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12. New Social Media Tool: Topsy

 

Tool: Topsy

Where to get it: http://topsy.com/

What they offer: Topsy seems like Google for social media. You can search for a particular keyword and it will tell you who the most influential people are that use the keyword. There are several options that allow you to search all social media, just Twitter, or even to see trending terms and experts in certain fields.

Getting Started: Once you go to http://topsy.com/ you can start searching right away, no registration required. Start typing in a keyword and it will offer suggestions of the most used words. You can also search links, tweets, photos and videos.

Favorite Feature:  I like that you can follow, reply or retweet directly from the search results. This allows you to keep track of the most influential users in the fields that you are interested in.

Overall: I am glad that I stumbled across this site. Since I am just getting started with really utilizing social media for my business, I think this will be a valuable tool to analyze what other people are doing to be influential in social media within the areas that I am interested in.

What social media tools are your favorites right now? What are your favorite tips and tricks for building your social media base? Let me know in the comments, and make sure you subscribe for tomorrows blog straight to your inbox.

Thank you to webtreats for the photo above.

11. Best Money Saving and Money Making Apps for 2013

I love my smart phone as much as the next person. I love having my music with me wherever I go, all my email accounts synced in one place, an 8 megapixel camera, the list goes on. However, above all of these things, I love my apps. There are so many great tools available with the push of a button, for pretty much any function you can dream of. Social media, restaurant reviews, to-lists, all of these things right at your fingertips. I have noticed lately that my ‘Finance’ folder is a little lighter than my other folders, so I thought I would take this opportunity to find some of the best money-saving or money-making apps. There are a long list of apps out there that will either pay you for doing certain tasks, or encourage you to save money, so I thought it would be a good idea to investigate a little further before I just download every app out there.

Money Saving Apps

ImpulseSave – This app links your existing checking account to a savings account and encourages you to save instead of making an impulse purchase. It makes you think about whether you really need that fourth blush brush, or if you should move that money over to savings instead. You’d be surprised how quickly the savings adds up, and how aware you become of your spending habits.

Ballpark E$timate – This app is really straightforward and will help you figure out how to start taking the right steps towards saving for your retirement. Input your information and the app will give you an idea of how saving x amount now will translate toward your retirement goals.

SnipSnap – This app allows you to take picture of paper coupons, organize them and then use them in the store. The downsides are that many stores do not take them without the physical coupon (that is how they get reimbursed), and it can be a little overwhelming if you are using a lot of coupons. It is a nice organizational tool however, and I still use it to save my time from cutting out coupons that I don’t actually ever end up using.

RetailMeNot – One of my favorite websites in smart phone form. I never ever finish an online checkout without checking this site for coupons first. It is maintained by users, so the coupon codes are often reliable, and they are given a percentage of how many people the code worked for so you can see which ones are legit.

Moneywise – This is a well-rounded budgeting app that will help you set a budget quickly and see where your spending goes throughout the month. It is really an eye opener to find out how much your ‘miscellaneous’ spending is costing you each month.

Money Making Apps

Gympact – I have to say, this app is pretty brilliant. You have the opportunity to be motivated, and get paid for being healthy all at the same time. With Gympact you make a commitment to workout a certain amount, and when you track your workout in the app you get paid for it. However, the catch is that if you flake on a workout, then you’ll be the one forking over the cash.

Shopkick – Shopkick is an amazing app…when I remember to use it! This app gives you incentives for shopping at certain stores and checking into them. You can also get ‘kicks’ when you scan items or make purchases, depending on the store. Maybe I need to use a reminder app to use this app when I get to the store.

Viggle – If getting paid to go to the gym is not your speed, look no further than Viggle. This app syncs to your tv by listening to the show your watching and then gives you points for how long you watch. They often host interactive viewing parties and trivia for things like award shows, the Superbowl and other events that can score you a lot of points. You can then redeem the points for gift cards, or items like a Kindle Fire, or Macbook Air.

If I missed any must have money-saving or making apps, please let me know in the comments. Come back tomorrow for a new social media tool review, better yet enter your email address at the top of the page and get the review right to your inbox. What can I say? I aim to please.

