Book Review: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

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Book Review of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison AllenGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Goodreads.com Synopsis:

The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.
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Announcing Glue Gun Wars Monthly Link Party!

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I told you that 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year! One of the things making it so excited is this monthly DIY Challenge right here! Starting in February, each month, I’ll be hosting Glue Gun Wars, an exciting link up where we challenge YOU to create a post using a specific craft supply item.

It could be buttons, wooden dowels, fabric, felt, you name it!

I’m insanely excited and already planning a craft involving February’s challenge: Glitter! Yep! We figured we’d start off with something fairly easy. I can’t wait to see your glitter crafts!

More details and answers to some questions you may have are down below! And don’t forget to follow along with your hosts so you can stay up to date with the challenge!

gluegunwarsfebpromo

A Dose of Paige | Simply {Darr}ling | Pink Heels Pink Truck | A Little Clairification | Busy Being Jennifer

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Recipe: BLT Skewers + Super Bowl Food Roundup

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If you love a good BLT Sandwich, then you will love these BLT Skewers with a Sriracha Aioli dipping sauce
This post is in partnership with Petit Jean Meats. All recipes and opinions are 100% my own.

I am a huge bacon lover. If you haven’t been able to figure that out by now with my Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Martini infused with Bacon, Chicken Fried Chocolate Covered Bacon, Crown Royal Maple Cupcakes with Candied Bacon, Bacon Mac & Cheese, Bacon & Parmesan Oven Potatoes and Maple Bacon Ice Cream. See? I told you I have a LOVE for Bacon. And these BLT Skewers with a Sriracha Aioli Dipping Sauce are no different! They are perfect for Tailgating or your Super Bowl Party!

Ingredients
Crunchy French Bread (skinny, long roll, sliced and cut into half and then toasted!)
Cherry Tomatoes
Romaine Lettuce

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Recipe: Easy Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

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Needing an easy Crockpot recipe? Drop everything in the pot in the morning and you'll have a filling dish for supper! Try out this Slow Cooker Pinto Beans Recipe!! Crockpot Recipes you'll enjoy!

In the winter time, I typically lean towards comfort foods. And this Easy Slow Cooker Pinto Beans Recipe is a great reflection of that. It’s comfort food in a slow cooker!

Ingredients
1 lb dry pinto beans (washed, cleaned & soaked in water overnight)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lb. ham hock (soak in 4 cups of water overnight)
4 cups of ham-hock soaked water
Paula Deen’s House Seasoning, to taste (recipe below)

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#NOEXCUSES™ Fitness: 5 Tips to Drinking More Water

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 16 Water online. All opinions are 100% my own.
Check out these 5 Tips on How to Drink More Water! How do you drink more water? #NOEXCUSES™

Water. It’s the bees knees. Right? ;) You are probably rolling your eyes right about now. But hear me out. How much water are you drinking daily?? Probably not enough. Think about this…if our bodies are made up of about 60% water, don’t you think that drinking water to maintain our bodies would be at the forefront of everyone’s minds all the time?? Sadly, it’s not. I get it. I get it. What’s special about water? Well for one thing, it helps keep our body hydrated. Another thing, it helps to flush toxins out of our body. There are a lot of really great benefits to drinking water. So back to my question…how much water are you drinking daily??

Your goal should be to drink 1/2 your bodyweight in fluid ounces every day. So if you weigh 150lbs, you would need to consume 75 fluid ounces of water every day. Ever feel thirsty? That’s your body telling you that you are already about 1 quart of water behind. I’m telling you…drink your water!!!
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Wedding Stationery Timeline

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Just engaged? This post is the perfect one for you! Find out when you need to start sending out the relevant Stationary for your upcoming nuptials! From Save the Dates to Invites...learn the best Wedding Stationary Timeline!

Your wedding invitations are your guest’s first glimpse into your wedding theme and will set the tone for your big day! We recommend that you allow yourself plenty of time to decide on the design and components of your entire stationery suite. Follow the Hoopla House stationery guide below to decide what to get and when to send…

HH_Timeline_SaveTheDate8+ months – You Said, “Yes!”
• Let’s celebrate! Order your Engagement Party Invitations.
• Choose up to 3 free Hoopla House Wedding Invitation Samples with code 3free.
• Choose & send the perfect Save The Dates.
Save the dates are typically sent 6 months in advance.  Plan on sending them earlier if your wedding is over a holiday or if you’re having a destination wedding.


HH_Timeline_InvitationSuite

4-6 months – On Your Wedded Way
• Order your Invitation suite. We’re here to help, every step of the way!
• Order your Bridal Shower Invitations and Thank You Cards.
Be sure to check back for Hoopla House free printable favor tags, game cards and more!

2 months – All about the details
• Assemble and mail your Invitations.
Tip: Don’t forget to weigh your invitations to determine the exact postage.
• Order matching  Reception and Ceremony essentials. Have a specific idea in mind but can’t find what you’re looking for to match your Hoopla House invitations? Give us a call! We’ll design them for you at no extra charge.

HH_Timeline_Rehearsal_PC1 month – It’s almost here!
• Create your seating chart and order your Place Cards
Tip: be sure to use our guest list template to help you easily format your guest list for your place cards.
• Send out Rehearsal Dinner Invitations

2-4 Weeks After the Wedding
• Write and send Thank You Cards

While this guide is the recommended timeline, we understand that every couple has a different amount of time in which to work! Whether your wedding is in 3 years or 3 months, Hoopla House will work with you to walk you through each step of the process.  

