July 1, 2015

My Advice For New Bloggers

My best tips & tricks for all new bloggers
After blogging for a little over a year, I have been starting to get emails from women who are thinking about starting a blog and want my advice. Many want to know how to get started... or they just started a blog and want to figure out how to get more readers. I am super honored that people even take the time to write to me & I always write back and try to give the very best (and truthful) advice!

I received a number of these emails this month, (more than I usually do) so I decided to dedicate an entire post to new blogging tips and tricks. This is kind of like a part 2 for my 6 Things I Learned in my First Year of Blogging post. I in NO WAY think I am a blogging expert of any sort... but I am going to share the same advice that I share with the ladies who email me and hopefully I will help out a few new bloggers. 

1. Choose Your Name Carefully: This is SO important. Like REALLY, REALLY important in my opinion. If you are thinking about starting a blog, you should try to select a name that represents what your blog is about. If you can't think of one, make sure you select a name that has some sort of meaning to you and that you like it A LOT. I say this because you are going to be typing out your blog name more than you ever dreamed possible. Try to keep the name short and memorable. Jot down a few of your top contenders, and do a web search to make sure there isn't another blog with the same name. Then head over to GoDaddy or a web domain site and see if that name is available as a .com. You don't have to buy a domain name to start a blog... but you should know if the name you choose is available.

2. Claim Your Social Media Accounts: Before you actually START the blog, take the name you selected and make sure it is available on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If your name is available on those sites, there is a good chance it will be available on Periscope, Pinterest and Google+. Social media such a HUGE part of becoming a successful blogger these days. People need to be able to find you. Now some bloggers will debate me on this, but I think having your social media match your blog name is a must. Most people remember my blog name, Working Mom Magic. So when they search for me on twitter or instagram they simply type in Working Mom Magic and I pop right up. If I was Working_MomMagic or my name, it would be much harder to find. If you can't match your social media handles to your blog name, consider a new name. No joke. 

3. Check out Bloglovin: When I first started my blog, I ignored bloglovin' since I didn't really see a point. Now I love it and I wish I would have started using it sooner. All it does it put all your favorite blogs in once, easy-to-find place. Why do you need this? Because you should be commenting on other blogs you enjoy. This helps you to get your own blog out there and you can see what you like and don't like about other blogs. It can be very inspiring to read what others bloggers put out there and helps to give you ideas for your own blog.

4. Join Facebook Groups: There are TONS of blogging support groups on Facebook. You can find groups for every type of blog out there. I really like Mommy Bloggers Share and Grow Your Blog. I am also a member of a few smaller groups. Just don't post your content unless you can really participate... or you will be (quickly) tossed out of the group.

5. Use Nice Pictures: I lived in a hole for way too long when it comes to how important pictures are for your blog. I still am pretty lazy, I only use my phone, not a DSLR... but I have stepped up my game in other ways and noticed a huge difference. Make sure your pictures are large and clear. I really like Canva and use it for almost all of the 'title pictures' for my blog. I know I still have a long way to go when it comes to pictures... but if you are a new blogger, take a moment to check out how your favorite bloggers showcase their photos.

Behind-the-scenes
A little editing
Finished product!

6. Set Goals for Your Blog: Each month set a goal for your blog. Take a moment to think about what you want to improve and write it down. It could be growing your Facebook following, a 25% increase in pageviews, adding new share buttons.... whatever. Just set that goal and then think of ways to accomplish it. Every month I have a few goals set specifically for my blog... sometimes I reach them all, others get put on the next month's list again. Either way, it really helps me stay focused and it gets results.

So there you go, my newbie blogger tips! I hope this helps at least a few people, and my inbox is always open if you have other questions! (workingmommagic@gmail.com)


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June 29, 2015

DIY Patriotic Corker Bows


I love corker bows, I think they are SO cute, especially in tiny toddler pigtails. Lucky for me, they are also REALLY easy to make.

You can make corker bows out of almost any ribbon you want. (I have never bought a kind that doesn't work) I love this since they usually have dollar bins full of ribbons at craft stores, especially around the holidays, so you can customize your bow to fit your exact needs.

This weekend I made pigtail corkers, so they are on the smaller size. However, you can make your corker bow as large & as full as you would like, using this basic technique.

