 – Debt levels

This is a massive thing to note when making your decision on whether to go to college. Once again, this technically could be a totally different story depending on what happens in the 2020 election, but most of us are anticipating seeing ludicrous college tuition amounts sticking around for the foreseeable future. Private colleges run at about $37,000 annually for tuition where public colleges land around $10,000. And that’s not including housing, meal plans, and other basic spending you will incur. Let’s dive into an example from Market Watch.

According to them, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and other college related fees for a four-year degree has increased nearly $64,000 dollars since 1987. Back then, a part-time job would cover over 1005 of those costs. But now, a full time college student who works part-time at minimum wage can only cover 70% of those costly college expenses. Some of you now might say, “Well then work full-time,” but that isn’t always an option. I had a few semesters of college where my classes started at 8 AM and ended at 5 PM. That right there is a full time job in itself, and isn’t even factoring in the commute to and from campus. Where in that schedule is someone supposed to work full-time?

#3 – Jobs that Train You

A lot of jobs nowadays have some crazy list of requirements that most people cannot meet coming right out of college. But, some of those same jobs will hire and train the right person even if they don’t have all the skills required. Not to mention, there are loads of vocational and technical jobs now that train you full-time until you’re ready to go out on your own. My A/C unit broke about a month ago and my technician told me that he was making six figures a year after HVAC school. Now the average HVAC tech’s median salary is around $55,000, but still.

I did a little research on local A/C schools in Florida, and the average tuition before you’re out on your own is between $5,000 and $10,000, and you could graduate within anywhere from ten months to two years. Now, four years at a public college will cost you about $40,000 and your starting salary will probably be around $50,000. So if you are someone who doesn’t mind a little manual labor, why wouldn’t you go to school for half as long, owe an eighth to a quarter as much debt, and come out making the same i not more money? Seems like a pretty simple answer to me.

#4 – Non-College Related Fields Have Been Increasing

Looking towards the future, many jobs that are expected to see the most growth will not require a college degree. According to the Intelligencer, the five fastest-growing occupations in the US over the next ten years will be solar panel installers, wind turbine technicians, home health aides, personal care aides, and occupational therapy assistants. None of these currently require any form of college experience or degree, and the average salary among those five careers is just over $40,000.

That doesn’t even scratch the surface though. What about coding, web-dev, and other jobs that can be learned from the comfort of your own home and don’t require any college experience? Or the massive growth within the field of social media and the careers within? According to Georgetown University, more than one third of the jobs available in 2020 will not require any education beyond high school. CNBC even posted an article mid-last year stating that the ten best non-college jobs all pay over $79,000 annually!

#5 – Who Actually Knows What They Want to Do at 18?

As I mentioned earlier, I was someone who changed their major A LOT in college. I started out as an Engineer, but wasn’t a fan of the teachers at my university, so I switched my second semester. Then I was Finance, which I paired with Economics as a dual major. Then I had a year-long stent where I wanted to go to medical school, so I was a pre-med major. And I finally fell upon sports-psychology which led me to switch to a psych major my senior year of college. Luckily for me, most of my classes overlapped (outside the finance ones of course) so when I graduated I hadn’t wasted too much of my time.

I was probably quite the outlier here with four different majors, but you’d be surprised how many people change their major within their first few years of college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly a third of all college students change their major at least once in college, and about 10% change it more than once. This makes perfect sense to me though because how rare is it to know your true calling at the age of 17 or 18? I thought I’d be a chemical engineer working with crazy tech and nanobots when I was 18, and now that doesn’t even remotely sound interesting to me (LOL). It just goes to show that sometimes college isn’t always the right choice.

So… Is College Worth It?

Now, even after saying all of this, I personally still lean towards college being a great choice for those it makes sense for. I think it is extremely worth it, especially if it becomes free over the next few years. It would be downright silly for someone to not take advantage of free tuition if it was a viable option for them! But in saying that, I realize that many people nowadays don’t really need to go to college. I’m already planning for my unborn children to go to college, but if 18 years from now they find a job that they love and will help them survive on their own right out of high school, I wouldn’t mind sticking those college funds right back into my savings account.

Thanks for checking out my article! For more of my original content head on over to DustyPosts! Let me know if you went to college and if you have the same questions I do in the comments section below.

My Top Five Books of All Time

My Top Five Books of All Time

While at work the other day I was asked to answer a boatload of questions that described my hobbies for the monthly “About This Employee” newsletter. One of the first things that came to mind was how much I love to read, even if I don’t always have as much time to as I’d like. This, of course, sent me down memory lane and had me reminiscing on all the incredible books I’ve read over the years. This list is nowhere near comprehensive, and there are so many books that truly pain me to leave off, but the top five books below are the ones that I feel stand out the most in my 20+ years of reading.

