Friday We're In Love Google

Sunday, August 24, 2014

D-backs Major League Baseball Game - Captured by Photography Hill

Date Info: 
Major League Baseball Game 
Price: $15-$120 per ticket
Location: Any MLB stadium 
Website: MLB Tickets

We try to make it a point to go to at least one MLB game every summer. It's just the American thing to do. 

When your company has season tickets and they generously share with employees, you seize the moment and get some pretty killer seats for free.
Go to a baseball game- creative date idea

When the very talented Lydia of Photography Hill offers to take some date pictures, you jump on that. Because there are so many moments of dates we just never seem to capture on our own. Like the moments we stop to share a joke together.

Or the eating of hot dogs. That takes two hands.

Or the moment when Jacob's tall frame and long arms beat out everyone else to get the t-shirt from the t-shirt gun.

Or the fact that we're not big PDA people, but sometime those little moments happen. 
Summer Date Idea: Go to a baseball game

There are the normal shots we take of every date, standing in front of the location and smiling. She obliged and got those for us too.

But I think we often hire photographers for only those posed moments. I'm seeing the light and realizing that the pictures I want on my wall in my house are those candid moments- the moments when our future son hits his first baseball at a little league game. The birthday party where our daughter is dressed as a princess and acts like one. Us holding hands roller skating instead of smiling in front of the same water fountain most people in our area have a picture smiling posed in front of. Lydia is a talented portrait photographer, but she's more than that, she's a moments photographer who likes to get people in their natural element. We were lucky enough to have her come with us on a series of dates for an entire month. And I'm so pleased with the results of how our personalities and dates were captured in a light we, and our readers, don't typically see.

Like how we both instinctively raise our hands and start singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch.

Or the goofiness that is the Jacob Whiting. Like when he says "We could probably fit both of us in this shirt." And then before I can look at what he's doing, a shirt is going over my head and I'm questioning if I'm being abducted in a moment of utter uncertainty. Nope, just Jacob being hilarious and getting a shirt on both of us at once.

And me laughing so hard I cry.

And luckily Lydia was ready to capture it all. And Jacob was ready to twirl my hair, proud of his accomplishment of assaulting with a t-shirt.

And this my friends, is a picture I will always remember and treasure. The one with the beautiful lines of chairs behind us while everyone else was leaving the stadium. The one where my husband made me laugh so hard I cried. The one where we reminded ourselves that XL t-shirts that have "WE back the D-backs" were clearly designed for two people to create a memory together in.

Although Photography Hill provided the pictures for this date, and several others, the opinions are my own. She's an amazing photographer that will capture emotion and moments in ways you never knew possible. If you are a Phoenix reader, you should seriously check Lydia's stuff out. Because the world needs more two-person shirt wearing, inside joke capturing, and 7th Inning Stretch singing.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Friday We're In Love Gets a Makeover- A Usability Case Study

I know most people use readers these days, and hey I do too! But it's always nice to click into a site and find they've made some upgrades. Guess what friends, if you haven't been around these parts for the past week or two, you should probably click in and see the upgrades.

I had a huge epiphany while at Alt Summit this summer. One of the best things I did was sit down at the Ask a Designer Table and have a frank chat with the extremely talented Laurie Smithwick.
I let her know that I work with Fortune 500 companies in digital marketing for a living. I help with usability, design, content placement, and overall digital strategy, and I knew I needed to sit down and analyze my own blog for usability and already had some ideas.

She was super patient as I did so, and went through with me and gave design tweaks and suggestions to take Friday We're In Love to a new level with design and usability. I love that we agreed on all the changes up front. Everything I pointed out she was like "Yes, and while you're at it...." I knew that if nothing else came from my awesome experience at Alt Summit Summer, it needed to be my takeaway to upgrade my own site and give readers what they want in an easier, more authentically pleasing way.

So I started how I usually do, by looking at data. I love data, data doesn't lie! A deep examination into my Google Analytics helped me see how users come to the site, what they are looking for, and where they drop off with content. It lead me to realize I have two types of readers- those who come for each post and read me like a book. Thank you dear readers who do this, you are invaluable!

The second type are coming to look for date ideas mostly on Thursday and Friday, which thrills me! We've always had this blog to keep ourselves accountable to date and to inspire others to date too. I love it's happening! However, I wasn't doing much for these readers, and after about 3.5 years of blogging our dates, I'm realizing we have a fair amount of content and date ideas out there! It was just time to make the content easy to find, easy to navigate, and more organized. And with that, a restructure of navigation and design happened.

I think after only two weeks, I'm seeing some good things! You guys are finding what you want easier, staying on the site a little longer, and can find the index of date ideas much easier! I'm also pleased with the look update. Here's some of the changes to help with look and usability you can see:

1. Updated navigation with the content most commonly searched for at the top

2. Dropdown menus to access content more easily

3. Date Ideas with indexes by type, price, location, season as well as the 12 Months of Dates Project and the 101 Date Ideas post, that happens to be the #2 most visited page.

