Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Top Ten Blogging Tips



I've been blogging for over 3 years.  I can't even believe it has been that long!  I started my blog as a way for Law Enforcement Wives to connect, share budget ideas, tips, etc but it blossomed into so much more.  I am thankful for that!

Blogging is a creative outlet for me.  It allows me to connect with other people, share my ideas, tips and I enjoy reading blogs.  Never in a million years would I have thought I could/would have a space in the internet universe.

I will be honest.  I hate writing!  It takes me for.ev.er to write a post and edit pictures.  It wasn't until recently I found my love for writing.  This brings me into my first tip.

#1-  WRITE IN YOUR STYLE

I misspell words,  my grammar is not perfect and I use !!!! way to much but that is me.   I tend to live my life over the top and have fun with everything I do.  Writing doesn't need to be super duper formal.  Sure I confuse ; and , but honestly until an autocorrect turns as into ass we are ok!  Don't stress yourself out about a typo.  It happens.  I would much rather read a blog with humor.

#2-  WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU LOVE

I know some people will call a blogger a sellout if they do sponsored posts.  I will be honest, I've done more sponsored posts this year than ever.  The reason being, it costs money to blog.  I use my sponsor money for projects, fees, etc.  Honestly I offset any income with expenses for tax purposes.  If you love a product and a company is willing to pay your for your time to blog WHY NOT?  Bloggers should not be working for free.

#3-  DON'T STRESS OUT ABOUT TROLLS AND SPAM MESSAGES

As a blogger you will meet Trolls and receive spam messages.  It comes with the territory.  Shrug it off and move on.  When someone criticizes something I do or say I will listen or read the comment and decide if it is worth my time.  99.9% of the time the comment is from a troll trying to ruin the joy of your post.  Block them or ignore them.  The next minute is a new minute.  Move along accordingly.

#4-  YOU ARE A BRAND

If you like it or not you are a brand.  Embrace it.  I am not saying you should make T-shirts with your face on them and slap magnets on your car but you are the face for your blog.  You are your own brand.

Think about it this way.  If you are a fashion blogger, people like YOUR style.  If you post recipes, people like YOUR recipes.  Same for a craft blogger.  They like YOUR crafts.  You see where I am going here.  Don't be intimated by this, run with it!

#5-  SOCIAL MEDIA WILL SUCK THE LIFE OUT OF YOU

It is true.  With all the social media you can get sucked in and before you know it, it is 6:30 at night.  I normally post my blog on all my media channels.  Depending on the post I will focus on that media channel.  For example, this post is more details and chatty.  I will create a super awesome graphic for pinterest and focus the post there and on twitter.  If this was a fashion post or beauty related I would use instagram.  Focus your media on your post.

#6-  LINK UP PARTIES ROCK MY SOCKS

My blog has almost 500k hits from one post.  My DIY Bathroom.  This happened because ONE blogger featured it after I added it to their link party.  I added it to a few other link parties and it was featured.  It ended up on Pinterest and the rest is history.  I still receive almost 2k hits per day because of that post.

Find a few of your favorite link parties and join them.  I always pick one or two of my favorite posts for that week and share them.  I also visit other shared posts and comment.  That is good blogging etiquette.

#7-  TAKE A BREAK IF YOU WANT

I am such a lazy blogger sometimes.  If I don't feel like posting I won't.  I want my posts to reflect me and my attitude.  If I am not in the mood to blog I take a little break.  It helps me refresh and recharge.

Don't be shy about taking a blogging break.   If you take a break don't be gone for to long!  Pop in every once in a while with a post and say hi.  You don't need to be in peoples faces all the time but readers will move on to new favorite blogs.  Always stay connected via posting or media.

#8-  DESIGN A BLOG YOU LOVE
When I first started blogging my background was black.  Not joking!  White or light backgrounds are pleasing to the eye but I read a few blogs with awesome pattern backgrounds.

It took me 2.5 years to be brave enough to design my own blog.  I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a designer.  I wish I would have done it when I first started.  If you love the design of your blog you will feel more confident and proud.

If hiring a designer is just not in the budget look for a pre-made template on Etsy.  Some sells will even install them for you!

