The time has come. The time of oppressive heat, puddles of sweat, and general misery is upon us. Summer is finally here.
If you can't already tell, I'm not a big fan of summer, especially here in the south, due to all of the heat, sunlight, and sweating. I can tolerate the summer as long as I have an ice cold drink and a pool to swim in.
What I also don't mind about summer, despite the heat, is the food. Barbecues are front and center this time of year and I am more than happy to brave the elements to be first in line for some good grilling.
Since it is so hot outside, I tend to reach for lighter foods to go with my grilled hotdogs and hamburgers and right now, my go to is pasta salad.
Much like chicken and potato salad, I don't trust just anyone's pasta salad. There are a lot of ways you can make it and a lot of ways it could go wrong. That's why I took it upon myself to make the perfect pasta salad for summer and today, in honor of the first day of summer, I am sharing the recipe with you.
My summer pasta salad may lack several ingredients you are familiar with in the traditional pasta salad. Part of that is because I used what I had on hand and the other part of that is because I just plain old don't like olives. But I promise this recipe is just as yummy as as a traditional pasta salad, if not more so.
All you need to make summer pasta salad is tri-color rotini pasta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, avocados, and Ken's oil and vinegar dressing. The Ken's dressing is the special ingredient. Without it, you wouldn't have my super special summer pastas salad. So, without further ado, here's my recipe for summer pasta salad!
Tri-color rotini pasta
Ken's oil and vinegar dressing
Just in time for Memorial Day! If you're in need of something to spice up the buffet table at your Memorial Day cookout, look no further than this DIY tiered tray. It's super cute and great for holding desserts, utensils and so much more.
I put this little beauty together for $5 and it took all of 10 minutes. I bought the various cake plates and trays from the dollar store and used hot glue to attach the painted candlesticks. The best part about this DIY tiered tray is how customizable it is.
I went for a silver galvanized look, but this tiered tray is just as easily recreated with glass or plastic and painted with any color. I have seen these trays on kitchen and bathroom counters, too. They're great for storage and display.
If you're in need of some cute display this Memorial Day, you can make this DIY tiered tray in 10 minutes and for $5. Check out the instructions below!
1. If you are painting your pans or candle sticks, do this first.
2. Measure the center of each pan. Mark the spot if necessary.
3. Use hot glue to attach the bottom of the first candlestick to the largest pan and the top of it to the bottom of the middle sized pan. Take the second candlestick and glue it to the top of the middle sized pan and the top of it to the bottom of the smallest pan. Let it dry and viola!
One of my favorite things about birthdays is all the free things. And I'm not just talking about the presents. I'm talking about all the coupons and goodies you get from being a rewards member at your favorite stores and restaurants. So far, my favorite goodies have been a free scoop of ice cream and Baskin Robbins and free tater tots at Sonic. That coupon for Olive Garden is going to taste mighty good this weekend too. But one birthday reward has blow all the rest out of the water and that is my free gift from being a Sephora Beauty Insider.
May's Beauty Insider birthday gift at Sephora was this cute blush and lipstick combo from Tarte. Anyone who knows me know that I am definitely not going to sneeze at free makeup. In fact, I will more than likely do everything I can to get free makeupt. It was a no brainer to yes to the Tarte duo at the checkout counter, especially when I haven't tried any of their makeup before.
This Tarte combo comes with an Amazonian clay 12-hour blush in the shade paaarty and a tartiest lip paint in the color birthday suit. Lipstick is my weakness. Actually, that's why I was in Sephora in the first place. I was buying my birthday lipstick. (I chose Stila stay all day liquid lipstick in perla, but that's a different story.) I was eager to get this Tarte freebie home and try it on.
This Tarte lip paint is fantastic! This lipstick has a cool mint smell and goes on like a dream. It felt so light on my lips. Not to mention, the shade is a dark dusty rose color that makes for the perfect nude lip. And the Tarte blush is a nice light pink color that didn't make my already rosy cheeks too rosy. I usually stay away from blush for this very reason, but I have a feeling I will be picking this one up often.
