Archive of ‘Life & Home’ category

How I gained 1000 Instagram followers in two months

How to Grow Your Instagram

I started off spring 2017 with just under a thousand followers. I honestly didn’t think fast growth was possible for me on Instagram. My other platforms, including Pinterest and Twitter, had more followers and a faster growth rate than my Instagram and I assumed it would always stay that way. I was wrong! Today, Instagram is my largest and fastest-growing platform. It was the first of all my social media to reach 2k.

how to grow your instagram account

Gain Instagram Followers

Now, numbers aren’t everything! As a smaller blogger, I’ll be the first one to say that I’m more focused on my engagement rates than my numbers, because that’s what’s important to me. But growing your accounts also means you can reach more followers who are interested in your content. You may wish to grow for the fun of it, or because you want to get brand collaborations and sponsorships that come with a higher following.

I’m also no Instagram expert. I’m an ordinary blogger with only 2k followers. I’m not here to tell you the latest secret, formula or magic trick for success on Instagram. I’m just sharing my story about how I increased my growth rate by ten times in just two months. This is what I did and what worked for me.

how to grow instagram

Here’s what I did to reach 1000 Instagram followers in two months.

The basics of Instagram growth are: make good content + follow others + engage.

Here’s a specific breakdown of things I changed to gain 1000 more followers.

I committed to posting once a day. There are still days that I end up skipping because I’m in a National Park or something, but having a schedule helps.

I followed a lot of people. Now this may be obvious and you’re rolling your eyes right now. But to be honest, I wasn’t actively following accounts before this. To grow, I had to follow 100-200 per week. I don’t follow random accounts, however. I check their profiles first to see if they show signs of liking content similar to mine. You can find people who are interacting with hashtags you use to find like-minded accounts to follow.

I upped my engagement. I commented on others’ pictures. I do this authentically when I like the content and have something to say about it. So I don’t go around spam liking and commenting, but I set aside time each day to engage on Instagram.

I strategized. I focused my energy on accounts with similar numbers to mine. If an account has 15,000 followers and they’re following 600, do you really think they’re going to follow and engage with your content? It’s unlikely.

I organized my content better. Since I cover lifestyle and fashion content, I have to balance the variety of my photos (see what it looks like). Instead of haphazardly posting several fashion shots in a row, I’m trying to bring balance to my feed.

I still have a long way to go in branding my content, keeping it consistent and engaging more on Instagram. But I hope reading my experience was somewhat helpful to you.

Do you use Instagram? How are you working to grow your account?

Colorful Summer Entertaining

Thanks for Sparkling Ice for sponsoring this post. Words, photos and opinions are all by me.

This is one of the first posts I’ve written from California, and wanna know one thing I really love about this place? There are no mosquitoes here, you guys. None! You can sit outside into the evening without risking your life to the bugs. So let’s celebrate that! When you’re hosting a gathering (or a get-together, as they say in the Midwest), you want it to be colorful, engaging and memorable. And since my California house has a backyard with a dining area, here’s a display I made for an evening on the patio last night.

Refreshments for all

While on a family trip as a teenager in a very hippie west coast town, I found a book about clean eating and natural beauty. I read the whole thing, because I was wild teen with a bustling social life and was not at all nerdy.

This book was a real joy killer, because it talked about how we all must give up sugar and anything indulgent to be healthy and beautiful. Instead of soda, you could learn to enjoy plain sparkling water with a dash of juice.

Who would ever want to live like that? I thought. What a sad, sad existence.

But fast forward a decade, and it happened to me. I never touch soda (pop for my MN readers– love ya!). Instead I reach for sparkling water drinks. Now I drink it, well, like water.

Sparkling Ice is a drink that will please all your guests, from the health conscious to those who need something a bit more, shall we say, flavorful.  It’s flavored and sweet, but without the sugar of other sparkling beverages so it would make a great soda replacement. And it’s caffeine free, which I appreciate. Grab it for a picnic, for lunch, or for your awesome summer adventures I know you’re busy planning! Get it easily in time for your parties and events on Amazon.

Cute drink ware

Grab those canning jars I know you have and add a decorative straw made of paper. Paper straws are not only decorative, they biodegrade and don’t hurt wildlife in the ocean! I just love when Eco-friendly and decor-friendly intersect, don’t you?

For an Instagram-worthy drink, I added fruit slices to color coordinate with the fruit flavored water. 

Watermelon skewers

Healthy, colorful and tasty! Skewered triangular slices are easier to eat and they look great on a platter. The skewers are biodegradable as well, so toss ’em in the compost.