                                

Here's what you will need: 
1/4 inch dowels (you can get a size smaller if you want really tight corkers!)
Small clips
Ribbon
Hair tie or barrette of your choice

The ribbon I used is a 4th of July 4 pack that was a dollar at JoAnn's fabric. I decided to use clips I already had since they already had cute little stars on them.

How to make your corker bow: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  2. Clip one side of the ribbon to the end of the dowel, then wrap it around until you get to the end, and clip it once again
  3. Put the wrapped dowels in the oven for 30 minutes
  4. Take them out and let cool completely
  5. Remove the ribbons from the dowel once cooled
  6. Cut and stack until you have the desired length & fullness that you want
  7. Tie a tight knot in the middle of the ribbons
  8. Attach it to the hair clip or rubber band (I just tie it on with string)
  9. Adjust the bow until it looks the way you would like
                 

So cute, right? Besides the cooking and cooling time these take like 10 minutes TOPS to make. If you end up making your own tag me on Instagram... I would love to see what you come up with!
My little cutie is ready for the 4th of July!


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June 26, 2015

Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

Today I have a guest post from one of my very favorite bloggers, Katie... who blogs over at Mom to Mom Nutrition. She is the sweetest woman and I can relate to her since she is a registered dietitian... and I am married to a registered dietitian! (which is why I loved her post "Being Married to a Registered Dietitian") So here she is! 


Hello! My name is Katie and I’m the registered dietitian, Mom, and blogger over at Mom to Mom Nutrition. When I’m not sharing healthy, family-friendly recipes, I’m talking all things toddler and baby and motherhood— which naturally has ignited a friendship between Lauren and myself. Lauren and I might have kiddos at different ages and feeding stages, but we have one thing [ok, two things] in common: we love talking about our families and sharing what works and what doesn’t with our readers. Strength in numbers—as most parents would agree!



So what does this lemon asparagus orzo salad have to do with motherhood? Probably one of the biggest challenges that motherhood has presented me with: feeding my kids. I’m not talking about breastfeeding or bottle feeding, I’m talking about the challenges that come with starting solid foods and yes, the dreaded picky eating toddler stage. But this lemon asparagus orzo salad reminds me alas, the picky eating stages will pass and we will ALL enjoy the SAME meal as a family, someday.



My toddler actually likes this salad because he can pick out his favorite part: the orzo. I love this salad because it can be kept at room temperature--- which is ideal for warm weather BBQ’s and potlucks. Paired with grilled chicken and you’ve got yourself a meal that screams summertime! And perhaps one happy toddler that can’t resist picking out the little orzo….



This lemon orzo asparagus salad also seems somewhat clean and fresh, which aren’t usually words in my vocabulary lately. I’m feeding both a toddler and 6-month old. You know my dinner table is messy and far from clean or fresh!



This recipe was originally featured on Mom to Mom Nutrition.



Ingredients:



Dressing:

2 lemons, juiced and zested

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

½ cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste



Orzo Salad:

1 bunch of asparagus [about a pound], cut into ½ inch pieces

4 cups of water

2 cups of chicken broth

2 cups of orzo pasta

½ cup of green onion, sliced [whites and greens]

1 lemon, sliced



Instructions:

1. To make the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients. Set aside.

2. Combine the water and chicken stock in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the asparagus to the pot. Continue cooking the asparagus and orzo for another 5 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

4. Add warm orzo + asparagus to a heat resistant bowl. Add green onions and lemon dressing (mix again if needed). Garnish with lemon slices.

5. Serve immediately or let rest at room temperature until you're ready to eat!







Be sure to check out Katie on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter! :)

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

June 23, 2015

Breakfast Popsicles

This post was sponsored by Honey Bunches of Oats Breakfast Biscuits, but all opinions are 100% my own.
Breakfast popsicles with yogurt, fruit and breakfast biscuits

While I am still trying to get used to our summer morning routine... I do love the extra time I get with my sweet boy. During the school year we try to be out the door by 7:30, but now we can leave closer to 9. So we have been stepping up our normally boring breakfasts with some fun options.

