Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo Thursdays - Cartoon Your Images with SuperLame

What's cooler than cool? Superlame. No, seriously.

My husband is a technology nerd and recently attended a giant technology convention - AKA Nerdfest 2011 - in Austin, Texas. He fit right in. He even tried to e-mail himself home.

Anyway, while there, he learned all sorts of cool things to use with his students, but some of these work for everyone. Superlame is one of these awesome tools.

Everyone loves comics. Maybe not the hardcore X-Men style, but at least Family Circus has to have some place in your heart. Superlame allows users to create their own comic using their own photos and then adding speech bubbles. It's super easy to use and fun.

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Press the GET STARTED button. This takes you to the Superlame creation palette. Sounds cool, right?

Step 3: Upload the image you want to turn into a comic. If you can't figure out how to do this, there is a blinking arrow that bounces up and down underneath the "Upload Image" link. For my purposes, I decided to pick on poor Justin Bieber. I say poor, because he more girls chasing after him than Leo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake and Taylor Lautner combined.... times infinity.

Step 4: You may need to resize your image. If your image looks pixelated, you will probably want to make it smaller. To do this, simply click and drag the blue arrows in the bottom-right corner. At this point, you can also change the background and border, if so desired, by choosing one of the three options to the right of the image.

Step 5: Now, look for the bouncing arrow again. This time, it's under the "Add a Balloon" link. This adds a comic balloon to your image. The default balloon isn't very exciting, but there are many features that can be manipulated by clicking on the balloon.

Step 6: Type the things you want the person to say inside the speech bubble.

Step 7 (optional): Superlame also has "Sound FX," which are a throwback to the 1960s Batman, complete with KaBooms, Pows and Lame! These can also be customized with color and size.

Step 8: Once your image is just how you want it, press the "Save Image" link. Superlame will double-check with you to make sure your image is just how you want it. Tell them it's GOOD. This will take you to the final screen where you simply press "Save to Disk" and your image will be downloaded.

There you have it. Superlame is a fun feature to add to a blog or to use if you have children. One downside is you can only do one frame at a time. The man who created this site is looking to expand a future feature of multi-frame comics, but he needs more money to develop it. In the meantime, stay tuned for next week's Photo Thursdays feature when I show you how to do a multi-frame comic using Superlame and Photoshop.

Seriously, Biebster, get a haircut...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WotW: The Gospel of Links, part three -- new windows!

So far, our Gospel of Links sermons have covered the basics and text v. image links -- today we enter the fire and brimstone world of HTML (but we save the true pulpit-pounding damnation of CSS for next week, so stay tuned).

What kind of HTML shall we conquer today? 

Just one very simple line:  

We talked about this lovely little line before, here in this post. There in that post, I explained that target is an attribute of the a tag, which is the tag that tells your browser that whatever is between < a > and < / a >* is a link. The target attribute tells your browser where to open the URL that is included in the src attribute of the < a > tag. If that sounds Greek to you, be sure to go check out the post in its entirety (and ask questions as needed). :)
*Please take note of the spaces that I'm adding between the carats and slashes and letters of the code and remember that those should NOT be included in the html that you are using in your posts. The spaces are just so you can see the actual carats clearly instead of having Blogger interpret them for me and make them into links and whatnot. :)
Check out that post for more of the nitty gritty of the target="_blank", but here's the gist:

To make a text or image link open in a new window (or tab)**, click Edit HTML, find the link in question and enter target="_blank" somewhere in the < a > tag.
**Whether the link opens in a new window or a tab is completely dependent on each individual reader's settings in his/her individual browser, not on anything that YOU have control over for them. I presume that most people use tabbed browsing since all the main browsers support it now, so from here on out, I'll refer to a new tab instead of a new window... but know that it really could be either for your reader.

Simple enough, no?

