Things I’m Learning About Twitter

Twitter is this magic beast; it’s quite the antithesis of Facebook, really. A lot of people shouting and pretending to listen, but no one’s really fighting (most of the time) because they’re caught up in their own jam.

Unless you’re following hashtags and that’s a whole ‘nother world. But if you’re not following hashtags, and you’re just following people, there’s a rabbit hole of awesome that you, too, can experience in the flesh.

When you're playing the Twitter game, these tips will help you make the most of this social space.

I’ve had a Twitter account for years, but I feel like a total noob, which obviously isn’t stopping me from telling you how to win at Twitter. This is what I’m learning.
1. Twitter likes you best when you’re hot, lazy, and love food. The number of people who followed me over the course of the year was completely correlated to the attractiveness of my profile picture (you know what a selfie whore I am) and the number of times I mentioned cheese. My best tweets all involve me not wanting to remove myself from bed, but desperately craving food or eating an embarrassing number of doughnuts. Whatever. Twitter, I get you. This is why we’re friends.

2. It’s all about go big or go home. The way to grow your Twitter followership? Actively immerse yourself in the Twitter. I mean, if you’re lazy and love food, you’ll love wasting your time on Twitter. I do. There are a lot of hilarious as fuck people out there. I think to myself, “can I keep you?” And then I follow them on Twitter. And I can keep them in my pocket. It’s like magic.

3. You can make friends all over the place when you’re weird. That go big thing about Twitter being a time suck? It’s because you’re supposed to socialize in the blue bird sandbox. Get crackin’ and find the people who get your humor/sentiments/anger/love/weirdness. They’ll welcome you with open retweets and faves. Unless you’re a dick. And even then, someone probably likes you. Again with the magic.

4. The pound sign is out. Remember when that was what we called the #? Hashtags are fun to make up but totally not required to make friends. Don’t worry you can still hash your heart out on Instagram. Or you can run with the Twitter pack that plays the hashtag game.

5. It’s all in the hips. Not really. I just wanted to say that. Honestly, I think it’s all about who you are. If you’re weird, like food a little too much and hate getting out of bed, you’ll probably enjoy being my Twitter friend, but if you’re the complete opposite,  I’m absolutely positive there are people who’ll get you too.

What do you like best about Twitter? Which is your favorite social network? Why?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Grocery Shopping: Because Being Lazy and Proactive About My Eating Habits Are Better Than Saving Money

I read something on Pinterest the other day about things you should NEVER  buy at the grocery store. Among the items included many of our weekly (okay whenever-we-make-it-to-the-grocery-store-ly, which averages about 2-3 times a month) purchases. And so I said to myself, “Self, someone has to speak out against this insanity. Someone needs to tell these Pinterest Looney Toons to get a hold of themselves and drop the homemade spice mix. Self, that someone should probably be you.”

Okay fine, I didn’t actually say those things to myself. I was busy muttering under my breath about not wanting to put pants on and needing to eat more cheese, but whatever. I thought them. In fact, I’ve thought about this often enough I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to shit I’m never going to do. And about 60 other Pinterest boards dedicated to shit I’m probably never going to do.

Anyways, I’ve come up with a very important list of things you should buy at the grocery store because the cost outweighs the amount of time spent doing whatever it takes to make those things happen.

Whether you're trying to save money or just be the ultimate Pinterest mom, some of these "money savers" are actually not worth your time or energy.

Things you shouldn’t bother Pinteresting or forgoing because the grocery store makes it So. Much. Easier.

Spice mixes: Let’s start with this one (and ignore the fact that I do, actually, make my own taco and fajita seasoning but to be fair, I don’t really measure any of it). Sure, you can mix and match your seasonings easy enough. But ain’t nobody got time for experimentation. When you’re in a hurry, isn’t it reassuring to know that your X,Y,Z isn’t going to be fucked up because you were smart enough to use a spice mix which had the perfect blend of crushed red pepper, dried pineapple flavor and bacon bits (patent pending)? I thought so too. Also, no one makes ranch like Hidden Valley. There. I said it.

