Friday, May 31, 2013

Some Favorite Blogs: Part 1

Sometimes a blogger needs inspiration. Actually, to be completely honest- I should say, "You, as a blogger will always need inspiration!" Your brain can only do so much on its own before you need to refuel it by looking at some pretty nifty blogs across the web!

I personally, try to refuel once a week (but that's just me)- usually on a Saturday morning when I really can't get much work done. I usually have a good hour or two of quiet before the weekend starts with my husband- so this is the perfect time to browse through my favorite blogs (and Pinterest), find inspiration, pin certain ideas or loves, and then digest it all, the following two days while I'm off.

Because I'm a food blogger mostly, my blog loves are usually going down that road. But I love to gander through home and DIY blogs, as well as just "pretty to look at" and design-focused blogs.

Do you need inspiration? Are you feeling like you could use a few new blogs to frequent so your brain can refuel? Here are just a few of my absolute favorites!

INSPIRATION BLOGS

These are the blogs I look at and usually sigh with relief. They're my "pretty to look at" and "find big time inspiration" blogs. 

Creature Comforts not only blogs about delicious color combinations, but she also showcases pretty neat gift ideas, simple DIYs, and all around gorgeous photos to excite your creative brain. 

Love & Lavender was one of the first blogs I started following. I just love them. True, when I first started following I was a newlywed, and so all things wedding were my cup of tea- but I just can't seem to NOT come back again and again. They post some of the most beautiful wedding (and party) ideas!

Wit & Whistle is such a gorgeous blog. It's simple, tidy and pretty to the point. Amanda has a knack for creating art and crafts that are sure to ignite your creativity. Plus her greeting cards are a crack up! Truly one of a kind.

Rebekka Seale is another blog I follow because it calms me and yet sparks my creativity at the same time. Her whole aesthetic is simple, yummy, and absolutely gorgeous. There's something about the way she writes that's like a lullaby- it's soothes me. Plus her pictures! Oh her pictures! I just love them. (She also posts some amazing recipes as well!)

I think I have a simple/gorgeous aesthetic theme going on here- Bleubird follows suit with the last two blogs mentioned. Gorgeous pictures, neat DIYs, simple recipes....just lovely.


HOME, DECOR + DIY BLOGS

These next few blogs are the ones I go to when I'm looking to accomplish something in particular, looking for a craft idea, wanting to learn how to do something for my home, easily...need a blog design element tip, a blog "how to", etc.

Hank & Hunt is a great source for simple party DIYs (and I mean GREAT source) and amazingly gorgeous fonts!

Oh, Hello Friend is another blog I've followed for a LONG time. I even call Danni my friend now. Awwwww. She's so very talented when it comes to DIYs, packaging ideas, and gorgeous design elements. Plus she has a brand new shop where you can buy things like washi tape, rubber stamps, and all things cute + packaging + gift ideas + office stuffs!

Kevin & Amanda is pretty much my number one choice for blog design and just plain "blog" help. If you've got a weird question, they've most likely already answered it, in blog post form.

Lovely Indeed is a great source for simple (yet awesome) DIYs for the home, gift ideas, and for parties. Plus Chelsea uses such gorgeous color choices for all her crafts and does a lot of travel talk as well! I love this blog as much as I love her quirky (funny as heck) personality.

Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge are both blogs I visit when I want to get inspired to change something in my home. Great place to see "small space idea solutions", as well as crafts on the cheap, real people's design ideas, and all things artsy!

FOOD + BAKING BLOGS

Be still my heart. My favorite category of all. (Surprised?) These are some of the blogs I frequent when I need some kitchen inspiration. And boy do I leave inspired!

Deliciously Organic is amazing. The end. Carrie is one of the sweetest and most down to earth food bloggin' gals I know. She specializes in all things organic (duh!), as well as gluten free and Paleo. 

The Faux Martha's whole aesthetic just kills me- I'm so in love with it. Her pictures make me swoon each and every time. From good 'ol mac and cheese to upscale dutch oven bread- her recipes never disappoint. They're easy and oh so yummy!

Love & Olive Oil is (again) another blog I've followed for a long time. Lindsay and Taylor have some serious talent! Every recipe makes my mouth water and their pictures are seriously amazing. Having already put out a cookbook, and currently working on a second, they're a great recipe "go to" source! Plus they love cats. And I love cats. So that's awesome.

