5.23.2015

Where in the world is Helene in Between?

I feel like I'm at my house half the time, and traveling the other half. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it. So I wanted to update you and let you know about where I'm headed for the next few weeks!

Currently, I'm in Seaside, Florida. This is my favorite beach in all the world. I'm currently wishing that I did have a beach body, but that's what beach cover ups are for. I'll be sharing lots of more beachy pics on instagram: @heleneinbetween

I am taking my sisters out for ther first time since they turned 21. Wish me luck, I'll need it.

The second weekend of June, I'm going to Flagstaff Arizona to visit my friend and do some hiking. I'm excited for the views, since a quick Google search shows me this:


The following weekend I'm throwing my first every Baby Shower! If you have tips, ideas or, anything to help me, PLEASE tell me. No, seriously.

Then it will officially be wedding seasons with back to back weddings. I'm excited. But also need to go shopping.

What do you have planned?
Don't forget to follow along on instagram- @heleneinbetween
Happy Memorial Day weekend! 

5.22.2015

The Blogger Vs. Wordpress Debate

Do you have questions about which blogging platform is for you?  Here is a great breakdown of Blogger and Wordpress for you. 
To help us clear some of the air and talk about the benefits of Blogger, Kristyn and I got together to dicuss the benefits. She's talking all about Wordpress, I'm focusing on why Blogger is best. Let's get started!

Here is why I Kristyn loves Wordpress and she wishes started on this platform first:

You own your content and you get to manage a website.
Yes, Blogger is free and hosted by Google. But, I actually love that I get to manage my site. I am in control of the hosting services (A Small Orange is amazing). I learned what a cPanel is and I have actually gotten to play with things in it - like the function.php file when my site decided to not work when I messed up something on it. Super fun.
The designs are mobile responsive
I know that you can get a mobile responsive site on Blogger, but it's not automatic. With Genesis, you can easily scroll through my blog on any device and it will look the same. No scrolling side to side to read my blog on your phone. You are welcome.
The plugins
This might be considered a perk of Wordpress, but these plugins are completely fantastic. They can speed up your site, help you with social media scheduling, secure your site from people trying to hack it, to recipe cards, to optimizing everything...the list goes on and on. The plugins that I use are all intentional to help my blog run faster.
The ease of changing up your menu and sidebar
To switch up my menu (at the top of my blog), I can actually do a bunch of different things up there. I can add any category or page to the menu and I could switch things around. I can also move my header over and put the 2nd menu up higher. The sidebar is just as easy to move things around. Nothing is ever stuck in place and I feel like I can change things around or add things as needed.
Google Analytics
I use Wordpress stats, but I also have a plugin for Google Analytics. This is linked straight to my account and makes it so easy to see how my blog is performing. I don't have to log into GA separately to see those real time stats. I love that it's a plugin and directly in my dashboard. It's awesome to have that flexibility. 

Now let's talk Blogger.  I've been blogging for almost three years now at Helene in Between. Sometimes I feel like I have the hang of things, other times I wonder what the heck I'm doing. I feel pretty confident in my blogging skills, but there's always been one thing up for debate: Blogger vs. Wordpress. I'm a Blogger girl. I always have been. When I first started it was a "Duh" decision. It felt like the most advanced, cheapest, and easiest to use platform out there. Now, parts of that statement is true, but Wordpress has become a huge competitor.

Despite all of Wordpress' bells and whistles, here's why I still believe Blogger is best:

It's easy to understand
As far as a blogging platform goes, Blogger is very straightforward. You can immediately jump in and understand how to post, edit, and import pictures and how to gain followers.
Design
Designing in Blogger is more simple than Wordpress. Of course, it's nice to have a blog designer but when you're just starting out, you can adjust the website to your liking.
Google
Blogger is owned by Google and Google is basically God. Am I right?
Stats
Your blog's statistics are simple and clear. You can see easily how you got traffic.
Comments
Blogger offers a comment feature that links directly to your blog. While Wordpress does the same, you have to enter in your information each time, or you have to use a service like Disqus.
Free
Blogger is completely free, while you have to pay to use Wordpress. It's $100 a year to own your site on Wordpress.
Google Adsense
You can easily plug into Google Adsense and make money from your blog.
I think bottom line, in my case, Blogger is easier. So the ease of use means that I do miss out on some of the benefits.

