Monday, July 21, 2014

Behind the Blog: Melissa of Design, Eat, Repeat

We are so excited to have the lovely Melissa of Design Eat Repeat on the blog today! We've always been amazed by Melissa's amazing deisgn & photography skills, and we're big fans of her inspiring and colorful blog. Get to know her a little better and make sure to stop by & say hello! 

1)   When & why did you start blogging?
I started my blog back in 2011 the summer after my sophomore year of college, simply as a little summer hobby & an excuse to craft. I had zero idea of what I was going to blog about & really had no idea what kind of “niche” I wanted to take the blog. As I went through design school & experimented with a bunch of different design projects, I decided that I might as well share some of these designs as printables on the blog. My blog really helped me narrow down my focus and allowed me to share my passion for crafting, baking, and design. 



2)   What’s the greatest thing that’s come out of blogging?
Like I just mentioned, I started it on whim after a friend told me that I should start one. I literally did not think I would stick with it for more than a few weeks. I had no idea what blogging really meant, and I had zero intention to ever turn it into something more than a little summer hobby. It has completely taken me by surprise, but it was one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I made. My blog has allowed me to connect with other creatives all around the world and grow my client base for my business. It has also given me a creative outlet where I can share free printables & family recipes, in hopes that they make someone’s day/party/get together a little brighter! I recently left my 9-5 job to pursue my graphic & blog design business and there is no way any of that would have been possible if I had not started my blog.


3)   When you’re not blogging, what can you be found doing?

When I'm not blogging, I'm usually working on client design & styling projects (workaholic alert). Since going full-time freelance, I've found that work & what I used to consider hobbies all kind of mix in together now. When I do actually decide to take a break from all work (which is rare! Ha!), I'm probably binging on Netflix (Hello, Parks & Rec!) or dreaming up some vacation spot.



4)   If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be the one thing you would take with you? 

This will probably sound shallow, but probably my computer considering I wouldn't be able to carry on business without it!


5)   What’s the one piece of advice you would share with bloggers just starting out? 

For me, the hardest part of blogging at the beginning was finding my voice on what I wanted to blog about. My advice is to write on your blog the same way you would talk to a friend. It's easy to get caught up in writing all prim & proper, but sounding like yourself is going to help people get to know you and your personality. A friend recently told me that she can hear me talking (aka rambling) when she reads my blog and I was like, "yesss, mission accomplished!" For example, I tend to be a dramatic storyteller in real life, so my posts usually end up a little dramatic too.



6)   What’s your “can’t live without” piece in your closet, kitchen,  home etc?

In my kitchen, it would definitely be my Kitchenaid mixer! That thing is my baby.


7)   On a Friday night, what can you be found doing? 

*Laughs out loud* Well, my normal Friday night consists of watching Sharktank, doing a little personal design work, and then going to bed. I swear I'm not always that lame (okay, yes I am), but going out just seems like too much work most days. Who's with me?



8)   How do you balance blogging with a work/social life? 

Honestly, I've been a bit of a terrible blogger lately because I've been working on lots of fun client projects - but I think the key to balancing blogging with work is to make a schedule and stick to it! Something I need to take my own advice on. Back when I was blogging in college & then with a 9-5 job, I took most of my photographs on the weekends and then edited pictures/wrote the posts during the week. I always say that if it matters to you, then you'll make the time for it no matter how busy you are. I started my blog while working, freelancing, and going to school 80hrs/week, but I made time for it because I loved doing it!

9)   What’s your favorite quote? Or what’s a quote that describes you? 

One of my favorite quotes is "Do What You Love and Love What You Do."  As cliche as it sounds, life is too short to spend your days not doing something that fulfills you.



10) What’s your dream job if you haven’t landed it yet? 

I used to have ideas on what I thought my dream job would be, but at this stage of my life, my dream job is simply to be doing something I love doing and something that fulfills me. Right now that dream job is growing my business, but as we all know - time tends to take us in different paths, so who knows what I'll consider my dream job in a few years!


11) Guilty pleasures?

Cupcakes, Sprinkles, Cupcakes with Sprinkles, and pretty much anything sweet (with sprinkles). You know how some people have a sweet tooth? Well, I have a whole mouth of them.


12)  What’s your favorite “little thing” in life? 

Can I say tacos? Just kidding. No actually, I'm going to have to stick with tacos. True love right there.