#5 – A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith

Rounding out the bottom of my list is A Land Remembered. This was a book I would’ve probably never read if it hadn’t been a mandatory read when I was in high school. As I made my deeper and deeper into the book, it slowly snuck its way up into my list of favorite books. It’s also a pretty neat little history lesson of sorts for me as the book takes place within the state of Florida, which is where I was born and still live to this day. One of the other things I absolutely loved about this book was its split into three substantially different perspectives. Each detailed a different generation of the MacIveys, and it was a very fun way to tell the story of a family who was trying to make a name for themselves during the 19th and 20th centuries.

#4 – The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques

For those of you who do know this series, I’m sure you will recall that there are about 30 books within or related to the series. I didn’t read all of them, but my elementary years were littered with most of these stories. Redwall, Salamandastron, Martin the Warrior, and Marlfox were just a few of Brian Jacques mesmerizing novels. Each had their similarities, but were also ridiculously unique in their own way. They all completely submerged me into a realm I had never even dreamt of. The fantasy novels all enlist some form of anthropomorphic animal that is undertaking a massive task to save the people of Redwall and its surrounding areas. It is one of few book series of its kind and it is a must-read for anyone who enjoys fantasy based novels. The books were aimed at children, specifically older children, so be weary of this is you decide to indulge yourself within Brain Jacques realm!

#3 – The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

It’s very hard for me to rank this book at #3, but unfortunately it has to be done. Lord of the Rings itself was incredible, but The Hobbit is one of those books that is basically absolute perfection. I can still remember when I picked this book up in fifth grade and didn’t set it down until I was finished with it. I was glued to that book for over a week and enjoyed every single second of it. Since then, I’ve probably only re-read this book twice. But knowing that I have a child on the way I am already anticipating reading it to them countless times once they can understand the story behind this incredible book.

#2 – The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Now, I won’t waste too much of your time here since I just recently posted a complete breakdown and ranking of the Harry Potter series, but it goes without saying that these books were essentially my entire childhood. From the second I opened my first HP book until my freshman year when The Deathly Hallows was released I always dreamt of the wizarding world. J.K. Rowling’s series was atop my list of favorites for years, but just recently it was toppled by ASOIAF. These books have the most read throughs for me and I know quite a disgusting amount about these books. I actually corrected the librarians answer key when I was in fourth grade too. Super nerd alert haha. Harry Potter and his crew taught me so many things over the years, and if you haven’t read this series yet you’re doing an immense disservice to yourself!

#1 – The A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And the #1 book/series of all time goes to… A Song of Ice and Fire! I know I know, this series isn’t even done yet (and it honestly might never be), but there is something about the way GRRM writes that I can’t get enough of. I’ve even bought his children’s book, The Ice Dragon, for when my child is born haha. His writing style was something I was very unfamiliar with but grew to love almost immediately. He actually inspired me to begin my own novel in a similar POV fashion as his ASOIAF books. The first five books of this series are all amazing, however, they’re not all the same caliber to me for one specific reason: I watched the show before I read the books. With that being said, the third, fourth, and fifth books are much more intriguing to read, but that in no way takes anything away from the first two!

The Lord of The Rings Series, The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mockingbird, these are just a few others that had every right to make this list. Reading just has a way of making us lose track of time while we immerse ourselves in the fantasy worlds of these spectacular authors. I hope one day my books can influence someone the way that some of these have influenced my life. When all is said and done, these books just hit on a different level, and they will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thanks again for reading the list of my top five books. 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 and comment often!

Norse Mythology for the Win

Norse Mythology for the Win

Norse Mythology has always been something that’s interested me. My dad always had movies or shows on with bits and pieces of Nordic flare throughout my childhood. I think the first true taste of the Nordic culture that had me all-in was back in 2007. Pathfinder had just come out and my father and I went to watch it in theaters. Looking back at it now, it’s not that great of a movie (5.4 on IMDB and a 10% Rotten Tomato), but it truly was the first movie that drew me into that Nordic realm. From there, my passion has been fueled by Vikings, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and even vaguely by the loose Nordic aesthetic within Game of Thrones. But the most influential Norse thing throughout my years was actually the PS4 exclusive God of War. This realm will almost always be a part of my life and it has inspired many ideas for my book. So grab your sword and braid your beard because Norse Mythology is here to seduce you!

The Lore & Stories

Ymir the Frost Giant

The intricate stories within Norse Mythology are one of the main things that draw me in. I love how detailed and farfetched these tales of ancient gods, creatures, and peoples are. Not to mention, most of the stories have tons of holes within them, which leaves plenty of room for my imagination to add its own spin. This actually brings us to how some of this lore inspired ideas within my first book, Brightblood. When I began writing, I started with the usual “Hero takes on evil to save his world” idea, and I was drawing a lot of inspiration from Game of Thrones. But when I really sat down and wondered how the character I had developed would look, I was clueless. After roughly an hour of pondering, I knew I was going to go Norse, and that theme quickly spread throughout my chapters.