Let this blog post serve as a reminder to you that when your birthday rolls around, don't forget to check everywhere you are a rewards member with so you can get your free goodies too! Tarte is a great brand and if you haven't already, check out their makeup!
Things have been crazy for me these last few months. I have not had time to maintain my website like I should due to producing an awards show in Las Vegas, graduating, and turning 21, but now that things are winding down, prepare for a Beanies & Weenies like you've never seen before.
This past semester was rough. I was taking 17 credit hours worth of classes and working as an editor at ECU's student newspaper. On top of that, I was part of a specially chosen group of students who flew to Las Vegas at the end of April to attend the National Association of Broadcasters convention and produce the Best of Festival awards show for the Broadcast Educators Association. I have been a busy bee since February!
Now that graduation is over and my birthday has passed (I finally turned 21!), I plan on dedicating a lot more time into Beanies & Weenies and my freelance services. For starters, I plan on updating this website and posting many more blog posts with cool patterns and tutorials. I also plan crochet a giant inventory of goodies for Etsy, local markets, and maybe, just maybe, a few giveaways (shhhhh!).
Anyway, that was my quick update. Check back later this week for what could be a fun crochet pattern or interesting DIY. I haven't decided yet.
Until then, check out these pictures to see what I've been up to for the last 3 months!
With the Super Bowl less than 24 hours away, chicken wings and dips are being prepared for chowing down during game day all across the country. If you are in search of a last-minute dish to take to a Super Bowl party or just one more item to add to your menu, I have just the recipe for you: homemade cheese fries.
Cheese fries are my specialty. To me, there is nothing like picking up a french fry covered in ooey-gooey cheese. They are the perfect side dish for a Super Bowl party buffet line because they can be enjoyed by themselves or as a side with meatballs, wings, fajitas, and so much more.
I make cheese fries so regularly that I have perfected my recipe. They are my go-to snack and side dish because they are easy to make and the ingredients are cheap and readily available at any grocery store- which makes them perfect for the Super Bowl. I have spent numerous hours trying to make mine taste as good as the appetizers at Chili's and Texas Steakhouse and I think I have finally succeeded.
The trick to making Cheese fries is a combination of ingredients and cook time. Colby jack cheese is the best cheese for cheese fries. Sharp cheddar is a decent alternative. I also recommend using steak fries as opposed to shoestring and crinkle cut fries because they are wide enough to pick up a good helping of melted cheese.
I like my cheese fries to have crispy edges and soft middles. Every brand of french fries has different directions on the bag, but I have found that cooking them at 400-450 degrees for 20-25 minutes works best. I leave mine in for about 21 minutes and let them finish cooking after I add the cheese.
Making cheese fries is one of the simplest things in the world and it has such yummy results! So, if you are looking for a last minute Super Bowl dish, then look no further than my game day cheese fries recipe.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: apprx. 30 minutes
***For an added bite to your ranch, use my go-to spicy ranch recipe: mix a few spoonfuls of cayenne powder into a dipping bowl full of ranch until it has a red tint and as much bite as you like.
And that's it! That's all it takes for you to make a delicious dish for game day that will be a hit with the crowds. If you use my recipe for cheese fries to eat during the Super Bowl, let me know! Tag me on social media with #beaniesnweenies and let me know how it turned out!
Sorry for the radio silence over the last month- I have been super busy starting a new semester and settling into my role as Arts & Entertainment Editor at my college newspaper. Somewhere in between all that, I found the time to make a short film and enter the Campus MovieFest contest at ECU!
I am so thrilled with the results. My movie was a campus finalist which means it was one of the top 16 at ECU out of 44 movies. Not to mention, I had the honor of followed the cutest movie star in the world around for 24 hours to film it.
Anyway, as I'm gearing up to share game day recipes and Valentine's Day crafts with you this upcoming week, check out my short film "Jim." It's about a savage beast that terrorizes one single apartment. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Besides a Christmas Tree, one decoration that always screams "Christmas" to me is a Christmas wreath. There's just something about the red and green colors and the wiff of Christmas tree when you open the door that makes you feel right at home.