#9- INVEST IN A GOOD CAMERA AND SOFTWARE

My very first camera was a little point and shoot.  I didn't think photography was that important.  I WAS WRONG!  It wasn't until my Grandma gave me a Canon SX10IS for my birthday that I realized how important photography is.  You can find nice cameras for $100-$500.

I love my Nikon D3100 for photos.  It is a DSLR but I think I paid like $400 for it.  I also use photoshop and PicMonkey.  I use PicMonkey on 99% of my posts.  It is quick and easy.  I also suggest paying for the Royal version.

If you are new to photography I can't recommend Shoot Fly Shoot enough.  Their online classes are AMAZING!

#10-  LOVE YOUR BLOG

Take pride in what you do, your posts, your photos and your media.  Order business cards and pass them out.  Grab your camera, take photos, keep a notebook of ideas and enjoy it!

I hope you enjoyed my tips!  I've included a few more mini tips just for fun :)

-WHITE POSTER BOARD IS PRICELESS

When taking photos white poster board is amazing.  It will give you a nice white background if needed, reflect light and in a pinch you can use it cover paint on to prevent spills :)  Not that I know that from experience, Ha!

-GET A PLANNER

A blogging calendar will help you so much!  I just did a search on Etsy.  Having an editorial calendar keeps me organized and on track.  I also use mine to track expenses, income, stats and a VERY long to do list.

-PLAN YOUR TIME

It is easier for me to spend a day editing photos, videos, writing posts, etc.  I use my spare time during the week for social media.  Find what works for you and run with it!

-MAKE BLOG FRIENDS

Follow a few of your favorite blogs, comment and interact on social media.  It makes blogging easier when you have friends to talk to.  Also, link up to social media link ups.  Say hi to new bloggers and post kind messages.

Please don't post a comment like this.  This will not make you friends "Hey girl!  Love your post.  Cool idea.  Following you.  Follow me back."

What is your #1 blogging tip?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Save Money on Back to School Shopping with Walgreens Paperless Coupons

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
#collectivebias #shop #cbias

walgreens, #shop, #collectivebias, #walgreenspaperless,

About a month or so ago I downloaded the Walgreens app and it comes in so handy!  I am not a coupon clipper at all.  I barely remember to use them.  Having the Walgreens app allows me to clip coupons from the weekly adds and add them to my balance rewards tag.  No coupons to clip!  I just scan my tag or put in my phone number at the register.  Bingo... Bango.. Done-zo!  Having paperless coupons is so convenient! 

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You can download the Walgreens app on Itunes or on your Android.  Once downloaded you can sync up your balanced rewards membership and watch the savings grow! 

During the shopping trip I clipped the coupons I wanted to use, reviewed the weekly add (on my phone!) and decided to pick up some school supplies for a few fun projects and to donate to our local schools. #collectivebias # shop When I find great deals I always pick some up to donate.  We do not have children but education is so important! 

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The aisle was full of school supplies!  Make sure to check your app for coupons because the yellow stickers only show the sale prices.  

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Before checking out I checked my app to make sure I grabbed everything I needed and headed to the register.  When checking out just scan your rewards tag and the coupons will automatically be applied! 

Each coupon can only be redeemed once.  Once it is used it will be deleted from your coupon list.  

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All of these supplies cost me $6!  With the coupons, sales and I turned in my rewards points for $5 off I was able to pick up some great supplies.  When shopping for school supplies don't forget to grab a few extras to donate.  1 boxes of crayons could be the start for the next Picaso!  

Have you used your Walgreens app to snag a great deal?  Don't forget to #WalgreensPaperless to share it!  I love seeing great deals!  






Best K-Cup Flavors For Brewing Over Ice

  1. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
how to make iced coffee, best k cup flavors, iced tea, iced tea and low calorie drinks
I think our Keurig is our most used appliance.  We actually have 2!  Our large one stays in the kitchen and last Christmas I bought him one for his office.  Have a Keurig in his office to brew the best K-cup flavors has made him a very popular man.  

We love trying new drinks.  My husband is definitely a sweet tea drinking southern boy and I am a coffee addicted drinking yankee.  When I saw that Snapple was making a K-cup for Lemon Iced Tea, thanks to #collectivebias, I knew Brett had to try it.  I honestly didn't know Keurigs could brew more than hot drinks!  

