Archive | March, 2013

Pinterest Rolls Out a New Look

29 Mar

As you may know, Pinterest is where I find my inspiration for many of my projects. Last time I logged in, I was made aware of an update that was available. I was hesitant to update, but I decided I would give it a try. Pinterest users will soon all be invited to join the virtual bulletin board renovation.

The ultimate goal is to make browsing on Pinterest simpler and cleaner looking. They want to make discovery easier.

So what’s changing?

A drop-down menu with various categories has been added to the top left corner to give the appearance of a Smartphone app. Moving the categories menu from the center of the site condensed to the left de-clutters the top and cleans up the appearance.

A common complaint from Pinterest users has been that they lose their spot when they try to go back to the main page. The frustration of losing your place is no longer as the back button now returns you to the spot you left off.

Users will also notice larger pins that are easier to see. Along with Pinterest’s new close-up view, users will see other pins on the same board the pin came from. The change is intended to draw more attention from pinners. By showing other pins from the same board, the pinner is networked to potentially discover hundreds or thousands of more pins.

Application Update

Pinterest mobile app users should also be on the lookout for an update. I received a notification to update about a week ago. App users will be able to edit their profiles after they update. It also seems the number of categories has expanded just like the website.

To me, the changes seem minor, but some reviews were not as supportive, especially with the mobile app. Customers posted reviews, such as the app exiting suddenly and the inability to return to the top of the feed without scrolling all the way up.

Maintaining a Positive Image

Instead of Pinterest having a poor image, they can combat the negative feedback. I recently discovered the Help Center. Users can troubleshoot problems, sometimes immediately. The Help Center has answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the page. You can also email a question if you can’t find your answer, but I haven’t been able to find the email address.

I would recommend Pinterest finds a way to be more interactive to its users. Even though Pinterest is a social media site, it’s different than the typical communication site, such as Facebook or Twitter. It doesn’t have a strong way to communicate, such as private or direct messages. Email seems to be on its way out of everyday use except for business purposes. If site designers created a line of communication, such as direct messaging, I think pinners would be able to troubleshoot their problems instead of leaving negative feedback for all to see.

So, what do you all think? Are you Pinterest fanatics? Is it user friendly, or is it just a frustrating part of your day? I’d love to hear what you all think! Thank you for reading!

(Thank you to mashable.com for the use of the photo.)

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Two-Minute Mug Chocolate Chip Cookie

8 Mar

mug-chocI love my fair share of sweets and chocolate, but I have to say my absolute favorite is a chocolate chip cookie. I hate making a whole batch of cookies because of two reasons:

1)    Who has the time to make that many?

2)    I do NOT need to eat four-dozen cookies on my own.

Whenever I saw mug cookies, online, I was skeptical, until I saw a post from Tasty Kitchen. While a mug cookie isn’t going to turn out exactly like a regular cookie because it’s cooked in the microwave, it comes pretty close.

This recipe takes all of two minutes to prepare and less than two minutes to cook. Less time and less food – it can’t get much better than that!

Here’s what you have to do to get to your chocolatey heaven in less than five minutes.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Butter (melted and cooled slightly)

1 Tablespoon White Sugar

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

3 Drops Vanilla

1 Dash salt

1 Whole Egg Yolk (NO egg white!)

¼ cup (Scant) Flour

2 Tablespoons Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a mug in the microwave.
  2. Add brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt. Stir with a fork.
  3. Separate your egg and add ONLY the yolk. Stir quickly.
  4. Add flour, and stir again.
  5. Add chocolate chips and give a final stir.
  6. Cook in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, just until the center is no longer wet.

Tricks to the Trade

The best tip I can give you is to not melt your butter completely. I put my butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it was mostly melted. If you do happen to melt your butter all the way, make sure you give it a few minutes to cool. I’ll explain why in a minute.

The salt is absolutely crucial! Salt can make or break a cookie. Just a little pinch will do

When separating your egg, you can either do so by carefully shifting the yolk from shell to shell after cracking. Make sure to do this over the sink and not your mug. You can also buy a handy dandy egg separator. I didn’t know these existed until my aunt used one while making Christmas cookies this year. It’s a great little gadget and not very expensive.

When you add your egg yolk, STIR QUICKLY! Believe it or not, if your batter is too warm, parts of your egg can cook in your batter (Why you want to let your butter cool).

I am obsessed with turning recipes into whole grain. I used Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat Flour. Using whole-wheat flour, you may need to use less, which brings me to the meaning of ‘scant’ in a recipe. “Scant: barely amounting to as much as indicated.” If you choose to use whole-wheat flour, be very careful about how much you use. Whole-wheat flour has a tendency to pull moisture from batter.

I hope you enjoy your chocolatey goodness!

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

Firefly Party Lights

1 Mar

Firefly Christmas Lights firefly2

You’re planning a party, and of course you want some decorations. Do you go with streamers? Balloons? Confetti? If you’re like me, you want a classy look that’s pretty, inexpensive, and simple. For less than $5, you can make your gathering light up, no matter what the occasion.

I of course found the idea on Pinterest, and it was linked to a blog called Hayseed Homemakin’. If you get a chance, take a look at her blog, too. She has some great ideas! Now, let’s get down to business.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 string of lights

2 yards of tulle

Lace (optional)

Scissors

Cut seven to eight inch squares out of your fabric, meaning seven to eight inches across and up. I never would have thought to use squares, but they give the fabric on the lights a much fuller look. You can also cut strips of fabric if you prefer, but I like the fuller look because you can’t see the green cord as well, and it kind of looks like little fireflies peeking through the fabric.

Once you have a square for each green space, start bunching and tying. I kind of bunched the fabric in the middle then tied a square knot (right over left, left over right.) Depending on how much lace you want to use if you want to use it, you can tie it on in place of the tulle. I tied two pieces of tulle then a piece of lace. Keep tying until you have the whole strand covered.

Voila! You have a strand of your very own firefly Christmas lights. Now, all you have to do is find a place to run the lights. If you have a food or drinks table, I would push the table against a wall and run the lights along the back edge to create a little bit of ambiance. You could also hang them on curtain rods, place them on a mantle, or maybe even hang them on a dimly lit chandelier (you’d have to test that out to see how it looks.)

The great thing about these lights is tulle comes in an abundance of colors. If you want a “winter wonderland,” you could use white tulle and white lace. Valentine’s day, you can use pink and/or red tulle. A baby shower could use light pink or blue. For New Year’s Eve next year, I thought I might play around with either gold and black tulle or cream and black. The possibilities are endless!

To keep this project as inexpensive as possible, I shopped the after Christmas sales. I’m sure you could also find a string of lights in a dollar store or on Amazon for pretty cheap as well. Tulle is probably the most inexpensive fabric out there. I found mine at Joann Fabrics. In the store, mine was $2 per yard. It doesn’t get much better than that! Let me know how your firefly Christmas lights turn out!

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