Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Beautiful Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining With Goodwill

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Beautiful Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining With Goodwill from MomAdvice.com
I love entertaining outdoors in the summertime and today I wanted to share with you some fun and frugal ways you can entertain utilizing items found at your local Goodwill store. Outdoor entertaining does not need to be expensive and many of the items found at Goodwill can be repurposed into great items to have on hand for outdoor meals and entertainment for your guests.

Join me over on the Goodwill Tips blog for a few beautiful summertime ideas I have gathered to help you  make the most of your outdoor space! I just know you will feel inspired after you see these fun ideas! 

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Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Grilled Brussels Sprouts from MomAdvice.com *This post is sponsored by Wild Oats.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

Grilling season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier. What could be better than dining outside, keeping your kitchen clean, and providing a great meal (with leftovers for the week) in the process? Each year I vow to try my grill in a new way and this year I wanted to try some new ways to grill vegetables. Today I am partnering up with Wild Oats and sharing an easy veggie side dish you can create with just Brussels Sprouts, a few of your favorite dried and fresh spices, and a couple of other basic pantry ingredients.

Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite veggies in the world.  In winter, I love to roast them until the taste resembles a decadent plate of french fries. For the summer months though, I love to keep my kitchen nice and cool so I wanted to figure out a different way I could make them. I decided to try them on our outdoor grill and see if the results would be just as tasty. Guess what? It didn’t disappoint.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts from MomAdvice.com Wild Oats offers a variety of delicious organic dried spices that you can use on your grilled veggies this summer.  Have you seen these jars in your local Walmart store? It’s a great value and I love the dried spices, particularly when the garden isn’t in full swing or to mix even with the fresh herbs we have on hand. For these Brussels Sprouts you can add a little paprika for a smoky flavor, or chili powder for a little heat, or dress them up simply with a little Italian seasoning blend which pairs perfectly with the fresh garlic we have in this recipe.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts from MomAdvice.com

Although I love the charred bits on my Brussels Sprouts, I do like to protect them with a double layer of foil to prevent them from getting really burnt. The length of time you cook them really depends on your own personal taste. I like mine to have a nice crunch still so 10-12 minutes is a good amount of time for me. If you prefer a softer veggie, 15-18 minutes should do the trick! Keep in mind, these are a great one to prep the night before for a party and tuck in your fridge for your events. How awesome is that?

If you are interested in trying your veggies some new ways this summer, I love this technique for grilling the corn right in their husks, or you can add a rich layer of herb butter on the corn before grilling, we love these three-cheese grilled potatoes for a fun side with our steaks, and grilled tomato bread with prosciutto is an awfully impressive starter to any outdoor feast!

Grilled Brussels Sprouts from MomAdvice.com

Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
A fast & easy way to create an elegant side dish without the dishes! Grilled Brussels Sprouts are a crowd-pleaser and can be spiced just the way you like!
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon of your favorite Wild Oats died spice (chili, paprika, or Italian seasoning- just to name a few!)
Instructions
  1. Tear off two 14-inch sheets of foil; fold each in half to make a double layer. Place half of veggie mixture in even layer in center of one sheet.
  2. Top with single sheet of foil and fold up edges to form a rectangular pouch (about 9" by 6"). Crimp edges tightly until well sealed. Repeat with remaining foil and mixture.
  3. Place on the grill (10-12 minutes yields a great crunch or 15-18 minutes for a softer veggie) and cook until done.

 Get to know Wild Oats!

Check out Wild Oats on their blog,  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, &Pinterest.

 * This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

Easy Rice Cooker Quinoa

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Easy Rice Cooker Quinoa from MomAdvice.com

A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.

In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves.  In the summer months, in particular, quinoa is perfect for your summer salads because it can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature.

Wild Oats thankfully offers a variety of delicious quinoa options that you can find on your local Walmart shelves. Today I want to share a little bit about what quinoa is and some tips for preparing it!

Head on over to the Wild Oats blog to get the scoop on how to make quinoa in your rice cooker today!

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Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids from MomAdvice.com.

This year has flown by for our family and it’s hard to believe summer is so quickly upon us. Each year I’m more desperate to hang on to our summer and our memories together. My kids are hitting the teen and tween stages this year and I treasure each moment with them so much more as they get older than I had ever imagined.