Elana's Pantry is a new one for me, but I'm already in love! A friend recommended it to me when I mentioned I was looking to eat less starch and gluten. Elana's got you covered! Focusing on strictly gluten free, it's a great place to find recipes that are yummy (I've tried a few) and easy to make! Plus I love that she doesn't ONLY use those expensive gluten-free flours! Win!

Oh, Ladycakes is just like The Faux Martha- I just love them to pieces!!!!! Love their look, love their recipes, love their pictures!!! Some creative cats we have here (see what I mean about the cat thing?) Although Oh, Ladycakes focuses also on gluten free and mostly vegan recipes ;) Don't let that stop you though!

Hope you're all seriously inspired! What are some of your favorite blogs out there?

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

B.You Bloglovin' Blog Hop #9

BLOGHOP


Thank you to everyone who linked up last week!! Lets help this bloglovin' blog hop grow by sharing with your friends, followers, and adding the button to your sidebar!


Grab the button above and put it in your linky list or sidebar.

Follow your host, co-hosts, and guest host on bloglovin'. Leave a comment that you're a new follower so we can all come and check you out!

Link up your bloglovin' URL only. We had several people that submitted their blogs URL, but this is a bloglovin' hop so only link up your bloglovin' account, please!

Hop around and visit some of the other blogs that linked up and give them a follow. This is all about making new friends and finding new reads, not just linking up and expecting everyone to follow you.

Pin, Tweet, Facebook, blog this link up! The more exposure it gets, the more potential followers for you! 



Your Host:


Your Co-Hosts:

Ashley @ A Fox & A Wolf
Torrie @ Fox + Hazel
Christina @ Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe
Natalee @ Eat Nap Play
Ashley @ Modernette

**If you are interested in being a guest host, please email us at b.you.blog [at] gmail [dot] com


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Five Helpful Tips for Choosing a WordPress Theme

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Choosing a theme for your WordPress site is one of the first steps to getting your blog up and running. A theme dictates the basic design and layout of your blog. With thousands of themes out there, picking the right one can be an overwhelming task. Here are some important things to consider when shopping around for the perfect theme.

1. Cost: How much do you want to spend on a theme? There are many free themes available through WordPress and other sites. There are also a variety of places where you can purchase a theme which will usually run anywhere from $10-$80. Or, you can go the more expensive route and hire a web designer to create one for you.

2. Support: Be sure with any theme you choose that there is good support offered. This support may be available from the company you purchased your theme from or through online support forums. Be sure to find out how much information is out there about your theme. In the event that you have a question about how to modify something within your theme, you want to be sure you have somewhere to turn.

3. Reviews: Check out what other people are saying about the theme you are considering. Look for a theme with a high rating and multiple reviews. Read through the reviews to see what people like and don't like about the particular theme before making your decision.

4. Style: It is important to choose a theme that fits well with your style. Focus on the layout of the theme. Do you prefer one, two or three columns? Do you like the sidebar on the left or on the right side of the screen? Most sites allow you to demo their themes. Activate the demo and poke around to see how you like it. After navigating around a few of them, you will start to get a feel for what you like. I personally prefer two columns and a sidebar aligned on the right side.

5. Customization: Find out what features of the theme are easily customizable. Some themes will allow you to change more items while others will be more limited. Assess what options you want to have the ability to change and make sure the theme you choose allows for it.

I am currently using a free theme through wordpress.com created by WooThemes. It fits well with my style and has been very easy to use. It has up to 7 different color schemes and has the capability to support a custom header and background image. Overall, it has completely met my needs as a first time blogger. I hope with these helpful tips you will be able to find the perfect theme to help you build your special place in blog world.


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Friday, May 24, 2013

Six Things You Can Do Today to Improve WordPress!

Over the years that I've written online, I've used various platforms.
Like a lot of people, I started out with LiveJournal. I've also dabbled with tumblr, for about two seconds I had a Vox account, and a few years ago I registered my own Blogger - which I still continue to use.
Since Blogger, I have also become a user of WordPress, which very quickly became my go-to for blogging needs. The most difficult thing about WordPress is how incredibly sharp of a learning curve there is in learning to use it.
So today, I'm sharing six things that I recommend doing to all WordPress blogs - whether they're freshly made, or just looking for a quick face lift!

