Who doesn’t love a fun game? I know I do, so let us know which character you get!
This & That
Don’t Condemn the “Cell Phone Mom”
I am not a big “ranter,” but in this rare case, I can not hold my tongue any longer. The past few days I have seen more and more posts in my Facebook feed about how horrible “Cell Phone Mom’s” are. You know the ones, those moms who are at the park staring down at their cell phones while their children play happily. The ones that are brushing off and ignoring the “Hey, mom watch this! Hey, mom look at me!” from their children. I am probably going to get hate mail for this post, but it is something I feel that needs to be said. (P.s., you can contact me through here if you are one of those people.)
I was always taught to never judge a book by its cover, and I feel that those who are condemning the cell phone mom are doing just that. Do you know that person? Do you know what they are looking at on their phone? I will admit, that at times, I am a cell phone mom. I have to be, if I want to continue to maintain my family’s lifestyle. I work from home, go to school full time from home, and I have to stay connected. I choose these things so I could be at home with my children. I can not tell you how many times I have gotten the “Oh, it must be nice to stay at home all day and not have to work.” Those who have never stayed at home may not understand what goes into staying at home. Yes, I may take my children to the park so they can burn off some energy while I try to get some work or homework done. Does this make me a bad mother? Would you rather me keep my children cooped up in the house all day while I sit in front of my computer to get these necessary tasks completed? To me, doing that would make me a bad mother.
I am lucky enough to be able to spend 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with my children. I love watching them learn new things, and grow before my eyes. I could not do this if I worked outside the home. So yes, I am a cell phone mom sometimes. Before you pass judgement on a cell phone mom, step into their shoes. Is that mom texting her husband who is deployed or away from home? Is she burnt out from being home with children all day and just needs a little time to catch up with a good friend? Is she multitasking and working while her children enjoy the outdoors?
Don’t get me wrong, I do unplug and spend real quality time with my children. The weekends are “no tech” days where we spend all of our time together. We craft and play all the time, and I watch them blossom and grow into little adults. But, sometimes, multitasking and getting outside is the only way I can get things done that need to be accomplished. Does this make me a bad mother? I don’t think so, but apparently others seem to think so. Sometimes, we as mothers pass judgement on each other too quickly. We are supposed to support each other, not condemn each other. So, next time you see a “cell phone mom” at the park, think twice before judging.
I have been blogging for a long time on various sites. If you have also, then you know times are changing. It use to be that anyone could start up a blog, create a Facebook Fan page and be successful in a short amount of time. But, thanks to the oh so crafty creators of Facebook, that is no longer possible. Spending lots of time AND money to gain your following, only for them to swop in and take them all away. Now, with the popularity of sites like Pinterest, the little blogger has a chance again to shine. But it takes time, and skills and lots of dedication.
I started this small little site about 2 months ago. I was burnt out on deal blogging, and wanted a more creative outlet for things I enjoyed. I knew it would not be easy, even now my poor little Facebook page only has just over 200 fans, and I am okay with that. My Pinterest account though, that is over 2K followers right now, and is growing more and more everyday. Why? Hard work.
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, lets take a look at my traffic on this site.
You see that giant jump on the last few days of the chart? Those visitors are not coming from Facebook, they are coming from all over the internet. Why? Because I have made my site present in a lot of locations. Below is an overview of where my visitors are coming from on a daily basis.
As you can see, Craftgawker is my number 1 referrer. This is because I strive to take excellent photos for my site. Most people blog hopping are visual and like to see “pretty” things. It does not take an expensive camera and equipment to take stunning photos, it just takes time and some practice. If your photos are not “pretty” chances are you will be passed up by readers.
The second top referrer is of course, Pinterest. Again, it is all about the visual aids here. It is kind of like high school where the pretty girl gets all of the boys. Well, the pretty pictures get all of the clicks. Commenting, liking, pinning other peoples pins and following others will increase your exposure as well and gain you more followers.
Next, StumbleUpon. If you are not utilizing this source, then you are missing out on traffic. Even a little traffic can make a BIG difference. It just takes one person to share something for it to go viral. StumbleUpon can do just that. If you check out this post you can see that it has been stumbled thousands of times.
Another big traffic source is OTHER bloggers! Yes, other bloggers! Network, network, network! I am a blogger stalker. Daily I am adding my new content to blog linkies and commenting on other blogs. Why? It not only gets me noticed by larger bloggers, but also by their readers! The more you add to linkies and comment, the better the chance you will get noticed. I have been featured on several other blogs because of linkies. This not only gains exposure, but helps with Google page rank because of the back links! I have a great list available of the linkies that I join on a daily basis that you can see here.
Google is another large traffic source, having a little bit of knowledge on SEO can go a long way in getting ranked in Google. Link backs from other bloggers and knowing how to maximize your key words is the important thing. This little site started to gain Google referrals in the first week just because of some simple key wording.
And as you can see, the rest of my traffic is trickling in from Facebook and other bloggers, which adds up in the long run.
What are your tips for increasing your blog traffic? Let us know in the comments!
