My 4 Favorite Blogging Tools

favorite blogging tools

The key to effective blogging is using the right technology, tools and hardware. That’s where the HP Pavilion x360 comes in. The HP Pavilion x360 is not your typical personal computer. In the spirit of bending the rules of technology, it’s designed with a detachable keyboard giving us four awesome “modes” to play in.

HP has partnered with Meghan Trainor to document her first-ever tour with “All About That Tour,” a six episode documentary of the “That Bass” Tour. And I’ve been lucky enough to partner with HP to show you how I use the HP x360 for blogging (ok- and for catching up on my favorite TV shows!)

hp x360 laptop

The HP x360 gets its name from the 360-degree hinge for ultimate flexibility. No matter which way you use this convertible PC, the latest touchscreen technology makes the most of notebook, stand, tent or tablet mode. The HP x360 has 4 modes (laptop, tablet, tent, and stand). I use the laptop mode for my typically blogging, since it’s easiest for me to type on the physical keyboard. The tablet mode is excellent for browsing sites like Pinterest, where I get inspiration for my blog posts (and my upcoming wedding!) The tent mode is ideal for catching up on my favorite TV shows that I missed during the week. My bed time is 10 pm, so anything on after that is watched the following day after dinner.

using the hp x360

hp x360

In the spirit of the 4 modes, I’m going to share with you my 4 favorite blogging tools that I’ve used over the years.

4 Favorite Blogging Tools

Hootsuite Pro- As any blogger knows, social media is a huge part of running a successful blog. You want to work on building your community, finding influencers to share and engage with your content, and schedule your posts at the perfect time. Hootsuite allows you to schedule all your social media posts in advance across multiple networks and measure the results. You can also keep track of your favorite accounts in custom dashboards for easier Twitter browsing. Sign up for a free 30-day trial here (it’s only $9.99 a month after that!)

Bluehost- Bluehost might not technically be a blogging “tool”, it is a game-changer. Bluehost is the hosting service I use for my blog and where I purchased my domain name from. Even if you already have a blog through another host, you can easily switch on over to Bluehost. They offer unlimited domain hosting, unlimited hosting space, unlimited email accounts, a free domain name, a free site builder w/ templates and free instant set-up for WordPress. Their customer support is excellent (via phone or their online chat) and they have so many other features. To create my blogs and websites, I just log in, pay the fee (currently it’s only $3.95 a month), click a few buttons and then I’m done. They guide you through the process of creating a website’s look/feel, have a logo and graphics center, and lets you see your website stats and visitors. Sign up here.

Google Analytics. If you have any sort of website or blog, you need to set up and use Google Analytics. It gives you every statistic you could imagine- who is viewing your blog, which pages they are clicking on, where they are located, and much, much more. There’s a ton of advanced features you can access if you know a bit about websites/SEO, but for newbies they present the basic information very clearly. Best of all- it’s free! This post from Seer shows you how to add it to your blog. This post gives you a basic overview of what data to look at.

Pinterest. I know Pinterest isn’t really a tool, but it is crucial for bloggers. I just checked my stats in Google Analytics and saw that in the 3 years I’ve been blogging, almost 19% of my traffic came from Pinterest. For some bloggers, the number may be even higher (like food bloggers or crafting bloggers). I pin every blog post I write on Pinterest, re-pin relevant posts and make sure to share the love with my other fellow bloggers. You can follow me on Pinterest below!

Visit Rachel Maleady’s profile on Pinterest.

The Best Cat Invention Ever- The Litter Genie

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Litter Genie® and Fancy Feast®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Catparents http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

2 cats on a window

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the Litter Genie is life-changing. Growing up with a cat, I never knew that something like this existed. But when I moved in with James in our apartment and we decided to get a cat, I spent a lot of time in the pet store looking for the best food, bed, litter box and treats for her. That’s when I stumbled upon the Litter Genie.

litter genie instagram

Since then, I’ve sung the praises of the ease and cleanliness of the product. It makes the whole issue of disposing of the cat’s waste so much easier and quicker. So how do you use the Litter Genie? It’s simple!

  1. Follow the directions provided to put together the product. This takes 30 seconds and involves clicking two pieces together and pulling out the trash bag from the refill.
  2. Scoop the clumps from the litter box with the scoop provided.
  3. Open the lid of the Litter Genie to drop in the clumps.
  4. Pull the handle to help seal in waste & odors
  5. Close the lid of the Litter Genie and you’re done!

gray litter genie

litter genie

cat on a rug

cat on a blanket

The Litter Genie is essentially a place for the cat’s waste to be stored. So instead of having to take out the garbage constantly (or mix your cat’s waste in your regular, already stinky food garbage), you only need to empty it when the Genie is full. Of course, this depends on how many cats you have and how much waste they produce, but I find myself only needing the dump the Genie once or twice a month (their general guideline is that “waste is sealed away for up to 14 days for one cat). It’s amazing! And even when you open the lid, you don’t smell cat waste. The compact design and easy-carry handle make it great for small spaces (like my tiny apartment). It comes in neutral colors, too, so it doesn’t clash with your decor. Because I’m crazy and I worry about things like that.