Hudson's favorite new morning treat is breakfast popsicles. I came up with the idea after finding some customizable push pops at the craft store. Hudson thought they were so cool... so he is always excited to use them. (You don't need them to make breakfast popsicles, you can use a regular popsicle mold, too!)
                                               

Here's how we make our breakfast popsicles:
Greek yogurt in your favorite flavors (you can use regular yogurt, but I like the extra protein in greek yogurt)
Fruit mix-ins (fresh or frozen)
Honey Bunches of Oats Breakfast Biscuits  (smashed up into little bits)

All you have to do is layer the ingredients. Hudson likes to make his own the night before and put it in the freezer to eat in the morning. (you can also make and eat it right away like a parfait) These are SO easy to make, and your kids can customize them with their favorite ingredients.
A quick and healthy breakfast for the kids

My kids feel like they are getting a treat for breakfast, but I know they are getting a healthy start with a good mix of protein and whole grains. The Honey Bunches of Oats Breakfast Biscuits add a nice crunch to the popsicle and my kids call them breakfast cookies! Little do they know, these 'cookies' have over 55% of their daily recommendation of whole grains. I know it will keep them full with all the energy they need for summer camp fun!
Happy boy!!
They have 3 flavors: Honey Roasted, Strawberry and Chocolate Chip. Hudson's favorite is chocolate chip... and I love the honey roasted. On the days when we wake up late and are rushing out the door... we can all just grab a package to go with a drink. (milk for the kids... coffee for me!)
Breakfast on the go!
What are your favorite ways to make breakfast fun for the kids?


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June 21, 2015

Summer Smoothie Prep


My mornings are usually pretty crazy, and I'm not quite used to our new summer routine yet. To help me save some time, I have been making green smoothies in the morning. I love smoothies, but I never make them since I don't have time for all the prep that is involved. Since we do a lot of meal prep on Sunday, I decided to add smoothie prep to the list.

The 'base' of my smoothies always includes spinach, kale and red grapes. I rinse all the greens in my salad spinner and pack each portion in a ziplock bag. That way everything is clean, dry and ready to go right into my blender! I don't really measure it out, I just know I split the whole bag of spinach and kale for the 5 day portions. 

I also add some frozen fruit. I always use mixed berries. Then I switch between pineapple and mango. I portion those into ziplock bags, as well. It is SO easy to just grab the two bags, toss it all into the blender and go! I recently upgraded to a Ninja blender, and it is so much easier to clean than my last one. 

Prepping my ingredients this way also makes it easy to customize the smoothie, depending on what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes I mix it with plain water, other times I use coconut water. Sometimes I add a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and lately I have been adding a teaspoon of matcha. I saw a Dr. Oz episode where he talked about all the benefits of it, so of course I ordered some. I LOVE green tea, but I just could NOT stomach this stuff plain. Now I just mix it in the smoothie and I can't taste it at all. 

Since I have been on my green smoothie kick, I have noticed I have a TON of energy. It gives me a major boost for the first half of my day. What are some of your favorite things to add to your smoothies? I would love some new ideas! 


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June 17, 2015

Books my Kids are Loving in June

Here's what my kids are currently reading

I had big summer reading plans with my kids.. I signed my son up for the Scholastic summer reading program. I wanted to get a bunch of new books for them to read from the library. However, our summer reading has not gotten off to the stellar start I had imagined.

For the first week of summer break Hudson felt like staying up late to watch his favorite shows. (which is something he doesn't usually get to do during the school year) So I've been letting him stay up late. Watch a BUNCH of TV. (definitely too much) I've been making him hot chocolate with lots of extra marshmallows. (a sugary drink past 8pm usually doesn't fly here) But it is SUMMER. And he's 6.

Mila has been joining her brother in the late night indulgence. She takes naps at daycare, even though she really doesn't need them. (she is like her brother, who also dropped naps early) She is never tired anymore at her usual bedtime. So we have all been staying up late, hanging out. I'm sure we will get back on track soon, but for now we are in a summer state of mind.

So for this month, they each only have one book each that they are REALLY loving.

Mila:
Another Monster at the End of This Book
She actually likes this book more than the original Monster at the End of This Book. This may have even made it on my blog before, since both kids really love this book. She laughs and tries to imitate all the Elmo parts. This is a fun one to read together.

Hudson:
Pirates
We got this years ago at a book fair being held at his daycare and he loved it then and he still loves it today. He is currently going through a pirate phase (again) and recently told me he wants a pirate party for his 7th birthday. We have a few Usborne books and they are all really good. This one is a bit strange though since it talks about how pirates would steal and kill people during battles. One part even talks about how dead pirates were hung up in pirate cages so everyone would see that being a pirate was bad. Ummmm... sweet dreams?

So that's our short list for this month, hopefully we get back on track with reading soon or my big summer reading plan will be a major bust!

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