Off to Walmart.....

Some Walmarts will have the new Snapple Brew Over Ice K-cups on end caps but all Walmarts have them in the coffee aisle.  I snapped a quick pic to help point you in that direction.  While I was looking around I noticed that they also have iced coffee!  I grabbed the hazelnut one for me.  They also have Peach Tea and Raspberry Tea to choose from.  I think I may grab the Peach one next time.  

On the boxes you will notice a circular blue label that says "Brew Over Ice".  Any drinks with that label you can brew over ice.   When brewing over ice ALWAYS use a plastic cup and NEVER a glass one.  With the heat of the brew and coldness off the ice your glass may break and create a mess no one wants to clean up!

Now for the sad part.  Immediately after we got home from Walmart I popped the Nutty Hazelnut K-cup in my Keurig and NOTHING!  My Keurig died!  I tried cleaning it, talking nicely and unplugging it and nothing.  I even checked fuses to make sure everything was ok but nothing.  I am hoping that my call to Keurig in the morning will bring Kenny the Keurig back to life.  Hopefully I didn't kill Kenny.  

Thank goodness for this girl!  I called her in a panic and asked if I could use her Keurig.  Off to Bev's house we went.  

While Bev and I were talking about dogs Brett decided to try his Lemon Iced Tea first.  Before you start brewing your drink over ice please read the instructions.  DO NOT BREW ANY DRINKS IN A GLASS CONTAINER!  Brett brewed his tea in a plastic up and transferred it to his PLASTIC insulated mason tumbler.  

You can brew your drink on the 6oz or 8oz setting.  I would try them both and see what you like the best.  I prefer the 8oz but Brett prefers 6oz.  We cannot agree on anything!

Brewing over ice is super easy!  We put ice in the glass, water in the keurig, popped in the k-cup and waited for the fresh brewed iced tea!  


Again, DO NOT brew any drinks in a glass cup!  Brett and Bev both loved this tea.  They said it didn't taste watered down and had a nice lemon flavor.  

After Brett was done and was sipping his sweet tea in the New Mexico sunshine I started my Nutty Hazelnut Iced Coffee.  This was my first time EVER having iced coffee and it was delicious! 

Oddly enough my broken Keurig reminded me to enjoy an afternoon of catching up with a friend once in a while.  I see Bev everyday at the office but it is nice to hang out.  

Bev and I even car pool some days.  She always laughs because when I get into the car I always have my insulated plastic mason tumbler with coffee.  Some mornings I jazz it up with caramel or chocolate and other days I don't have time.  

While Bev and Brett enjoyed their iced tea like good southerners this yankee girl sipped her iced coffee and played with Barney the lab until it started to rain.  Yes!  It rained in New Mexico finally! 

I really enjoy making a fresh brewed coffee every morning but I think I am going to add in a few iced drinks too!  What is your favorite flavor of K-cups?  

If you have tried any of the brew over ice K-cups make sure to #BrewOverIce and #BrewItUp for drink ideas.  Social media is a great outlet for creativity and connecting.  

Did you know that you can recycle your K-cups?  Keurig has a program called Ground to Grow that allows us to return our used K-cups.  The grounds are separated for composting and the plastic is recycled.  Pretty cool!  To learn more click HERE.  








Sunday, July 13, 2014

Making Time for Family with Coca-Cola-Share a Coke

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Have you noticed Coca-Cola bottles with names on them recently?  Last weekend I was at Walmart shopping for our belated 4th of July BBQ and Coca-Cola was having a demo.  They were calling it "share a coke". #shareitforward #collectivebias

Walmart has demos off and on.  When you are shopping around look out for them!  You can even call your stores and ask if they have any demos that weekend.  They are really neat!
I was greeted at the demo by these two fab gals.  We chatted for a bit about the campaign and how Coca-Cola is trying to reconnect and bring a smile to peoples faces.  

I couldn't find a Coke with Bretts name on it but I did find one that said BFF.  Being my husband is is my BFF.  


I am not sure how many of you know this but I grew up in a small town in Michigan.  Like not even a town more like a village.  All of my family is 1500 miles away from me.  They enjoy the snow and humid Michigan summer while I enjoy the mild and hot summers of New Mexico. 