Head on over to Target to take advantage of the In Store Mix and Match offer. Buy any TWO (2) Fancy Feast® – 24 pack OR Litter Genie® Pail/Refill and get a free Cat Toy or Friskies party mix cat treat. Offer available 2/15/15 – 4/11/15 while supplies last. 

Spoiling my Cats with Cat’s Pride

cats pride litter

Since I don’t have kids (wayyy too young for that right now), my two cats are basically my children. I clean up their messes, wipe their butts, talk in a “baby voice” to them… you get the picture. I’d even say that I tend to spoil them more than I ever treat myself.

Adopting pets from a shelter is a wonderful thing. So many stray cats are dropped off in cardboard boxes at local shelters by people who can’t take care of them or don’t want them (these people are terrible). Shelters take the cats in, help them get better and then bring them into local pet stores for adoption. We adopted both of our cats from our local Petsmart through a local shelter. Our newest addition, Harvey, was found behind a bush by someone doing community service. It breaks my heart, but also makes me feel good knowing that now he has a nice home and parents who spoil the crap out of him.

So what do I do to spoil them? Toys, snacks, and the best litter in town, of course!

cat chasing mouse

cats pride litter

bella and harvey

Litter: Cat’s Pride® litter has no fillers and uses highly absorbent clay to keep everything clean and fresh, which is great for us and the cats. It’s up to 50% lighter, provides 10-day odor control and is 99.9% dust free. Unlike some competitive lightweight litter brands that use lightweight fillers like paper, wood chips or light density rock that don’t absorb, Ultimate Care has no fillers and uses highly absorbent clay to provide pure performance. Cat’s Pride Fresh & Light Ultimate Care is truly Light Done Right!™

Toys: Cats are weird. Bella doesn’t like the traditional cat toys, and prefers things like my hair ties and the twist-off plastic seals from milk jugs. Weird, I know. Harvey, who is still a playful kitten, will play with anything. He loves catching the red dot with our laser pointer and was overjoyed when we broke out a remote-control mouse Cat’s Pride sent over.

Snacks: We feed our cats typical cat food and treats, but they also sometimes get a little human snack. Bella is obsessed with plain cooked chicken and deli turkey, while Harvey will try to eat just about anything we are chewing on. Don’t worry- we don’t feed them human food or let them get into anything they shouldn’t.

playing with mouse

harvey the cat

I’m partnering up with Cat’s Pride® to give away one 12lb. Cat‘s Pride Fresh & Light® Ultimate Care™ container. So fellow cat ladies, enter below and spoil your furry friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of Cat’s Pride® and One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

Wedding Trends I Just Don’t Get

wedding trends i hate

Saying that you “hate” or “dislike” something is perfectly normal and human, yet it turns people off. People say “let’s talk about things we love instead of things we hate”, to which I roll my eyes. While that’s good and dandy, it’s honest and sometimes even fun to complain and make fun of things you might not totally agree with. People bond over that! So instead of titling this post “Wedding Trends I Do Not Like” or “Stupid Wedding Stuff I Hate”, I decided to write it a bit more eloquently as to not piss anyone off.

Since we’ve gotten engaged, I’ve been reading wedding magazines (thanks, Mom!) and browsing Pinterest for inspiration. I’ve found a lot of great things, and some not-so-great. I’ve found things that make me cringe, coil in disgust or make me thankful for my excellent taste. Okay- so that last part was a joke. Sort of.

With that being said, here are a few wedding trends I just don’t get. If you had these at your wedding or plan on having them in the future, don’t assume I hate you or think less of you. We just have different tastes. And isn’t that what makes us all unique?

Sunday weddings. I get that it’s cheaper to host a wedding on any day other than a Saturday. Trust me- I’ve seen the cost difference first-hand when we looked at venues. But to me, the cost savings isn’t worth the complete inconvenience it is for my family and friends. With a Sunday wedding- especially if it requires some travel- means you have to take the following Monday off. Sunday also is a day special to many people- whether it’s because they are obsessed with football or they attend religious services. To me, Sunday weddings are just an annoyance that I wouldn’t subject my loved ones to.

Almost-white bridesmaid dresses. Random wedding guests wearing white is a terrible, terrible thing for one woman to do to another. That was just too obvious to include in the list. But lately I’ve noticed some brides choosing off-white, very pale pink or silver shades for their bridesmaids. To me, it’s just too close to white and it takes the attention away from the bride. I would feel totally uncomfortable if I was a bridesmaid and the bride wanted me to wear white or almost-white. I would wear it, of course, because I’m a supportive friend, but I would still feel a little weird. Why is this a trend? Is your wedding theme “Angels in the Sky” or something?