Miracle cleaning solution: Let’s talk about this “Blue Dawn and vinegar” bullshit I’ve seen all over Pinterest. I tried it when we first moved into the house. I was thinking to myself, “Self, this is going to make a great post one day. You’ll be all ‘Blue Dawn and vinegar’ was really a miracle in my stained bathtub!” And you know what? I was wrong. Because all that shit did was smell nasty. I understand cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is also supposed to help – I used it dozens of times to try cleaning my garbage disposal. It masked the odor alright…with vinegar smell. Give me Scrubbing Bubbles and a Plink drop any day.

Vinegar: We rarely use most of the vinegar in our cabinets. Brian uses the balsamic for his salad dressing (along with a pre-packaged spice mix) and I use the white vinegar when I dye eggs on Easter. And yet, there are people who make their own fermented vinegar. Dudes. You guys. This stuff is cheap. Who wants to stink up their house for a product you use a couple times a year or whatever.

Dryer sheets: I LOVE the smell of clean laundry. I hate doing laundry, but the smell of fresh from the dryer laundry makes my heart go pitter patter. On Pinterest, I ran across a pin for homemade dryer sheets which looked super cute, but sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. One of the comments on it, though, was priceless – “I tried this and my laundry smelled like vinegar!” Bring on the store-bought dryer sheets so my laundry can smell delicious.

Bottled water: Oh hell yes, I’m going here. I know this one isn’t a Pinterest thing, but I’ve seen it on the money-saving lists. Sure, I’ve got reusable bottles and travel cups and mugs galore (I usually get them free with brand names on them when I go to fancy blog conferences). We even bought fancy pants Brita water bottles (okay – these are great for traveling). But you know what I hate? When I wake up with enough time to brush my teeth, throw pants on, and MAYBE brush my hair before I race to the train…and have to spend more time filling a bottle with water than I did doing all of the getting ready part of my morning. Instead, I can grab a bottle on my way out the door and satiate my thirst while I commute into the city. Besides, when you buy them at Sam’s Club, they’re so cheap per bottle. And water is never truly free, y’all. Need I remind you about your water bill which is payment for water that comes out of your faucet?


Pre-packaged snacks: I love snack packs. A lot. And you know what? Those pre-packaged little goodies keep me from killing my poor boyfriend. Because I’m high maintenance like a freakin’ gremlin. Also, they keep me from eating the whole fucking econo bag of Doritos that I would otherwise buy at Sam’s Club in one sitting. It’s been known to happen.

So the thing is, you guys…I get it. If you’re on a money-saving kick, this might make sense to you. If you’re on an all-natural ingredient thing? I totally get that too. But before you go out to buy the necessary equipment and ingredients to pull these tricks off, don’t forget to add the math for the time it takes you to do this shit. Your hourly rate counts as money spent, doesn’t it?

What crazy DIY shit have you seen recently on Pinterest, or the Internet, or anywhere really, that would be much easier to purchase? Have you tried any of the DIY options I mentioned? Are you a die-hard DIY maven? Are you a bottled water drinker?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Let Freedome Ring…And Also…David Hasselhoff On A Serious Quest

My ambassadorship with F-Secure is coming to a close, but I thought it was important to address something I noticed in all your lovely comments on my last post about Freedome.

In your comments, a lot of you mentioned using antivirus software, which is awesome, but you’re only protecting yourself from malware and viruses, and not protecting your privacy. If you’re on an open network (one of the billions of public Wi-Fi connections), you never know who could be tracking your information. I’m not a big conspiracy theorist (my opinion of the moon landing & obsession with the show, Person of Interest, notwithstanding), but I like having the comfort of being protected on both counts.

A VPN (virtual private network), such as F-Secure Freedome, can help ensure your privacy by encrypting your information and showing your location as elsewhere in the world.

This little ole app scans my new apps, protects me from tracking attempts, secures my browsing, and protects my connection.

image

I think it’s doing a pretty great job. You know who’s also a fan?

David Hasselhoff.

So there’s that.

You can check out F-Secure Freedome for yourself with a 90-day free trial of Freedome VIP with a special code for my readers: qsf257.

Have you used a VPN to protect your digital integrity? What measures do you take to keep your information safe?