Now, some of you may be saying that doing that for every link is a lot of work. And you would be correct. You can use a hack (meaning a non-Blogger supported solution... hacks usually work but it aren't on the official Blogger list because... just because) like the one explained here to add a couple snippets of code to your blog's template that will make ALL links open in a new tab.

What's that? You can already hear me lecturing about how that's NOT how it should be done?

Gold star -- you are good students. :)

So, why shouldn't you use that hack (or a similar one) and have every link you create open in a new tab?

Short answer: Because it's annoying.

Longer answer: Because it's really really REALLY annoying. {insert pulpit pounding here}

The actual long nuts-and-bolts and WHY answer: Because then *every* link will open in a new tab meaning that a reader who is browsing through your blog and looking at a handful of pages in your blog will end up having an entire browser full of tabs that are only your blog. And that, stellar students, is annoying... right?

I pronounce only a few hard-and-fast rules here (although maybe I should count them...), but this is one that I ALWAYS stick to:

If you use target="_blank", the link should be a link that goes outside of your blog/site.

Now, just like nearly everything else I've ever told you during my tenure here, this is still opinion. Firmly (and perhaps stupidly) rooted opinion, but opinion nonetheless.

I believe that it's a courtesy to readers to have external links (those linking to something outside your own corner of the blogosphere) open in a new tab so that they can click to see what I'm talking about and then easily get back to my original post on my blog.

Why do I believe that? The Golden Rule tells me so. I like having separate tabs, not using the back button, so I *like* external links opening in a new tab, so that's what I do.

Except for that I don't

Because adding in all those extra target="_blank"s in Blogger is just a lot of work. And it's more important to me to get the post published than to perfect those links. (In any non-blog website I create, like my teeny tiny professional portfolio I'm working on, I follow that rule religiously... but I'm entering code by hand then anyway so a few extra targets is no big deal.)

As a reader, I've adapted. Most Blogger blogs don't use target="_blank" regularly because it IS just so much extra work -- so I am fully in the habit of just pressing ctrl when I click a link that I want to follow while maintaining the tab/window of the original post that I was reading. 

Following to my browser settings, ctrl + click opens the link in a new window but doesn't take me there right away -- so I can finish reading the current post before I go check out the thing that was linked in that post. That's my preference. It helps calm my ever-present ADD tendencies. I click a LOT of links in a day -- I think my ctrl + clicking has nearly worn out my ctrl key. :)

So now you are saying, but doofus Lorene, if that is a personal preference toward laziness in your own posts and then adapting how you read someone else's posts because of said laziness, shouldn't I be the better blogger and include the target="_blank" where appropriate?

Sure, star student. Another gold star. Class dismissed.

But for those of you who just want to pass the class and don't care about gold stars... Nah, don't worry about it.

Remember how most of your readers are probably using a feed reader anyway? Well, when they read a post and see a link in their feed reader, it automatically opens in a new tab anyway because the feed reader creators know that it would be super annoying to have to use the back button to get back to the feed reader every time you hopped out of it for a second.

So, many of your readers don't notice if you've ever used target="_blank" anywhere in your blog and those who notice and care are probably more like me (in the good ways, hopefully) and just adapt. Because I'm not going to expect you to do something that I won't do. That just ain't the way of the gospel of Lu. ;)

At least, that's my justification. Personally, I think Blogger is broken in that area. All we really need is a little checkbox in the link window that says "Open this link in a new window/tab" and then includes the target="_blank" in the html for us, just like it puts in the < a href stuff for us.

And, yes, I've told the Blogger people this about a million times, as have many other concerned and annoyed users. Maybe someday the blessed new feature will arrive and save us all from ctrl + click or other means of getting around, but until then... we work with what we have and keep the faith that someday miracles will happen again in Blogger.

(And really, many great and wonderful miracles are happening often in Blogger. Those Blogger people really do good work. They just missed one little thing, in my opinion. Consider it a mote, not a beam in anyone's eye.)

Up next week: the brimstone-CSS of personalizing how your links look. Purty!