Today I want to share with you a fun summer time capsule ornament that your children can hang on the holiday tree or can be the launching point of a fun family mealtime together this summer. Have you ever had your kids create a time capsule? I am telling you, it is so much fun and gives you a glimpse, as a parent, into what is important in their lives.

Head on over the Kenmore blog to get the instructions & tutorial for this easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids.

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Tips for Traveling With Kids

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Tips for Traveling With Kids from MomAdvice.com

 

I am so excited that summer is finally upon us and with the summer months ahead, family vacations are on the horizon. In honor of this season of travel, I wanted to share some fun tips for traveling with kids to help prepare you for this fun time. Those hours to and from your destinations don’t need to be painful ones though thanks to these great ideas we have gathered up for you for your next trip!

Today I am over on the Goodwill Tips blog sharing some ideas for keeping your kids entertained while traveling this summer! Who couldn’t use a few travel tips with kids? Don’t miss this article!

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DIY Iced Coffee Recipes

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

how-to-make-the-perfect-iced-coffee-1

My favorite drink in the summertime is iced coffee, but I don’t love the price tag that comes with the iced coffees from our coffee shops. Thankfully, I discovered how to cold brew my coffee and make the perfect iced coffee at home. This month on my site I am showing you how I cold brewed my coffee  and today we tackle how to make the perfect iced coffee just for you by adding your own favorite flavor combinations.

In honor of the iced coffee season, I am over at the Wild Oats blog sharing how to make your very own DIY Iced Coffees with just a few inexpensive ingredients for making your own unique flavor combinations! Head on over to the Wild Oats blog to get the scoop!

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Amy’s Notebook 05.20.15: M Challenge Technology Syllabus

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

m-challenge

Note: As a wrap-up of each month’s m challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will serve as a one stop shopping for the theme that you can refer to as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

May M Challenge: Focus on Technology

Other Links for Using & Managing Technology:

Efficiency Apps via Buzzfeed

Source: BuzzFeed

 

Great list of apps that will make you more efficient.

20 tech hacks – game-changing secrets for the stuff we use daily.

How to use The Cloud to organize your life.

Do you think you could go paperless?

List of top apps to try this year!

Ways to organize your home with Evernote.

Tips to maximize the power of Gmail.

How to make your Wi-Fi signal stronger.

 

Driven-by-Decor-Hack-an-Office-Organizer-to-Create-a-Super-Convenient-Family-Charging-Station

Source: Driven By Decor

 

DIY a decor-worthy charging station for the whole family.

Or dedicate a mudroom cabinet for family electronics.

Simple ways to declutter your online life.

An app to help kids earn screen time – and helps parents manage it!

10 tips to keep technology from taking over your family’s life.

How to talk to teens about distracted driving from smartphones.

17 apps that can save you money.

Could you detox from your smartphone in 7 days?

5 easy steps to clean up & organize your desktop computer.

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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How to Cold Brew Coffee

Monday, May 18th, 2015

How to Cold Brew Coffee from MomAdvice.com * This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

When warmer temperatures strike, my coffee routines switch up a bit.  In my house, I try to keep a pitcher of cold brewed coffee in the refrigerator to take with me for my afternoon pick-me-up at the pool.  Have you tried the cold brew method before? It couldn’t be easier (or more affordable).  Today I’m partnering up with Wild Oats Organic to show you just how easy it is to create a batch of cold brewed coffee for all of your summertime coffee needs!

What is Cold Brewed Coffee?

Cold brew or cold press coffee refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period.  Once you strain the coffee grounds, you are left with a coffee concentrate that you can then mix with water or milk and add in flavors or sweeteners (if desired) to create your own perfect cup of coffee. Although fancy coffee systems can be bought to make this, I have found that my French Press works great or you can have no equipment at all and mix it up in a pitcher or container for your week as I am showing you today.

It’s easy and affordable to make your cold brew coffee at home, but what about the flavor? Cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile from conventional brewing methods. There is also high levels of caffeine in a cup of cold brewed coffee compared to hot brewed coffee.

More caffeine means it’s far superior to hot coffee too because now you can do ALL THE THINGS.