3. More about us and the blog, it's what we're asked most often!

4. Travel section- After Europe, several U.S. getaways, Peru, any many Arizona weekend trips, we've learned how to travel on a budget without skipping out. I'll be writing several posts in the coming weeks about how to plan, pack, and prepare for trips, as well as share our itineraries for several destinations so you can glean from our experiences too!

5. An Aside From Friday section. We cook, run marathons, and I have many people looking for the AZ Blogger Meetup Group I founded. Also, post speaking at Alt Summit, many have asked me to share more digital marketing information online. I always think, meh, the Internet has plenty of "How to be a better blogger" posts. However, I guess working in the industry with large companies has given me some knowledge I assume everyone else knows. Thanks for the push friends, I'm going to continue to add to the "Blogging Tips" list I created.

6. Three columns to two columns. I love the trend of simplifying sites and taking away the clutter in the sidebars is going away. I'm happy that most my content is up top, and only 2 columns were needed. Normally I'm all about owning your brand and not looking like everyone else. However, for usability, this is one trend you just can't argue with.

7. Updated social media. Things have changed in the past few years. Facebook no longer is king (unless you pay big time to make it be), Stumbleupon, G+, YouTube are becoming increasingly more popular. It was time to add some of the new kids on the block to the sidebar for access.

8. A Shrunken logo to help access content faster for readers on Bloglovin' and visiting the actual site.

9. A better branding guide with colors and fonts defined, including web safe fonts for easier reading.

You can still expect a weekly date post, some lifestyle content, and the same theme throughout. Hopefully this only helps people come back and search for what they were looking for better.

Let me know your thoughts-
Do you like the updates?
What do you usually come to our site for?
Any other changes you'd like to see?

And a huge shoutout to the amazingly talented, affordable, and truly patient Lauren of Lolo Made Designs for making all the upgrades a reality!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

$200 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Welcome to the $200 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

One of our favorite places to look for at-home date ideas is Amazon. There are so many great books/games to order, and to get shipped right to your doorstep in 2 days! Bless you Prime!  

We're teaming up with some other great bloggers and one lucky person will win a $200 Amazon Gift Card.

How to Pack for 7 Days in Peru in Less Than One Carryon

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sharpie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #SharpieClearview

If you follow me on Instagram, you know we just returned home from Jacob's dream trip to Peru, specifically visiting Machu Picchu. It was incredible, and we'll be sharing our trip over the next month, how we prepped, and how we made sure to have the funnest trip possible this summer.

We're big DIY vacationers, we like to plan our own agenda and save the money of a travel agency. One thing that was really challenging was planning the details of this trip. There are a few travel books out there, but honestly, nothing was all that excellent. We took bits and pieces from different places, and researched all we could online. However, there was a big leap of faith in our itinerary hoping we'd planned everything right and packed accordingly. I'm happy to report we were close, and we came up with a list of tips we'd share through blog posts so hopefully anyone planning a trip to this 7 Wonder of the World can have an easier time than we had. 

One particular challenge was packing. I love the freedom of only a carry on, and I also love making sure I have at least one outfit a day. This can be tricky for a trip that's a week or more, but with some very careful organization and the right tools we were both able to pack the perfect amount of clothes. 

 So here's how we do it. I'm a spreadsheet girl. Excel is something I use every day at work. Consequently, a Google Doc is started for each trip, with each day having it's own column. Here's what I add for each day/column:

1. The day of the week and date
2. The AM agenda of activities
3. The PM agenda of activities
4. Hotel we'll be staying at that evening
5. Travel information, including flight or train numbers
This helps us put everything into a timing perspective and knowing what activities to pack for. For example, we mountain biked on Monday, and that clearly requires a different attire than just going out to dinner.

From there I copy the sheet, and look up what the weather is going to be like. Peru was extra difficult, because although they are in winter during the U.S. summer, some places are very warm and some are very cold due to altitude changes. I add the weather on the new sheet, and remove some of the information from the itinerary sheet, so I know where I'll be and what clothing and other items to pack for the day.
From there I see what can double up- like maybe I only need one pair of jeans or leggings I can wear twice. Any efficiencies in packing help keep your packing down to one carryon. One other trick, look at lightweight knit items. T-shirts, leggings, knit dresses, all take up less space and weight in your carry on.

When I have this all figured out, I print the spreadsheet and get to work grabbing each of the items on my list. To make sure I have everything I like to literally check everything off my list. One of the greatest products I've found to help check off is the Sharpie Clearview Highlighter.

This excellent little product I found at Walgreens, and was super in love with the clear view near the tip. I can actually see what I'm highlighting, and check everything off with a simple highlight.
The Sharpie also helped me still see the list, so I could be OCD and double check myself. True story, I've forgot underwear, pajamas, and my toothbrush on more than one occasion. Double checking is a must!

When I have everything together, I like to do the roll method, rolling my clothes in little bundles to save more space. I put the heaviest and bulkiest items on the bottom, and squeeze in the thin items inbetween. And before I know it, I end up with this.
Leaving plenty of room for toiletries, some snacks, and an extra pair or two of shoes.

I'm pleased to say this method worked perfectly for both of us. We came home with one extra t-shirt to spare, and the perfect amount of clothes to wear in the cold and hot temperatures.


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