PS - In case you just can't get enough of me and my opinions about web stuff, I'll be posting a bonus webby post over at my blog on Friday as part of Housewife MacGyver. This month is the month to get organized, so I'll be talking about organizing your blog. I'd love it if you'd stop by!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Chimis

I have a serious weakness for Mexican food. Considering that I live so close to the border, my weakness for Mexican food translates into us eating out. A lot. This is one of my favorite recipes that I used to combat my need for salsa and guacamole. As a major plus it involves the crock pot, I love anything that involves my crock pot.

You will need:
1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce
1 Roast
Chili Powder (3-4 Tablespoons)

Place the roast into the crock pot. Add additional ingredients.Cook on low all day.

When meat is done, shred with a fork. Stuff the meat in a flour tortilla and wrap like a burrito. Pin it shut with two toothpicks. Deep fry until golden. Top with salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream.This is seriously delicious. Yum... looks like I need to go find a roast.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pineapple Flowers, one of my favorite party treats

I love fresh fruit. It is one of my favorite things to serve at luncheons and showers but I don't always like the way fruit looks just heaped onto platters because, like Iron Chef America says, at least five points come from plating your food. :) This is one of my favorite ways to serve fresh fruit.

You will need:
A whole pineapple
grapes, kiwi and other fruit
bamboo skewers
a flower cookie cutter
melon baller
a knife

Slice the pineapple into rounds. There is no need to peel it. Using the cookie cutter, make flowers out of the rounds of pineapple. Use your melon baller to make little balls attach the melon ball to the center of the pineapple flower using a toothpick. Finish off the end of the toothpick with a blueberry. Slide a bamboo skewer onto the flower, then add whatever fruit you like to the skewer to finish off the stem.

 If you are trying to save a little money, you could just make the flowers and not add any other fruit to the stems.These little flowers work great laid out on a plate, or standing up in a vase. What type of fruit would you make your flowers with?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WotW: The Gospel of Links, part two -- text vs. image

Continuing on in The Gospel of Links, According to Lu (catch the first sermon here)....  let's talk about using text links vs. image links. What's the difference?

A text link is a piece of text (a word, phrase, etc) that is the clickable link and an image link is an image (any image) that is the clickable link.

You make a text link by clicking the the little blue Link button up in your toolbar and pasting in the URL to link to.

You make an image link by first inserting the image (using the little mountain scene button in your toolbar) and then clicking on the inserted image and selecting Edit Link from the little menu. (If you don't edit the link, Blogger automatically makes the image a link to the full-resolution version of the image -- fine for regular photo images, but annoying if you're expecting to get somewhere by clicking the image.)

And, in case you're a visual learner, a text link looks something like this and an image link looks something like this:

And, yes, both of those links are fairly shameless self-promotion. :)

Both types of links have their place, so when should you use which? That will depend on who you are and what your blogging style is (as well as who your readers are... and how well you know them). My general rule of thumb is that I don't include an image just for the sake of making it an image link -- so most of my links are text links. This seems to also be a common "rule" around the blogosphere as I've experienced it, but just follow the Golden Rule (as mentioned last week -- blog how you like to read) and you'll do alright.

The one BIG exception to this "rule" is blog buttons. Blog buttons are really just image links. Some are fancier than others (dancing letters and whatnot), but at the core, that's all that blog buttons are: images linked to somewhere. (If you need a crash course on making your own blog button and the correlating link code, go here and check out my marvelous two-part tutorial. :)

A reader who has been around the blogosphere much knows that a blog button is usually a link to whatever the button is advertising -- a blog, a shop, a tutorial, a blog series, etc.

So, knowing that most readers behave this way -- that is, they click on images that look like blog buttons (images that have text, most commonly) expecting to be taken somewhere but most likely they don't click on images that look like photo images -- use this knowledge to your advantage. Make any images that look like blog buttons links to whatever that text is referring. Otherwise, they'll be just like any other image in Blogger and a reader who clicks, expecting to see a tutorial or blog series, sees instead a larger version of the button. Been there, done that. Was very frustrated.