10. All You – Moroccan Meat Loaf

Let me preface this blog post by saying that I am obsessed, OBSESSED, with magazines. I know that between magazine websites and sites like Pintrest magazines might be a little outdated, but there is something so relaxing about being able to sit down with a magazine with all the pretty layouts, a cup of tea and my favorite blanket and being unplugged for a while. Last year I got to the point where I had so many magazines that I was literally filling storage bins with them. I couldn’t throw them away because they had a craft I wanted to try, or a recipe I needed to work into the rotation, etc. etc. I knew I had to reduce the clutter, especially since so many of my magazines are home magazines that preach organization and decluttering, but I didn’t know how. My solution: a magazine binder! Since I am almost equally obsessed with office supplies, this was a perfect solutions. As I flip through each magazine I cut out my favorite pages and they go into my binder(s), which is divided into categories. What can this possibly have to do with Test Kitchen Thursday you ask? Well, recently I had to move my ‘recipes’ section into its own three-inch binder. I have already tried a lot of them out, but I think the majority of these recipes will end up coming from magazines, since they often add some unique flair or technique and I really want to learn how to actually cook, not just replicate a recipe.

For example, this particular recipe (from the January 2013 issue of All You magazine) uses a meat mix that you can make ahead of time, and then use in three different recipes: Moroccan Meat Loaf, Beefy Calzones and Tamale Pie. I think this is a brilliant idea and something I never would have thought of. I only wish they would have called it something other than ‘master meat mix’ because I called it mystery meat mix more than once and that is, well, less than appealing. My biggest obstacle in making a menu for the week is that when I plan it, I have no idea what I am actually going to be in the mood for three days later. With the type of recipe, there is more flexibility in your menu and I really like that. On to the recipe!

Moroccan Meat Loaf - All You Jan. 2013

Master Meat Mix

Ingredients:
1 14.5-oz. can kidney beans, drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, using a fork, mash kidney beans with reserved liquid. Add beef, eggs, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and mix gently but thoroughly with your fingers.
2. Divide mixture into 2 portions, about 1 lb. 11 oz. each. Use immediately or place each portion in a large zip lock bag, squeeze out air and seal. Refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month.

Moroccan Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf Ingredients:
1/2 portion Master Meat Mix (about 1 lb. 11 oz.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, optional
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup raisins
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mist a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Make meat loaf: Place meat mix in a large bowl; add cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and cayenne, if desired. Mix gently but thoroughly with your fingers. Shape meat into a 5-by-7-inch loaf and transfer to greased pan.
3. Bake loaf 30 minutes; pour 1/2 cup broth into pan. Continue to bake until a meat thermometer inserted into center reads 160°F, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove meat loaf to a platter, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes.
4. Make sauce: Pour broth into a pot; add tomatoes and raisins. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in zest; season with salt and pepper.
5. Slice meat loaf and serve, passing sauce on the side.

Overall I thought this was a really good recipe and I will definitely make it again. I am not a huge fan of onions so I wish I would have scaled down the amount a bit in the meat mixture, but they gave it a good flavor. I also decided to skip the cayenne in the meatloaf and the raisins in the sauce. I think they probably would have added an interesting texture to the sauce, but I just couldn’t get my mind around the tomato/raisin combination. I plan on making the Tamale Pie with the other half of the meat mix, so we will see how that turns out. What new recipes have you tried lately? Leave a comment, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

9. How To Put a Different Background On Two Pages Created From The Same Template in Adobe Dreamweaver CS6

So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have been putting in a lot of hours trying to get my website up and running. As such, I have actually come across a lot of great information for beginning web designers and had planned to share a list of tips and tricks that I learned now that it is Website Wednesday. However, late last night, I solved an ongoing problem that I had been having with backgrounds in Dreamweaver and could find no solution other than code workarounds and things I just could not figure out as a beginner. I want to write these website posts in as plain English as possible, but for the sake of this post not taking a full work week to write, I am going to jump ahead and assume you were able to create a page and then make it into a template. You have set you body text, maybe an image header or the copyright year as an editable region, but alas, you can find no way to make your background image or color editable in your template. I am referring specifically to the .body background, NOT the .container background, I haven’t figured that one out quite yet and it is not something I need for the time being. Well look no further, I randomly stumbled across this solution while trying to solve a second problem I was having, so a shout out to dumb luck. This very well may go against the laws of the coding gods, but all I know is I now have six different backgrounds on six different pages.

