Sunday, June 30, 2013

15 Dairy Free Recipes and Creative Showcase Link-up

A little while ago, my sister found out that one of her little boys is allergic to all things dairy. They tried just changing his diet, but he still go his hands on the dairy-laden food. In an effort to help her little boy, my sister decided to take her entire family completely dairy free, so this post today is dedicated to her and her efforts. I hope she will be able to find some great foods from this list. Make sure to visit each individual site for the recipe. 
 DAIRY-FREE MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE "CREAM" by Butter With a Side of Bread
 Vegan Greek Pizza by The Turquoise Piano
 Broccoli Slaw by Rae Gun Ramblings
 Crock Pot Curry by Lady of Perpetual Chaos 
 Gluten Free Almond Banana Bread by Sweet Twist of Blogging

Oatmeal Creme Pies {Gluten and Dairy Free}-RECIPE by Smashed Peas and Carrots
Dairy Free Egg Free Waffles by Must Follow Recipes

Now to this week's Creative Showcase. Want to be featured? Link up below!
Housewife Eclectic Creative Showcase


Some guidelines for linking: 
Become or be a Follower of Housewife Eclectic 
Visit other links
Link back to Housewife Eclectic with a button or a link. 
Link your favorite posts 

What have you been creating?


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Less Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies with Sugar Substitute
At the beginning of the year, I cut sugar completely from my diet. I was working hard to make it back to my pre-baby weight and so I cut sweets out entirely. After I hit my goal by losing 40 pounds, I wanted to add some sweets back into my life without completely losing everything I had worked for. This was about the time I discovered Xyloburst. Xyloburst is a company that sells products made with Xyitol. A sweetener that can actually be used to replace sugar, but 40% fewer calories. We have been giving it a try in our house this last week and we have been replacing it in our favorite baked goods. This is our favorite cookie recipe with the white sugar replaced with xylitol. 

You will need:
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. Shortening
1 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Xyloburst Xylitol Sweetener
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
chocolate chips

Cream the butter shortening, sugar and Xyloburst together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, while mixing. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add the chocolate chips. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes or until light brown. My original recipe requires the cookies to be baked at 375, but we found these cookies baked faster than normal, so we lowered the temperature a little. 

These cookies are so delicious. I wouldn't say that the taste exactly the same as the cookies made me sugar, but they are excellent and we devoured them quickly in our house. 

Cooking with Xyloburst Sweetener is easy. The replacement is a 1:1 ratio, and it works in any dessert that does not need to rise. It is a great sweetener choice for diabetics or for those, like me, who watch their sugar intake. We especially love their mints and gum in our house. 

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(I was given some Xyloburst product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and recipe are 100% my own.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WotW: Boosting Your Blog's Reach Through Social Media, Pt 2


Last week I explained how to use Facebook to increase your blog's reach. This week, I want to focus on another social media platform, one that has potential to be your greatest ally, if you use it correctly. I'm talking about Twitter.

Twitter is huge. It's popular. And yet, it can be very overwhelming. I know I was overwhelmed by it at first. After all, it has its own language of sorts (all the @ and # signs every other word). Everything has to fit into essentially one sentence, and a seemingly cryptic one at that. And yet, Twitter keeps on growing. And there's a reason for that.

We've all heard the saying, "Content is King." And it's true. Twitter is where the content comes to life and the word gets out.

The first thing to know about Twitter, is it's not Facebook. Such an obvious statement, but if you don't understand this, you'll never be successful on Twitter. Facebook works like this: you post once a day to your friends, or fan base. As people read through their feed, they'll likely come across your post. If they like it, they may interact be liking, commenting or sharing. This is so regular, you can almost count on your posts being seen and read by people.

Twitter is a different world. On Twitter, if you post once a day, and expect your followers to see it, chances are pretty slim they will unless they are Twitter junkies. That's because unlike the one post a day on Facebook, people are tweeting multiple times a day. The big tweeters are sending out content multiple times an hour. Your Twitter feed quickly becomes overwhelmed by all the content.

So what do you do? Just not bother with posting? No. The key is to know how to maximize Twitter.