Here's a confession (tied to a bit of self-promotion): I first thought deeply about this concept last night. I'm hosting an awesome shindig at my place called Housewife MacGyver (see, there's the self-promotion, all linked and everything ;) and I've got awesome button-looking images for each of our monthly themes/challenges that I include in the posts (like the button seen above in my first act of shameless self-promotion).

But, DUH, Lorene -- I had never thought to make those images links. The button itself, nestled in my sidebar, is a link. But the monthly-theme images that closely resemble the button... weren't. BUT, once I realized how common-sensical it is, I spent a few minutes updating those (but let me know if I missed any!). It doesn't take long, but if it helps even one reader to get where he or she wants to be, learning more about Housewife MacGyver, then all my time is worth it. { / end shameless self-promotion... probably}

Next sermon: opening links in a new window or tab. It involves the fiery HTML... :) See you then!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Raspberry Cream Jello

I am a Utah native, who has since moved to Texas. For some reason, Utah is known for Jello. Green Jello. Well, I like to break the stereotype by making pink Jello. :)

For raspberry cream Jello, you will need:

1 small package red Jello
1 small cook n' serve vanilla pudding
1 small cook n' serve tapioca pudding mix
8 oz of Cool Whip
Raspberries (you can add blueberries if you would like to as well)

Bring 3 cups water to boil. Stir in the 3 packets and bring to a boil for a minute. Stir constantly. Let it cool until it is cold to the touch. Add 8 ounces of Cool Whip and 1 container of raspberries. Mix together and refrigerate until serving. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

How to Make Marshmallow Flowers

Happy Valentine's Day! If you are like me and are still looking to finish up some valentines, marshmallow flowers are a simple answer. After seeing them at a baby shower awhile back, I knew I had found an easy favor/valentine that I could make even under a time crunch.

You will need:
white large marshmallows
colored large marshmallows (they make whole bags of the pink strawberry ones)
bamboo/wood skewers
cellophane bags and ribbon

The flowers look the fullest with six colored marshmallows. Take a toothpick and pierce six colored marshmallows on their side. Pierce the white, center marshmallow with the toothpicks attached to the colored marshmallows. Take the skewers and poke the bottom of your flower, giving it a stem. I have found the stem works best when you pierce both the color marshmallow and the center one. Put the marshmallow flower into a cellophane bag and tie with ribbon just under the flower.

I have used these favors at an adult party and a kids party and they were hits both times. Too bad my husband doesn't eat sugar, I might be tempted to make him a bouquet of marshmallow flowers. :)

handmade projects

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photo Thursdays- Valentine's Photo Effects with Picnik

If you are like me, then you think photographs make the perfect gift for many occasions. If you want to to spruce up some of your photos for Valentine's gifts, then look no further, Picnik makes this quick and easy. You can find the Valentine's effects currently under the featured section in the create menu. You can then select which of the following features is perfect for your photo.