This post was sponsored by F-Secure. I received compensation and a free trial for Freedome to tell you about my experience. As always, I only work with brands and products that I wholeheartedly support.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Freedom!

If you imagined pre-crazy Mel Gibson, half naked and about to be decapitated? Well played.

Now let’s talk about something a little more serious.

You are being watched.

You are being watched

Is that creepy? Because I think so. Everything you do. Everything you watch. Every website you visit. Every word you type is tracked. Sure the government may be reading your email. The NSA maybe be tracking your Skype chats. Homeland Security might even be keeping tabs on your shit. (I watch a lot of Person of Interest, and so I’m all engrossed in the world of government agencies spying on everything we do and say. Those red light cameras weren’t put up to ticket us, homies – more on that another time.)

But even creepier is that there are corporations out there. Watching you. Websites and internet spies watching your every move, ready and willing to send your information to the highest bidder. Do you check the permissions before you download an app to your devices? There’s a reason I don’t use the Facebook app or the Twitter app. I use browsers. Because if the apps are on your phone, they have access to your internet connection. Your personal information. Your user history. Your contacts. Everything.

Facebook

Basically, everyone’s trying to put a price on your information. But you can protect yourself, at least a little bit. I never download an app without looking at the permissions that it’s requesting. If I’m downloading a photo editing app, I check the permissions to see what it “needs,” because it probably doesn’t NEED much. In addition to checking permissions, I’ve been running F-Secure Freedome on my devices. This handy protective app blocks websites that could be tracking my information. It checks out my apps when I download them. It blocks tracking attempts. It basically protects me from myself and those “harmful” websites I visit.

Screenshot_2015-03-02-11-23-30When a site is harmful, F-Secure says NO. Bad. Don’t go to that site. Which happened when I went to check out a site that sent me referral traffic on my blog. I was appreciative. Screenshot_2015-02-28-06-40-28

It’s super easy to use and keeps you secure by encrypting your data on free Wi-Fi networks, keeping your virtual identity anonymous, changing your virtual location so you can’t be tracked, and blocking harmful sites and apps. This video sums it up pretty succinctly:

If you’re interested in trying out F-Secure Freedome for yourself, you can do so (and I’m loving it) by visiting Freedome VIP. I even have a special code for my readers so you can try it out for free for 90 days: qsf257

After the trial, the annual subscription is only $16.99, and the monthly subscription is $1.99. I spend more than that on a single nail polish. And it makes me feel better about being on the internet all the time.

As an added bonus, if you try F-Secure Freedome, you’ll have the chance to win an iPad mini and a free year of F-Secure Freedome to keep your privacy safe on your new device. You can enter via the Giveaway tool below.

Blog Friends, what do you do to protect your privacy online? Do you use any apps or tools to keep yourself anonymous? Are you going to try Freedome?

This post was sponsored by F-Secure. I received compensation and a free trial for Freedome to tell you about my experience. As always, I only work with brands and products that I wholeheartedly support.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Have Accidentally Given Someone My Password. Again.

I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Another quick cautionary story about passwords (because my first password fail wasn’t enough). Last week, the day I posted about my password fail, I was G-chatting one of my girlfriends while doing some stuff. I went to type an important password into the password pop-up box…and clicked enter. Thus sharing my BRILLIANT but top-secret password to my friend. And now I can never use that password again. Not that I don’t trust her or anything, but what if her e-mail gets hacked? So now I have to come up with yet another BRILLIANT and top-secret password.

Bummer.

We’ve all got passwords. Some of us (cough me cough) use variations of the same general password across a bazillion different platforms. And can never seem to remember the right combination of usernames/passwords…

Others are organized and efficient and (Um. Can you come to my computer and help me sort this stuff out?) really good with passwords. I recently started using F-Secure KEY to track my usernames and passwords – and yes…I’m STILL inputting them (stop laughing) because I’ve had to change passwords and have e-mail reminders sent left and right (no, really, stop laughing).

This handy-dandy infographic is actually SUPER helpful for creating passwords. I never would have thought of personalizing passwords for the different sites, but that’s a pretty neat idea.

