Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net

 

I’ll be back to work on Monday so here’s to a relaxing weekend of giant pizzas, a Game of Thrones marathon, and lots and lots of laundry. My plan is to start sharing more from our trip starting on the 8th, but we’ll see if I power ahead and move the already-scheduled posts out of the way! If you are waiting to hear back from me on Twitter/Instagram/via email, hang tight!

Essential Reading:

Please note: The links to Amazon.com are affiliate links.

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in Essential Reading

LinkedIn - Eye-Catching Images for LinkedIn

I recently published a quick post on LinkedIn about creating eye-catching images for the content system they are using. I see too many posts being shared that don’t have a dedicated image, the images aren’t sized correctly to fit the space, or the image is of something vaguely related to the story and the image itself is “borrowed” from Google Images.

What does this have to do with your blog posts?

Everything.

With Pinterest’s influence on traffic, creating eye-catching images for blog posts is more important than ever. Just a few years ago, bloggers were able to share posts without a dedicated ‘hero image’ or no images at all but now sharing across social media platforms is so heavily influenced by visuals.

While I go into detail about how to create those great Pinterest-friendly images for your LinkedIn in this post, here are some tips specific to blogs:

  • Make sure your images fit the width of your text area. Small photos that don’t quite span the entire blog post make it look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Take a few minutes today and find out what size photos work best for your posts
  • If you are using stock photos, take a second to make your image stand out. With the rise in popularity of some stock photo sites that go beyond the well-dressed business people laughing and smiling during meetings, that means we see the same images more frequently. Instead of using the entire image for your post, crop a certain section and use that. While some people may still recognize the image, you took it a step further and made it your own. Other ways include making the image black and white or adding text directly on the image
  • Long images are your friend. Make a grid or collage to put a few photos from your next tutorial in sequential order to make the image more Pinterest-friendly. If you only have the one image, crop it so the image is taller than it is wide so it takes up more real estate on Pinterest
  • Chop those images down to size for social media. Long images are great for Pinterest, but when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you need to take a few extra steps to make sure the images fit into the medium you’re using. Instagram needs a square-friendly design, Twitter’s preview image is prime for needing a shorter version of your big blog post image, and Facebook doesn’t react well to long photo-strip style images. Know what works best for each platform

Take a few minutes and review the tips, suggestions, and resources for free (or cheap!) stock images in the original post.

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in Better Blogging, Social Media

Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net

Quick note: I may or may not have some fun photos popping up on Instagram right now.

This week’s Essential Reading:

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in Essential Reading

Prepare For Your Return from Vacation Before Leaving Home - Campfire Chic

 

After last year’s numerous trips early in the year, I developed a pre-departure rhythm that helped me go from rage-cleaning as soon as I get in the door from a trip to relaxing and enjoying being home.

This checklist can be for a quick weekend away or an extended vacation, just adjust for some of the items that may not be necessary for a weekend away (like picking up held mail). This isn’t an exhaustive list, just the ones that I know I forget from time to time but am always glad I took care of before heading out on another adventure.

Clean your home

I will start with the most obvious…I would leave home so excited to get on the road that I would forget what a crazy mess I made just trying to pack! There was one summer that I forgot to take the trash out before leaving on a long weekend. It was no fun clamoring up the stairs to my apartment only to know that it would be stuffy from the summer heat only to be slapped in the face by the hot garbage smell.

I’m not encouraging you to do a my-mother-in-law-is-coming-over deep clean, just more of a my-college-roommate-is-staying-over kind of clean. Things are pretty much away, there aren’t dishes left in the sink, and there is toilet paper on the roll. Again, nothing fancy.

Fill the gas tank

Honestly, this is probably a low priority if you’re stressed before a trip, but let me tell you: when you need to head to the store because the cat decided to rip up that TP you left on the roll (and of course it was the last roll in the house) you don’t want to have to stop at the gas station on your way. Make sure you have some gas in your car for a quick errand.

Prepare freezer meals and round up coupons for take out

Alex’s mom taught me this by always leaving a casserole and salad in the refrigerator before we get home from a trip (she comes over to check on the cat and plants regularly). It’s honestly so nice to be able to warm something up that isn’t leftovers from a restaurant or try to search Yelp for another meal. I started stocking our freezer with some homemade frozen burritos (breakfast and lunch/dinner kinds), some veggies we can make into a stir fry, and a container of chili to get us through the first few days of being home. I hate grocery shopping so the last thing I want to do is get home, shower, and head out to buy groceries when all I want to do is veg out and backup my photos.