TIPS TO MAXIMIZE TWITTER

  • Customize your Twitter page. You can customize your background, header image, profile image and header text. There's not an insanely high probability people will visit your Twitter page after they follow you, but you want it to be easy for people to identify your Twitter page as being associated with your blog.
  • Practice reading Twitter. This sounds funny, but it does take practice. Twitter is all about seeing an insane amount of content, sifting through it to find what really interests you and then read more. Think of Twitter like reading only the headlines in a newspaper. If you only read headlines, you could scan through a newspaper in a matter of minutes. When you were done, you would have some semblance of an idea of what's going on in the world, and hopefully at least a couple headlines would interest you enough to read more. Twitter works the same way. Each Tweet is kind of like a headline. Those that don't interest you, you skip over. Those that do, often have a link you can click on to read more. In fact, I've found Twitter more useful than any news network when major events happen. During the manhunt for the Boston bombing suspect, I followed Twitter while I watched the news coverage, and I found more accurate information, faster on Twitter. Of course, I also found a lot of garbage. Twitter is the very essence of the Internet: everyone throws their ideas out there and you sift through it and find the best parts.
  • Use tools to help you synthesize Twitter content. Reading a straight feed from Twitter can be overwhelming for the beginner, but there are other apps out there that can help you make better sense of it. My favorite is Flipboard, a free magazine-style app for iOS and Android. You can slurp your Twitter feed into the app and Flipboard will convert all those short, confusing tweets into readable headlines, often with the first couple paragraphs of the story. This makes reading through your content easier and faster.
  • Follow people. Lots of people. Your Twitter feed will be most fun when you're following interesting people, and there are plenty of them out there. Who should you follow? Well, Twitter makes that easy for you. They suggest lots of interesting people to follow. That's a good start. But in terms of maximizing your blog, you should also follow fellow bloggers, competitors, industry leaders (if you are a recipe blogger, you probably want to follow big chefs and popular recipe sites), and other content leaders. 
  • One of the things you will notice about Twitter is the most successful tweeters focus on one or two topics. That's all they tweet about. It's not necessarily because they have a one-track mind. It's because the more they talk about a topic, the more they come to be known as an authority. And that's exactly what you want to be with your blog: the authority on the things you blog about. So watch how the pros do it. Study their tweets. Take notes. Get ideas.
  • Use Twitter's sharing functions. One of the ways Twitter is different from Facebook is in how you interact with tweets. The main currency on Facebook is likes. On Twitter, it's the retweet. You can retweet any tweet. This is done by hovering your mouse over the tweet (in the browser) and pressing the retweet link. On a mobile device, you usually have to either click on the tweet or swipe, and select retweet. A straight retweet will simply send the original tweet to your followers. Retweeting someone is a compliment. It says you liked what they posted enough to share it with your audience, and hopefully the word gets spread. Get in the habit of retweeting content. Don't retweet everything, but retweet things you find interesting and think your followers could benefit from.
  • Favorite, well, your favorite tweets. A favorite is somewhat similar to a like on Facebook, but with an exclamation point. This is something you really like, so much so that Twitter keeps track of all your favorited Tweets so you can revisit them later. This is a great way to remember good ideas and potential ideas later.
  • Reply to tweets. Oftentimes, people will tweet out questions, or tweet something that just begs for a response. Give them one. Let them know what you think. You can reply using the reply button. This is a great way to get involved with other Twitter users who may not know or follow you, but as you reply (not in an obnoxious or creepy way), you can start to build a relationship and maybe get them interested in following you too.
So far, you've probably noticed most of this post has been about how to really use Twitter. And that's because until you really get how to use Twitter, you will struggle to use it well to maximize your blog content. Now on to the good stuff...
  • Build your Twitter following. As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but it's not impossible. If you don't have a Twitter button on your blog, get one. Also, make sure you make it easy for people to tweet your content by using Twitter plug-ins at the end or beginning of your post. That's just a start. Some other ways to build your following include:
    • Import your contacts. Invite them to follow you.