Password Safety

Which of these tips do you think is the most useful?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Breakup Letter

Dear Pandora,

I know that we’ve been together for a really long time. For a while there, it was truly something special. You were always pretty good to me, and I will always look back on our time together fondly (Well…the early years). Unfortunately, you’ve recently become unreliable, unresponsive, and (dare I say) boring.

I’m tired of hearing the same 10 songs on repeat. I know that there are more options out there, Pandora…your music knowledge and understanding just don’t seem to get it. When I tell you that I DO NOT want to hear Glee, EVER….you just don’t listen. And most importantly, you don’t understand separate stations. Just because I like a song on one station DOES NOT mean that I want to hear it on a completely irrelevant station. You’re messing with my emotions, and I’m not a fan.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve met someone else. For that, Pandora, I apologize. But Spotify knows me. He understands me. He lets me make my very own stations. He has full albums that I can peruse. I don’t even mind that his commercials are pretty repetitive…because they aren’t as often. And by spending just a few hours with Spotify last week, I heard songs that you’ve never played for me. And I rejoiced.

So for now, Dear Sweet Pandora, it’s over. This hurts me more than it hurts you. I promise you that.

Sincerely,

Me.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Very Pinteresting: Pinterest Then and Pinterest Now

How Pinterest Evolved

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Brian Shares Saturday: Because Baby Polar Bears Make Me Cry

So Brian shared this adorable baby polar bear video.

And then I fell in love with the baby polar bear, Knut. And clicked to watch more videos of said pet polar bear… And ended up watching this video…that made me cry. (WARNING: This video MIGHT make you cry.)

If you watched it, you can see why I cried. If you didn’t watch it…Spoiler alert: Knut dies from some type of brain damage…which is likely why he was abandoned by his mother and had to be raised by humans.

Saddest. Thing. Ever. And it was all Brian’s fault for showing me the cute baby polar bear learning how to walk. He has since learned not to send me videos of cute animals unless he has checked out what I’ll click into next.

And now, some Saturday humor to cheer you up after the sad video:

Seven Deadly Sins? SLOTH?

Sloth and seven deadly sins

Right? I mean, seriously…does this little guy look like he’s deadly? Or sinning? I didn’t think so either.

sloth and flowers

Chrissy and Brian

kangaroo animated gif
Brian sent me this animated gif…and I was like “Bwahahahaha! That’s you and me! Guess which one is you?”

And Brian was all, “Hey!” Except that he knew it was true. Because I’m a bit spazzy. And I totally steal his food. Often. Especially when it’s Portillo’s cheese fries. I’m just saying.

The Zombie Security Protection Plan

Brian discovered this as the perfect way to protect our future house from unwanted zombies…

zombie protection

Don’t you want one too?

That’s all for today, folks! Tomorrow I’m running into Lake Michigan to raise money for the Special Olympics. If you have a dollar or two to spare, consider donating it through my Polar Plunge Fundraising Page. Thanks!

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Brian Shares Saturday: February Quickie

Hey kids! My little sister is getting married today, so I don’t have much time…but I know you look forward to the sweet shit my boyfriend finds on the internet…

Surprise Vacation?

That was my response when Brian directed me to this Reddit discussion. He said no.

A Balinese Swim Resort

A Balinese Swim Resort

For Katie at Words for Worms

And everyone else…Brian said I should send this to Katie, but I figured that it would be much more appreciated by EVERYONE. Because it’s fucking adorable.

Baby Penguin

Free Books from Dolly Parton

COOL! Your kiddo can receive a free book every year from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library until they are 5 years old. I think this is awesome, as I tend to buy kids books instead of cool toys… Or sometimes in addition to cool toys. 🙂

Cheshire Cat

Knowing my adoration for Chesh, Brian sent me this sweet little Cheshire Cat Image…

Cheshire Cat

Sweet Sweet Love Note

Sassy Love Note

Brian sent this, because 1. It is hilarious and 2. I would write that to him except replace Sprite with Ginger Ale. He is always drinking my Ginger Ale! And then it’s gone when I want it!

