2015 Pet Blogger Challenge

Nikitaland is thrilled to be taking part in the 2015 Pet Blogger Challenge! This is our first year participating, and we want to expand and grow our blog with new adventures!  If you would like to join in the challenge, click on the badge.

Pet Blogger Challenge Button

And now, without further ado, here are the questions for Pet Blogger Challenge 2015:

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I have been blogging since September of 2010 after we rescued our first dog, Nikita.She came from a litter of seven pups and after they were born, their dog Mom was poisoned with anti-freeze. The puppies were in dire need of help immediately and the Cleveland APL was called in and they saved all the puppies. I started my blog to document our new life with a dog, and how she has changed our lives forever. We gave her a forever home, and she has given us more love than we could have ever imagined. Then, two years after we rescued Nikita, we rescued Bella who was found wandering the streets in Cleveland, OH.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.  

One of the things that I am proud of is making more connections with fellow bloggers. Reaching out to others, learning from them, and making new friends has touched my heart in so many ways.

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs? 

The biggest thing that I have learned is to reach out to fellow bloggers, listen to their stories, and connect with them! When you do this, you find out that we all have a lot in common and are all willing to help each other out. Making connections that turn into awesome friends is what blogging is all about!

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? 

Since I do not participate in social media like Facebook or Twitter (just don’t feel the need for it), I reach out to others through blog hops, comment on a lot of blogs, and keep my blog presence in front of others. If you want traffic, you just can’t write on a blog, you need to participate and get involved. Pinterest has also brought a lot of traffic to my blog too from what I pin directly off of my posts.

5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

I actually had a few popular posts that drew much traffic and both were about crafts. One was how to melt pony beads in a pizza pan to make a beautiful sun catcher which was viewed 3,777 times, and the other one was for my paper mache pumpkins I created and this post was viewed 6,819 times. Both of these brought tons of traffic because there was a lot of interest in the tutorials on how to make them.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

Probably my favorite post was about my paper mache pumpkins because I love everything about Halloween, and how I turned an ordinary plastic bag into an awesome pumpkin. I even made a few paper mache stands that the pumpkins can sit on too!

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?

If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

If you don’t do reviews, is this something you’d like to do more of? What hurdle is getting in your way?

I would love to do product reviews, but do not know how to get involved with companies to review their products. I would definitely be interested in doing lots of reviews this year!

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

Connect with others! Reach out to your fellow bloggers! Nothing makes blogging more fun than knowing who your audience is!

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015? 

One of my biggest goals and something that we are truly passionate about is our involvement in giving back to the community. We are truly grateful for what the Cleveland APL has done for saving both Nikita and Bella, getting them off the streets and into their forever home with us, that we have participated in their annual Pledge For Pets Fundraiser. 2015 will be our fifth year participating in this fundraiser and we hope that we can get more bloggers involved and help us raise the much needed funds to help the animals who need our assistance & pay it forward! This annual fundraiser is coming up soon, so help us raise all the donations we can to help the animals who need us! (watch for upcoming blog posts!)

And, speaking of Paying It Forward, I am working with another fellow blogger to help raise awareness for doing good deeds in the world today. Make someones day and help them out. If you can, help someone less fortunate than yourself, pay for a meal for them, give someone some of the clothes you don’t wear anymore, shovel a neighbors driveway, the list is endless. It is all about giving back, doing something good & making a difference.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I don’t think I have run into anything yet in the blogging world that I needed help with, but I would not be afraid to ask for assistance when needed. I am constantly learning all that I can to create a fabulous blog and a place where everyone who visits feels like it’s home.

If you have any questions or need a little help, don’t be afraid to ask – building camaraderie is what the Pet Blogger Challenge is all about! And, as always, your help in spreading the word is much appreciated. Please tell your friends and share the badge on your blog.

NIKITALAND: 2014 in Review

The 2014 Year in Review Stats are in, and what a year it has been for Nikitaland! I just wanted to personally thank each & every one of you for contributing to these awesome stats. Without YOU, none of this would have been possible! Thank you for following along with Nikitaland this past year and we look forward to another awesome year of blogging with you!

Click on Nikitaland’s full report below and find out if you made it on the list for the most comments!

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sunshine Award

My sweet little piggy friend Bacon over at Pig Love, nominated me for the Sunshine Award today, and boy do we need a little sunshine in our life right now! Bacon is a miniature pot bellied pig that was adopted at three weeks old and resides at the Hotel Thompson. Thank you Bacon for making me smile today and for such a lovely award!