With only 6 days until Christmas, everyone is bustling around buying last minutes gifts (or all your gifts if you're like me), prepping for all the cooking and baking taking place in the next week, and tidying up for all the visitors that will be in and out of houses between now and Christmas.
If you ask me, there's always time for last minute Christmas decorations. That's why I created this Christmas Countdown series. Leading up to Christmas, I will be sharing several DIY Christmas decorations that hardly take any time and money. So if you're still looking for the pièce de résistance of your Christmas decorations, this is place for you.
First in my Christmas Countdown is this DIY Christmas Wreath. I used an old, fake wreath without anything in it and added all these notions that I bought on Black Friday. I bought small fake poinsettias, little red berry clusters, and golden ornaments all for under $10. Then I grabbed an old, sparkly bow that was lying around and pulled it all together!
Making this wreath was simple. First I placed the flower, then the berries, then the ornaments, and finally the bow. Each time, I took the wire in each notion and wrapped it around the wreath frame to keep them all in place. For a finishing touch, I added Scensicles in the scent white fur to make it smell like the branches came from a real Christmas tree!
The final product is really cute! It has all the Christmas colors I love and used to decorate the inside of my apartment. The best part is that fake wreaths can be used indoors or outdoors! This wreath took center stage of our Christmas picture this year :)
So, if you are in need of a colorful wreath to brighten up your home this Christmas, keep reading!
1. Spread out the branches of the wreath to make it look fuller
2. Place a piece of tape where you want the bow to go. Then cut the stems of each flower down to about two inches and place them around the wreath, two at a time. Space them out evenly and wiggle them tightly in between branches.
3. Place two little red berry clusters around each set of flowers. Place them to make it look natural and wrap the end of the wire around the wreath frame to keep it in place.
4. Wrap the wires of three ornaments, one of each texture, around each other to create one big stem. Place four of them between all sets of flowers and wrap the wires around the frame to keep them all in place.
5. Lastly, place a big red bow at the bottom of the wreath and scentsicles in various places around the wreath if you prefer.
And voila! You're done! I love how this wreath turned out and hopefully you will too!
And don't forget to check out the rest of my Christmas Countdown blog posts coming this week!
If you want to monetize your blog, you need a media kit. There are thousands of different ways to create one. There's no right or wrong way to do it. Some people like to get really creative with their media kits, especially graphic designers. The only rule to creating a media kit is to include these 7 essential elements. These elements provide important information to anyone looking to advertise on your website or work with you on various projects. Including one on your website makes it look more professional and increases your monetizing opportunities.
Here are the 7 essential elements of a media kit! And don't forget to check out my media kit for an example!
Your logo is a given element in everything you publish. It is a simple representation of you and your business- something that can be recognized across platforms. Throw your logo up at the top of your media kit and let it do the talking. If you don't have a logo, include a picture of yourself or some other representation of your business.
A brief about or bio paragraph tells people about your business and who you are. Give them a reason to want to work with you. Tell them something interesting. Also include information about any products or services that you sell. Don't go on forever, but make sure you take the time to tell your story completely.
Some advertisers are looking for certain audiences. The statistical element of your media kit makes it easy for them to determine if your audience suits them. Tell them your target audience's gender and age. Also list all of your social media and website statistics including the amount of social media followers you have and your monthly page views.
This element tells marketers what options you are offering for collaboration. Lay it all out for them in a detailed list. Include details such as ad placement and sizes, sponsored post topics and requirements, and anything else you want to monetize. Make sure to include your prices.
If you have testimonials from previous clients, it would be good to include this element in your media kit as well. Good reviews make your business look more professional and tell marketers that they will have a good experience if they chose to work with you.
Media kits should follow your brand. Including pictures in the elements of your media kit give anyone reading a visual for your business and website. If they can picture themselves working with you, you are more likely to get their business.
Last, but certainly not least, include your contact info. If you want to work with them, make it easy for them to get in touch with you. Include your name, email address, phone number, and address if necessary. Don't give them any reason to delay contacting you about their ads!