This first feature is called Love Flare. It puts a large heart onto your photograph. You can then change the size and rotation of the heart with the sliders. You can change the tint by clicking on the colored box to pretty much any color imaginable. If you don't want to the heart to look as prominent, turn up the fade on the effect box and the heart will fade. The Love Flare effect is a free effect, so we can all enjoy it.
A photo with the Love Flare effect.
Heart's Desire adds a sort of pink tone to your photograph. You will see a circle appear on your photograph when you add this effect. Click and drag that circle until it is over the focal point of your picture, usually the faces in the photo. If you need the circle to be larger to cover the faces, drag the slider on the focal size up. You can then decide how much fade you want on the effect. The higher your slide the fade bar up, the more of the original photograph will shine through. This effect is also free for everyone to use.
A photo with the Heart's Desire effect.
This next effect is a premium effect, meaning you need to have a membership* to be able to save photos with this effect on it to your computer. This effect will add a heart frame to your photo. Click the X in the middle of the heart and drag it to center the heart where you want it on the photograph. If you need the heart to be bigger, slide the size bar up. You can also change the rotation and if you don't want your heart to be red, change the color by clicking on the frame tint box and selecting your color from the many in the palette.
A photo with the Heart Frame effect.
Bokeh Hearts is also a premium effect, so you will need a membership* to get these little glowing hearts. Basically, this effect adds little glowing hearts, almost like Christmas Lights, all over your photograph.
The nice thing about this effect, is you can do something called effect painting, meaning you can erase the effect from certain areas of the photograph. Effect painting allows us to still have the effect but erase it from areas of the photograph such as people's faces. Set the effect painting to paint back on the original and then click and drag your brush over the areas of the picture that you don't want the effect to appear.
A picture with the Bokeh Hearts effect.
The last effects are all frames. You can use a frame of conversation hearts or of roses. Select the frame you want and it will apply it to the edges of your photograph.
The only think you can really change about the photo is how big the frame is. The following photo is with the frame as small as it can go.
With the frame set to much larger. The conversation hearts frame is free to use but the roses frame requires a membership*.
The roses frame.
Now that you can see the cute Valentine's effects that Picnik can do. Go create something really special for your Valentine.

* I recommend upgrading, more and more of my readers are sending me messages that they have upgraded and are loving it!  It is $4.95 for a month, $19.95 for six months or $24.95 for a year

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WotW: The Gospel of Links -- the basics

Last week, I gave you my list of what to do before you click publish and asked you all what you would add. The overwhelming response? LINKS. Check your links. Double-check your links. Check your email links. Check the links again.

So, today (and for the next little bit) I'm preaching about links. Probably just preaching to the choir, but it's all about supply and demand here in our Wednesdays on the Web. :)

Firstly -- amen! Thank you all for speaking up and giving us all a good reminder to check each of those links before publishing. There are two basic steps:
  1. Check that when you said "here's a link to _____" there actually is a link to _____ .
  2. Check that your links actually work and take the clicker (the reader) to the place that you intended.

When it comes to getting the clicker (the reader... but clicker is much more fun to say :) to the place that you intended, make your link as specific as possible -- that the link leads directly to the blog post you reference, not just to the blog's front page, for example.

A reader clicking a link today might still be able to get to the right place (i.e., because the blog post you're referencing is still recent even if you've linked them to the blog's main page), but a reader in a week or a month or a year will probably be totally lost -- I've been there and it's no fun! (This is very important when joining linky parties, too.)

To find the specific URL to make your link as specific as possible, just click on the title of the blog post. You'll see the URL in your browser's address bar change -- from something like to Copy that URL to use as the link in your blog post and anyone who clicks that link will come right back to that exact post.

But how many links is too many? Umm... that depends. This is a situation where we enact the Golden Rule of Blogging -- blog how you like to read. Take a second before you publish to re-read your post from your readers' shoes and anticipate where they might expect a link.

For example, if you talk about another post on your blog (or another blog), link to it directly. An awesome product you just bought from a fantastic shop? Link to it. Courageous and determined readers will ask if they have questions about something you referenced, but, really, most of us aren't THAT courageous and determined ALL the time, so by anticipating our needs, the needs of the timid and meh readers, you're allowing us to save our courage and determination for the really important things in life. Like laundry day.

Also, like we talked about here, odds are that a majority of your readers are reading in a feed reader. For these readers especially, it is important to include relevant links -- links to your sponsors, links to your other posts, even a text link to the same post they are reading if you are asking for specific feedback in the comments. Why that last one? It's easier to click a "come leave a comment" link at the end of the post they're reading, right at the point where you're specifically asking for feedback via comments, than to scroll up and click the link to click over to your blog. Easier = More likely to happen.