Friday, July 18, 2014

FRIDAY FAVORITES LINK UP, V20


Hi guys! I'm Alissa and I blog, talk about polka dots, post-graduate life and discuss important things like sour gummy worms over at The Adored Life. One of my favorite things to do is tell people I'm from Kansas, I blog and was home educated. That combination sends people into shock. What I love about Midwest Bloggers is that it really showcases that the Midwest is NOT what you think. We are classy, sassy, talented and have a strong voice! I'm excited to host the link-up this week to show that! 


Maya: I may have the biggest girl crush on Maya. She is witty, brilliant at her job, builds up women around her and her instagram makes me hungry.

Jessica: I know this girl in real life and she is freaking awesome, know what's up in Kansas City and is so incredibly open and honest about life and the lessons it has taught her. 

Ashley: Her shoe collection could make a grown woman cry, she doesn't take crap and is the epitome of what a kick-butt woman should be. 

Melissa: Melissa has a magical way of turning a piece of paper into some magical confetti holder, never fails to always have something crafty happening and is a the Martha Stewart of things involving sprinkles. 


Make sure to link up below with your favorite post of the week.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Showcase: Summer Recipes and Entertaining

It's crazy to think we're in the second half of summer already. But don't fret, friends! The middle's not a bad place to be. We can look back on what we've accomplished and look forward to new adventures, goals and summer fun! And what's a Midwest summer without yummy food and outdoor parties?

Check out this week's roundup from bloggers across the Midwest for inspiration on tonight's dinner, tomorrow's treat or this weekend's get-together. Whether you're looking for sweet or savory (or both), this week's showcase has it all.

P.S. Anyone willing to host a party with ALL these treats? YUM.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Behind the Midwest Blogger: Meet intern Marissa!


We're so excited to introduce you to our newest member of the team, Marissa! Marissa will be helping us with social media, penning some of our posts and much more. To get to know her a bit better, we asked her a few hard hitting questions covering everything from 40% off sales to her dreams in the fashion industry! 
Name: Marissa Monett
Blog Name: I don’t have a personal blog but I write fashion content for MODA, UW-Madison’s fashion and lifestyle publication
Current City: Madison, Wisconsin

1) When & why did you start becoming interested in fashion?
I’ve always been interested in styling clothes. Gap skorts were my signature look in elementary school and yes, I did own jelly shoes. Fashion, however, has been a more recent development. When I decided to start writing about clothes two years ago, I realized there was a whole world I thought I knew but had only scratched the surface of. In order to have a voice in “fashion” I needed to learn more about it. That’s when my passion really began to grow. The more I discover in the art form, the more passionate I become.
2) What’s the greatest thing that’s come out of blogging or writing for MODA?
I believe the greatest thing that’s come from writing for MODA is a sense of self-fulfillment. Seeing others’ interest in something you’ve worked hard to create is easily one of the best feelings. The people I’ve met through MODA and the opportunities I’ve received fit in here, too. Working hard at something and seeing results is so rewarding.
3)  When you’re not writing or dreaming of fashion, what can you be found doing?
Not dreaming of fashion? Do I do anything else? JUST KIDDING. I’m actually a go-go-go kind of gal. This summer you can find me working as an Ecommerce Intern, socializing on the Terrace, exploring new areas of the city, rearranging my room, reading a book, starting a million shows on Netflix, or sitting by the water. Most importantly, what ever you find me doing, it will, without a doubt, be with a coffee. You don’t know a coffee-addict until you’ve met me. Latte love <3
4) If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be the one thing you would take with you? 
 My phone. For good or for bad, it’s with me 100% of the time. Sometimes I decide I’m going to do a detox from technology but then my Instagram feed distracts me.
5)What's your “can’t live without” piece in your closet, kitchen, home etc.?
My style changes on a daily basis but the two pieces that always fit my mood are 1) my favorite white tee and 2) an oversized striped tee. Both shirts move seamlessly between minimalistic grunge to city chic to casual prep. Luhhhh versatility. Oh I lied. I also can’t live without my white Converse. Never thought I’d be obsessed with a pair of sneakers but I love the juxtaposition they give to dressier pieces. 
6) On a Friday night, what can you be found doing?
I’m a social butterfly and a huge foodie, so Friday nights are always well spent with friends and awesome food. If you have a favorite restaurant, let me know and we can totally become best friends over dinner. We’ll be even better if that food has to do with breakfast.
7) What’s your favorite quote? Or what’s a quote that describes you?
“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” – Lupita Nyong’ Ever since I watched her give this genuine message in her Oscar acceptance speech, it’s been my motto.
8) What’s your dream job if you haven’t landed it yet?
My dream job would be working on the content production and design of Net-a-Porter’s “The Edit.” I love digital media, design, branding, writing and fashion. It’d be a dream-come-true to work in something that combined them all.
9) Guilty pleasures?
Sour Patch Kids and Pretty Little Liars
10) What’s your favorite “little thing” in life?
“Extra 40% off ALL sale items”
No, I’m just kidding. Well sort of. I’d definitely say my favorite “little thing” in life is the slightly brisk air on an early summer morning. I don’t love getting up early, but sipping coffee in the quiet air with a whole day ahead of you is a pretty cool feeling. 
11) What are you most excited about working with Midwest Bloggers? 
I’m most excited about both being a part of and contributing to such a wonderful initiative. The support and positivity I’ve seen as a reader and, now, experienced on a personal level from Midwest Bloggers brings me so much joy. I love opportunities to explore areas I’m passionate about. Midwest Bloggers does that through blogging but, most importantly, through being a part of a massive support system.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Techie Tuesdays: Site Security