I consider this my summertime superpower.

 

How to Cold Brew Coffee from MomAdvice.com

As you can see in my picture tutorial this is the easiest method and you can make as big or as small of a batch as you need. While coarsely ground coffee is ideal, I tend to make things easy on myself and just purchase the coffee that is already ground and have had great results with it.  I find that cheesecloth over my mesh strainer helps to keep the grounds out and yields that perfectly smooth cup of coffee that I am after.

To compliment today’s article, this month I will be over on the Wild Oats blog sharing a variety of fun flavor combinations you can create with your cold brew coffee!

Get to know Wild Oats!

Check out Wild Oats on their blog,  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Pinterest.

How to Cold Brew Coffee from MomAdvice.com

Easy Cold-Brewed Coffee Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
Save a fortune this summer and learn to make iced coffee at home the cold-brewed way!
Ingredients
  • 4½ ounces ground coffee (about 1¾ cups)
  • 3½ cups cold water
  • Wild Oats Cinnamon (for dusting)
Instructions
  1. Place the coffee grounds in a 2-quart pitcher, add the water, and stir to combine. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let steep at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard coffee filter and fit it over a medium bowl. Working in batches, slowly pour the coffee into the filter until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer. You do not want to rush the process and stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the pitcher (don’t pour them in). Discard the grounds and the contents of the strainer.
  3. Transfer the strained coffee into a clean pitcher.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.
  5. For each cup of iced coffee, dilute the concentrate with an equal portion of milk, half-and-half, or water. Sweeten with simple syrup if desired and top with ice. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.

 Don’t forget to finish your coffee treat with a little Wild Oats Cinnamon for the perfect finishing touch! Do you cold brew coffee? What are your tried and true methods for a great iced coffee? I’d love to hear them!

 * This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

 

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m challenge: Tips & Benefits of “Slow Blogging” with Tiffany King

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Note: With May as our M Challenge Focus on Technology, I was really excited when Tiffany King, from Eat At Home, offered to share her expertise about growing your blog slowly – and why that can be a good thing. It’s been a privilege to see her blog grow and I know if you are a blogger you will learn so much from her tips! 

Tips and Benefits to Grow Your Blog Slowly with Tiffany King

There has been a lot of talk around the internet over the last six months or so of bloggers feeling burned out. That has prompted conversations on slow blogging.

Going slow with a blog is nothing new to me.  My site, Eat at Home, has grown very slowly but steadily over the last six and a half years.  Yes, there have been plateaus and challenges.  Many times it’s been frustrating to watch other sites grow faster.  But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Like many of you who are also blogging, I have several kids and other obligations as well.  I don’t have the hours to devote full-time work to my blog.  Instead, I’ve applied slow and steady work and the blog has grown and matured. Just like when you put food in a slow cooker – it will eventually come to a boil and cook.  It will take longer than if you use the stove-top or oven, but it will cook.

There are a few things I’ve learned over the years about how to grow a site without putting in long hours, or working until 2 am or neglecting time with family.  I don’t want to come across like I have this all figured out.  Far from it!  But I do know that it’s possible to work reasonable hours and still have a successful site. These are things that have worked for me.  Maybe some of them will work in your situation too!

Time and Patience

If you’re planning to grow your site without putting in long hours all at once, you will have to give it time.  It does take a lot of work to build a successful site.  You don’t have to put all those hours in over a small amount of time.  What others have done in six months, it’s taken me years. But I’ve been able to work the hours that fit my family’s schedule.  Yes, it’s frustrating at times to not see quicker growth.  But the growth does come if you just keep at it.

Focus on Your Goal

– Do you want or need to earn an income?

– Are you trying to build a platform so you can get a book published?

– Do you want to build a community of people who can support each other or do good in the world?

Knowing what your main objective is will help you determine where to spend your time.  If you want to build a community of bloggers, it would be helpful to attend quite a few conferences so you can meet people face to face.  If you want to earn an income, you’ll need to focus on activities that will make a profit.

Work the path that makes the most sense for you and your goals.

Focus on Your Readers

Getting super clear on who your readers are and what they want is really important in growing a site.  Figure out what their pain points are.  Then create content and products that solve those problems for them.  This isn’t new info, but it is important enough to mention again.