I am not sure how long it will take us to bounce back from our current trip so I stocked our freezer with some easy things to take to work for lunch and set aside some coupons for delivery (pizza, Thai food, etc.) in case we go through our food stores more quickly than I anticipate…or, the more likely scenario, is we are too lazy to warm up our own food. The freezer also has a few easy-to-warm-up freezer meal options like frozen raviolis and pizzas.

Select outfits for a smoother return to ‘real life’

So what’s the number one thing I forget to do when heading out on a vacation? Making sure I have clean clothes for work. I learned to have a least 2 or 3 outfits hanging up and ready to go in my closet. I’m talking a full outfit…underpants, blouse, cardigan, pants, and shoes all together in the closet so I’m not caught by surprise that I don’t have anything work appropriate to wear to the office. Honestly, this should probably be a normal habit considering how much I dislike picking out clothes every morning before work, but I’m too lazy.

If you work in a more casual atmosphere, I would still recommend setting aside a few outfits for yourself…you wouldn’t want to explain your “experiment with pattern mixing” when you decide to just go with what is clean and not wrinkled.

Bonus: Have your “work bag” ready to go so you’re less likely to forget important things as you rush out the door on your first day back to work. Recently, I prepared a pouch for my work bag that included basics that I figure I would need at work and didn’t want to forget to pack…lip balm, vitamins, charging cable, my security badge, extra contacts, and travel-sized saline. These are things that I normally keep in my desk at work, but I wanted to make sure to have them packed and ready to go so I wasn’t surprised to see my saline container empty and remember that my security badge is under a pile of laundry at home.

Schedule your held mail to arrive a day or two after you are due back.

Instead of asking house sitters to collect the mail, I hold our mail for longer trips and select a date that I will go and pick it up. We have a tiny mailbox in our community and I wouldn’t want to bother our letter carrier with trying to fit two weeks worth of mail into the 3×5 space. I also schedule the pick for at least two days after I get home so I can get my bearings and not stress about making it to the post office before they close for the day. If you are able to get your mail more easily than I am, schedule your drop off for 2 days after anyway! By that time, your bags will be mostly unpacked and you’ll be ready to tackle the junk mail and magazines coming your way.

You may get delayed. If you select to pick up your held mail you may want to give yourself some breathing room with an extra day.

I would love to hear more suggestions and sage advice from folks who travel more frequently than I do, especially from people who travel with kids!

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in Travel.

Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net

 

This week’s Essential Reading:

 

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#YourLead Photo Contest from Teton Sports

Kick Off Camping Season with the #YourLead Photo Contest

 

Let’s kick off camping season the right way! I’ve teamed up with some fellow #MountainAdventurers to give away some sweet camping gear. We decided to have some fun with the giveaway so we’re making it a photos contest, here’s how to enter:

1: Follow the Mountain Adventurer of the gear you want to win! Each Mountain Adventurer represents a different type of gear (spoiler alert: I’m a camp cot!). The list of Mountain Adventurers playing along:

2: Post a new photo of your outdoor adventure using ‘#YourLead’ in the comment.

Enter as much as you want by posting your new adventure photos. Better hurry it goes from May 13 – May 27, 2015!

I’m really looking forward to seeing your photos! Tag me in your photos so I don’t miss out on your adventures.

*See the rules for this photo contest by visiting the link in my Instagram bio. I am an ambassador for Teton Sports and my involvement with this photo contest is part of my relationship with the Mountain Adventurers team. Please exercise caution while outdoors exploring, consult your doctor before taking on a new physical activity, and be sure to Leave No Trace.

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in Adventure, Microadventure, Photography

Chocolate Tour in Beverly Hills California - Campfire Chic

Last weekend’s weather was perfect for a walking tour of Beverly Hills’ chocolate stops.

My friend (the same friend from the sushi class!) made reservations for us to go on the tour and I was excited to see what was in store for us. She went on a cupcake tour with the same agency before and knew the chocolate tour would be a good option.

We made a handful of stops on our walking tour and the samples were very generous at each location. A mini cupcake from Sprinkles, a small scoop and mini cone from Sprinkles ice cream, full pieces of delicious chocolate pieces from the other locations, and discounts at some shops for being on the tour or for using coupons from a booklet we picked up at the Beverly Hills visitor center.

We have a Sprinkles and Sprinkles ice cream near us but it was still fun to see the cupcake ATM (our location doesn’t have one yet) and of course we had to take some cupcakes home (one coconut cupcake and one strawberry cheesecake cupcake for me!) and extra brownies.

After the tour, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and took some photos before deciding to fight traffic to get home. We hope to go on another food tour soon!

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in 2015, About Kam, Microadventure, Weekend