Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 Things THIS BLOGGER and OTHERS like to see when they visit your blog

ryan gosling blogging tips  Ryan Reynolds blogging tips photo
**You know what they say, two Ryans are better than one.**

I’m just going to start this post with a HUGE disclaimer. I am not an expert on the topic of blogging. I don’t have the best blog on the planet, and I know that. But before I was a blogger, and even now that I am a blogger, I was/am, a blog reader.  And there certain things that I and other bloggers like to see when we go to a blog. Things that will make us take notice of your blog, and might make us new followers/readers of your blog. All of these tips are things I've learned along the way, and I am sharing them with you, and have only good intentions by doing so.  Today, I’m just going to give you five that I could think of off the top of my head.

1. PICTURES- And not just any kind of pictures. BIG ONES. Big pictures are key for me. I really like reading blogs who use big pictures in their posts. You know that in Blogger, once you upload your photos into your post you can make them different sizes? I know you can do the same if you’re using Word Press, or use Windows Live Writer to write your posts.  Please make your pictures as big as they can be.  Thumbnail size pictures aren’t appealing to any blog reader.

Examples of blogs that use BIG PICTURES:
Little Miss Momma, Nest of Posies, Flamingo Toes, Us Three Birds

2.  A READ-ABLE FONT-   I know your blog is your space, your home, but IF you are trying to gain more followers and want more people to read your blog, then you have to think about them. You have to think that not everyone likes reading hot pink font on a neon green background.  A nice clean, white background for your posts might seem boring to you, but to readers it isn’t boring. It’s clean. Fresh. And a colored font isn’t always a bad thing. If you want to use some colorful fonts in your post, do it in smaller doses. Like when you’re wanting to give a few words a dramatic effect, or when you’re quoting someone, “To blog, or not to blog, that is the question.” Another good idea to practice is choosing a font that is easy to read, in terms of design. Times New Roman, Georgia, and Arial,  are easy fonts to read.  Bradley Hand Italics, Lucida Handwriting, and  French Script, are not.  When in doubt, ask your mom or Grandma to read your blog and see if they can read it without any trouble. ;)

3.  A DESIGN THAT WORKS- I’m not saying every blogger has to have an amazing blog design, or has to pay a lot of money to someone to design their blog. I know that’s not always possible. Heck, have you seen my blog? Okay then.  What I am saying is, the design that is on your blog should not give me or anyone else, a headache after only being there for a minute or two. When your blog background is more distracting than the pictures and written content in your post, then you know you have a problem. If you like bright and fun colors, that’s awesome, just don’t use them all over. If you like patterns that’s great too, but mixing chevron, polka dots, and plaid all together isn’t.

Examples of blogs that have designs that work:
Mod Podge Rocks Amy has a gray grid background, but the color and the design are subtle and don’t distract you from her content. 
Rags to Stitches Alissa has a teal and white pattern for her background, but the design isn’t overwhelming. The colors throughout her blog are cohesive and go together nicely. She has color but she also has a simple white background where the body of her post is. 
Madigan Made  Shannon has a fun design, with a few colors, and a decorative trim along one of the sides of her blog. It’s not distracting, but gives her blog a fun pop of color and ties in with her social media icons too.
Positively Splendid Amy has a great patterned background, and fun colors that she uses for social media icons, and in her header.

4. EASILY FOUND SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS, CONTACT INFO, FOLLOWER BUTTONS- In other words, please allow people to openly stalk you without making them hunt you down.  The ever dedicated readers will hunt you down, by the way. But other people might go to your blog, look around for a second or two, not see anyway to follow you on Pinterest, FB, Google+, or your blog, and they might leave without bookmarking your page. Make it easy for them to find you and to come back and visit. And please, please, please have your email address on your blog. Either in a separate page like your ABOUT, or CONTACT page, or linked to your profile, just somewhere where we can find it.  Readers want to connect to the people they are reading about, make it easy for them. Don’t be scared, most of the people reading your blog aren’t going to come come to your house and demand a tour…though it has been known to happen.