Then I really started doing research on Norse Mythology. I stumbled across the tale of Ymir the frost giant and the general basis for my world was born. A dying good whose body turns into a planet, how could I not use that! From there I went down an even deeper rabbit hole into the lore of Ymir. His story has so many areas for me to delve into to make my own. Like how he was created or what actually led to his demise (potential spinoff, watch out!). This led to a shoot-off down the path of Norse Gods, which funneled into a slip and slide of Nordic mythological creatures, which ended in the general study of more lands, peoples, and cultures. Granted, my entire book is not solely based on this culture. Buttttt it is the essential driving force behind its birth.

The Language & Symbols

Nordic Runes

Some of the cooler, yet more challenging pieces of Norse Mythology are the language and symbols. This is where a lot of my research has been lately as I’ve started developing artwork for the story. Obviously, with such a heavy Nordic flare in the book, I wanted to accurately portray ancient runes and language everywhere. Yet, as a native English speaker, it is very challenging attempting to figure out such an old, intriguing language. Even with the help of the all mighty google machine I still struggle! However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been tackling a good amount of translations and have also come to the conclusion that this is another area that is open to tons of interpretation.

Take Odin’s Illusion Rune for example. If you do a quick google search, you cannot really find any definitive explanation for what this rune means. Many say it’s related to basic trickery and deception among the Nordic people. Many believe it could simply tie into Odin’s powerful godly magic. And some even think it’s a made-up rune that a random person who loved Norse Mythology created. That rune has just slowly been making its way across the internet for years, but I personally couldn’t care less. So even if it is a made-up rune that means absolutely nothing, I’ve taken this idea and branched it out onto its own unique path that I believe fits perfectly with my story.

The Look & Aesthetic of its People

Vikings Ragnar Lothbrook

Finally, what may be my favorite thing about the Nordic Culture, their aesthetic. There’s just something about long, unkempt, dreaded hair and bald guys with intense, waste-long beards, am I right? Tattoos covering the body of a warrior who hasn’t lost a battle in years. These are the things that really get me amped up! The fur-lining on everything is just so pleasing too. And don’t even get me started on the animal head cloaks our Nordic heroes wear so often! There is something extremely menacing about a character who puts on one of these cloaks. The ferocity one exudes once put on is just unmatchable. This whole culture’s aesthetic is just spot on at all times and it truly makes me wish I experienced that day and age.

Thanks again for reading Norse Mythology for the Win. 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 and comment often!

SEO for Beginning Bloggers

As I slowly meander my way through the world that is blogging, I’ve learned that some things are more important than others. For example, creating the content is more important than the look of the site. The speed of the site can make or break user interactions. And most importantly, SEO can truly transform a post from an unheard of blurb to an article that’s driving thousands of views to your site. I know I had zero clue what SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, was when I started. I honestly still don’t know a ridiculous amount about it either, but I do know now that it is something ALL bloggers should be focusing in whether you think you need it or not.

SEO Basics

For those of you who don’t know, Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Essentially, it is how you promote your posts from within the post itself. With the use of a focused key phrase, proper tags, and correctly used web links, one article can become quite the organic growth factor. Also, “organic growth” is simply growth that you aren’t paying for. So no promoted ads or clicks from a click farm, simply all natural growth.

You may now be saying, “Ok, that makes sense. But how does a key phrase or a link drive traffic to my site”? The answer to that isn’t so simple, but I’d like to take a stab at lessening any confusion. Moz points out that there are many more items that roll up into SEO than solely links, keywords, and tags. Brand features, keyword and link features, and social metrics are just a few to note. While these may sound confusing and overwhelming, they only represent the search engine or “SE” piece of “SEO”. The optimization piece is where you come in. You will use metrics and your own personal flair to create the tags and keywords that then link and ping to your content. Then, Google’s crawlers (basically their web searchers) will look for the content that most pertains to an individual’s search.

Benefits of SEO for Bloggers

So, with all of that being said, you’re probably now scratching your head wondering how this could be beneficial to your site. You may think you’re doing just fine, but the list below may help you change your mind on adapting to better SEO practices.

  • It increases traffic to your site
  • Better page indexing
  • A better selection of backlinks
  • Internal linking via your own website will improve
  • If set up properly, SEO can provide dividends over time
  • Better delivered information
  • Happier customers!

As you can see, by including some basic SEO practices into your daily blogging routine, you can improve not only your site, but also your monetary compensation. It will make your website flow better, will allow you to rank higher in search engines, and generally leave your customers feeling good about your site and it’s content.