Today, I'm writing about something quite unpleasant, kind of scary, and rarely discussed at blogging meetups or conferences - site security. Your site has a lot of personal information associated with it - birthdate, email, and credit card. All it takes is a first name, last name, and one more piece of information for an experienced hacker to be quite successful. According to Forbes, on average, 30,000 new websites are hacked a day. Your site can be hacked, and you don't even know it. Have no worries, there's plenty you can do to prevent it! 

General
  • Get a secure password. I'm not talking about a combination of your childhood nickname with some random numbers, or the first letter is capitalized. If I can pronounce your password, it's not secure. A good password should be a random assortment of numbers and letters. Write it down (not on your computer, but on a piece of paper), so you won't forget it.
  • Last Pass. Last Pass will change your life. After reading this post, you will be able to sleep with ease at night knowing everything you have is secure. You create a Last Pass account, with one password that you have to remember (write it down). You can then install Last Pass on your browser and mobile devices, and you can add your login info of various sites. The best feature is that Last Pass will generate random, secure passwords for you and keep track of them. 
  • Don't share your password. Create users. Often when I'm working with new clients, they will be say, "I can just share my password with you," and in most cases,  I always respond, "Just make me a user." It might take me showing them how to do that, but the benefits are huge. 


Blogger:
  • Google is pretty much amazing, but if you aren't using two-way verification you should definitely set it up. Anytime you sign on to your Google Account on a new computer, Google will text you a code that you have to enter to login. So, if someone tries to sign on to your account from an unauthorized computer, you would immediately receive a text message (they wouldn't), and they won't be able to sign on.


WordPress:
WordPress is a tricky beast because it is a free Content Management System (CMS). WordPress sites are often the most hacked sites due to security issues.
  • Change your username and display name. If it shows up on your posts, "This post was written by Admin" you are a delicious target. "Admin is the most common username. When installing WordPress, your username should be something random (numbers and letters). You can change your visible name to be your own name, but your username for your site should be private. 
  • Hosting. Lately, I've read a lot of different developer bloggers discuss how they adding clauses in their contract not to work with sites that host on Go Daddy. Go Daddy is notoriously awful amongst people in the web community, but for most people, Go Daddy is the most familiar (great advertising campaign). Most hosting contracts allow you to transfer whenever, and I would recommend Bluehost. Not only is their customer service excellent, they have additional free and paid features that help you improve your site security. If purchasing hosting, most bloggers only need the basic, shared hosting version ($3.95-$4.95/a month).
  • Updates: You should always make sure that you have the most up-to-date version of WordPress, your theme, and plugins. More often than not, when any of these elements release an update, it is a security update (hackers are always improving, sites need to improve). Just make sure that before you update, you backup your site. 
  • Plugins: Plugins are less regulated than themes. If your site has a bug, it's usually a plugin. When I build sites, I always try to build them with the functionality in the theme and rely on few third-party plugins as possible, but there are a few plugins that I recommend:
    • Akismet is a comment spam prevention plugin for your blog. It identifies and blocks comment and trackback spam. If this isn't monitored, your site is more likely to get hacked. 
    • Jetpack is a plugin-package from WordPress.com. For most bloggers, they can get all the additional functionality they need from this plugin. Essentially, you can get up to 30 plugins with one. Because WordPress.com functions on the contribution of developers, you know that their are always people working to develop and improve it. Some of my favorite features of Jetpack include tiled galleries, the contact form, and Facebook & Twitter widgets.
    • Disqus: Most everyone knows what Disqus is, a comment management plugin. You can install it for WordPress or Blogger, and I think it is quite easy to install. Not only does it manage spam comment, it makes it easier for your readers to leave comments via social media or mobile devices. 