How to Grow a Berry Patch
Phew! It has been a busy week here! The weather is FINALLY warming up, which means I was able to get outside and do some much needed gardening. We just moved into this home a little over a year ago, and the previous owners had built planting beds all around the house, but they were neglected and just plain ugly! So I knew it was time to build a berry patch!
When planting anything, there are a few key ingredients to having a successful garden.
- Choose your planting area and watch it throughout the day. How much sun does it get? Is it a shady area?
- Prepare your planting area. You can read more about that here.
- Choose your plants. Since I already have blueberries and blackberries planted on the other side of the house I decided to do strawberries and grapes in this planting area. Be sure to read about the different verities of plants and decide which plants will work best for you. We chose Ozark, Quinalt, and Guardian strawberries for this project.
- After getting the area prepped for planting decide on how many plants you want. This is where researching comes in handy. Measure out the area and read about how close each plant can be planted together. This will help to decide how many plants can fit in the area and reduces the chance of over or under buying plants.
- Before planting, stage the area. Place each plant where you want it while it is still in the pots. That way you can make changes without stressing the plant.
- Finally, get to planting! I like to lay down a weed barrier to reduce having to go out and pull weeds. Do not skimp on this, or you will be replacing it every year, which is a pain!
- Be sure to water the plants well after planting, to help them get settled and rooted.
So, now that you have your berry patch planted there are some things to keep in mind. First, during the first year, remove any flowers from the plants. I know… I know. It will be hard. But by removing the flowers you are allowing the plants to concentrate on growing stronger and larger. If you allow it to flower, then it will use all of its energy producing fruit. Second, keep the area watered. Plants are fragile after being planted, ensure they have plenty of water and don’t dry out.
What are you planting this year?
Homemade Gardeners Soap
If you have been hanging around here lately, you already know that I love to garden. There is just something about getting outside and getting my hands dirty. I when I say dirty, I mean caked in dirt and mud, and who knows what else. That is why I love this Homemade Gardeners Soap! It is super easy to make, and it scrubs all of the dirt off my hands without taking the skin with it. Plus, you can customize it to your favorite scent, which is a total bonus!
Even if you do not garden, these make an awesome gift for that gardener in your life. Or, you can substitute the salt for sugar and make a gentle sugar scrub bar to get your body ready for the summer. I don’t know about you, but my legs haven’t seen the light of day all winter and are in need of some extra TLC right about now.
Ok, on to the fun stuff! How to make this awesome homemade gardeners soap!
½ lb Melt and Pour Soap
2 tbsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Epsom Salt
Food Coloring, Optional
Essential Oil, Optional
Silicon Mold *You can use pretty much anything for a mold, I prefer the silicon because it makes it a lot easier to get out of the mold.
Cut melt and pour soap in to small cubes and place in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring in between each burst until completely melted.
Mix in any colorant and fragrance.
Working quickly, add in salts and stir to combine. Immediately pour into molds.
*If soap hardens while pouring, reheat in 10-second bursts.
Allow to harden for 30 minutes or until firm before removing from mold.
Pretty easy right?
What is your favorite scent for soap? I LOVE lavender!
Square Foot Gardening Guide
If you haven’t already noticed, I am all ready for this gardening season! This year we have moved our garden location, and I have decided that I am going to attempt my first square foot garden! Last year, are garden was so massive in size that it would have been impossible to attempt it. But, I have decided to downsize a bit and I am hoping that I can still yield the same amount of crops using this method in a smaller area!
I have been doing a lot of research on what I should plant, where I should plant, and how much in each square foot I should plant. So, I have decided to share all of the great information that I have found along the way. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest as well so you can keep up to date on all of the awesome information I find!
First off, my favorite: Gardeners.com This site allows you to design your very own square foot garden! Simply put in the dimensions of your garden and drag and drop the veggies into each square! How awesome is that! I have already designed my garden and can’t wait to get planting!
Next to bat: Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner Check out this online vegetable garden planner that tells you when to sow and harvest based on your location.
Sliding into home: KGI Garden Planner This is another awesome site to plan out your garden! They even adapt the garden to your location and planting season!
So whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out. There is a ton of information out there on the interwebs for your viewing and educational pleasure.
Are you planting a square foot garden this year?
Preparing Your Soil for Planting
Spring is here! Spring is here… or at least it should be. The weather here has been CRAZY! Today it is 75 degrees and sunny, but later this week they are talking snow in the forecast?!?! Well, I took full advantage of the amazing weather today and was able to get out in the yard to finally till my garden! YAY! I must say though, I have a love/hate relationship with my tiller. I have a Troy-Bilt TB146 EC 12-Inch 29cc 4-Stroke Gas Powered Garden Cultivator/Tiller that I love, but it gives me a workout that is for sure! We have a larger tiller, but that monster will pull me around the yard like a rabid dog, so I like to stick to the little one. It gets the job done so I don’t mind the extra few passes I have to make.