Examples of bloggers who have their contact info and social media buttons and follower buttons in the “open”:
Dollar Store Crafts, Tatertots & Jello, Christine and Co., Mad In Crafts

5. YOU- Your voice, your face, your opinions, your own P.O.V. This goes along with point number four. Readers want to connect to you, they want to feel like they know you. They want to share in what’s going on in your life, your week, or your day. Even when they read a tutorial, they like when you inject some personality into it. Create your own artwork, or projects. Share your ideas, your experiences, and your stories.  They don’t always have to be amazing, or great, or ‘Pin”-able. They just need to be yours. Find your voice and use it.

Examples of blogs that show the writer’s personality:
Enjoying The Small Things, The Pioneer Woman, Cookbook Queen, Young House Love, Aunt Peaches, Merry Pad 

Okay, now that you have my 5 tips, go forth and practice them! Or not. I just really wanted to share some things that I have been thinking about for a while now, and things that I've discussed with other bloggers.  I hope they give you something to think about, and maybe work towards.  If you have any tips you’d like to add, or share, don’t be afraid to leave me a comment of send me an email.

And thanks to all of my blogging friends, who have taught me so much, and shared all their thoughts with me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How I did on our “Bake Sale” for the Couponing for Good with #AllYouCFK campaign

Remember a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you how I had the opportunity to use coupons and my creativity in the kitchen to help donate to a local charity that supports kids? (If you don’t, you can read my first post about couponing for good with #AllYouCFK  or check out my Google+ album.)

…And if you do remember, then you know that I managed to save $15 using coupons to shop with, and that I used my savings to buy stuff that I could make treats to sell for our “BAKE SALE.”
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I made super sized rice krispy treats with dark and white chocolate drizzled over the tops of them, super soft sugar cookie bars with butter cream frosting and sprinkles, and of course, I had to make the yummy triple layer brownies (otherwise known as slutty brownies).

I packaged up all the treats, and loaded my kids into the car, and headed to my first stop…
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We only went to 2 places before we sold out of treats, but we made $60.00 to donate!!
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I was extremely happy knowing that every $1 donated to our local Community Food Bank, meant they would be able to turn that into $8 for purchasing food.  That means with our $60.00 donation they could turn that into $480.00!!
That’s pretty awesome, right?!

And actually donating to our Community Food Bank was even easier than coming up with the idea for our bake sale.  The Community Food Bank website makes it really easy for anyone wanting to donate money to their organization. You can see down below how I took screen shots of their website as I went through the donation process.
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You click on their DONATE NOW button…
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It will open a new page, where you can say how much you want to donate, the frequency of your donation, and what programs you want it to go to…
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I did a one-time donation for $60.00 and wanted it to go towards their feeding programs…
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Then, it will give you a conformation of your donation…
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And it will also email you a confirmation as well to save for your records.

I loved being able to donate the money online. It saved me from making a trip with my kids, and it was super easy donate while I was up late at night paying off some bills.  It only took a few minutes, but I imagine that it will do a lot of good.

I am so glad I got to take part in the Champions For Kids campaign, working with All You.  I love taking part in simple service projects and getting my kids involved at the same time. It's really important to me, that my kids grow up having a heart to serve. If you’d like more information on how you can get involved in your local community, then I’d encourage you to check out the Champions For Kids website or you can like Champions For Kids on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  All experiences are completely honest and my own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our life from last week…also known as a photo dump

Last week I decided to trim my little girl’s bangs. She might be smiling on the outside, but inside she’s saying, “What the heck, mom? I’ll never get a date now.”  Don’t worry, this is just the first of many times I’m sure to traumatize her.
And for some reason, both my kids like taking all their clothes off, but they keep their shirts on their heads, and call them hats. Nevermind the messy toys in the background.
Oh, and I let my kids play out in the front yard in their pajama’s. I mean what great mom doesn’t do that?

Alright, guys and gals, that’s it for now. Stay classy friends. ;)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pearl Cluster Ring Winner

Hey everyone. Thanks so much for entering my little giveaway. I was excited when I first had the idea to make the rings because I thought they truly were going to be pretty and such a cute accessory for a fun outfit. And they came out just like I had envisioned. Which sometimes doesn’t happen when you’re making something yourself. 

So I want to thank you for entering, sharing, and liking my rings and my blog. It means so much to me.  And all your encouragement has totally made me end my lil’ BIG break from the handmade shop world, and list the rings in my new Storenvy shop.  I have other things I would like to create and add in there too, so wish me luck.

