May 19, 2017

Semester Favorites

the 12 finds that I'm loving for spring are the amazon echo dot, apple watch series 2, clarisonic mia fit, iStudiez app, starbucks mocha frappuccinos, peaceful piano playlist on spotify, quit toothbrush, kindle paperwhite, grocery list pad, spin class, swell water bottles, and daily planning pads | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello again lovelies! This past semester has felt like it was only 3 weeks long and honestly I'm shocked at how fast it flew by. Now I'm 2/3 of a lawyer and tbh that scares me a little because that means the Bar and real world are right around the corner but I still feel like I just got to law school! I already know that my 3L year is going to go by even faster, but I can't even imagine how that is possible 😱 Anyways, this post is just me reflecting on this semester and sharing with y'all some things that I discovered along the way! Note: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure by clicking here.


Amazon Echo


I got my Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas even though I didn't ask for it but man did my Mom do good! At first I didn't really know what to do with it but the longer I've had it, the more uses I find for it. Now instead of snoozing my alarm, I have Alexa read me my "flash briefing" which I set up to read my daily The Skimm while I start to wake up. And I'm starting to get smart plugs that work with it so that I can turn on/off my lights while I'm in bed! Plus, it's really great to have in the bathroom while you're showering because you can just tell it to adjust the volume or change songs without having to open your eyes and risk getting soap in them.


Apple Watch


Ok so technically I got my first Apple Watch around this time last year but stupid me thought it would be okay to jump off the top of a boat while wearing it this summer and now my first watch is currently swimming with the fishes (I suggest getting one of the woven straps before you do something like that). But I finally got another one because I can't live without my Apple Watch. Again it was like my echo where at first I didn't know what do do with it but I definitely found uses for it. The "breathe" and "stand" reminders are super nice to have during long study breaks. Oh and when you're wearing your watch, it will sign in on your laptop automatically for you! 

My favorite apps that I have added to my compilations are Dark Sky and iStudiez. Dark Sky is great because it tells you the temp but even better alerts you about when it's about to rain which is super helpful to know right before you leave your house so you can grab an umbrella or right before you leave the library because you know to wait it out a bit (because it even tells you how long it'll be raining for!). iStudiez has changed my life so it gets it's own section in this post below.


Clarisonic 


Unfortunately the stress of law school makes my face break out like I'm 14 again so the Clarisonic Mia Fit was at the top of my Christmas list. I've wanted this for awhile because every fashion/beauty blogger I follow always goes on about it and after a few months of use I totally agree with them. I keep mine in the shower and use it daily and it has helped wonders. I personally recommend the Mia Fit over the Mia 2 because it's a lot lighter and more compact and great for taking home with you over Christmas/Spring break, but the Mia 2 is cheaper so keep that in mind.


iStudiez App


A friend of mine showed me this app at the beginning of the semester and I'm so grateful he did. You can go in and add your class schedule and assignments and then it's super helpful. If a professor gets behind on a reading, you can go to that assignment and choose "due next class" and it will automatically bump it from your daily to-do. You can also add school holidays and it will mute all of the notifications for that time. Another great feature is that it keeps a running tab of how many assignments you have completed/have left in each class and how many hours you have completed/left in each class, which is just cool to know. I use this app so much that now I pretty much just use my planner for day-to-day or special events planning and this app just for my assignments.

After you add the Mac app's widget to your Mac notifications bar, when you click on the top right of your laptop it will give you a list of your assignments for the day and a real-time schedule of your classes so you know what you have left to do for the day and how much time is left in your class.

I also added the app's widget as a compilation on my Apple Watch and love love love it! It gives me a 5 minute warning to leave the library and get to class, tells me which class to go to and the room number (super helpful at the beginning of the year), and during class gives me a minute and second countdown for how much time is left in class (which is great if you are dreading getting called on or are starving need to know how much longer until freedom). Another feature that I like is that in between classes it has a countdown of my Free Time so for example in between two classes I would know that I have exactly 15 minutes and 30 seconds left to finish my reading for the next class.


the 12 finds that I'm loving for spring are the amazon echo dot, apple watch series 2, clarisonic mia fit, iStudiez app, starbucks mocha frappuccinos, peaceful piano playlist on spotify, quit toothbrush, kindle paperwhite, grocery list pad, spin class, swell water bottles, and daily planning pads | brazenandbrunette.com



Mocha Frappuccinos


Before this semester I hated coffee, and tbh I'm still not a fan of it, but I have discovered that I love Starbucks Mocha FrappuccinoI actually don't like chocolate milk so for the longest time I refused to try these, but after a friend forced me to I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it so much.These basically taste like someone took hot chocolate and blended it with ice. Seriously, no coffee taste at all! Since I'm now a morning person (more on that below), these have become a part of my mid-morning routine. 