A couple types of text links that you should be sure to include for your in-reader readers are links to any embedded content you have -- an embedded PDF download box, an embedded linky party or link collection, an embedded slide show -- you get the idea. Most embedded content won't be seen by readers who read from a feed reader, so include a text link to the same content or at very least make a note (or better yet, a link) that "you'll have to click over from your reader to see such-and-such awesomeness" on the blog itself. And don't forget to subscribe to your own feed in your feed reader, to preview and see what makes the feed-reader cut and what doesn't.

So, there you have it: part one of The Gospel of Links, According to Lu. Coming up next time: part two, image vs. text links. Don't worry -- we won't get to the fire-and-brimstone (HTML and CSS) parts of this gospel until part three. :)


Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Very Best Cream Cheese Pie

 This delicious treat is one my mom has been making for as long as I can remember. It is kind of like cheesecake, but it has a softer, more whipped cream type texture. My favorite thing about it is the chocolate shavings on top, made by using a vegetable peeler on the side of a thick chocolate bar. Yum!

You will need:
a chocolate bar
Crust- 18 graham crackers crumbed (about 1.5 cups)
1/4 C. Sugar
5 T. melted butter

Filling- 2 8 OZ packages of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 C. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs

Topping- 1 C. sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix crust ingredients and pat evenly in a 9 inch pie or springform pan.  Beat the filling ingredients with mixer until satiny. Pour into crust. Bake 20 minutes, then remove and cool for 15 minutes. Turn the oven up to 475 degrees. Blend topping ingredients and spread over cooled filling. Return the pie to the over and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool until room temp and then chill in fridge. Before serving, take a thick chocolate bar and a vegetable peeler and slice curls off the edge of the bar to top the pie.

Friday, February 4, 2011

To Every Season a Tile: an easy seasonal decoration with free pattern

 I love decorations that you change once a month. My mom has them all over her house and we loved helping her change the, every month. This tile decoration is one that I designed and my husband created after I saw a similar idea. I had mine printed with vinyl from Simply Designed Expressions and then simply placed them on bathroom sized 4x4 tiles from Lowe's and Home Depot. The two different stores carry different color tiles, so if you love colored tiles, check both places.

I made one for my sister and she chose to make her with all black vinyl on sand colored tiles and I went a little crazy on colors for mine. It is one of my favorite decorations in my house and one of the first things I change when I am decorating for a new season. The patterns* are included, so you can make your own.

*This pattern is intended for personal use only.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WotW: 5 things to do BEFORE you hit publish

You've probably done it before: hit publish without meaning to, or hit publish and then regretted it. Oops -- once you hit publish, your words are out there. You can't take them back. Yes, you can delete the post, edit it, or re-save it as a draft (effectively un-publishing it), BUT that post has already gone to your readers' feed readers (like Google Reader).  And THAT is the part you can't take back.

In the blogging world, as in the real world, it's easiest to get things right the first time. A misspelling isn't a big deal, but a pivotal misspelling might be, at the very least, confusing. Better spelling and grammar makes you seem more educated, reliable, and intelligent as well as making your blog easier to read -- definitely a big plus if you're looking for sponsors and never a deterrent to new readers, either.

A rant about X or Y might not be a big deal... but, then again, it might. That's why it's important to know your readers and know both what they expect and what they'll tolerate. Sometimes a rant becomes a chorus of "we understand!"; other times it becomes a firestorm that can burn out of control. (See #5 for more about this.)

So, to avoid the foot-in-mouth syndrome or just feeling a little sheepish and to keep your blog posts as put-together and intelligent as possible (because don't we all want to seem at least as put together and intelligent as we actually are, if not more?), here are my 5 commandments (really just suggestions... but good ones!) for what to do BEFORE you hit that Publish button.