 

Simple charcuterie board

A charcuterie board with various meats and cheeses is an easy way to make a dish with a pretty presentation. Adding a sprig of rosemary is a time-honored tradition, as well as a cluster of grapes or handful of blueberries. I like to add something unexpected, such as sliced peppers for a little color and flavor. The end result looks fancy, but it’s actually just cheese on a wooden cutting board. Congrats, you just leveled up to Hosting Level: Expert.

Last minute decorating details

I made this centerpiece (and I use that term loosely here) with the flowers I bought and hadn’t gotten around to planting yet. Who says procrastination doesn’t pay off?

Pop on a vintage apron or other colorful apron for some more fun color. Plus you can wipe your hands on it when they inevitably get sticky from rearranging the watermelon skewer tray. Win!

Need more hosting ideas? Try a tropical dip recipe that’s a colorful crowd pleaser.

The flavors used in this post are Kiwi Strawberry, Pineapple Coconut and Pink Grapefruit but there are tons more – find your favorite flavor here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my summer hosting tips! Use them to add a little color and flavor to the table and help distract people from the fact that your backyard, like ours, might be covered in pine needles and garden hoses.

Are you a sparkling water or fruit flavored water drinker? Tell us in the comments 🙂

Growing Succulents in Style

Starting your own succulent garden

While in California, I discovered the fun of growing succulents.

Walking around the beautifully manicured streets of the south bay, I saw so many gorgeously landscaped yards with cacti, aloe, and echeveria varietals just…growing. In the yard. (Can you tell I’m a northern gal?!)

I decided I would become a succulent hobbyist. (That’s a thing. I asked Pinterest.)

I went to SummerWinds nursery in my tropical themed tank from Merch Nerds (more on that later) and picked out a couple succulent plants. My favorite was an Echeveria Elegans, a native to Mexico succulent with frosty mint green rosettes that bloom delicate pink flowers with yellow tips.

After photographing them for Instagram (naturally), I researched how to take care of them and start a succulent garden.

Two Ways to Grow Succulents

They can thrive indoors in a pot anywhere or outdoors if you live in certain zones. Quick test: is it like a desert where you live? If yes, plant succulents indoors. No? Mmm, better not, but you can create an indoor succulent garden in a wide bowl. Potted succulent gardens can be gorgeous. Just look at these ones I found at the nursery:

For more inspiration, check out Succulent Garden on Pinterest.

Choosing Your Succulents

I asked the garden center and asked a ton of questions, because my succulent knowledge was low. Here’s what I learned. Some succulents spread on their own, like the Hen and Chicks variety, while some don’t. All are fairly similar in terms of the care needed.

I think just choosing the ones you like the best is the best way to start a succulent garden. See what’s available and go from there. You can add decorative landscaping rock for looks as seen in the succulent bowl above, but you don’t have to.

Caring for Succulents

I’m not an authority on succulents yet, but here is some succulent care advice I’ve picked up from experts so far.

Water them fully, then let them dry completely. If it’s a pot, put it in the sink and water it until the water runs out the bottom. Then don’t water it again until the soil is dry when you touch it. This will likely be about once a month but it could vary depending on how dry your air is.

Make sure your succulent is in a pot that drains! They don’t like their roots sitting in water. And if you have a rosette like my Echeveria Elegans, water the soil and not the rosette itself or the moisture can cause it to rot.

Obvi, they need a lot of light. Keep them away from cold windows, especially at night in cold climates.

Outfit Details

Big thanks to the clever graphic tee company Merch Nerds for this pineapple tank. It’s organic cotton and so soft and comfy! They have tons of other styles and colors on their website, including a cactus tee! How perfect is that? I also really love the Mermaid Off Duty style because if you haven’t heard, I like mermaids.

P.S. if you want to know why buying organic clothing is important to me, read this.

What do you think of my new found succulent gardening hobby? Drop your green thumb wisdom my way!

3 Steps to the Best Single Valentine’s Day Ever

How to have fun on valentines day when you're singleSo you’re single on Valentine’s Day. A fate worse than death, if you ask some people. Personally, I am 100% convinced that the holiday peaks in first grade with pink heart crafts and everyone in the class getting a Valentine card.

“Who is this sad girl?” You’re probably asking yourself. “And why is she indifferent to the world’s most romantic holiday?” The day is one of my favorites, actually. I was obviously born to make crafts for it. I just think of it as an equal opportunity holiday that can be enjoyed (and laughed at) no matter one’s dating status.

How to enjoy Valentine’s Day while single

So how do you make it a fun single Valentine’s Day? According to one of my friends, it’s a three-step process:

  1. Abandon all hope
  2. Embrace that this is it
  3. Treat yo’ self with the money you would have spent on your significant other

It’s not a bad list really, but let me offer an alternative 3-step list.