Peaceful Piano Playlist


I love listening to classical piano music while I study but sometimes that music can get ominous or have a tempo that's way to fast and it distracts me. So I was very happy to find this premade playlist on Spotify that has peaceful piano (duh) music. It's great to have on in the background while I'm reading or typing up outlines. Oh and it's almost 7 hours long!!




Quip Toothbrush


If you've been on Facebook then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I actually caved and got a Quip toothbrush and it sounds ridiculous to pay almost $50 for a toothbrush but I'm really liking mine. The reason why I decided to get it was because one of my best friends is in dental hygiene school so now I'm more cautious about my teeth. 

Although the ads are all about it looking sleek and whatnot, the real reason why I got it is because you can sign up to have them automatically send you a new toothbrush head every 3 months and I really needed that since I'm terrible at remembering to replacing my toothbrush. Also, it vibrates instead of spinning so it feels a lot nicer since I have sensitive teeth. What's funny is right after I ordered mine, a friend from my Trial Procedure class also got one and now we talk about our toothbrushes in class!


Reading Before Bed


This semester I full on adopted stereotypical suburban mom lifestyle and with that is reading in bed right before I go to sleep. One bad trait that I inherited from my mom is my insomnia so when she told me that this helped I decided to give it a try. I recently upgraded from my Kindle App on my iPad to an Kindle Paperwhite and now I go to bed just a little earlier and read about a chapter before sleep. This has really helped my insomnia by getting my body and brain in the sleep mode faster. Since my Kindle is so lightweight, I can lay down and hold it with one hand and then when I'm done reading I just tell my echo to turn the lights off (I'm so lazy now lol) and can fall asleep pretty fast. Btw, if you also have trouble falling asleep then check out my Sleep Better, Be Happier post!

I've linked my Pinterest board below with books that are on my reading list if you're looking for a suggestion and I'm thinking about doing a book review this summer so if you're interested, check back for that! Also, I'm considering trying Kindle Unlimited so if any of y'all have tried it, please let me know your thoughts on it.




Shopping Pad


I didn't think I'd need a Grocery List Pad because making a grocery list isn't that hard, but this makes things just a little bit easier and I really appreciate that. As soon as I run out of something, all I have to do is make one little mark on the list and that's it! It sounds silly, but it's easier than actually writing about "milk" week after week and so I love it. 

It also speeds things up when I'm actually at the store because it groups all of the food together so it saves me from having to backtrack all over the store because I forgot something. I just make a diagonal dash in the box when I run out of something and then at the store I make another diagonal dash to make an X and then I can easily keep up with what's still on my list and what's already in my basket. 

Another reason I love it is for those glorious occasions when my parents take pity on me and take me grocery shopping. Every other time they've surprised me with this I've always just been like uhh idk what I need but last time I basically just had them get one of everything on the list!

Spin Class

See I warned y'all that I'm slowly turning into a suburban mom! My little Jordin (you may remember her from the Law School Binder guest post) has been a positive influence on me this semester and helped me learn that I love spin class. I've started going 5 days a week, usually at the Sunrise Spin class which is at 6:30, and I love it. 

Having a class to wake up to really has helped keep me on a regular waking up schedule this semester, which as I'm sure you know from personal experience can be harder and harder throughout the semester, so I'm grateful for that. Not only that, but I've noticed that I actually am more awake by the time I get to school because I've already been up and moving for a few hours and didn't just roll out of bed so my brain is "on" already. Best of all, it's something in my daily schedule that isn't reading! 

Swell bottles 


I've always been a big fan of Tervis tumblers (I bring one to class every day), but after I accidentally spilled some water in my purse, I decided that having some water bottles that are leak proof would be a good investment. So I finally jumped on the S'well bottle bandwagon (a little late) and love them. Whether I throw one in my purse or gym bag, I know I can trust that I won't find a puddle 10 minutes later. And because they're metal, I love that no matter how many times I drop these, they don't crack like plastic ones. Oh and they're adorable!! My only tip to a first time Swell owner is be careful taking these into a sauna or laying out with you by the pool because the metal will get hot and although your water or "pool drink" will still be cold, you might burn your hand.

To-do List Pad

On Saturdays and Sundays I like to have big review days to go over my notes and review for my classes. I always like to have a to-do list so that I can get organized and then check off what I get done as I go. Whatever I don't get done, I just add to the next study day's to do list. I used to print off this to-do list for every one of these study days, but that was going through ink and paper fast so I just got this Daily Planning Pad. It's especially helpful on those nice days because I have an obvious end goal that I'm working to so it definitely motivates me to get done already.