Okay, now for the winner.  The lucky number 13 was chosen using
pearl ring winner
and that person was Steph from The Silly Pearl!
pearl ring winner

Congratulations Steph! I hope you like your new ring!  I’ll be emailing you soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It’s a good day for a party with #TCBYGrocery, now in Walmart

That’s right. TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt) is now available at Walmart, in the frozen dessert aisle. 
I can remember going to TCBY with my family after church on Sundays, or for late night frozen yogurt runs, and loving it. I would try different flavors, get fun toppings and just enjoy a delicious dessert.  Which is one reason why I was really excited that TCBY now has yummy frozen yogurt, bars, and a classic vanilla cream sandwich, that is being sold in Walmart. 

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I got an awesome opportunity to shop for the new #TCBYGrocery line, and throw a fun frozen yogurt party for some friends and family. I don’t know who was more excited about this, my husband who is addicted to sweets, or me because I love TCBY.  Or maybe it was my kids?
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See that bottom part of our cart? It’s full of TCBY yogurt! And telling my kids we were going to have a party and eat it all, was just way to much for them to handle. :)

I had a fun idea to set up a frozen yogurt buffet in our dining room, complete with awesome toppings, little glass trifle bowls, and the main attraction: all the TCBY one could ever want at a party.

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I put a whole bunch of toppings into some mason jars, and set them on a lazy susan so that you just had to spin it around to get the toppings you wanted.

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And I set out all the yogurt and the yummy bars and sandwiches in between the bowls and toppings…

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I let everyone make their own treats, and pick out different bars to try.

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My dad and my grandma both said the Orange and Vanilla bars both loved the Orange and Vanilla bars. He’ll probably be mad I caught him mid bite. hehe.

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My son loves mint, so I knew the Mint chocolate chip would be perfect for him. He liked it so much he asked for a second bowl right away.

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And my husband made the most delicious looking frozen yogurt sundae of the night! It was the English Toffee Crunch flavor, with caramel sauce, almonds, Reese’s minis, and two Caramel Delight cookies.

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I told you he has a sweet tooth!

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I had such a great time having the party at our house, and trying out the new TCBY line in Walmart. I can’t wait to get some more in our freezer.  And I have a new favorite flavor, the English Toffee Crunch. It’s sooo good! 

If you want to check out any more pictures from my shopping trip or our little party, then you can check out my Google+ album.  But don’t go looking when you’re hungry!

And if you want more info about the #TCBYGrocery products, you can check out,  or follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  All opinions and experiences are my own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pearl Cluster Rings, and a follower giveaway

IMG_3207IMG_3199pearl cluster ring

I have a little giveaway to share with you today. Hope you don’t mind! 

These pretty, pearl cluster rings come in three different colors. A champagne color, a dark silver gray, and a white mother of pearl. The band is adjustable, and even fits my pudgy fingers, so no need to worry that it might not fit!

This is another fun follower appreciation giveaway for you guys. Because you know I love all the encouragement, and friendship you offer, and I love to be able to share and give you something in return.

The winner will get to choose the color of pearl cluster ring that they want.

This giveaway is open to followers only.
That means if you follow me on my blog, or on my Facebook page, or on Twitter, or on Google+, or on Pinterest, you can enter. It doesn’t mean you have to follow me on all of them, just one of them is fine. (But I’m not going to complain if you do want to follow me on all of them, hehe. I would probably even do a happy dance!)
**And if you all the sudden want to start following me, just to have a chance to win a fun and pretty pearl cluster ring, then I’m down with that too.**

1.  You can leave me ONE comment, telling me ONE way you follow.
2. You can share this giveaway for ONE extra entry.  (either on Facebook, or twitter, or Google+.

This giveaway STARTS TODAY, MARCH 19. It ends FRIDAY, MARCH 23, at 11:59 PM.
Please make sure to leave your email in at least ONE of the comments, or make sure it is connected to your profile or blog.  The winner will have 48 hours to claim their “prize” or I will choose a new winner using RANDOM.ORG. 