1. Show your single pride.

Turn off the dating apps. Time is not of the essence. Having no date is better than an awkward first date, if you ask me (or any sane person). Instead, sport a funny shirt which does double duty by embracing how awesome your single self is while subtly announcing your status (just in case the cute guy in your building notices). Awesomely, you can get this shirt at one of my favorite online places to shop, Etsy, along with other classics including “If you’re single and you know it pet your cat” and “Just a single mom trying to raise my plants.”

Single valentine's day pride2. Host a Galentine’s Day party.

You do the cute ice skating and dinner date with heart-shaped cheesecake once and you’re good, honestly. But getting together with your squad never gets old. Contrary to popular belief, a party with your single friends doesn’t need to be a sad affair where everyone drinks wine while silently swiping through Tinder. It also doesn’t need to just include single friends. Get all your favorites together for a Galentine’s Day brunch or gift exchange. If you do a gift exchange, just please promise me you’ll bring a cat bonnet as your gift.

3. Do a cute craft

Crafting endorphins are a real thing, but I cannot prove it because I am not a scientist. DIY something cute like these envelopes for your single friends, or make a cake banner for your Galentine’s party. Or this pretty decor idea from Michael’s:

Galentine's Day party ideasThese three steps will bring back some of the everyone-gets-a-valentine joy from elementary school. And remember no matter what happens on February 14th, you’re not the guy who got friend zoned on Instagram.

Check out my other posts if you need a laugh at Valentine’s Day’s expense!

How to have fun as a single person on the most romantic day of the year

How to Take Photos That Look Like Your Life Isn’t Falling Apart

Hilarious parody of a lifestyle blogger's instagram accountDoes your life look perfect enough online?

Recently a friend and I were talking about how perfect some people appear on social media. We know it’s not really that way of course….right?

She flipped on her phone. “Look,” she said, “See this picture I posted?” It was a beautiful new porcelain compost container photographed against the pure white tile of her renovated suburban home. “It looks like it’s from a magazine,” I said.

“Yeah, well it was the only square foot of real estate I could find that wasn’t covered in clutter, cat hair and dust,” she responded. Well, she fooled me with just one photo. And she fooled the forty other Facebook followers who called her a goddess from heaven sent to teach the people of earth about sustainable housekeeping.

Those picture perfect couples holding hands in matching flannel shirts still fight. Their beautiful smiling babies still vomit all over their work clothes right before they’re ready to walk out the door. And that friend #blessed with a promotion at #dreamjob still has days she can related to this:

 

How to use photography to make it seem like your life isn’t falling apart: A Definitive Guide

You, too, can have a picture-perfect life online. As a lifestyle blogger I’ll teach you what you need to know. The trick, my friends, is how to successfully curate your life to look good. To look like it isn’t…you know, falling apart. This might sound difficult to achieve but it’s actually really, really easy with just four steps.

Make it look like your life isn’t falling apart in four easy steps

1. Cropped AF. 90% of lifestyle photography is cropping the shot until there’s nothing ugly in the background. If the clutter doesn’t make it into the shot, is your house still a trash heap? The answer is a definitive no.


2.  Add Sugar. Nothing makes your photos look classy like macarons, frosted donuts and cupcakes. This makes it appear as though you have nothing but time on your hands to sip a latte at a Parisian cafe and not worry about calories. After you take the photo of a single donut, eat the entire the box and tell no one. Calories don’t count if they aren’t Instagrammed.

3. Pretend to Love Minimalism. Uh-oh, people might start to notice that you’re wearing the same clothes in all your photos. Tell your Instagram followers you are creating a “capsule wardrobe.” This will make you temporarily forget the fact that you want to cry into your undone piles of laundry at night.

4. Use Creative License on Captions. “Great start to the day! I hiked a mountain and did yoga at the summit while the sun rose. #morningslikethese.” Caption your photos to successfully deflect away from the fact that you’re in yoga pants today because it’s a day that ends in -y, not because you actually worked out.

Can we keep this weather, please? #lakelife #onlyinmn #minstagrammers #pup

A photo posted by The Pink Paperdoll (@abbie_katrina) on

At the end of the day, we use social media to add beauty to a dark world. It’s reality mixed with a healthy dose of aspiration. So when you’re depressed about where your life is going, just scroll your own Instagram feed. You are a badass bitch who has at least one square foot of clean house, eats sprinkle donuts for breakfast, has a faux capsule wardrobe and did yoga once. Don’t let your real self forget: you are amazing.

Want more satire? Check out How to Shop For Baby Clothes.

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