    • Follow others. Oftentimes people will follow you back. Don't expect celebrities to follow you back though. They have thousands of followers.
    • Run contests on your blog that give an option of an entry for following you on Twitter. This is a quick way to get lots of followers.
    • Be interactive with other bloggers on Twitter. Others who see their content may see your interactions as well, and be likely to follow you.
  • Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. One tweet isn't going to cut it. Not if you want to get big. Remember, your tweet will quickly get buried in someone's feed because of the vast amount of tweets being fired off. So you will need to tweet multiple times a day. That may seem overwhelming, but there's an easy way to do this that will satisfy the getting the tweet seen requirement, as well as getting your blog posts seen.
  • The secret is to dissect every blog post you write. No, don't literally cut up your computer monitor. What I mean is this: after you write your post, read through it again and see if you can summarize the gist of your post in 5-7 sentences. Maybe you have 5-7 great sentences in your blog already. These 5-7 sentences suddenly become 5-7 tweets. Write these tweets down in a table. I make an Excel file for this with columns for tweet message, blog post link, date/time posted. This way, with one blog post, you have content for throughout the day. If someone doesn't see your first tweet, or your second, or your third, no big deal. Maybe they'll see your fifth, and that's OK, because it still contains a link to your post and hopefully people will read it.
  • Space out your tweets. If you have 5-7 tweets ready made from your blog, you can space them out every hour or every couple hours. You can do this manually, or you can use any number of services to schedule your tweets. I highly recommend HootSuite. It's definitely worth the minimal cost for their pro version too.
  • Realize your goal with Twitter is not just to get a following, it's to get your content out. Every tweet should contain some sort of actionable item. That could be a link or a question or a request to retweet. If people don't see something for them to do, they'll probably skip over your tweet. And when it comes to your blog, you REALLY want to have a link there because it drives traffic to your blog.
  • Supplement your scheduled tweets with other tweets not specifically related to your blog content and/or retweets. Remember, you are not only promoting your blog on Twitter, you're also trying to establish yourself as an industry leader. So, if you blog about books, write some tweets about the book you're currently reading, or just finished. Consider a tweet a mini blog post.
  • Monitor your mentions. People will likely mention you at some point (@yourhandle). When this happens, you will get a notification. It's good practice to reply and/or retweet when this happens. If they mention you, it's because they want to engage with you. So engage back. The flipside is true. Try mentioning fellow bloggers on Twitter in your tweets.
  • Use hashtags wisely. If you've read the Wednesdays on the Web series for awhile, you probably know I hate it when people use too many hashtags. Fortunately, Twitter kind of limits this with the character limit. My advise is to only use hashtags if they really serve a purpose, and to rarely use more than one or two in a tweet. How do you know if the hashtag is useful or not? Search for it. Twitter has a great search feature. Type in the hashtag you're thinking of using and see what conversation is happening around it. This will help you decide if you really want to throw your tweet into that stream of conversations.
  • Build alliances. I made this same point with Facebook, but it's perhaps more true here. Find 5-10 bloggers you know and get along well with. Get in the practice of retweeting their content. Mention them in original tweets. As you help each other spread the word, you have a higher chance of getting more new follows and people to actually read your blog content by clicking on the link in the tweet.
  • Join in on trending topics. Twitter shows you which topics and hashtags are trending. See if any of them are interesting to you or would be a good fit for your blog's image and then join in. Some are funny. Some are serious. But by throwing your tweets into the mix, you can find other interesting people to follow and maybe they'll find you interesting and want to follow you.
I know this is a lot to process for a site focused on just a handful of characters, but it makes a big difference. If I were to sum up the Twitter process in just a few tips, it would be:
  1. Follow lots of people
  2. Quickly sift through your Twitter feed at least a few times a day
  3. Dissect your blog posts into 5-7 tweets and share them throughout the day
  4. Retweet interesting content from others
By following these simple steps, you can see a definite increase in your Twitter success in a short amount of time. It's a big time commitment, but you'll soon find Twitter becomes natural and easy to do.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