SUNSHINE AWARD2A

The rules of the Sunshine Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Nominate 10 people that inspire you
  3. Write 10 interesting facts about yourself

Drum roll please…and the nominations are:

  1. Temporary Home Permanent Love
  2. Wiley Schmidt
  3. My Pawsitively Pets
  4. 2 Brown Dawgs
  5. Easy Weimaraner
  6. Me You and Zu
  7. Free Range Cow
  8. The Lonely Dogs
  9. Born to Organize
  10. Kari Neumeyer

For those who I have nominated above, please snag the Sunshine Award above and post it on your blog, and make sure you pass it along to 10 others using the same rules listed!

Now, onto the 10 interesting facts about me…hmmm, where do I begin?

  1. Nikita & Bella never miss anyone arriving home in the neighborhood. When they see a neighbor or their Daddy coming down the road, they run to every window in the house, just to see them & to bark hello…tails wagging too, of course!
  2. Nikita always sleeps on her back, with her paws up in the air.
  3. Bella always gives her Daddy & Mommy kissies before bed time, it’s the cutest routine we have ever seen.
  4. It has got so bad around here, that we now find ourselves “s p e l l i n g” in front of the “d o g s”.  We catch ourselves all the time speaking a “key” word that both Nikita and Bella know, so it’s easier just to spell things out. I think they are onto us, as they react when they hear a certain key word spelled. Geez!
  5. One of the BIGGEST things that everyone should know about us, is that both Nikita and Bella were both rescued dogs. And we firmly believe in giving back to those who helped them along the way. That’s why we collect donations for the APL every year (this will be our fourth year participating) in their annual PLEDGE FOR PETS FUNDRAISER, so be on the lookout for those upcoming posts on this great fundraiser. Without the APL, who knows what would have happened to Nikita and Bella!  Nikita’s Mommy was poisoned with anti-freeze after she gave birth to a litter of seven pups and they were in dire need of help & food.  Bella was found roaming the streets as a tiny puppy as someone just threw her out. We are so thankful for our dogs as they turned out to be the best dogs ever with so much love to give. (Help save an animals life and make a donation this year!)
  6. Nikita chased a squirrel today, and took Mommy down into the snow unexpectedly. Squirrel survived. Nikita has sat by back door to watch for it all afternoon.
  7. Daddy got bit by the Pinterest bug and now has his own Pinterest Boards filled with awesome Halloween, Christmas, and Grilling pins!  You can check out his boards here, and by all means, please click “follow” as this would just make his day! You can also check out my Pinterest Boards here.
  8. We love gardening and we can’t wait to start our seeds under the grow lights! It will be any time now that we’ll start them, and we usually get them out in the garden some time in May, but have to wait for our last frost to pass. If anyone watched our garden grow in prior years, you can do so again this year as we shine up our green thumb!
  9. We are going to attempt making some Halloween props this year from chicken wire, cheese cloth, and some great foam stuff, so wish us luck!  We want to take our Halloween graveyard up a notch or two this year with some creepy additions. We also hope to build a fence around the graveyard too to keep all the creepy props from walking all over the neighborhood! LOL
  10. Last, but not least, if you have not figured it out yet, I love crafts and making things. I am so blessed that I have a life where I can create things for our home (like the table I am going to build us for dining outdoors this summer) and even some times we even sell a lot of the things that I create on our eBay store!  I save all sorts of crazy stuff, because you just never know what you could use it for down the road!

Here’s a great big THANK YOU to Bacon over at Pig Love for the wonderful nomination of the Sunshine Award! I hope you all head on over to see what Bacon is up to these days, and make sure you tell them that Nikita and Bella sent you!

Happy New Year

“I think the hardest part of a new year is remembering to write the correct year on your checks.”

When a new year rolls around, the first thing everyone thinks about are resolutions. Going on a diet is always first on the list, eating better, yadda yadda yadda, but why make any resolutions if you aren’t going to really truly keep them?  It must be me, but I don’t make them any more. Everyone starts off the new year with great stride trying to keep to their resolutions, but it fizzles out within a month.  “Dieting” gets boring when that chocolate donut looks good and you actually eat it, “be a better person” goes down the drain when you curse at the first person who cuts you off in the parking lot, or “save money” gets flushed down the drain when you find that purse that you “have” to buy.

I have to chuckle at those who make a huge deal about their resolutions have have to tell everyone what they are.  They talk about them all the time, but in the end, they too fail at keeping them.  Why can’t you just actually BE a better person, each and every day?  Be nice to those around you!  Make it a habit to do so, and it becomes part of your every day routine, and not something “hard” to do.