Step 1. Remove the background image from your template. You can set a background color (as long as that is not specific to your page), but don’t include any background image.

Step 2. Create a new page from your template. You should now have a page that only lets you interact with your editable regions, as defined in your template. Since you can’t define the body, it is one of those locked up regions. You would be able to click on the .body CSS rule and change the background image there, but that would apply to all of the pages using the template, so don’t do that.

Step 3. Right click somewhere in an editable region, container, sidebar, etc. Go all the way to the bottom of the menu and select ‘Page Properties’ Appearance (CSS) should be the default tab, and on there you will see a list of page options, the important one being ‘Background Image:’. Browse for your file, and open it. Click apply and you should see your background image appear in the body of your webpage. Voila! Repeat this for as many pages as you need and you will have a different one on each page.

I apologize for the lack of pictures for this. I really wanted screenshots for each step, but for some reason they were scaling really poorly and became completely illegible. If any part of this is confusing, please let me know and I will do my best to clarify. Also, if there is some reason that I am overlooking why this would not actually work down the road (it is working as far as what I have now) PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know so I can try and find another way to do it. Hope you all had a great Wednesday, see you tomorrow for Test Kitchen Thursday!

8. The Biggest Beauty Trends of 2013

Hooray, I have officially kept my New Year’s resolution for a week! You may laugh, but that is quite an accomplishment for me…I have become quite good at procrastination over the past several years. As you may have noticed, since my earrings post on the first of the year, I have categorized each day of the week into a different category. I thought this would help me narrow down a list of what I wanted to learn each day, rather than just sitting down at the computer and typing ‘how to’ into Google to check out the top results. For the most part, the categories came to me pretty easily, I just pulled ideas from things that I wanted to learn about, but when I got back around to Tuesday’s I was pretty stumped. I couldn’t think of a category that I was super excited to learn about 52 times this year, let alone one that I could start with a ‘T’ (I absolutely adore alliterations). I was kind of leaning towards a miscellaneous category, for those days when I wanted to learn something, but not necessarily on a weekly basis. After some brainstorming and collaboration I (my sister) came up with ‘Trendy Tuesday’s’. What the heck does that mean you ask? Basically, it’s a fancy (and alliterative) miscellaneous category. If I’m being honest, while I can definitely use the fashion tips, I am really looking forward to a second day to learn how to make crafts and accessories like the earrings I made last week. Looks like it might be time to learn how to knit/sew/crochet. Anyway, moving on (forgive the ramblings, I have been working on my website for the past 12 hours and I think I am suffering from html brain), today I decided to check out some of the beauty trends that are going to be hot this year, aside from emerald green.

I checked out this article to find some of the biggest beauty trends.

The Middle Part
So, apparently I need to brush up on my trends more desperately than I thought. Good news: the middle part is back. Bad news: I didn’t know it had gone anywhere, not to mention that it is considered a “70’s” hair style. I am going to go ahead and say I was just FAR ahead of this trend coming back.

Bold Brows
If you recently removed your eyebrows in order to draw them back on with an unnatural color of eyebrow pencil, you might want to make sure to draw them on a bit thicker this year. Sorry!

Bold brows

Skin Care for Tweens/Teens
“Many spas are noticing the need to teach tweens and teens the importance of proper skin care at an early age…to instill a healthy skin care regimen.” Really? Step 1. run water until warm, not too hot, not too cold. Step 2. splash some of said water on your face. 3. pump some sort of soap/facial cleanser etc. into your hands. 4. Lather the product between your hands, apply to your face. 5. Rinse your face. 6. Dry your face. I think that about covers it for the skin care regimen. Now tell this to your Tween/Teen and take the money you were going to spend on their spa treatment and treat yourself because you are the one raising the tween/teen. Or, alternatively, put it into their college fund, donate it to the charity of your choice, you get the picture. Just saying.

Affordable, All-Natural Beauty Products
The article focuses on products that are coming down in price, made from better-for-you natural ingredients. I am actually excited about this trend because I have been seeing a lot of recipes for natural beauty products and even household cleaners that you can make yourself at home. I look forward to trying a few of these out this year.