My Valentine

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I added the fancy valentine that I made for Brian. And the one I made for my lady friends. And the awesome Brian picture of awesomeness that was revealed at our dinner date…

My Valentine to Brian

My Valentine to Brian

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

Brian snuck the tuxedo tee-shirt to dinner and revealed it when I least expected it. As if you didn't already love him!

Brian snuck the tuxedo tee-shirt to our “romantic” dinner and revealed it when I least expected it. As if you didn’t already love him!

That’s all kids! You should wish my sister happy congratulations today!

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Power of a Name

Project Fairy Tale

Remember way back when, a few months ago, when I was having a complete jealousy complex toward Katie at Words for Worms and I signed up to read some fairy tales and write about them as if I were a book blogger or something? No? Here, you can go back and read about why I chose Rumpelstiltskin…then come right back.

So obviously, my chosen fairytale was based on my obsession with Once Upon a Time (Stop judging me. Stop it.) Brian and I *almost* went as Rumpel and Belle for Halloween which would have been fucking fantastic. I would have even dyed my hair brown for the occasion. As you know, we ended up going as Jack and Sally so that I could keep my ginger color and have a bad ass costume to boot…

Do you want to know WHHYYYY Brian vetoed this plan? I’ll bet you can guess after checking out this picture:

Rumpelstiltskin

Yep, sparkles. shimmers. shine. Brian didn’t want a sparkle face. He has no problem with makeup, but sparkles are a disease. Infectious. It’s sad really…Because I miss my sparkle lip gloss.

That being said, I don’t have awesome pictures of my boyfriend as Rumpelstiltskin, but you know what? After reading the original fairytale, I’m not as impressed with Rumpel.

Granted, I know…He wasn’t all that great in Faerie Tale Theatre (and really, to be quite honest, neither was Shelley DuVall [If you are unsure of who or what I’m talking about, you definitely missed out on an excellent childhood experience: The joy of Faerie Tale Theater.]

When I was growing up, I was obsessed with Faerie Tale Theater. OB-SESSED. Whenever I was sick, Mom would go to Blockbuster [blah-k-bus-ter: proper noun: a place where one borrows movies for a set time at a nominal fee] and rent several episodes of Faerie Tale Theater. I would watch them over and over and over again. We had to get our money’s worth of viewing from Blockbuster.

My favorites–the ones Mom would rent repeatedly–were The Snow Queen, Rapunzel, and Rumpelstiltskin. My grandpa had Sleeping Beauty on Laserdisc for me, and I had Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella [Oh, God Matthew Broderick/Prince Charming I love you!] so I didn’t worry about renting those. Yes I know I’m still in parentheses)…but I was hoping for a little something more…

Rumpelstiltskin: A Fairytale Book Review

OK, it’s not a book, so much as a short (operative word here) story. You can read it easily enough by clicking the heading above. Fairy-tales are fables. They’re stories to teach. To entertain. And at one time they were verbal. SO…they’re short. Which is totally okay.

But you know what is not okay? Turning into a whiny little bitch because someone knows your name. OK OK it’s more than that. The miller’s daughter is SUCH a victim, it’s not even funny. Her dad pawns her off to the king for riches. The king demands riches before he will love her. The little man promises her riches in exchange for everything she owns including her unborn child. But she’s clever. And sneaky. And manages to survive her father, the king, AND the little man. So shit, girl…get the hell away from these crazy men and go find some elf in the woods or something…

Legolas

Like him, perhaps?

In all seriousness, though, I think that there is something to be said about the power of a name. How often do you speak the name of your children, your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? Your friends? How often do you hear your own name? If you really think about it, it isn’t always that often. You hear your name more when you’re being talked about than spoken to.

Take a minute. Think back to the last time someone said your name. Was it gossip? Was it directed at you? Was it sweet or harsh? A name is a powerful thing to know. Google your name. See what pops up. What does the world know about your name? Do you want the world to know or do you hide behind a pseudonym? When you write about your family, your friends, your children…do you share their names?

Rumpelstiltskin may be just a short fairytale in the world of literature, but it certainly speaks volumes about power. And names.

Blog Friends, I want to know your thoughts…what is the power of a name?

Also…click the Fence to vote for me!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!