1 - SPELL-CHECK. Seriously. Just click the little button. As a double-safety, turn on the spell-checker in your browser. It's usually a setting that can be turned on and off, so check your browser's settings. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll help. IE users: you'll have to use an add-on. Sorry. Just another reason to switch browsers. :)

2. Proofread. Yes, I know I'm an editor by profession. And now you know that too. But item #2 still stands -- proofread through your post at least once before you publish. Twice is even better. Spell-check often doesn't catch simple spelling errors because they're not spelling errors -- they're grammar errors such as "their" instead of "there" or mistyped words such as "art" instead of "are" or "kind" instead of "king".

So put your editor hat on for just a second and proofread, watching for words like those above or extra words or punctuation where you've typed something and then deleted it... and missed a word/letter/comma. Proofreading is also a good method to check that you've said what you mean to say -- stream of consciousness typing sometimes needs some clarification to make sense to someone not in your head, you know? :)

3. Check your post title. The Blogger spell-checker doesn't go there, and sometimes the browser spell-checker doesn't either. Not only is your post title the first thing your readers will see (especially readers using a feed reader), but your post title determines the post's URL. So, a misspelled post title is not only embarrassing, but also permanently memorialized in the URL. And a pet peeve to this here blogger. :)

4. Use the Preview button to scan the visual layout of the post. Blogger has a nasty habit of adding extra line spaces where they shouldn't be, plus the visual layout of your post is just as important as the actual words in your post. Most readers will skim all or part of your post, so be sure that the important things stand out. Check to see that paragraphs aren't too long visually (shorter paragraphs are easier to digest), that images are placed correctly, and that the whole post just looks right. Also, check the post title's length -- one line is best and I'd suggest not going over two lines for your title.

5. Think "how will this impact my readers?". For most posts -- those sharing projects, recipes, or just information about something or other -- the impact is more expected: hopefully, your readers will love it and lavish you with comments telling you so.

However, if your post is about anything politically/religiously/otherwise sensitive or any type of rant -- think long and hard about the impact on your readers. An occasional rant about the horrible day you've had might be okay, but most readers don't want to hear about only that, even if you are in the right or you are witty about it. And sensitive topics are sensitive for a reason -- people take offense, people get defensive, etc.

That's not to say that you shouldn't ever blog about a sensitive topic -- just be sensitive in how you approach the topic, and be prepared for some unexpected backlash, just in case. The best approach to any post written when you're feeling angry/upset/annoyed/etc/etc/etc is to just give it time.

Write the post, but leave it as a draft for a day or two -- avoid the knee-jerk "must publish now because I just feel so _____". If you're still feeling the emotion that prompted you to write the post in the first place, you're probably okay to publish it. If not, delete the post and move on.

What else would you add to the list? And thanks for reading!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Shrimp and Macaroni Salad

In our house we cook about 25 percent my MIL's recipes, 25 percent my mom's recipes and 50 percent recipes we have found or crazy things my husband came up with. This particular recipes comes from my MIL, I don't make it very often, but around the 4th of July, my husband always starts craving this tasty salad.

2 cups shells, cooked according to directions
1 cup cheese, cut into cubes (You can use what you wish here, the original recipe calls for cheddar, but my husband usually prefers Colby Jack.)
3/4 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped olives
1 6-oz can shrimp (sometimes we make it with the small non-canned cooked shrimp instead, the perfect way to make it if you really love shrimp, like my husband.)
1-1.5 cups of miracle whip
1 T. sugar
1 T. vinegar

Mix the sauce together (miracle whip, sugar, vinegar). Pour over macaroni and then add remaining ingredients. Mix. Refrigerate a couple of hours or until ready to serve.

(Note: This salad really needs to be made with Miracle Whip. Trust me. I HATE Miracle Whip and I have tried to make this salad with mayo. Doesn't come out as well, and that is coming from a Mayo lover and a Miracle Whip hater. I usually have to go out and buy Miracle Whip especially for this salad because I make a point of keep it far away from me, except in this salad of course.)