Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Girls and Their Twirly Clothes: TwirlyGirl Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
What is it about girls and clothes that twirl? I'm a grown woman and there's still something about a pretty dress that catches the air as I spin that makes me feel lovely. My girls are the same way. Every girl feels beautiful in kids dresses for parties like these. They seem to bring about the biggest smiles and you can tell they feel like the most beautiful girl in the world when they wear them.

I recently got to try out the Pitter Patter dress from TwirlyGirl. Before applying, I checked out their website and was captivated with the bold and bright colors. My kiddos are so drawn to clothes that are bright and fun. TwirlyGirl makes kids dresses for parties, but they are great casual summer dresses too.

The fabric is light and breezy with a fully lined bodice and no itchy seams.  Made from knit fabric, the dress is machine washable which is GREAT for me.

So we got one dress in the mail to try out. It was a size 4T which was perfect for my two girls. They are close enough in size that Hayley can wear it as a loose dress and Caitlin can wear it as a tunic top. They LOVED it. They both had to try it on immediately.

First I put it on Hayley. She was so excited to try it out and see if it twirled. And of course it did.

Twirling in Dress

She got a little dizzy after awhile, but that didn't slow her down. She was ready to play peek-a-boo and make sure that she was seen.

I really was impressed with how light and comfortable the fabric felt. This dress is going to make the perfect summer kids party dress. She can wear this and be comfortable when it gets hot and humid here in the South.

So like I said, both of my kids really wanted to try it on immediately after getting it in the mail. So it was time to switch and let Caitlin try it on. That didn't go so smoothly. Hayley did NOT want to take it off. Finally I got her to agree to take turns and let her sister try it out.

Caitlin being so tall and thin could wear this dress like a tunic top with some skinny jeans. Such a cute outfit on her! It was the same result; immediate twirling and smiling ensued.

Then the dizziness and tumbling over. But that's ok. It's fun to get dizzy too.

We had to stop and take some posed shots. Caitlin is old enough now to understand that I'm taking pictures for the blog and she loves to be my little model. I may be biased, but I think she's an awfully pretty model too.

I never would have paired pink, orange, and green in one dress. But the bright and fun colors are part of what my kiddos love about this dress. They love to pick out their own outfits now and they are always drawn to fun clothes with bright colors and cute prints. This Pitter Patter dress with it's colors and heart applique on the front is going to get a lot of wear around our house.

What is your favorite kids party dress? What about casual dress?

Visit Twirly Girl and check out all the fun kid party dresses. When you're there, use coupon code GingerTG for 10% off. Does not apply to sale items, gift certificates or Design your Own Dress feature. Expires 5/15/14.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

3 Ways to Boost SEO

3 Ways to Boost SEO plus How to Add Title and Alt Tags to Your Photos

We all know that photos are essential to blogs; especially to craft, fashion, and food blogs. Great photos showcase your projects, give a visual for each step of your tutorial and draw your reader into actually reading your post. But did you know they could do even more for you? Your photos can boost your SEO.

I'm still learning tons about all this. In fact, I just learned about how to get my photos to work for me in regards to SEO a few weeks ago. But let me tell you - it makes a difference. I have gone back and updated my more popular posts along with the new ones and I can already see an increase in my traffic. And because I thought I was adding title tags to my photos, but wasn't, I want to share this info with you. And maybe I'm hoping I'm not the only person out there doing it wrong.

Before we get to HOW your photos can do all that, let's first talk about what the heck SEO is. Don't let SEO scare you. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In super simple terms, Google, Bing, Yahoo and all those other search engines we use to find stuff on the internet look for key words and phrases on your posts to connect you with readers. They do all the heavy work, but learning a few simple tricks will help them find you in the sea of information out there.

1. Keywords in Post Title and First Paragraph:

Search engines use software that "crawls" the web looking for keywords to connect you with people searching for your topic. While posts titled with some clever and quirky title are fun, they aren't always good for SEO. And it's not just your title. The first paragraph is important too. Fitting in one or two keywords in that first paragraph is perfect. Don't just shove keywords everywhere just for the sake of shoving them in. That can actually work against you. One or two will be plenty.