Which platform would you choose?

 ****

Now I have a blogger to introduce you to, in fact, she is the perfect person to talk to today, since she switch from Wordpress to Blogger! It's Alanna, from Alanna and Company.  She's a dog lover, D.C. girl, foodie, avid book reader, and all around awesome lifestyle blog. Today I have her on the blog today to discuss her blog and life!

 

1. You're originally from Canada, do you find that Americans and Canadians are very different? It really depends on where you are from Canada. I was from Toronto which I call the most American-like Canadian city. I think the biggest differences I noticed are the accents (ya'll come back now!), milk is in cartons and not bags, it's called soda and not pop, and that Spring lasts more than just one week. 

2. Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog to pass the time. I was bored a lot and I wanted to find a new hobby. Mission accomplished!

3. What's your favorite subject to post about and why?

I love writing funny lifestyle posts. I wrote a funny post about quarter-life crises a little while back and I was cracking myself up while I was writing it. Second favorite are DC posts! I love my city. 



4. What's been your most popular post? What's a favorite post you've written?

My most popular post is first Stitchfix review. No surprise there. But my favorite post I've written is my Intro to Baking Cherry Pie by Scratch or the Quarter-Life Crisis post. 


5. If you could offer one piece of must-have advice to an aspiring blogger, what would it be?

Communicate and network! Blogging has a great community and has helped me to feel more confident about my writing and how to make my blog great!

Check Alanna out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

 

5.21.2015

Things I Really Do Not Care For

There are some new developments taking the world by storm. Things like the Apple Watch or myriad of other new apps, projects, and advancements that are wonderful. Those things are not what this post is about. These are things that I really do not care for, at all.

I got on the plane yesterday in good spirits. I was finally heading home and had a good time at my work conference. I learned a lot. I was tired and ready for my own bed, though. I thought I might get a little shut eye on the flight but the 100s of kids on their way home from the theme parks had other ideas.
There were two children, of the same parents, that had the loudest, most blood curdling screams on the flight. It was scary. At one point I timed how long they were screaming. Sometimes people would get up and look over at these kids to make sure they weren't dying.


This app that gauges how old I am. Thanks, but you're really wrong. And really rude.
You're 8 years off and making me self conscious. Hold on. It gets better:
At first I thought it must be the filters. So I went with some I knew wouldn't have filters. This one is from high school, I was 18, so was she:
That app can go to hell.

Frozen. Admittedly, I haven't seen it. But enough. If my hair is in a side braid this does not mean I am trying to look like Elsa. I've been rocking that since 'Nam.

People (Michael) who go on and on about how instagram isn't "instant" for me.

This video from Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea, "Pretty Girls." I'm just not sure what is happening or why this is just so poorly made. I feel like it's all just bad. What are they doing here? Why is Iggy talking like that? Is Britney on drugs again?
See for yourself:

Reese Witherspoon came out with a new product line called "Draper James." In essence it's southern, and classic, and chic. Oh, and expensive. $75 for a graphic tee? No, Reese, no. How about $30 for a set of 12 note cards? Or a charm necklace for $138? I think I'll bring my money to Target, thank you.

That I love the "Bad Blood" song/music video. When I saw it, I thought, "This isn't that great of a song. Don't be a follower, Helene." I can't get enough now.

That David Letterman is over. I'm a fan. I thought he was really funny. Also he looks like my Dad. 

I came home yesterday to find clear skies in Dallas. Nope. Today it's full on raining.

Bonus, want to like Justin Bieber again? This video of his carpool karaoke just might do the trick. 

What do you not care for?

5.20.2015

My Biggest Struggle + A Recipe

I workout 6 days a week. Three days are strength training and three are walking/running. My version of running is what many of you might call a fast walk but, to me, it's my running pace. My strength training is a 45 minute session where I literally feel like I might die of exertion.