    1. Deactivate and then delete all of the plugins you don't like, or aren't using.
    Benefit: Not only will your blog run faster, it will also be more secure! One of the most well-known ways of compromising WordPress blogs are through deactivated files that haven't yet been deleted, so cut your chances from the get go and get those files gone.
    2. Change the default settings on your Permalinks page
    Benefit: Your posts will rank higher in SEO.
    WordPress default (for some reason) is to file your posts by /year/month/date/your-post-name. Change it to just /your-post-name and your content will automatically become more likely to be crawled successfully by Google's search index program.
    3. Limit yourself in categories, not Tags
    Benefit: Your content will be easier to discover.
    Think about your categories as genres, and your tags as ways to narrow those genres down. This will allow your reader to discover more content (via category), yet still find specific content when they want it (via tag).
    4. Make WordPress work for you and your content!
    Benefit: You can spend more time writing, promoting, and networking.
    Install an Editor's Calendar plug-in to schedule posts ahead of time, find social network plug-ins so your content is automatically published to Twitter, Google, and Facebook, and automate as much SEO as you can! Make your blog "work for you" and you'll cover more ground in success in a shorter amount of time.
    5. Remove your beginning widgets, and start fresh
    Benefit: Your blog will have a cleaner, more customized look
    Removing your starter widgets will allow you to decide the flow of your website that you'd most like your reader to follow. What is more important to you for your reader to see first: Instagram photos? Your pins?
    Also, remember to remove the "meta" widget. Not only do you not really need to display it, if you do, you'll basically be showcasing a direct link to your admin panel to those who may use it for not-so-nice purposes.
    6. Start adding META information to each image
    Benefit: Increased ranking in Google Image Search
    When you upload post photos or graphics, type in some keywords or even an image caption into the various ALT values that are there. Google will scan through your keywords whenever someone searches with Google Images, and can potentially be a great source of traffic if you nail the right words!










That's it! My six favourite tips. What are yours? Feel free to leave your own in the comments.






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Thursday, May 23, 2013

B.You Bloglovin' Blog Hop #8

BLOGHOP


Thank you to everyone who linked up last week!! Lets help this bloglovin' blog hop grow by sharing with your friends, followers, and adding the button to your sidebar!


Grab the button above and put it in your linky list or sidebar.

Follow your host, co-hosts, and guest host on bloglovin'. Leave a comment that you're a new follower so we can all come and check you out!

Link up your bloglovin' URL only. We had several people that submitted their blogs URL, but this is a bloglovin' hop so only link up your bloglovin' account, please!

Hop around and visit some of the other blogs that linked up and give them a follow. This is all about making new friends and finding new reads, not just linking up and expecting everyone to follow you.

Pin, Tweet, Facebook, blog this link up! The more exposure it gets, the more potential followers for you! 



Your Host:


Your Co-Hosts:

Ashley @ A Fox & A Wolf
Torrie @ Fox + Hazel
Christina @ Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe
Natalee @ Eat Nap Play
Ashley @ Modernette

Guest Host:

Jennifer @ Magic Cat Jenny

**If you are interested in being a guest host, please email us at b.you.blog [at] gmail [dot] com


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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blog Design: 25 Free Social Media Icon Sets


We talked in a previous post about how there are thousands of free resources on the web that you can use to make your blog your own. To delve into that a bit more, I've rounded some 25 FREE social media icon sets that will make your site look like the bomb-dot-com. Check out the aforementioned post for even more free icon sets and design resources!








































PHEW! That's a lot of icons!

Let us know if you end up using these icons on your site! And as always, if you do, make sure to give credit to the original sources and if you pin the sets, PLEASE pin from the original source too! Only pin the title image from this post - we want to make sure we direct traffic to the designers for all their hard work.


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Friday, May 17, 2013

How To: Add a Search Bar on Your Blogger Homepage...and Why You Should.

Search Bars! Search Boxes! What the heck are those and why on earth would I want one on my blog?! Aww friend, I am SO glad you asked! Let me tell you all about this fun lil thing.

Search Bars/Boxes- What are they?
Simply put, a search box/bar works the same as any other search engine would (Ahem...Google, anyone?) except it's on YOUR BLOG and searches through YOUR STUFF! Wheeeeeeeeee! We like that.

For any Blogger users out there, this is in the form of a "Gadget", and is something we can SIMPLY add to our blog to give it a bit more blinggy-bling. 

Why Should I Have One on My Blog?
Well, there's a couple of reasons! For one, functionality! This little Gadget-O-Love adds a lot of functionality to your blog. It enables readers to search through all of your hard work and find exactly what they are looking for.