So last year I decided that I was going to move my garden to another place in the yard. It was inside the fence line, so it was a hassle to keep the dogs out and chase the goats away from my precious tomato plants. So, this year I moved it to an area outside of the fence line, now all I have to worry about are deer, which shouldn’t be to hard right? Ok, to the point… Because I was going to move it, I had to preparing the soil for planting this year. The soil in the area was not the best to say the least but because I prepared for it, this year my soil is awesome! Don’t worry though, if you are starting out this year, and don’t want to wait an entire year, these tips are for you too!
Prepare the year before
If you know where you are going to place your garden a year in advance be sure to prep the ground. Last year I marked off where the garden was going and tilled the soil. I then tilled in leaves, compost and rabbit poo. Yes, I said rabbit poo. If you don’t have any, it is ok, stick to compost. I raise rabbits so I always have an abundance of poo, if you want some, stop on by and grab it (use gloves though).
By tilling the year before I am allowing the soil to absorb all of the nutrients that it needs for the following year.
Last minute preparations
If you didn’t have a chance to prepare the garden the year before, there are steps to help improve your soil this year. I would recommend starting off by checking the PH level of your soil. This will help determine what you need to add in order to improve your soil. I recommend taking the completed test to your local nursery and talking to a professional about what is needed.
Turn baby turn!
This can be a difficult task without the right tools, but can be done. It is important to remove the grass and weeds from the area you plan to garden. This can be done with a good ol’ shovel, or a tiller. It is recommend to turn 12 inches of soil when tilling. This is the time to add any extras that your soil might be laking as well.
The waiting game
Once you have added in your compost and tilled your garden, wait a few days to allow the soil to absorb any of the additives that you have mixed in.
Remember next year
At the end of each planting season, remember to remove any dead plants from the garden. Do not leave them to compost down in the garden. Doing this can promote bug infestations and disease. Pull em’ up and tear them out!
What are you most excited to plant this year in your garden???
Free Gardening eBooks
It is finally here! Spring, well something that sometimes resembles Spring ever few days. I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here in North Carolina it is 70 degrees one day and 30 degrees the next. It is crazy… and it is driving me crazy! I am in the process of building my own little slice of heaven that I have named Gigantic the Greenhouse, well, because it is is a huge 10×12 greenhouse and to me, that is gigantic.
To kick off the planting season right, I have compiled a list of great FREE gardening ebooks that are available right now on Amazon. These are free at the time of posting, and the prices may change at anytime, so grab them while you can. Oh! And if you didn’t know, you can totally download these great books on to your computer or smartphone, a Kindle is not required.
10 Clever Ways to Use Your Smartphone Camera!
A smartphone is a big investment to most, so why not put it to good use. These 10 clever ways to use your smartphone camera can save you time, money and sometimes, even a loved one.
1.) Take a photo of your fridge before you go grocery shopping
By snapping a quick picture of the contents of your fridge, it will help you remember what you need and what you have enough of!
2.) Snap a photo of your new hair cut
Take a photo of your new Do’ from different angles, that way when it is time for a trim, you can have references for your stylist.
3. ) Take photos of your prescriptions
This comes in handy a few ways. One, you will always have your prescription numbers with you incase you need to call in a refill. Secondly it helps when going to the doctor, that way you can tell them what medications you are on and give them the correct dosage.
4.) Remember where your car is parked
Snap a quick photo of the surroundings where your car is parked when in a crowded parking lot. This can save some time when it comes to remembering where you parked.
5.) Vacations and Amusement Parks
When on vacation, snap a photo of your children before you head out for the day. That way if they get separated, you will have a photo of exactly what they were wearing that day.
6.) Check the remote
Most camera phones can see infrared light. Hold down a button and snap a picture of it to see if the batteries are working.
7.) Coat check, Car Check and Dry Cleaning Info
Snap a picture of your dry cleaning ticket, coat check tickets or valet tickets, that way in case you lose them, you still have the information.
8.) Keep your WiFi Password handy
Take a photo of the information on your wireless router, that way you have it when you need it.
9.) Screenshot Directions
Take a screenshot of directions, that way if you lose signal, you will still have them.
10.) When a friend wants to borrow something, take a picture of them and the item that way you can remember who has what!
What do you use your camera phone for? Any tips to be added? Leave them in the comments!
Free Desktop Organizer!
If you were ever to take a look at my computer desktop it was ALWAYS a mess. I would put things in random files just to get them out of the way! Which meant losing things or searching high and low for something that was probably right under my nose to begin with. I figured that files were not enough, I needed a way to keep the files on my desktop more organized so that they were easier to find so I hoped onto my photo editing software and made some super cute desktop organizers! The best part? You can customize it to your needs! Just follow the instructions below (after you choose your super cute organizer first of course)!
The great thing about customizing them is that the possibilities are endless! Name each box for each member of the household, organize by work, school, shopping, recipes, photos, music… and on….and on…and on!
To download, simply right click on any of the free desktop organizers and save it to your cluttered desktop!
Now, once you have your file downloaded, head on over PicMonkey and upload there!
Click on the font button and choose your font.
Click the Add text box and label each box how you want to.
Then simple save the file and choose it as your desktop wallpaper! Then get to organizing!