Garter removals. Tacky, tacky, tacky. I’ve witnessed these at weddings before and each time I cringe. Whether it’s the groom lifting up the bride’s skirt to remove her garter or the unfortunate tradition of a random male guest doing it to a random female guest, it screams inappropriate. At this point, the couple might as well just get it on up in the middle of the dance floor, am I right?

Baby’s breath as your only flowers. I understand that flowers are super expensive, and I plan on sticking to a budget and not going overboard for our wedding for that very reason. Baby’s breath make great filler for bouquets, but if it’s the only flower you have in the bouquet, your bouquet looks like a bunch of weeds to me. At least put a different flower or two in there (a single carnation is super cheap) to balance it out. Make it look like at least you put some thought into the flowers.

Cake smashing. I’m all for silly moments between couples. But smashing cake in each other’s faces while we’re wearing super expensive clothing and I just got my makeup and hair done isn’t fun. I’m not even high maintenance, but I would freak out if James did this to me. You’re also wasting perfectly good cake that someone could be eating. Let’s be honest- that’s the real travesty here.

Statement necklaces. I have a few statement necklaces in my collection, but I think wearing them to your wedding is tacky. The bride’s beauty- and her stunning dress- is supposed to shine through and be the center of attention. And with a statement necklace, the necklace is the thing making the statement instead of the bride. What’s even worse is when the necklace is tacky fake gold with fluorescent flowers or cubic zarconia shapes. Just stop.

Glow-in-the-dark necklaces or items. Nothing aggravates me more than people turning fancy occasions into casual ones or vice versa. Your wedding is not a 9th grade school dance- you don’t need glow-in-the-dark necklaces or glowsticks as props for your guests. You hired a professional photographer to capture all the moments- do you really want those ruined by photos of everyone with tacky neon plastic jewelry and wearing sunglasses indoors? Yes, I get that it’s fun. At parties, people love wearing leis and fun hats, but this isn’t a Hawaiian pool party or a New Year’s Even drunken get-together.

“Pick a seat, not a side” signs. I enjoy the idea behind these signs, but they are just so overdone that the originality behind the nice sentiment is destroyed. People in general are smart enough (or so I hope) to figure out where to sit- they don’t need a hand-written sign to show them. What makes these signs even worse? When they are accompanied by a rhyming poem. Gag me.

One huge long table instead of individual circular tables. One trend I’ve seen a lot is using a long, rectangular table for your guests to dine instead of the traditional circular tables that hold between 8 and 12 people. I feel that everyone is so squished together (which also happens at circular tables, I realize this), and you can’t really interact with anyone other than who is directly across from you or right next to you. The centerpieces and long table runners typically take up too much room on the tables and make it awkward to even see or communicate with anyone else at the table. I understand that sometimes these are mandatory for smaller wedding parties or certain venues, but I’m just not loving them.

Expecting someone else to pay for your entire wedding. Don’t be a spoiled little bitch.

So be honest with me here (anonymous if you want)- what wedding trends do you despise? 

I’m a Paul Mitchell Insider!

giving is my style

A few weeks back I was asked to be an official Paul Mitchell insider. As a girl who prides herself on her long hair, I was honored for such an awesome company to choose me to be a part of their program. I love testing out new beauty and hair products, so I was thrilled to receive my first package and get to testing. Here are my thoughts on the first batch of products they sent over my way.

paul mitchell ultimate color repair

Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair® Shampoo & Conditioner- If you know me, you know that I don’t color my hair. That’s right ladies- this mousy brownish-blonde is au natural. Even though I don’t color my hair, it doesn’t mean I can’t stay away from products tailored toward that. This line is anti-fade (which is great for those of you who do color your hair) and is made from gentle, sulfate-free ingredients, so it’s great for any type of hair (colored or not). It contains quinoa, which has high protein to repair strands from within.

Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair® Triple Rescue® Thermal Protection- On days when I do use heat on my hair (I try to only blow-dry once a week and then curl/straighten once a week as well), I make sure to use a heat protection product. This one sprays on easily- just shake and go. It doesn’t leave my ends feeling like straw, which is a plus.

paul mitchell products

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum- Prior to trying this out for myself, I was already familiar with it due to the raves online. This serum smooths, conditions and seals strands, leaving hair silky, shiny and frizz-free in any weather. I use it on braids for a little polish and shine, apply it to my ends after straightening and use a bit for flyaways, too. The options are endless.

Paul Mitchell 413 Sculpting Brush- This brush is perfect for mid-afternoon touch-ups. With my wavy hair, I get tangles throughout the day, so having this in my work drawer is perfect for any bad hair day. It’s also super lightweight, which makes it great for travel.

paul mitchell insider

* all products c/o Paul Mitchell