And you know what? I haven't lost that much weight. I have lost some. But not as much as I'd like to over the past 3 months. The reason is my diet. When hunger strikes I feel ravenous. I want to eat all the things and I'll stop at nothing until I'm satisfied. I'm well aware that abs are made in the kitchen, but when my kitchen isn't stocked I reach (or drive) to get something unhealthy.

I love cooking. I'm not the best, but Michael and I try to whip up creative recipes when we can. There's a new concept that is absolutely perfect if you're busy (um, hello, everyone) and want to eat fresh, healthy ingredients. It's called Blue Apron, and it's my new best friend.

Picture this: fresh, delicious meals, delivered straight to your door in a refrigerated box. Based on your needs, Blue Apron, plans, shops, measures and delivers the meals for less than $9.99 per person, per meal. Shipping is free, you can skip a week or cancel anytime. I don't know about you but last week my grocery bill was over $100 and this is somehow cheaper and takes out the part where I have to wait in line at the grocery store.

This past week I had no time to grocery shop. I had so much to do at work, a blog to keep up, a baseball game with my Dad (I know poor me), a wedding shower to attend, and I was leaving for Orlando for work. I really wasn't sure when or how we would eat. And then I remembered Blue Apron was being delivered.

I cooked the white pizza with pesto, pine nuts, and pea tips which was absolutely delicious, and something I might not think to make. All the ingredients are portioned correctly, so I never feel like I'm wasting anything (like I do every. single. time. I buy cilantro.)

Here's the recipe for the White Pizza:

Ingredients:


  • 1 Pound Pizza Dough
  • 2 Ounces Arugula
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Ounces Pea Tips
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Pine Nuts
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese 



  • Directions:
     
    - Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a small pot of water to boiling on high. Peel and mince the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste. Using a peeler, remove the rind of the lemon, avoiding the pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and thinly slice the onion.

    - Lightly oil a sheet pan. Place the dough onto the prepared sheet pan. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Carefully rub the dough into the pan to oil the bottom. 

    -In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and garlic paste; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined. Drizzle the prepared dough with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with evenly-spaced spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture. Evenly top the pizza with the lemon zest and as much of the onion as you’d like. Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until the crust is browned and cooked through. Remove from the oven.

    -While the pizza bakes, add the arugula to the pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until wilted and bright green. Drain thoroughly. Transfer to a strainer and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process; hold or rest the strainer over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the rinsed arugula to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the arugula to a clean work surface and finely chop until it resembles a paste. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped arugula and half the Parmesan cheese. Slowly whisk in enough olive oil to create a rough paste; season with salt and pepper to taste. 

    -Heat a small, dry pan on medium until hot. Add the pine nuts. Toast, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat.

    -In a medium bowl, combine the pea tips and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spoon the arugula pesto over the pizza. Top with the toasted pine nuts, dressed pea tips and remaining Parmesan cheese. Slice the pizza.    

    Michael took one bite, and said "Okay, Helene, this is restaurant quality." I was so proud. His eyes seemed to widen with each bite. It's safe to say there were no leftovers, it was that good. The ingredients are fresh, and very high quality and that come's across in the finished meal.

    Blue Apron will soon be delivering to the Dallas/Fort Worth (and Texas!) area. They are shipping nationwide! Check out delivery areas here.

    Blue Apron meals are 500-700 calories per person, made with healthy ingredients. You always know exactly what you're putting into your body. All meals can be on the table in 40 minutes or less and you learn to make something new. Chefs around the world wear blue aprons to emphasize lifelong learning, hence the name.

    Take a look at some Blue Apron Recipes here. Next, I hope to try the fresh linguine primavera and the braised chicken thighs.

    Want to try Blue Apron yourself? The first 25 readers get two meals FREE on their Blue Apron order, here!

    This post is part of a sponsorship with Blue Apron but all opinions are 100% mine. Did I mention this is my new best friend?
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