2. Links from Other Websites to Yours

Besides keywords, search engines also look for links; RELEVANT links from other places to you. That shows that you are a resource and valued by others in your industry. For craft type blogs Guest Posting helps get your name out there and adds links to you from other websites. Pinterest is a HUGE resource. Link up your projects to Pinterest!

3. Photo Titles and Alt Tags

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought that by simply retitling my pictures instead of leaving them as DCM2335873 off my camera was adding photo titles. It is...... but it isn't. Not when you are talking SEO.

So like I said earlier, in hopes that maybe I'm not the only one who was messing this one up. Let me share what I've learned. It's really easy to do once you know how.

In blogger, insert your photo like. Click on your photo in normal editing mode and you'll see this options box open up. This option box allows you to change the photo's size, add a caption, and add title and alt tags. Click on Properties.

Click on Properties

After you click Properties, another box will pop up. Here is where you can add tags.

Add Title and Alt Text

Generally your title and alt text can be the same, but you may want to make them different. It's up to you. Title text brings up a box when you hover over your photo.

Example of Title Text

Alt text is what shows up if your photo doesn't load properly. It's also very useful for the seeing impaired who may have programs that speak what you have written. Since they can't see your photo, the alt text describes the photo for them.

If you do these three things, you will see an improvement in your traffic. It takes time though. Adding keywords, title text, and alt text is something you can do right now, but give Google and all those other search engines time to catch up with you. A couple of weeks should do.

What better blogging tips and tricks do you use?

Linking up to these link parties.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Show & Tell #73

Welcome back to Gingerly Made's Show & Tell party!

I LOVE this party and am so glad you come to link up every week! It's always fun to see what others have been working on and a great way to get new project tips, tricks, and ideas. So, thanks for linking up!

If you follow along regularly, you may have noticed that I did not put up a features post yesterday. Those posts get the least views each week. You guys work so hard on the projects you link up and I want the features to get some great big attention. So, I've decided to blend the feature and link party posts together. If you prefer it the other way, please let me know.

Yesterfood: Peep Houses

Adventures of a DIY Mom: Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Delineate Your Dwelling: Lime Cream Popsicle

Sew Can Do: Faux Quilt Binding

Just in case you've missed some of this week's post, here's what I've been working on.

Ok, Let's see what YOU have been doing this week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Washi Reward Jars

Washi Tape Reward Jar

It's that time again. And oh, how I dread it. My youngest is 2.5 and it's time to start potty training. Oy! Potty training is tough and I am not above using bribery to get it done. That's where this cute little jar filled with candy comes in. The "Potty Jar" makes it's appearance again.

I've been trying to get Hayley interested in toilet training; trying to just get her to sit on the potty. She's not afraid of it. She just doesn't want to. I think she thinks she's too busy.

The idea is that if she will go and sit on the potty, she gets 1 candy. If she tinkles, she gets 2 and if she goes stink, she gets 3. I used this same system with my youngest and it worked -- some. It got her to sit on the potty and get candy. It got her used to the idea of it all. Eventually it took a lot more to get her fully trained, but this was a starting point. And so it is again.

Sixlet Candy for Jar

I try to keep the candy small so she isn't getting full from it or getting overloaded on sugar. When I saw this bag of Sixlets at the Dollar Tree, I knew they would work perfectly. I had to open all those little packages, but with a pair a scissors in hand, it didn't take too long.

To dress it up and make it pretty (cause that's what craft bloggers do) I added some washi tape to the jar. I love the bright colors of both the washi  and the candy and how it makes this utilitarian thing decorative and pretty on my mantle.

Potty Reward Jar

It's already working some. I have to remember to tell her to go sit on the potty. And when I tell her, she says no until I remind her that she can get a candy. THEN she's ready and willing to sit.

No actual luck yet, but one step at a time. I'm trying to remind myself that this is a process that takes time and to be patient.

Reward jars are fantastic tools for working with young children. And it doesn't have to be limited to potty training. Have you used a reward system with your kids before? What kind?

Linking up to these link parties.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Oreo Bunny Treats

Oreo Easter Bunny Treats

Ok, ok. I've got to get in one Easter related post before Easter. We've been so busy with the house and garden that I've done very little holiday decorating/crafting. My daughter wanted to make a surprise for her Daddy. She wanted to make an Oreo turkey treat that my Mom had made at Thanksgiving. So, to keep it seasonal, I suggested that maybe we try a bunny instead. And that's how our little Oreo Easter Bunny Treats came about.