Hair Accessories
I absolutely love hair accessories, so I was happy to see they were making a comeback this year. Anything that saves me time from fighting with my hairstyle sounds like a good trend to me!

Hair accessories

Moon Manicures
A moon manicure is pretty much the opposite of a french manicure from what I can tell. You leave the bottom sliver of your nail unfinished or paint it a different color. I’m not a big fan from the photos I’ve seen but maybe in the right color combination it could be cute.

Stiletto Nails
Suddenly, I am understanding why moon manicures are so appealing. These are also referred to as talon nails. I want to know who a.) thought ‘pointed’ should join alongside rounded or square – edged and b.) who started calling them talon nails and STILL decided it was a good idea.

Stiletto Nails

What is your favorite trend for 2013? Which ones have you (hopefully sans talons) scratching your head? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you to pumpkincat210, Bellafaye and Nic Senior for the photos in this post.

7. Handmade Ceramic Coasters

Over Christmas I saw a tutorial as a guest post on a couponing blog that I follow. I have been putting off trying these out even though I thought they were super cute. So, since I am making an effort to actually do all of these things that have been on my to-do list, I thought this would be a fun one to do. This project requires very few materials and was relatively easy to make.

Materials

Materials:

4 – 4.5 inch ceramic tiles. You can get these at your local home store, at my local Home Depot I found them in a section for back splashes and floor tiles.
1 – sheet of scrapbook paper. These mostly come in 12×12 sheets, so one full sheet will yield nine squares, enough for two sets of coaster if you buy enough tiles.
1 – small foam brush. I tried to find these at my local Michael’s but wasn’t having much luck finding them individually, but I was able to get on at Home Depot.
1 – ruler. I ended up using this to flatten the sheets as well, so a rigid ruler is probably best.
Mod Podge. This is a water based sealer, glue and finished that can be used in a lot of different types of projects. It was a bit of an initial investment, but a little bit seems to go a long way.

Step One:
Flip the scrapbook paper over and measure out 3 and 3/4 inch squares out with the ruler. I am terrible at drawing a straight line with a ruler (maybe that is something I can learn this year), so I made has marks at 3 and 3/4, 7 and 1/2 and 11 and 1/4 inches in three different spots along the paper. Then you can line up the ruler along the three points and get a nice straight line. Repeat this along the opposite side and you will have a perfect grid and you can cut right along the line.

Scrapbook Paper Grid

Step Two:
Cut along the grid and set aside four of the squares for the first set.

Step Three:
Apply the Mod Podge to the back of one square in a thin layer. Apply the square to the tile, leaving an even border around the square. If you don’t get it perfect the first time don’t panic, there is a little bit of leeway for centering the paper onto the tile, but you need to work quickly. When you are laying it on the tile try to do it evenly, to minimize air bubbles.

Attach the Scrapbook paper

Step Four:
Once you have it in place you will still have a few air bubbles so flatten the paper out and make sure all the air bubbles are out. I found it much less messy to use the ruler edge to straighten it out. Let the paper dry completely. Completely. The first attempt I got impatient and tried to do the next steps too quickly. This shifted the paper too much and I got brand new air bubbles. So learn from my mistake and let it dry completely. All the way. 100%. You get the point.

Step Four:
Once the paper has dried to the tile, you want to apply a layer of Mod Podge right over the top of the paper and tile. You want to make sure to coat the glue evenly and in thin layers. Don’t worry about going over the edges a little, it is better than not getting all the way to the edge because it will cause a rough texture around the corners. Also, don’t freak out! It will look like that Mod Podge is not going to dry completely clear, but it does, you just need to give it time. Repeat this three to four times so your coasters get a nice seal on them.

Seal the Fronts

Step Five:
Wrap the coaster in a cute decorative ribbon and give them as a gift, or set them on the coffee table and start using them. You can wash these by hand, but don’t put them in the dishwasher.

Finished Product

Additional ideas:
1. Add felt feet to the bottom if they will be used on sensitive surfaces like glass.
2. Add an acrylic tile sealant to make them even more waterproof for heavy-duty use.
3. I am excited to try making these with photos instead of scrapbook paper, I just need to go out and take some photos that will look good cropped into squares.

Let me know how your coasters turned out in the comments. These were fun, and really easy to make and I look forward to making more sets as gifts for friends and family.