Do you have tech or design questions you would like answered? "Techie Tuesdays" is a weekly series written by Lindsay Humes of White Oak Creative and The Garden Apt. In order to make this series as beneficial to Midwest Bloggers, you can email your specific questions to Lindsay at lindsay@wocreative.com and she will answer them in her weekly series.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Behind the Blog: Corinne of Pink Avenue


1) When & why did you start blogging?
I started my blog back in 2010 under the name of "The Lookbook" to document my newly married life... I had no sort of monetary aspirations for my blog until about 1-2 years ago when I rebranded my blog to "Pink Avenue." At that time, I wasn't working and needed a creative outlet to keep myself entertained during my daughter’s naptime. Since then, Pink Avenue has evolved into my little corner of the Internet where I share outfit posts, current fashion cravings, and variety of home & lifestyle tips. I love what I do and feel so lucky to be able to stay home with my sweet baby Vera while still being able to fit in some work!

2) What’s the greatest thing that’s come out of blogging?
My favorite part of blogging is definitely the networking and connecting with other bloggers, companies, and readers. It's a virtual social circle that I feel so lucky to be a part of!



3) When you’re not blogging, what can you be found doing?
When I'm not blogging, I am probably chasing around my very energetic two year old or catching some time with my husband, Jake. Family is the most important thing in my life!

4) If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be the one thing you would take with you?
Sunscreen and sunglasses... OR maybe an endless supply of basil limeade… That’s a tough one!


5) What’s the one piece of advice you would share with bloggers just starting out? 
I would tell a new blogger to find a passion they are committed to (fashion, interior design, food, children, teaching, etc…) that they want to blog about. Because blogging requires a lot of time and patience, you need to have a passion for a subject that makes it all worth it. I also suggest high-quality images as well as posting consistency and sincerity.

6) What’s your “can’t live without” piece in your closet, kitchen, home etc?
I constantly find myself grabbing metallic shoes... Whether they are my sandals, flats, or a pump, a metallic shoe is both versatile and glam, perfect for all occasions!


7) On a Friday night, what can you be found doing?
Going out to dinner with my family and watching a movie at home (treats are mandatory!)

8)   How do you balance blogging with a work/social life?
I set aside days that are my "work/blogging days" and my "free days.” This helps me create a balance in life and ensures that I get everything done that I need to. I love routines!


9) What’s your favorite quote? Or what’s a quote that describes you?
This is a hard one. I’ve always loved the quote, “You are confined only by the walls you build yourself” and “A negative mind will never give you a positive life." It’s hard to choose just one!

10) What’s your dream job if you haven’t landed it yet?
I am already doing it! Being a mama to my sweet girl, little miss Vera Rae and a wifey to Jake!


11) Guilty pleasures?
Guilty pleasures include, hot chocolate, shoes, food trucks, and shopping… Need I say more?

12) What’s your favorite “little thing” in life?
Sleeping in followed by morning snuggles with my babies! I also get an abnormal amount of joy from a new bottle of nail polish, an evening cup of tea, and a sweet Honeycrisp apple in the morning.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites Link Up, V19

Happy Friday everyone & welcome to another Friday Favorites link up! I'm Lauren, one of the founders of Midwest Bloggers & I blog at La Petite Fashionista & do freelance social media work at LPF Media and live in Wisconsin! I'm not a born and raised Midwest girl- but I seriously love it here. I've fully embraced the Midwest Summer- seriously- is there anything better?! Today's roundup of my fave posts are exactly what I'd like to be wearing (& eating!) all summer long!

Be sure to share your favorite post of the week in the link-up below.

Midwest Bloggers Friday Favorites Link-Up
1. Samantha at Gold Coast Girl  is giving me some serious style inspiration for well accessorized maxi dresses in one of her latest posts.
2. I've been dying to whip up these Boozy Roasted Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles ever since I saw them on the Badger Kitchen- what a perfect summer treat.
3. My boyfriend and I LOVE Mexican food & I was dying over this adorable printable Taco Score Cards from Design Eat Repeat- definitely on my summer to do list!
4. I'm a huge lover of monograms, so Laura at House of Charms' perfectly preppy ensemble is right up my alley!

Now it's your turn! Share your favorite post from your blog this week & be sure to stop by and show your fellow Midwest Bloggers some love!