Fall is officially upon us! That means it’s time to break out the pumpkin spice and thick, cozy scarves. Most importantly, it means breaking out the fall decorations! This time of year is my favorite time to work on DIY fall home décor projects. All the reds, oranges, and yellows fill me with so much inspiration that I find it hard to create everything that I want to.
First up on my fall DIY list was a new fall wreath to decorate the door of my apartment. Naturally, I reached for reds, oranges, yellows, and some earthy tones and included plenty of fall leaves.
I got all of my fall leaves for my fall wreath from Dollar Tree. They had bags full of individual leaves and some bouquets with several leaves on a stem. I bought several of each and used my roll of burlap that I got at Wal-Mart for $3. After recycling my wreath form from my summer wreath, I was ready to get started with my new DIY project.
1. Wrap the wreath form in burlap.
2. Begin to lay out individual leaves evenly around the wreath. Spread the colors out and point them both inwards and outwards. Glue them down when you have them where you want them.
3. Cut off stems of leaves.
4. Place the stems around the wreath when you have any gaps. Glue them down.
5. Glue down some more individual leaves over the stems where you don’t want the stem to peak through.
6. Keep going until your DIY fall wreath is as full as you want it!
And there you have it! Here is an easy DIY fall wreath to top off your fall décor.
What are some of your favorite fall items to DIY?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important part of writing blog posts, if not the most important. SEO helps make your content show up high in search results, which is important if you want to get your website found.
There are dozens of complex formulas that computers and software use to determine which web pages meet a search better than others. Knowing how those formulas work would take many hours of research, and possibly a computer engineering degree, but that doesn’t mean regular joe schmo’s like me can’t figure out how to benefit from it.
Through my extensive research and experience of playing around with SEO, I have found a handful of SEO tips that really work when writing a blog post.
Do your research and find the best relevant keywords for your topic. You can have any number of keywords that you want, but I suggest using between one and three keywords. If you try to use too many, the SEO for your post can become too crowded and that will actually rank you lower. Overuse of your keywords will also rank you lower. My general rule of thumb is to shoot for your keywords to be about 2-3% of your overall word count. Use a keyword planner to help determine your best keywords.
Put Keywords in the Right Places
Keyword placement is as a major key to making SEO work. There are certain places that the computers and software will look for keywords and placing your pre-chosen keywords here will help your blog post stand out more. These places are titles, subtitles, captions, and the first sentence of your blog post, preferably in the first 120ish characters.
As mentioned earlier, captions are a major place that you should be putting your keywords, but that’s not all you should be doing to your images. Everyone knows that you always, always, always, need to include a photo with a blog post because, say it with me now, photos make blog posts sharable and clickable. But, you should also SEO your images with the use of alt tags. Include one or more of your keywords in the alt tags of your images and try to make it something coherent, not just a string of words.
Take Advantage of Tags
Again with the tags! Images are not the only ones with alt tags. Your entire post should have somewhere to add alt tags. Tags are very important to SEO. Anything from each webpage to each blog post can have alt tags. These let the search engine know that your website meets certain search requests. Make sure you drop your keywords in here so that way, your post gets found.
Links in the body of your blog post will boost your SEO ranking. You can link back to anything- another blog post, an infographic, or any website. When you go to add these hyperlinks into your blog post, choose a relevant place to add the link. Make sure that the link is in some of your keywords.
Don’t Forget Social Media!
Social media is certainly a separate beast that needs taming, but it is relevant to talking about with SEO. Some people say that social media boosts SEO while some people say it doesn’t matter. Either way, social media can help your viewership. Make sure to always share your new post on social media and, if you can, work out a social media schedule or campaign that recycles content every week to boost your views to their best potential.
Extra SEO Tips
What SEO tips have you found that always works for you?
Subscribe to Beanies & Weenies' mailing list so you don't miss any more helpful tips!
I'm Jennifer, a 21 year-old crochet, craft, and DIY enthusiast who loves sharing her projects with the world. I hope you find inspiration in my posts. Keep checking back for new projects every week and don't forget to sign up for Beanies & Weenies newsletters!
Jennifer Hines is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.