Happy Monday EVERYONE!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mini Room Makeover- Freshening up for Spring, with the Help of Renuzit’s #FreshAccents

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Well, it is most definitely spring time here. Even though winter was so short, I welcome the warmth of Spring and what it means for my family. Spring time means my kids get to spend more time outside, they love playing in the dirt and grass. It means my husband can start growing a garden. And it means that I can freshen up our home, and not just with Spring cleaning and new scents of Spring… but with new d├ęcor too. 

I know some of you ladies dread winter for the same reasons I do, winter means no spray painting outside!  The weather has to be nice enough outside so that we can take our kids out to play, and work on spray painting projects while they are staying busy with their shovels, and cars, and tricycles.  This past week the weather has truly been wonderful. Perfect temps, more daylight because of the time change, and everything outside seems to be wakening up from the winter blues.  It was so nice to open the windows, and let fresh air come in.

Usually when spring comes, I like to change a few things up, bring in fresh flowers, maybe get a new scented candle… but I wasn’t content to just make little changes this year. I wanted to do something a littlle more daring.  This is what my little corner next to my couch looked like before I did a mini makeover on it.
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The table was dark, and the top of it was a little beat up from my two kids. The lamp was a creamy color that just didn’t go with the colors I wanted in there. And the couch… well the couch still looks like a garden threw up on it, but I have plans to buy new slipcovers, or attempt to make my own.
I also wanted to make change our rug by our front door since it’s the first thing you see when you walk in. The green wasn’t working.

Right after I made a plan to makeover some of our living room, I headed to Walmart to go shopping.  If you are on a budget, Walmart is a good place to go to pick up a few things for easy and quick changes.  I almost always hit up the paint aisle when I go.
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You can see they have some great colors.
And I also headed over to their Air Fresheners aisle to do a little shopping there too.
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It’s a huge aisle, right? Who knew there were so many different air fresheners, and fragrances!  And believe me, it was a busy aisle! People were congregating there like they were giving out free samples.

I wanted to get some stuff to freshen up our living room carpet, but I also wanted to get a room air freshener too. And since there aren’t a lot of hiding spots in our living room where I could tuck an air freshener away, I knew I’d have to find one that was stylish enough to be sitting out in plain sight.  Which is why I am really happy with the design of the Fresh Accents from Renuzit
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They are really cute and small, but don’t really look like traditional air fresheners I’ve seen. I love the silver cartridge holder, and the leaf design on it too.  After smelling them both, we decided to go with the Raspberry #FreshAccents.

After doing some shopping at a few more stores, Pier 1, Joann’s, Home Depot, and a couple of thrift stores, I was ready to go home and get to work.

First I primed my table with KILZ, then I sanded it and wiped it down.
priming a table with KILZ (3)priming a table with KILZ (1)
Then I painted it with Krylon’s Sun Yellow… and even though it was like, BAM! In your face bright and “spring time” perfect, I just couldn’t bring myself to liking it.
IMG_3063sun yellow from Krylon
So I repainted it white once the yellow had dried.  It was a much better color for our room. Still fresh and bright, but also calming.  And I didn’t stop painting there. I went on to spray paint the lamp base, some book ends, and the rug. Yep, I spray painted that old rug. And now it looks amazing.
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I also put my sewing skills to use and made a few pillow covers to bring some fun colors into our living room. (The teal pillow I was lucky to find at Pier 1, and I love it!)
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It’s so great to see our living room coming together, even though I am definitely not finished yet. But I am so happy to have some new accessories in our home, and to have it smelling like yummy berries!

And I love how the Fresh Accents air freshener fits right in with the colors I chose for our living room. I couldn’t have planned it any better!
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I hope I have inspired you to freshen up your own home this Spring just like Renuzit has inspired me. You don’t have to worry about doing big changes if you’re not ready for it. Sometimes just getting a new pillow, doing some deep cleaning, or even getting a new air freshener can make a big difference.
If you want to see more of my shopping trip and makeover pictures, you should head over to my Google+ album right now.

Renuzit wants to help you guys bring a little spring time freshness into your homes too, so they are offering a $1 off coupon for anyone who visits their Facebook page and wants to send a friend a Gorgeous e-card.  And you might just want to check out their Gorgeous page too. I know some of my friends liked the eye candy there, hehe.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias All the opinions and ideas are honest and my own.

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