I think one of the greatest inventions EVER has been FaceTime and Skype.  I can see my family from 1500 miles away.  

Growing up in such a small town your family is really important.  My cousin Ashley and I basically grew up like sisters.  We sure did fight like sisters too! 

As we've gotten older we've drifted apart.  Our lives are completely different.  She stayed in Michigan, has a little girl  and works for the state doing a job I couldn't even wrap my brain around.  While I moved to warmer weather, got married and have no interest in children.  I like other peoples kids.  I love being Auntie Mandy but I also love returning them :)  

left to right: Sophia, Ashley and our Grandma

I found a Coke with her name on it so I created a little care package to send to her.  When we were kids we loved to draw clothes and pretend we were fashion designers.  I had a thought that we could do our nails, share a coke and FaceTime sometime this week.  

I sent her a few of my favorite nail goodies and the Coke with her name on it.  

Over the weekend we spent about an hour on FaceTime, catching up, doing our nails and sharing a Coke.  It was so nice reconnecting even though we live so far.  Having a little family time always makes the heart feel better.  

Also, this weekend we went on a 4x4 adventure with some friends.  I bought a 12 pack of Coke and shared them with my New Mexico family.  I consider my friends here a surrogate family.  We even have holiday dinners together!  

I had someone ask me an interesting question on our trip.  Who (alive or dead) would you share a coke with?  My first thought was Johnny Cash.  O.M.G!  I love Johnny Cash.  He is basically my idol.  I would love to share a Coke and talk about life with him.  I can't even pick a favorite Cash song because I have so many! 

I challenge you to share a Coke with someone.  I plan on buying a few Cokes this week and giving them to fellow Law Enforcement.  Being Law Enforcement is a thankless job and I would love to thank a few boys in blue (or black, khaki, or white depending on uniform, lol).  

Who would you share a Coke with?



Girls Guide Sunday- 4x4 Essentials and Candy Ideas

  1. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
    #zoursface #collectivebias #shop

I love candy, Bloodhounds, FJ Cruisers and makeup.  Maybe that is what should be on my tombstone.  Mandy Jean... lover of candy, bloodhounds, big trucks and makeup. 

Living in New Mexico we have the luxury of beautiful weather and 4x4 trails everywhere.  At least once a month we pack up the hounds, meet up with friends and head out on a 4x4 adventure.  

I am not a girl who likes to "rough it".  I don't like being uncomfortable, hungry or thirsty.  I always keep a bag of essentials with me.  Brett even bought me a shirt that says "I am sorry for what I said when I was hungry" 

My #1 essentials are water, drinks, snacks and candy.  I prefer taking a mixture of candy with me but I make sure the candy will not totally melt in the heat.   Nothing is worse than melted candy.  

Mike and Ike Zours are super yummy and do not totally melt in the truck while you are having fun.  I love them because they have a great fruity flavor and your hands do not get sticky.  I hate sticky hands! I am pretty sure I am addicted my favorite flavors are Cherry and Watermelon.  I actually pull them out before I share the box with Brett :)  A happy Wife is a happy life. 

If you have any candy ideas for road trips let me know!  

The candies on the front of the box also make me laugh.  If you've ever tried Zours (which you should!) you know that face!  Brett told me once that when I eat sour candy I look angry and happy at the same time.  Again, if you love sour candy like I do you know that feeling.  



I also recommend bringing extra sunscreen, moisturizer, chapstick (with spf) and nail clippers.  Why nail clippers?  Never fails I will break a nail either walking the dogs, jumping in/out of the FJ and it is a good idea to have a set handy for an emergency.  You would be surprised what you can use in a emergency. 



Before our adventures we normally head to Walmart and stock up on goodies.  Being the candy lover that I am I usually raid this aisle first!  I prefer grabbing candy in boxes or bags rather than a few candy bars.  Candy bars melt so easy! 

Also, on some weekends Walmart has demos.  Walmart even had a Zours demo last weekend.  If you google or look on twitter  #zoursface you see pictures of other peoples zoursface.  It is so funny! 

After we hit the candy aisle we grab some snacks (power bars, nuts, etc), drinks and we are off.  If you travel with pets always remember to pack some treats and water for them.  