Thanks again for reading my intro guide to SEO. 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!

How to Make Oven Brisket

How to Make Oven Brisket

Are you craving a tender, juicy brisket but don’t own a grill or a smoker? Don’t fret, I have just the recipe for you! This recipe’s is technically from my significant other’s grandmother, but over the last year or so I’ve added my own flair to this incredible oven brisket.

Required items

  • Brisket, duh. This recipe tends to turn out better with corned-beef brisket, but a normal beef brisket will work just fine.
  • eight to twelve ounces of ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce (to your taste)
  • Soy Sauce (to your taste)
  • One Container Beef Broth
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano
  • Liquid Smoke or Smokey Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Tin Foil
  • A Roasting Pan, preferably four to five inches deep (for the oven)
  • A Mixing Bowl
  • A Basting Brush

Oven Brisket Steps

  • 1 – Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • 2 – Open your brisket and place in whatever your roasting pan.
  • 3 – Season both sides of the brisket with a mixture of oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder. No need to rub the seasoning into the meat, but I always try to!
  • 4 – Place the roasting pan into the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes (don’t forget to set a timer here!).
  • 5 – While the brisket is cooking, mix the ketchup, a splash of Worcestershire, and two splashes soy sauce in your mixing bowl. Remember, this is all to your tasting! Feel free to adjust these amounts here.
  • 6 – Once 45 minutes have passed, remove the brisket from the oven and carefully place on your counter.
  • 7 – Pour some beef broth into the roasting pan. This will create steam and is crucial to creating that tender brisket your heart is patiently waiting for.
  • 8 – With your basting brush, paint the complete top of the brisket with the ketchup concoction from step 5.
  • 9 – Pour liquid smoke or Smokey seasoning into the beef broth. If you have the seasoning, you could simply season the meat, but I prefer to allow it to smoke with the broth rather than actually adding more seasoning to the meat.
  • 10 – Cover the pan with tin foil two to three times to ensure optimal levels of steam/moisture remain within.
  • 11 – Poke a few small holes into the four corners of the tin foil for safety.
  • 12 – Place the roasting pan back in oven for four to five more hours. Be sure to check periodically and add more beef broth if it evaporates.
  • 13 – Remove from oven, cut against the grain, and enjoy!

Voila, a masterfully crafted brisket straight from the comfort of your own home’s oven. To really bring out the flavors from this brisket, pair with some mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, or green beans. It also pairs quite nice with dressing (or stuffing) around the holidays. So don’t be afraid to whip out this recipe next thanksgiving, friends-giving, or Christmas. This is one of my favorite recipes, so be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Thanks again for reading my how-to on cooking a tasty oven brisket. 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!

How to Make Pineapple Teriyaki Pork Tacos

For those of you in search of a luau/Hawaiian themed meal, look no further, I have a pineapple teriyaki pork taco meal just for you! This was something I experimented with earlier this year and it is now hands down one of the top three meals that I make. It’s also an extremely simple recipe, so head below to learn how to make some delicious pork tacos!

Ingredients & Necessary Items

  • Pork Tenderloin (Teriyaki Flavored preferably, but you can also just soak a plain chunk of meat in your own teriyaki sauce)
  • Pineapple
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Taco Shells
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Other Optional Items: Sour Cream, Salsa, Additional Teriyaki Sauce, Hot Sauce, or whatever you may prefer to have on top of your tacos.
  • Non-Food Items: Cutting Board, Sharp Knife, Non-stick Pan/Skillet or Griddle


  • Remove the pork tenderloin from its packaging and place it on the cutting board
  • Turn stove or griddle onto medium heat
  • Begin dicing the pork into tiny chunks (think about the size of a quartered cherry tomato) or shredding if you have the ability too.
  • Once the pork is diced, place in a pan or skillet to begin browning
  • Begin dicing the pineapple up into similarly sized chunks as the pork
  • Once the pork is almost finished cooking (10-20 minutes depending on your temperature), turn the heat to high, drop the pineapple into the pan, and add a spoonful of garlic to the pork
  • Let both the pork and the pineapple crisp in the pan (5-10 minutes, completely your preference) and sprinkle in a touch of oregano as they do.
  • Warm-up your shells (if you went with soft shell) and enjoy!

It’s as easy as that. I personally prefer my pineapple teriyaki pork tacos with a touch of shredded lettuce and a small amount of sour cream. The sour cream works wonders with the sweetness of the teriyaki and the lettuce adds an extra crunch to the taco. I also would recommend soft shell tacos here as it can become messy depending on how much extra teriyaki you may have added, but hard shells would still pair incredibly with this meal. These delicious tacos prepare in just about 30 minutes and I 10 out of 10 recommend you make them as soon as possible!

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