Maximize Your Momentum Points

A momentum point is any event, blog post, product, affiliate relationship etc that brings you more results than you normally get.

You are probably familiar with the 80/20 Principle.  Also called the “Law of the Vital Few”, this principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. This means that 80% of your traffic is coming from 20% of your blog posts.  80% of your revenue is coming from 20% of your work.  80% of your social media traffic is most likely coming from one outlet.

This 20% of the effort in any area is a momentum point that you can capitalize on.

Here are a few examples of things that could be momentum points:

• A post that gets linked to by a large blog, sending lots of traffic your way.

• A post that goes viral on a social media site.

• A product you create and sell that earns a good profit.

• A series you write that readers love and share.

• A sponsored post you write that the brand loves.

All of these things, and many more, can be momentum points. But to really make them work, you have to push harder on those places.  Take advantage of the movement that has been created and keep it building.

Here’s an example from my blog:

100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker via Eat At Home

A few summers ago I had a post to do with very little time.  I threw up a list of summer slow cooker recipes that I have on my site.  I think there were 15-20 links.  I didn’t include photos. It was a very basic post that I viewed as quick filler. But that post did really well, sending lots of traffic and pins.  It was a momentum point.

So the next summer I promoted that old post, but also created a summer-long series of 75 days of summer slow cooker recipes.  I linked to other bloggers and to my own recipes, as well as put out some new recipes for the series.  I posted every day that summer. The Summer Slow Cooker Series did really well.  It was good for me, because a lot of them were very easy posts.  And good for traffic because readers loved them.

So the next summer I increased the series to 100 days and hired my VA to do a lot of the work for it. She even did some ghost writing of the posts (the only time I’ve ever done that).  I was able to step away from the blog to enjoy summer and work more on creating and promoting my products.

Using that original Summer Slow Cooker post to create momentum, I was able to leap the blog forward.  And eventually, it afforded me time for pushing other types of work forward as well.

What is one momentum point that you could push forward on your blog right now?

Momentum points can happen by some outside force (large site linking to you), by accident (writing a post that takes off unexpectedly) or by creating it.  Creating momentum points is trial and error, but as you study things that have worked in your business, you’ll begin to see trends that you can use for creating more momentum.

Skip the Friction Points

A few friction points that are common to all of us are:

• Comparison

• Jealousy

• Tracking down stolen content

All of this is a waste of time and a huge energy drain.  They’re also easy traps to fall into.  But effort spent on any of these things will never pay off.

Other possible friction points:

• Doing work you hate, instead of finding someone else to do it or skipping it all together (if possible).

• Trying to perfect things that are already good enough and working.  (Site designs, photos, About pages, old posts, SEO…)

• Spending a lot of time working on something that is not part of the 20% that gets you 80% of the results.  (Writing long tutorial posts on a topic that doesn’t answer the problems your readers have.)

Consistent, Focused Work + Time = Results

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.  ~Gretchen Rubin

It is possible to grow a successful site by working slowly and consistently.  It will take longer.  It will require patience and focus. It will also pay off with more time to spend with family, a healthier and balanced life and a successful site.

 

Sundays With Writers: When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Sundays With Writers

Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite mama readers out there. I hope you are having a fantastic day today! I have such a special interview for you today as I got the chance to spend some time with Molly Ringwald last weekend. Yup, THE Molly Ringwald!  Molly served as the keynote speaker at Mom 2.0 this year on behalf of Dove and they asked if I would like to spend some time interviewing her for my site. I am, of course, a huge fan of her movies, but did you know that she is also a very accomplished writer? Well, she is, and I got the chance to interview her about Dove and they asked if I would like to spend some time interviewing her for my site. I am, of course, a huge fan of her movies, but did you know that she is also a very accomplished writer? Well, she is, and I got the chance to interview her about When It Happens to You and what she has in store for us next.