Book Review: The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

The JobThe Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Goodreads.com Synopsis:
Charming con man Nicolas Fox and dedicated FBI agent Kate O’Hare secretly take down world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons, next job Violante, the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what he looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick knows his tastes in gourmet chocolate.

From Nashville to Lisbon back alleys, from Istanbul rooftops to Thames, they chase clues to lookalike thefts. Pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard Reyna holding Kate hostage and a Portuguese enforcer getting advice from an ancestor’s pickled head, they again call driver Willie for ship, actor Boyd for one-eyed Captain Bridger, special effects carpenter Tom, her father Jake – retired Special Forces, and his talent – machete-wielding Somali pirate Billy Dee. This could be their biggest job – if they survive.

My Review: 5 out of 5 stars. I absolutely love this series. It’s #3 in the series and I just have fallen in love with the characters. I love Kate as the strong female lead. And I love Nick as the smooth criminal. If you haven’t picked up this series yet and you are a fan of Evanovich, then you need to add this one to your list!!

Check out all of my Book Reviews here!

Did you see my most favorite books from 2014?? Read about them here!

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#bloggingedumacation: How To Improve Your SEO

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Tips on How to Improve Your SEO (aka Search Engine Optimization) for your Blog from looking at your search query data #bloggingedumacation

Do you have an SEO plan for you blog? Are you familiar with SEO? aka Search Engine Optimization. I talk about how to find your Keyword Search Results in Google Analytics and how to find them in Google Webmaster Tools.

But what do those keywords tell you and what should you do with the information?

The keywords tell you what terms or phrases people used to get to your site. Or to land on your site. I highly recommend that you take some time either monthly or quarterly to go over those terms and expound on them…ie…write more blog posts centered around the words that are bringing people to your site from a search engine result.

Webmaster Tools actually gives you some pretty good data as far as how you are ranking for those terms in the search engine via Google. When you are looking at your Search Query results, you’ll see a column that says Average Position. That Average Position is the ranking spot that you appear in a search result. Let’s take a look at a specific example so I can explain it better visually.

How-to Improve your SEO

Okay, so if you look at the above picture, I’ve already sorted by my Average Position (the far right column) to show everything in a descending order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc). The very first keyword in my list is my blog name, pink heels pink truck. You can see that I have 104 impressions (ps..the timeframe is over the last 30 days). Of those 104 impressions, I’ve received 34 clicks over to my website which calculates to be 33% CTR (click through rate). So even though there were 104 impressions, only 34 clicks happened. You see that number 1.0 under the Average Position column? That means my website appears in the #1 spot on Page 1 of the search results for that keyword phrase pink heels pink truck.

Okay, so really…I can’t do anything SEO-wise to improve on that keyword phrase because it’s my blog name. I mean I guess I could but it wouldn’t really benefit me in any way. So let’s look at another example, and I’ll expound on what I can do to improve my SEO.

Keyword Phrase: beach theme baby shower ideas

In the last 30 days, I’ve had 2 people search for that specific phrase. And 1 person click through to my site, so a 50% CTR. My blog appears at the #1 spot in the search results.

Here’s my plan:
I wrote a recap on a beached theme baby shower that I hosted for one of my best friends awhile back. I get a lot of hits to that post (just look at the different ways people are searching for ideas). Considering I don’t have any preggo friends right now, I don’t really have any reason to create another entire beach themed baby shower. However, what I can do is to write a DIY post on how I made the invitations. And then I would make sure that phrase was somewhere in my post and I would link it back to my original beach themed baby shower post. I can write a DIY post on how I made the scalloped tablecloth for the cake table. There are so many different things I can do in order to really improve my SEO for that specific post. I can see there is a need for it just by seeing all the different forms of beach theme baby shower ideas that appear in my Search Query results for my blog.

Your goal is to work on posts that are similar to posts you are already ranking for. It’s cool to see my site appearing in that #1 position, but when I look further at the CTR rate, it reveals a whole lot more info. So yes, I may be #1 in the results, but people are skipping right past my site and clicking through to something else.

Understanding Average Position…
If your average position says 7.0…that means you appear at the #7 spot on the FIRST page of the search results for that keyword/phrase.
If your average position says 15.0…that means you appear at the #5 spot on the SECOND page of the search results for that keyword/phrase.
If your average position says 2.7….that means that you appear on average at the #2 spot on the FIRST page, but that you could appear also at the #9 spot for one person and the #1 spot for another…and then an average is taken across everyone and it equals 2.7 (don’t do the math on my example, it won’t add up…just know that if you see something like 2.7, it means that you show up, ON AVERAGE, at the #2 spot on the FIRST page of the search results.

If you show up at the #11 spot, you are the first spot on the SECOND page. And your goal should be to try and get yourself into the #10 spot on the FIRST page.

Having an SEO plan is super important if you are looking to grow your site. The other tip is to be able to rank in the top 5-6 spots for a specific keyword across all platforms. Let me explain:

If you already rank #1 for beach theme baby shower ideas and have a high CTR for the phrase beach theme baby shower ideas, then create a YouTube video so you can chase for the #2 spot. And create a G+ post so that you can chase for the #3 spot. And get some pins or a pin board going on Pinterest to chase for the #4 spot. So that when someone google’s beach theme baby shower ideas, your stuff appears as the #1, #2, #3 and #4 spot in the search results. Make sense?

So, don’t just limit your SEO plan to your website. Work it on all of your platforms.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought on how to improve your SEO!

Check out all of my other #bloggingedumacation lessons here! And let me know if you have any questions! I’m here to help!

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