It was a total experiment. I'm not the best cake decorator, so this was a trial for sure. I was afraid it would end in project failure. The tastey, but not too pretty kind. But instead, I think they turned out kind of cute.


White Candy Melts
Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Icing
Pink Icing


Spread wax paper over your work surface.

Melt your candy melts as per package directions.

Use a spoons to pour a candy over Oreos. I tried dipping the Oreos, but that made a huge mess. Pouring the candy and then smoothing out the surface with the back of the spoon worked much better.

 Candy Dripping on to Oreo from Spoon

Gently create ears by drizzling candy from spoon off the Oreo into triangles. Use toothpicks to shape them as needed.

Making Candy Bunny Ears

As the candy is hardening, use chocolate chips to create eyes. I tried putting a whole chocolate chip for each eye, but they looked a too large and strange to me, so I ended up cutting my chocolate chip and using small pieces for eyes. Alternatively, you could make eyes with some chocolate frosting.

Use a toothpick to add nose, mouth, and the pink parts of the ears with pink frosting.

Once your candy has hardened, carefully pick your bunnies up off the wax paper and serve them however you want.

I served mine on a little bed of raffia. I liked how the brown raffia kept it simple, but made the white bunnies stand out instead of getting lost on a white plate.

My kiddos LOVED them. I mean, sugary sweets + bunny rabbits. Yes, and yes for them! I only let them have one or two though because they little guys are pretty sweet. They make the perfect little dessert for the Easter table this year.

So what started out as what was supposed to be a surprise for Daddy, ended up being fun dessert for my kids. Hmm. I wonder how that happened??

Candy Bunny Snack
Candy Melt and Oreo Bunny

Candy Covered Oreo Bunny Treats on Raffia

Linking up to these link parties.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Show & Tell #72

Welcome back to Gingerly Made's Show & Tell party!

I LOVE this party and am so glad you come to link up every week! It's always fun to see what others have been working on and a great way to get new project tips, tricks, and ideas. So, thanks for linking up!

Just in case you've missed some of this week's post, here's what I've been working on.

Ok, Let's see what YOU have been doing this week.

Nautical Rope Coasters

Nautical Rope Coasters

Earlier in the week I showed you a sneak peak of how our living room remodel is coming along. With the major work done (floors and ceilings), it's now time for decorating. Nautical rope coasters were a quick and simple project but necessary for protecting the tables I plan on refinishing from water rings.

Nautical anything is really trendy right now. I live in North Carolina, so it's nothing too new for me. We've been doing coastal forever. I live in the middle of the state a few hours from the coast, but anything coastal is still perfectly normal. Some of us practically wear our flip flops year round. Not me though because my feet are like icicles. I only wear my flip flops 9 out of the 12 months in the year. He he he.

Personally I love beachy type things, they are usually made from fairly simple materials and have a relaxing feel to them. I need "relaxing" to be a theme in my home because we have some very high energy people living here who have a hard time winding down. And with kids, something simple like this means I don't have to worry about it breaking. Perfect.

Glass on Nautical Rope Coaster

Back to the coasters..... they are simply made from hemp rope, hot glue, and felt. I used hemp partly because sisal rope is usually thicker and more coarse and mostly because I couldn't find any sisal rope. I think sisal would be more substantial in size, but now that I have the hemp rope done, I like the smaller gauge of the rope and the smoother texture.

I used hot glue to hold the rope in place as I circled it around and around. Once the coaster was large enough, I hot glued it to a circular piece of felt. Then trimmed the excess.

Sideview of Nautical Rope Coasters

You might notice that there are only three coasters in the pictures and that is kind of an odd number for coasters. Most of the time you find coasters in packs of 4. I actually did make four, but one of my kids has creatively hid it from me. I'll find it somewhere soon I'm sure. And if not, they are so easy to make, I'll whip up a new one. Most likely I'll make a new one and THEN find the old one. Life with kids, right!

In the mean time, I'm enjoying my three new nautical rope coasters and no water marks on my table.

Linking up to these link parties.

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