If there is something that I can't get enough of, it is reading. I am know to hide away so that I can finish a book. Out of the 75 books I have read thus far this year, here are 10 of my favorites. Linking up with the Broke and the Bookish. 

  • Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan- Oh how I adore this book. It makes me laugh out loud and brings me into the story. It is a delightful tale of Dash and Lily who meet first not in person, but through a red notebook that they pass back and forth to each other through a series of dares. I absolutely love this book, although I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. There is some profanity that would turn some people off to this book. 
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo- This sequel to Shadow and Bone was better than the first. I love the development on the characters in this book. I felt like we learned so much more about the characters and their relationships in this book. I really love this series. 
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau- I loved the premise of the first book in this dystopian series. I loved that it included both mental and physical challenges. It was interesting to see each character go through the strain of being mentally tried and then have to go through the physical trial of traveling a long distance and being close to death. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. 
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin- This book is a little bit horror, a little bit romance and the perfect combination. I was completely drawn into this story and Mara's life and gift. I love how much of her family life is included in the story and her relationship with Noah is one of my favorites. 
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers- A story of a convent of nun assassins. How does it get much better than that? I loved the background of this story, how the nuns decide their missions of how must die and how. This series is packed with just the right amount of action with hint or romance. I wouldn't recommend them for younger readers, but Grave Mercy and its sequel Dark Triumph are among my all time favorites. 
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I can't lie. This series totally hooked me. I wasn't sure I was going to like it. Vampire series have such a stigma now, but I ended up loving it. The heroine in this series is a kick-butt body guard in training. There is plenty of action mixed with plenty of romance. I really loved the characters in this series. 
  • City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare- The Mortal Instruments series is such a complicated one to explain. Often people read the first book, City of Bones, and give up. I always tell people they have to keep going. I am not sure when I fell in love with this series, it wasn't the first book and probably not even the second. It is an accumulation of all of the Mortal Instruments AND her prequel series The Infernal Devices that make it so amazing as a whole. I think the second half of the Mortal Instruments is better than the first. 
  • The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson - I liked the first book in the series. I loved the second. I felt like the characters progressed and grew in the series. After some sad deaths in the first book, it was good to see the characters pick themselves up and try to move one. I can't wait for the third one. 
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins- Oh how I love this book. I know a lot of people didn't like it as much as Anna and the French Kiss, but I adored it. I didn't agree with a lot of Lola's choices, but Lola was who I wanted to be growing up, but didn't have the guts. If it had been up to me, my hair would have been pink all growing up, so in many ways I really connected with Lola. 
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer- A cyborg Cinderella retelling. I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but I really did (even though I liked the sequel better), the world is ready for a war with the moon and Cinder might be the only person who can stop it. It is a new, fun retelling of the Cinderella story. 

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Creative Showcase Link-up and Features

Can you believe that we are more than half-way through June? It seems like this summer is flying by. We still have some fun trips and projects planned for the summer, so there is still a lot to look forward to. Here are some of my favorite link-ups from the past few weeks! 
 I love this Fabric Diaper Burp Cloth Tutorial from The Happy Scraps. I love how cute they are!
 Aren't these Mermaid Pants from Rae Gun Ramblings, absolutely amazing? My little girl would flip for these!
 This DIY Polaroid Display from Allons-y Kimberley is incredible. I would love something like this in my house!
This Birthday Cake Caramel Corn from Lemon Tree Dwelling is enough to take away all my resolve to eat good. This looks amazing! 

Now to this week's Creative Showcase. Want to be featured? Link up below!
Housewife Eclectic Creative Showcase


Some guidelines for linking: 
Become or be a Follower of Housewife Eclectic 
Visit other links
Link back to Housewife Eclectic with a button or a link. 
Link your favorite posts 

What have you been creating?


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Crafting Tip: A Glue Gun Plate

Today's post is more a tip than a tutorial. This simple trick changed the way I craft. I have spent years resting my glue gun on whatever was handy, a piece of a paper, a napkin, whatever was closest to my current project. It worked fine, but not great. 

One day when I was in one of my favorite thrift stores, I found this darling plate. I loved the plate, but I had no use for it. For 50 cents I decided it was going to come home with me anyway. Later that night I was working on a project and the plate happened to be the closet thing to me. It dawned on me that this plate was perfect for just that. My hot glue gun. Now I store it right by my glue gun and use it whenever I am crafting. I love having something specific to use and it keeps my crafting area clean of hot glue debris. 

How about you? Do you have any simple tips that have changed the way you craft?
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Homemade Cinnamon Crisps

These Cinnamon Crisps are one of my favorite memories from my childhood. They are delicious, crispy and need very few ingredients. 