I have always been a firm believer that “if you WANT to do SOMETHING, DO IT”.  You hear people all the time say, I wish I had more time to read a book.  Geez, this one is easy to fix, MAKE the time to sit down quietly and read a chapter!  Whether it’s 10 minutes you set aside to read every day, just do it.  Stop talking about it!  It drives me nuts when you hear people talk about “one day” I’m gonna do _______.  Make the time to do it!

When a new year approaches and we turn yet another page on the calendar, one of the things that are high on everyone’s list is getting organized.  Organization takes some skill, and not everyone has the knack to organize.  If you want to organize something, ask a friend to help you, or look up some great tips on Pinterest for inspiration.  One little thing that I did a few months ago to organize the cabinet where I keep all the bags, foil, and saran wrap etc., was to get those cheap plastic magazine holders and stand up all of my long wrap boxes in them.  This has been a lifesaver as I no longer have to hunt for the box I want!

With organization in mind, I created for all of you some little Blog Post Lists to help you organize your upcoming posts!  I don’t know about you, but when I get an idea for a blog post, I write it down on a little sticky note….. well, I am being invaded with sticky notes posted all over the wall where my laptop is, so I wanted to get rid of them and replace them.  So, let’s start off the new year with organized blog posts!  Get your ideas written down on these little lists and it will help you organize your weekly posts. Click here to see what I created for you: START OFF THE NEW YEAR WITH ORGANIZED BLOG POSTS!

Happy New Year to all of you, and if you have made some resolutions for this year, I wish you luck & hope you keep them.  Just remember, no matter what you want to do in life, like find time to read that book, save some extra cash, or take a cake decorating class, you won’t ever be able to get these done if YOU don’t make & take the time to do them. Don’t let life pass you by, experience it!

And, don’t forget that your checks need 2014 on them now! LOL

BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD

2013 BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD

I am very humbled to have received from Me, You & Zu the 2013 Blog of the Year Award.  WOW!  I don’t know what I did to deserve this awesome award, but thank you so much Ruby for the nomination!  I truly appreciate it! Make sure you head on over to visit Me, You & Zu and tell them Nikita & Bella sent you!

I started Nikitaland back in 2010 when we rescued Nikita and gave her a “forever home”. I wanted to document her life, and ours too, from the beginning and all the silly things that she did as a puppy.  For those of you who don’t know, Nikita came from a litter of seven puppies and after they were born, their Mommy was poisoned with anti-freeze and died. The puppies were in dire need of help and the APL rescued them, all of them and took them in and gave them the immediate care they needed. Without the APL’s assistance, these pups would have not had a chance.

Nikitaland has turned into so much more, as we now have two rescued dogs, and life without a dog does not exist in our house.  Rather, life has been filled with so much love from these two dogs it is amazing! I could not imagine life now without a dog. They are my best friend and companions throughout the day, they make me smile, they keep me safe, they amuse me every day, but the love that I get back from them is unmeasureable, not to mention, priceless.

Getting back to the Blog of the Year Award, I did some checking through my stats to see what posts actually made me popular this year, and I have listed a few of them below:

A Pizza Pan is Just Not for Pizza Anymore (6,507 views)
Pizza Pan Patriotic Platter
How to Make Paper Mache Pumpkins & More
Fourth of July Crafts
DIY Halloween Prop: Cemetery Columns & Sign
How to Make a Night Light Cover from Melting Beads
What’s for Dessert?  Apple Cinnamon Chimichangas
Anatomy of a Sock Bunny
How to Make a Sun Catcher

I am so blessed by all the views at Nikitaland, love all the comments I receive, but the best part of blogging to me are the people who I have become close with!  They make blogging so much fun! I always can’t wait to wake up and check my in-box to see what they are up to!

My stats have grown since I started blogging in 2010, and here is a quick snippet of my views since then:

  • 2010 – 1,958 views
  • 2011 – 8,553 views
  • 2012 – 19,594 views
  • 2013 – 55,893 views to date

And, as of today, I just clicked over 86,000 views for Nikitaland!  That is truly amazing to me to see these numbers! Thank you to everyone who has helped grow my stats!

And now for my nominations for Blog of the Year Award! I would like to nominate the following blogs for their outstanding content, creative writing style, humor, craftiness, animal welfare awareness, and photography.  The nominations go to:

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

You all deserve this Blog of the Year Award, so display your award proudly!