May 15, 2017

7 Tools I Use to Blog

the 7 best tools that I used to grow my new blog are Pinterest, Canva, Tailwind, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Evernote, and a post planner | brazenandbrunette.com

Pinterest

1. Create a Pinterest board just for your blog posts
3. Every single time you make a post, you pin that shit to your blog board
4. In a few days, repin this picture onto another one of your boards that's relevant to what your post is about
5. Add your website to your profile (in your profile settings) and use their analytics to see what your readers respond best to
6. (optional) Create 2 secret boards: 1 for post ideas, 1 for photo ideas, and keep brainstorming
7. If you're a law school blogger, let me know and I'll add you to the Law School Blogs group board so you can gain some followers fast

Why should you put so much effort into Pinterest?? Because it's how your blog grows!!

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Canva

Don't forget that every single one of your posts needs a picture!! Not only do they make your posts look better, they also mean that your post can go on to Pinterest. I use Canva.com and either their Social Media or Pinterest Graphic templates. Make sure that your pictures are pretty but more importantly easy to read. And add your website name somewhere on every picture just in case anyone tries to steal it. I actually just found out that there's a Canva app too, so you can create graphics and photos for your posts on your iPad. Take notice to any viral pins on Pinterest and try to get some inspiration from them in either their photo, fonts, or wording. Just keep in mind that Pinterest is to pin pictures, and not just words. so try to get a good combo of both.

Also, I just use either my iPhone or iPad for taking pictures, so don't think you need a fancy DSLR camera or anything. And the editing in the regular camera app works just fine to enhance your pictures. I do suggest to try to get as much natural lighting as possible, or even move a lamp by where you're taking a picture (this is the lamp I use). 

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Tailwind

I didn't start using Tailwind until this year because I didn't think of myself as a "serious" blogger enough to be using blogging tools. Tailwind helps grow your Pinterest following (which I just told you is the #1 way my blog grew) by using analytics to see when your audience is most active and on which boards. So you plan ahead pins and it will pin them when they're more likely to get noticed and repined. This sounds unnecessary but after using it I noticed that my pins were getting repined much faster and I was gaining way more followers since there was a strategy behind it. 

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com


It does cost $9 a month if you pay for a year at once or $15 on a monthly basis, so keep that in mind. But if you use this referral link you'll get one month free!! If you decide to monetize your blog (that's a whole other post), then you might consider this as one investment to make for your blog just like getting a good blog template for your blog. I think of it as more repins = more people visiting that post/my site = more chances to possibly make money if someone clicks on an affiliate link. This price was easy for me to justify for myself once my blog started making more than $15 a month because then it was paying for itself! They have a Tailwind app too so you can add literally any web page to your dashboard.

Hootsuite

This concept is kinda just like Tailwind except for Facebook and Twitter posts. Luckily Bloglovin' shares all of my new posts to Twitter instantly, but I still haven't figured out a way to have it share to my blog's Facebook page and not my personal page (comment below if you know how! please and thank you). So I use Hootsuite to schedule new posts. I just use the free version because the upgraded plan really is for like major companies running social media. They have a free Hootsuite app, too.

I also use Hootsuite to repost my old posts. For example, each time around finals I will go through and find all of my finals-related posts and schedule them to be posted to either remind readers about them or introduce the posts to people who started following me after those posts were originally published. This is especially helpful because while right before finals is the perfect time to be sharing this content, I'm busy studying. This way I just set it and forget it.

Google Analytics

This is the same idea as Pinterest Analytics, but alllll about your blog. Also you should connect Google Analytics with your blog because when you're trying to brand your blog, companies might ask for your stats. 

It can show you all kinds of stuff, like how many individuals have visited your blog, how many visitors are returning, how long they stay on your site, how long they stay on a post, how many leave your site immediately... It gets really intense. They have a Google Analytics app that has a simplified summary of all these stats.

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Email

My favorite email to get are post suggestions/requests. Like did you that a reader was actually the one who came up with this post idea? And I got the idea to write this post after having a conversation with a reader. Even this very post is a result of several readers' comments and emails! 

Another reason why email is important is that sometimes people will have a question that needs a more in-depth answer than your post, so it's important that you have a way that they can get a personalized response. A good blogger cares about their readers and will make sure they can have that one-on-one time with any reader that wants it. I know right now that anyone who has every emailed me and is reading this right now is loling hard because I always end up sending back an email that's at least 5 times as long as what they sent me!

Btw if you use the Questions and Suggestions box on the bottom of the right side, it's a super easy way to email me in one step instead of having to go through your mail app.

Evernote

I could explain it to you, but I think it's easier to show you... 

7 Tools I Use to Blog | brazenandbrunette.com


Planner

I recently added a blogging section to my planner, and it's helped so much! I can write outlines of my post ideas as I think of them in Evernote, but I plan out everything else in my planner. I brainstorm post ideas, I schedule what days I'll post what, I keep track of income and expenses for my blog, chart engagement growth. It helps me stick to my goal schedule of S/W/F posts. 

Also, be sure to check out my post about all of the Blogging Tips I have for new bloggers! It's just a list of things that I've learned over the past year of what works and what doesn't when you're trying to grow your blog.
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