You will need:
Egg Roll Wrappers
Cinnamon Sugar
Oil to Fry In

Cut your Egg Roll Wrappers into long thing strip. Heat your oil in your deep fryer or a pot on the stove until hot. When I fry these on the stove, is usually keep the oil at a medium-high heat. You don't want them too hot or they will blacken before they cook. Add them to the oil and fry until golden brown. I usually flip them with tongs once during drying for an even browning. Take them out and place them on paper towels. While they are still hot generously sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar. 

They are easy to pull together and they are addicting. They satisfy my need for crunchy and sweet.  These are the perfect treat. So delicious. 
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WotW: Boosting Your Blog's Reach Through Social Media

Wouldn't it be great if you wrote a blog post and thousands of people instantly knew about it, read it, commented on it and begged you for more? Of course it would, but for the vast majority of bloggers, that's not reality. After all, a blog is merely a website, and getting people to go to that website can be tricky. There's an entire industry dedicated to helping people find websites. Kind of crazy.

But, just because it doesn't happen automatically doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to help out your cause. After all, who knows your blog and your content better than you?

Some of the greatest tools for blog promotion is social media. Surely, this comes as no surprise. However, learning just how to maximize social media for blog promotion can be daunting, difficult and discouraging at times.

All major social networks have the potential to bring more attention to your blog, which means more traffic, more readership, potentially more comments and followers and the pathway to advertisers being interested in your blog: the holy grail for many a blogger. The key to making this a reality is knowing exactly how to use each type of social media to your advantage.

While I can't possibly cover all social media channels in one post (unless you want to sit here and read for the rest of the day), I can do one at a time, and to get started, I'd like to take a look at Facebook.

Why Facebook? For a number of reasons. First, it's the largest social network out there. It has a legacy, it's widely used, an insane number of hours are spent there each week by the average user and it has a number of tools that can help you promote your blog.

But wait, Facebook isn't my blog, so why bother? Facebook can serve as a type of store-front window to your blog. People can look inside and see little nuggets of awesomeness, which can prompt them to come inside and see more.

What follows is less of a How-To guide and more of an outline. A How-To guide would be impractical since every blog is different and every audience is different, but the principles should be fairly the same.


TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING FACEBOOK

  • Create a page for your blog. Hopefully you've already done this. If not, it's very easy to do.
  • Flush out your Facebook page.
  • Add an engaging cover image.
  • Frequently rotate out your cover image. Once a month is a good guideline. Your cover image is prime real estate on your page. It's the first thing people see, it's large and there's so much you can do with it. Use it to really show off your blog.
  • Make sure you have completed the About information. I've seen far too many blogs who have a Facebook page, and no other information about their blog. Make sure your blog URL is front and center. Make sure your information is exciting and descriptive. You are showing off your writing skills and blogging style even here.
  • Invite your friends and family to join your blog's Facebook page. Facebook makes this easy with invites ready in your page dashboard.
  • Invite your friends and family to join again. You probably did this once when you first started your blog page, but after a few months, try another round.
  • Post daily. Yes, daily. Facebook pages that don't have frequent updates look neglected, and send a signal to the user that there's nothing important here and to move on.
  • Have a posting strategy.
    • Do NOT auto-post your latest blog post. Why not? Of course it's easy to set up, but it's also easy for a user to spot an auto-post. It sends a signal that the blogger is too busy to engage with their readership. It also says the blogger doesn't care enough to personalize the message to the Facebook audience. 
    • Believe it or not, your Facebook page audience behaves differently than your blog audience. You need to understand these differences and act on them. So, don't auto post. Take the time to personally link to your latest post each day. I used to be a journalist and one of the greatest tools in my toolbox was the hook – a line that would grab the reader's attention and draw them in. Write your posts with a hook and let the link be right there to satisfy the reader's now-intrigued curiosity.
    • Vary your content. Only doing Facebook page posts about your latest blog post gets boring really fast. After all, people come to your blog because you have interesting content. Add some of that content to your Facebook page. Share a photo from a project you've done. Share something funny. Share only a couple lines from your post. Share a quote you've heard. It's not as hard as you might think. Take a minute and think about the things you enjoy seeing on Facebook. Chances are your readers are interested in the same things. Use that to your advantage. If you're a follower of Housewife Eclectic on Facebook, you've probably noticed a regular post about my four-year-old daughter. What does that have to do with Housewife Eclectic? Truthfully, nothing. But it's funny, interesting and gets people coming back for more.
    • Not everything you post has to be focused on your blog. In fact, it's probably better that it's not. You need to find a balance between blog promotion and general fun posts. There's no hard and fast rule here. It takes trial and error.
    • Know the best time of day to post. This can be a bit of trial and error, but there are some general times better than others. First thing in the morning and at night after kids have gone to bed are great times. People are likely to check their Facebook pages at those times. Lunchtime is another good time. Try mixing up your posting times and see what gets the most engagement.
    • Be careful with the type of post you choose. Each posting type has pros and cons. You may find one works better for you than another. But don't just settle with one posting style. Mix it up.
    • Be aware of the difference between high engagement and high reach. They may not always be the same. At different times in your blogging experience, you may be after different things. If you're focused on high reach, you want your posts to reach as many people as possible. However, that doesn't necessarily translate into high engagement, or how much people engage with a post by liking, commenting or sharing.
      • Photo posts have a lower reach, but a higher potential for engagement because people like photos.
      • Videos have low reach and fair engagement, depending on the video. The problem with video is it requires a time commitment from users. If the video is longer than a couple minutes, the chance of someone finishing it is small.
      • Text-only posts have high reach, but potentially low engagement. The posts about my four-year-old have high reach and high engagement, but oftentimes this isn't the case.
      • Text posts with a link have higher engagement than those without a link, but lower reach.
      • When posting a link, Facebook auto-generates a preview pane. TIP: cancel that preview. For whatever reason, Facebook serves that post up to fewer people if you include the preview. They claim that's not the case, but months of observation have proved otherwise for me.
    • Examine your posts. Each month take some time to look through your page analytics. One of my favorite analytics is the post insights.This can be found in the Facebook page dashboard. It allows you to see all your posts in a running list, with the reach and engagement front and center. Because I do social media for a living, I actually add this information to a database that analyzes the data for me so I can easily spot trends. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but the rewards of knowing which posts were successful can help you do more of them in the future.
    • Interact with your fans. If they comment, comment back. Keep a discussion going.
    • Build blogger networks. Bloggers have always been known to be good at networking with other bloggers. But somehow that networking isn't always used to full advantage. If you have a network of blogger friends, work together to help each other out. Remember, blogging is not a competition, especially if you don't have similar blogs. Share posts by your fellow bloggers. Be sure to visit their Facebook pages and comment. Share their page content from your personal Facebook account as well. Imagine if you had just five blogger friends and you each shared three posts a week from each other's page. In the course of a week, your content will have been shared a minimum of 12 times. That furthers your reach, boosts your engagement and increases the potential for your posts to go viral. And what did it cost you? A little bit of time. But, it strengthens those blogger networks and gets your information (and theirs) out there.
There are plenty of other tips, but this post is already quite long. Give these tips a try. And be patient. Just like your blog didn't get a huge following overnight, your Facebook page probably won't either. Also, don't get overly consumed with worrying about Facebook likes as the most important statistic either. Your Facebook page is a conduit to your blog. It's main purpose is to get people to see your content, regularly interact with your stuff and style and be connected with you.