The instructions for this award are simple:

1 – Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award.

2 – Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3 – Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them- (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)

4 – Come over and say hello to the originator of the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award via this link: http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/blog-awards-2-/blog-of-the-year-2013-award/

5 – You can now also join the Blog Of The Year Award Facebook Page. Click the link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BlogoftheYear

Share your blog posts with an even wider audience.

6 – And as a winner of the award, please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award and then proudly display the award on your blog and start collecting stars!

Congratulations to everyone and thank you all for making me smile!

52 Week Money Challenge

52 WEEK MONEY CHALLENGEWe all know it is hard sometimes to save money, but when I ran across this idea, I had to share it.  It is a 52 Week Money Challenge and since 2014, a new year is quickly approaching, this is the perfect time to start this!

Here’s how it works:  Week one, you put $1 away.  Your account balance is now $1.  Week two, you put $2 away, your account balance is now $3.  With each new week that arrives, you put that dollar amount away and your account balance increases.  At the end of 52 weeks, you will have saved a total of $1,378!  You could use this money for Christmas, or to pay off some bills, but whatever you want to use it for, it will for sure come in handy!

I will tell you the truth, this is not going to be easy.  We tried it this year and got hung up at a certain week and failed to contribute the rest of the year.  I am going to try this again for 2014 to see how much we can save.

52 WEEKSIf you want to join in this 52 Week Money Challenge with us, just grab our “52 Weeks” button and add it to your blog and link it back to this post!  I will keep a list updated as to who joins in with us! Encourage others to join in too by writing your own blog post about this subject, and link it back to this post!

Click HERE to download the 52 Week Money Challenge PDF so you can follow along with your savings for 2014.  Just think, if you can finish this challenge completely in 2014, you will end your year with $1,378 in cash!  Now, that is something we could all use at the end of the year, eh? (you could even use the extra cash for a vacation that you have been putting off, now you can take it!)  Print out the PDF and hang it on your fridge or in a place where you can look at it all the time to remind you, then when you finish a week of saving, just cross off that week.  Note: Even if you miss a week, you can just catch up the next week!

And, for all of those “crafty” people out there, go grab yourself a nice empty jar, a coffee can, whatever you want, and spruce up the jar or can into something fun!  (My jar is an empty Salsa jar since I love Salsa!) Heck, for those of you who want to join this challenge with us, it would make for an interesting blog post to see of all of our jars & cans!  Go grab your beads and bling-bling and get your money container ready for the new year!

So, who’s in for the challenge with us?

How to get your blog to snow!

Ok bloggie buds, if you don’t already know this, I wanted to show you how to get your blog to snow!

Head on over to your dashboard, then to settings, then to General.  Scroll down to the bottom of your general settings page and place a check mark in the “Show falling snow on my blog until January 4th”.  Click save!

That’s it!  Now, every time you view your blog, snow will be falling!  And, the coolest part is when you move your mouse over your blog from left to right, the snow changes direction!  Try it out today…and let it snow!

Spruce Up Your Side Bar in WordPress

BLOGGING TIPSSome times I feel like I am behind the times with all the neat WordPress things, and some times I feel just right. I changed that today with a neat widget I found!  But when I saw the neat widget called Gallery, I had to try it. And you should too!

We all love pictures, and the Gallery is a neat way to show off all of our best photographs, our funny dog pics, or even the crafts we make!

BLOG TIP NO 4Simply head on over to your Dashboard, Appearance, then Widgets, and drag the widget called Gallery over to your Main Sidebar.  (I would drag it somewhere near the top of your sidebar so everyone can see it and they don’t need to scroll down your page to find it)

Once you find a good place for your Gallery on your sidebar, then you have the option to add a Title.  Next, you select or choose the photographs that you want to add to your Gallery from your WordPress Media Files.  (for now, you can select just a few photographs to see what the gallery does first, then you can go back to it and add more photo’s later)

The other options for the Gallery are to chose if you want the photo’s to show up in the order you selected them, or in Random order.  The next feature to choose is the Style for your Gallery.  You have the following options:  Tiles, Square Tiles, Circles, or Slideshow.  (currently, mine is in the slideshow style)

That’s it!  Just remember to click Save before you leave that page!  Now go view your WordPress home page to see what it looks like.  If you don’t like a certain style (ie: slideshow), then go back to your dashboard, then to appearance, then widgets, and open your Gallery widget and select another style, then click save.  It’s was fun playing with this and I had to show you all in case you did not know about this WordPress feature.

So, what do you think?  Pretty neat, eh!