Today we met up with some friends and headed off.  Yes, Toyota and Jeeps can hang out together without getting all West Side Story.  (other 4x4 people totally get this joke).   I will say I am team 'Yota.  I love my FJ Cruiser.  

After we meet up everyone raids my candy stash.  Always buy enough candy for everyone.  Candy will make you VERY popular!  Most boxes are between $0.89-$1.50 so you can stock up without breaking the gas budget.  


Once we 4x4 for a while we like to pull over and have a quick snack, walk the dogs, take some pictures and enjoy the beauty of the desert.  

I learned a very important lesson today.  You cannot have Zours candy in your pocket and walk Bloodhounds.  My two hounds would not leave my pocket alone.  

I was trying to eat my candy in peace but Hank had other plans.  For anyone who owns a hound you know they are never this attentive unless they want something. 



After some thought he wouldn't move I decided to see what would happen if Hank ate a sour candy.  He started being a good boy!  He would sit, stay, down, heel, and was even pay attention to me!  If I would have used this candy in obedience class maybe he would have passed! 

 After the candy was gone my dogs went back to being their normal wonderful selves, i.e. not paying attention to their Mom at all!

We love spending time outside with our dogs and friends.  It is such a great time to bond, laugh and throw a little dirt around!  

Once we ate and soaked up the sun we packed up for home.  As you can see by the faces I was eating the last little bit of candy and I had 3 jealous faces staring at me!  

If you are looking for something fun to do I suggest you pack up and head out on an adventure! 

Kimber would like to leave you with a thought....
If you buy or have tried Zours candy take a picture and hashtag #zoursface to join in the fun!  









Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday Obsessions

Here are a few of this weeks obsessions.  Enjoy!

Pink bed, girls room, girly room, anthropology, wallpaper, chic, light
I know this room was designed for a child but can I get a big girl version please??  I love the wallpaper! 

I think Red Lobsters biscuits and Little Ceasers Breadsticks should have their own food group.  I can't wait to try these!

festival hair, braid, red head, tutorial, side braid
I totally want to try this with my new Irresistible Me extensions!  Look for a few beginning of next week. 

coastal, dining room, beach, mis match chairs, found table
I love everything about this dining room.  The chairs, table and the ceiling.  O goodness the ceiling! 

What a great idea!  I love projects that you can keep your memories without having a scrapbook. 


What are you obsessed with this week?








Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Everyone wants healthy hair, glowing skin and stronger nails right?

Back in May the folks at Eu Natural sent me these two bottles of vitamins for a review.  I've been taking the Biotin daily for about a month and a half and I just finished the Pure Healthy Hair Formula.  Opinions are my own. 
Living in the desert my hair is uncontrollable in the summer and my skin looks dry and dull.  I've been battling this for the last 7 years.  I've tried different vitamins, skin serums, treatments, you name it.  Nothing gave me the results I was looking for.  

 During the middle of May I started taking the Eu Natural Biotin and Pure Healthy Hair Formula.  I am finishing up the last of my bottle of Biotin.  I have noticed a HUGE difference in my hair, skin and nails.

I dye my hair every 6 weeks like clock work and my hair doesn't like it.  After I started taking the Biotin I noticed my hair felt softer and healthier.  It also was growing quicker!  I didn't need to use as much conditioner and product.  My hair has been happy!  I was also taking the Pure Healthy Hair Formula at the same time.  I think these two vitamins together are genius!  After I stopped taking the Pure Healthy Hair vitamins I did notice my hair wasn't as shiny.  Taking the Biotin alone still makes my hair look amazing.  It feels thick and healthy. 

I've also noticed a HUGE difference in my nails.  Normally when we take the hounds out I always break a nail.  Never fails.  It happens so often that I keep nail clippers in my dog bag.  A few weekends ago my hairs had grown out and I was due for a manicure that Monday.  Over the weekend we took the hounds out and my nails were fine!  None of them broke.  I really think the Biotin has strengthened my nails tremendously! Even the gal who does my nails commented on the difference.  

As far as my skin goes.  I've noticed a slight difference in my skin.  It does appear more even.  When I do my makeup in the morning I've noticed that I am applying less moisturizer. That is a plus!

I am going to keep taking these vitamins!  I love them!  My hair, skin and nails look amazing.  

For ordering information please visit Eu Natural HERE