When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

Tales of love, loss, and betrayal are at the heart of When It Happens to You. A Hollywood icon, Ringwald brings the compelling candour she displayed in her film roles to the unforgettable characters she has created in this series of intertwined and linked stories about the particular challenges, joys and disappointments of adult relationships. Her characters grapple with infertility and infidelity, fame and familial discord in this fantastic debut novel.

when-it-happens-to-you

I started this beautiful book this week and am absolutely enjoying it and plan to spend this rainy day with it today. Short story books are not something I typically gravitate towards, but if you are looking for one to try, I really recommend this one as a great launching pad into short story format. Although each chapter is a story, the stories are intertwined in some way that the reader can discover as she reads from chapter to chapter, building upon the initial themes in the previous chapters.

One thing I hear a lot from moms is their struggles to dive into books because their time is so limited that they struggle with finishing books. Short stories are a magnificent way to get in your reading time and feel accomplished. As Molly states in this interview, it is also a great way to trick your brain into writing a novel. By approaching it in a short story format, she was able to break up the writing in a way that felt more manageable as a busy mom.

For those that have asked, Molly was as warm and personable as a girl could hope. She was complimentary and went way over my allotted interview time talking about great authors. I wish I could have chatted with her all day about writing and great books.  She also wasn’t just chatting about herself, her genuine enthusiasm for other writers and her own writing was contagious.

Grab your coffee and let’s chat with Molly Ringwald about When It Happens to You

When It Happens to You by Molly Ringwald

You decided to segue from acting into writing. Is this something you have always wanted to do?

I have always been interested in writing, it’s always been something I have done in my spare time and then it was just something I decided to put out there professionally once I turned forty. I think when you are younger, or at least when I was younger, I always felt like I had to focus on one thing and I think that multi-hyphenates were not really honored in the same way and celebrated as much. I felt like, in a way, that no one would take me seriously as a writer when I was younger, but then you get older and you don’t care as much about what other people think.

Were you surprised by how well your books were received?

Yes, I wrote two books,  (Getting the Pretty Back and When It Happens to You) and they were both on the national bestsellers list. I am particularly proud of my fiction collection though!

When tackling When It Happens to You, why did you decide to write in short story format? Is it because you like the smaller story explorations?

I have always just loved short stories and I was a really a big fan of Raymond Carver’s short story collections, although he is certainly more minimalist and starker than I am..and maybe a little more depressing. I think, really, it was just a format that I understood since most of the fiction that I had done was short. I think that may have been because I was busy doing a lot of other stuff too. Also for me, it was tricking my brain into writing a novel because, as it says, it’s really a novel in stories. And it really is. They all resonate off of each other and it is all structured in that way. I just think writing a novel was a little too daunting for me so this was a way to kind of do that through short stories. That said, they are pretty long stories and the only really truly short story in there is the title story.

Are you thinking about adapting this one into film?

Yes, I have been thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it, but I’d also really like to write another book too.

If you could tell anyone to read one book right now (other than your own) what would that book be?

Oh, that’s a hard one! Um…what do you think that would be? (she asks her husband, Panio Gianopoulos, author of A Familiar Beast).

Panio: Light Years?

Molly: Yes, that probably would be true. Light Years by James Salter. Yeah..I think that might be it.

Panio: I mean, when you finished it, you immediately started to reread it.

Molly: It’s true.

Okay, if you are rereading it then it has to be a favorite. If you reread,  you know that it is special!

It’s just one of those books that I keep picking up again and again. There is not a lot of fiction that I read while writing because I don’t want to be overly influenced. His writing is somebody, of course I write differently, but I just feel like he is a master. I also love, and we were recently talking about Desperate Characters by Paula Fox is a really wonderful book and Jonathan Franzen wrote the forward on it!

A huge thank you to Dove for the incredible opportunity to interview Molly about her stories as well as their sponsorship for me to attend Mom 2.0 this year. It was an experience that I will never forget.  Dove is encouraging everyone to share their #BeautyStory and shared this beautiful story of 4 generations of women in one family that all share the same beauty secret in this beautifully shot campaign. Do you have a beauty story to share? Head to the

Dove is encouraging everyone to share their #BeautyStory and shared this beautiful story of 4 generations of women in one family that all share the same beauty secret in this beautifully shot campaign. Do you have a beauty story to share? Head to the Dove Beauty Bar and share your secrets! Thank you, Dove!!

You can connect with Molly Ringwald on GoodReads or through her website! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!
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