Just in case you missed my other blogging tips, you can read them here:
TIP No. 1:  How to Add Tickers to your blog
Tip No. 2:  How to Create an Animated GIF
Tip No. 3:  How to add a Watermark to your photographs

I’m Versatile

Holy cow, I just found out that I’m Versatile!  Merrissa and Candace from Rad Maverix just nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award and I am so honored!

VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD FROM RADMAVERIX 11-3-13

The Versatile Blogger Award is given to bloggers who possess excellence and love in their writing, uniqueness, and of course, quality in photographs. I have been blogging since September of 2010 and currently have over 80,000 views!  WOW!

Rules:

In order to accept this award I must tell 7 facts about myself, display the award and then nominate 15 deserving bloggers for the VBA.

So here are seven things about ME:

  1. I love power tools!  Being a crafty gal, I can’t wait to get my hands on them & make something awesome!
  2. I used to work as a professional landscaper!  So it is no surprise why I love working in our yard making everything look beautiful.  I built stone walls, installed hand cut stone sidewalks, sprinkler systems, drove a Bob Cat, big dump trucks and tractors to grade customers lawns.
  3. We have two dogs whom we rescued from the APL!  They are the best dogs around.  They are the perfect match for each other too, as they always look out for each other & give each other kissies all the time.
  4. I have the best boyfriend ever! (Who puts up with my crap. LOL)
  5. I am a huge fan of Law & Order, American Idol, and Master Chef.
  6. I love to cook, and always wanted to take a professional cooking class.  That’s why Master Chef is so inspiring to watch.
  7. My favorite all-time snack food is chips & salsa.
  8. My dream car is a Cadillac CTS.

Here are the blogs that I nominate for the Versatile Bloggers Award (in no particular order):

  1. 2browndawgs
  2. Easy Blog
  3. The Misadventures of Misaki
  4. Cupcake Speaks
  5. Boomdeeadda
  6. Me, You and Zu
  7. Wiley’s Wisdom
  8. The Lonely Dogs
  9. Art Club Blog
  10. Refrigerator Magnate
  11. You’ve Been Hooked
  12. Our Retired Life
  13. Pillows A-La-Mode
  14. The Chronicles of Wallace & Samuel
  15. Temporary Home, Permanent Love

Everyone that I have nominated, go grab your award and display it proudly on your blog!  Your blogs are awesome, and I hope that everyone takes the time to check out what you are up to!  Congratulations!

Free Photo Editors

Everyone loves something for FREE, and while checking out some free online photo editors, I thought that I would share them with you so you too can enjoy playing around with your photographs!

The first one is BEFUNKY.  This online photo editor has a lot to offer and I have spent lots of time on it playing around with all sorts of different effects like a simple Sepia, Black and White and to some more dramatic effects like Cartoonizer and much more.  I am in photo editing Heaven with this website!

For an example, I wanted to show you a before / after photograph that I did in this photo editor.

Before (Original Photograph)

CLOUDY SKY LOGO

After (With a Grunge Effect)

BeFunky_Grunge Sky Logo

What do you think?  Pretty neat, eh?  I have been having so much fun playing around with this photo editor and there is much more to explore as I have only just grazed the surface of what I can do.

The next free photo editor is called LUNAPIC.  Lunapic takes a little bit more time to master, but within no time, you will be creating some interesting effects.  They even have a plethora of animation effects, and one of the most interesting effects that I found was called Mirror & Copy.  This mirror effect does exactly that…it makes a mirror image and copies your image.  Not all photographs that I picked for the mirror effect did not look good, so choosing the right photograph to mirror sure does make the difference.  Check out the photograph below that I made a mirror image and see for yourself!  (Check out the clouds above the building…doesn’t it look like some sort of dragon?)

This is called Mirror & Copy Effect

OFFICE BUILDING MIRROR EFFECT1

This is called a Thermal effect

NIKITA THERMAL EFFECT1

My current photo editor that I use is called PICMONKEY.  I have been using PicMonkey for awhile now (ever since they closed down the PICNIK website…and I cried when they did) and all of the photographs on my blog posts are done in PicMonkey.  PicMonkey is a free photo editor as well, but you are limited to all the cool effects, as you need to pay for a subscription to gain access to all the effects.  I was going to do an upgrade on this to gain access to all the effects, but since I have found a few more free editors, I might not have to.

So, there you have it, three new free photo editors that you can play around with to your hearts content.  I will continue to search for more editors and will post my findings for you.  You can thank me later!  🙂