Monday, June 17, 2013

10 Books on My Summer To Be Read List

There is nothing I love more than laying outside in the summer on a blanket, reading a book. Here are a few books I am looking forward to reading this summer. Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish.
  • Glitch by Heather Anastasiu- As soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I was hooked. It almost sounds like it has a borg community type feeling to it. I am excited for this read. (Finished 6/19/13)
  • Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Finished 6/17/13)
  • Shatter Me by Taherh Mafi- I have heard great things about this dystopian book. It is one of my absolute must reads of the summer. (Finished 6/17/13)
  • Unravel Me- by Taherh Mafi- Knowing me, if I read the first one, Shatter Me, I am going to be dying to get my hands on the second one. 
  • Spellcaster by Claudia Gray- I keep seeing this book everywhere, so I am adding to my list! 
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon- I bought this book on a whim earlier this year. I have hear it is an enchanting retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and I am excited to read it. 
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - After finally giving in and reading Anna and the French Kiss and absolutely LOVING it. I know that I have to get my hands on Lola this summer. (Finished 6/18/13)
  • Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - I spent all of my Christmas money in one day at a book store this year and this book was one of the ones I picked up. 
  • Legend by Marie Lu- I swear everyone has read this one but me. I am going to fix that this summer. 
  • Reached by Ally Condie- I have a mental block on this book, the last in the Matched Trilogy, for some reason I just haven't been able to bring myself to finish the series. I will finish it! 
P.S. Have you entered the Summer Reading Survival Giveaway yet? It ends tomorrow! The winner will receive 13 books and some swag! Enter here.

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Glitter 2x4 Flag


I am a little obsessed with glitter right now. I had this 2x4 Flag displayed in my house and while I liked it, I didn't love it, so I decided it needed a little glitter. With a little glitter paper and some loose glitter, it is now one of my favorite holiday decorations.

You will need: 
a 2x4 cut into pieces, you need two 7-inch blocks and 3-3.5 inch blocks
Contact paper or a large star sticker
Red, White and Blue paint
American Crafts Glitter Paper in Red and White
American Crafts Loose Glitter in White
Star Sticker

 Paint one 7-inch block and one 3.5 inch block red. Paint one 7-inch block and two 3.5 inch blocks white.
Find a star shape that you like online. Print it out and then trace it onto contact paper. Cut out the star. Apply the contact paper star to your final white block. Paint the block blue over the contact paper. Sweep away from the center of the star. If you sweep towards the star, you risk getting paint underneath the sticker.

When the blue paint is completely dry, peel off the sticker.
 Lay your block length-wise on the back of your glitter paper and cut around the block. Take Mod Podge and secure the glitter strip to the front of your block. Repeat for all of the blocks but the blue one.
 Place your blue block on a piece of paper. Take a paint brush and paint Mod Podge over the star on your blue block, trying to stay within the lines as much as possible. Dump white glitter on top of the Mod Podge and brush off the excess.
Stack your glittered flag, starting with red on the bottom. 
This whole flag besides drying time, came together in less than a half an hour for me. It is a quick craft, perfect for a craft group or other get together.
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(I was given product from American Craft to create this project. All opinions are 100% my own)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Princess Festival at Thanksgiving Point Giveaway!

I am so lucky to have a sweet little princess in my life. She is full of spunk and most of all curiosity. She loves to dress up as any numbers of things, but princesses rank at the very top. Our trip to Disneyland this year fell through and she was really disappointed that we weren't going to be able to see "real princesses," I was completely delighted to find the Princess Festival and to know that I can make her dream come true. I can't wait to see the look on her face when we walk into the festival this week. 
The Largest and Longest Running Princess Adventure Event in America, the 2013 Princess Festival will be held June 18-22 & 25-29 in the Children’s Discovery Gardens at Thanksgiving Point (Lehi, Utah). The festival is especially designed for boys and girls that are between the ages of 3-10, but all ages are welcome to come join the fun.
I absolutely love the message of this festival. I love that it teaches that a princess is more than a pretty face who gets everything she wants. "Being a Princess is more than glitter and ribbons – a true Princess knows how to make a difference in the world by using courage, compassion, and grace!  Join the Everley Princesses on their journeys through their own life adventures as they learn the magic of love."
 There are two sessions everyday, so you can choose which will work best for your family. A morning session from 9-1 or a discounted afternoon sessions from 2-6. Make sure you are on time for your session! You can also purchase all days passes.  "All tickets start with a basic (One Adult + One Child) fee.  You can then add additional children and/or adults to that basic fee (at reduced rates per person)."
To Purchase Tickets Visit www.princessfestival.com. One lucky Housewife Eclectic reader will win a pass to the Princess Festival for up to five people. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below and make sure to visit the Princess Festival's Facebook page and thank them for this giveaway! 



a Rafflecopter giveaway
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(Disclaimer: I was given tickets to the Princess Festival in exchange for hosting this giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own)