Why is that important? Because if any readers out there are ANYTHING like me, they don't have a lot of time to scroll through each and every post you've ever written until they find what they're looking for. They'll most likely give up along the way and go somewhere else (GASP!) to get their info. We definitely don't want that.

So, by adding a Search Bar/Box you are saying to your devoted readers, "Hey, I get it...time is money. Why not type in exactly what you're looking for and be on your merry way?"

That's exactly what it does. It creates a little internal search engine within your blog! So now, anytime you've tagged a post (I hope you're making precise tags within each blog post you publish) those tags get stored in your search engine. So let's say Sally loves your blog, is trying to do something she knows she's seen posted before, but can't remember when. By having a Search Bar/Box all she needs to do is kind of know what it is she's looking for (maybe..."fun fonts for free"), type those words into your bar, and hit enter. Your internal search engine will now do the work for her! It will search through each and every post you've written, and then bring up a nice little tidy list of previous blog posts that has something to do with her key words!

So instead of 700 posts, she now only has to go through a couple. Usually the search engine is so smart and precise, that it narrows it down to only 3-4. Badda Bing, Badda Boom. 

In essence, a Search Bar/Box makes your blog work the way it should, as well as making it engaging and helpful. This keeps your readers coming back time and again.

So now, How Do I Add One to My Blogger Blog?
Easy Peasy! Just follow these steps and you'll be there in no time at all :)


1. First and foremost, make sure you are signed into your Blogger account. Once you are, you're going to go to your blog's homepage and click "Design"- which is up on the top right!


2. By clicking "Design" you are able to see your blog's inner core- where you can do any and all changes you might want to make. There are so many lovely things you can do in this place, so play around! 

For our purposes we will need to find "Layout" and click it.


3. Next, you'll see you're now able to see your blog's "skeleton" (in a sense). This is an outline of what you have on your blog, where everything you've added is placed, and an easy way to make any changes- like moving something around, deleting something, or adding on.

Find where you want to add your new Gadget (a Search Bar/Box is indeed a Gadget!)- this place doesn't have to be exact- but has to be around where you're thinking of having it go. I suggest having a search bar somewhere close to your main information on your home page (i.e.: profile pic, social media, etc). We can move the Search Bar around once it's installed.

Click "Add a Gadget".


4. Now we are seeing a list of all the different Gadgets available on Blogger! There's some neat ones there, so look around! You might find something you didn't even know you could do! As you can see, Blogger lets you know what's already been installed by simply saying "Already Added" on the right side of each Gadget.

Scroll down until you find, "Search Box" and click the little "+" on the right. This adds it to your blog!


5. Now we need to simply configure our Search Bar/Box. All this means is we're going to make it do exactly what we want it to do.

A. Here you can title whatever you want your bar to be. Keep in mind that this "name" will show up on your blog for all to see. You can also leave it blank should you choose.

B. Make sure this box is checked! This allows people to type in key words (i.e.: How To, Blog Design, Blog Help...) and your Search Bar will search ALL throughout your blog's posts for any post related to those words! Neat huh?

That being said, I personally want the Search Bar to ONLY search my blog, so I unchecked the following two boxes. I don't want people seeing results from anywhere else, other than my blog :)

C. Here is where you will see a nice little preview of what your Search Bar will look like :)

D. When you are satisfied, click "Save". This will apply those changes to your Search Bar/Box.


6. Now as you can see we're taken back to our blog's skeleton. And, as you can see in A. our Search Bar is automatically up at the very top of my Gadget list. I'm not happy with it being there, so to move the box around all I need to do is click and hold down on the box, and drag to where I want it (within that area). Usually just up and down. If you're wanting it somewhere completely different, you'll need to delete (by clicking "Edit"), delete the Gadget, and start over someplace else on your skeleton.

B. When you think you know where you want it, click "Preview" to be shown a mock-up of what your blog will look like once you hit "Save". Click out of that box and come back here to make changes. I usually have to "Preview" 3 or 4 times before I've got it right.

C. Again, once you're happy with your placement, click "Save Arrangement"!


7. Viola! When I go to my homepage, displayed in all it's glory is my new Search Bar/Box! It's easy to see (up towards the top) and is titled appropriately (so my readers know what it is).


8. Here's how it works! Let's say you want to find an old blog post, or your reader really needs to know how to do something: Just type in the key words into your Search Box and BOOM a beautiful list of ANY and ALL YOUR BLOG POSTS that include those words, shows up! 

Neat. Tidy. Easy. That's what we like!
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