Posts tagged Pinterest
For the Love of Pumpkin

I haven't purchased any yet this season, but it's almost time for pumpkins. The crafting, the eating, the cooking, and the carving - so many wonderful projects coming all from one little gourd! I have been falling in love with pumpkin over and over again through a group board that I collaborate on called Pumpkin Recipes, Crafts, and More. Come on over and check it out...

I'm sharing 9 super ideas with pumpkin that will get you into the spirit of fall and delight your taste buds, too...

Mini Pumpkins:

I created these for Gina's Month of Pumpkin. She's a master with pumpkin recipes, and she let me join in the fun with this super easy pumpkin craft. These balls of yarn are topped with small pieces of pipe cleaners and stacked inside a shadow box. They make great additions to a tablescape and a delightful garland, too.


How about two great uses for pumpkins?

Pumpkin Pinata:

A balloon, yes! And a pinata! Perfect. What an awesome way to begin or end a night of trick or treating. You get all the info on how to fill the jack o'lantern over at The Gunny Sack.

Chalkboard Pumpkin Planters:

Also, I'm not over chalkboard (I hope you aren't either), and I love this pumpkin turned potted vase for colorful mums. This is a super easy and approachable (quick) project that can make any front door warm and welcoming for fall. Chelsea shows off how-to over at Making Home Base!

Memorable pumpkin treats...


Easy Pumpkin Krispie Treats:

Rice Krispie treats are always a family favorite around here, and these are too cute as pumpkins. The simplicity is right on for the kids to join in on the creation stage, too. Jen has her creations over on Yummy Healthy Easy. Can you guess what she used for the stem? 

Pumpkin Pie French Toast:

Pumpkin pie French toast? A total yes! This recipe is from Erin Chase over at $5 Dinners which means it's also incredibly affordable. We make pumpkin swirl French toast every Halloween, and I love this variation on it. But why save it just for Halloween?

And two classic desserts...


Pumpkin Cookies:

When I think of baking with pumpkin I think of these two recipes. Crissy of Parenting Pretty has gorgeous and uncomplicated Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies. The texture and moisture of pumpkin is just perfect for these delicious desserts.

Pumpkin Donuts:

Everything tastes better as a donut. Well, almost everything. But for sure on pumpkin. Rolled in sugar... The Blue Eyed Bakers are genius. Click over and make Petite Pumpkin Spice Donuts.

An unexpected must try...


Pumpkin Pie Spice White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn:

Though I've never eaten this particular flavor combination, I think we'd be fast friends. I'm excited to give it a try. Cooking Classy serves this popcorn in a clever way, too. Go check it out!

And finally for the kids...

Hammer the Pumpkin:

Something to occupy and entertain the young hands in your house is this simple pumpkin activity. Once the gourd has reached a certain ripeness, it's perfect for hammering. Grab a golf tee and a plastic toy hammer.

Okay, it's your turn! What's your favorite way to use pumpkin?

xoxo, MJ 

7 valuable lessons for Pinterest

During the month of May, the sweet Stacy of Kids Stuff World invited me to be a guest pinner on the gigantic collaborative board of the Top 20 Must Follow Pinterest Moms. It's a lovely place full of activities, essays, recipes, and varia of amazing from moms who know their stuff. At the risk of sounding cliche, I was honored just to be asked to post, and I was delighted to share my content!

When you're around people who are really passionate (and good!) at what they do, you can't help but learn from them. Whether you're a momma or not, if you want to grow your following on Pinterest here are seven valuable lessons that I learned.

1. A great pinnable image is where it's at.

Pinterest users gravitate to the vertical format, we know that. We also know that pins with warm colors and no human faces (perhaps it makes it seem too personal if we have images of others) are more likely to be repinned.

I found that sometimes one great, large image worked well.

For our summer bucket list post, I pinned the rainbow watercolor image of the list. The vertical format and bright colors were enough to grab people's attention. It has over 800 pins so far, and it's been exciting to see our list pop up on different boards all over Pinterest.

2. Don't give it all away in your image.

Our summer bucket list pin drew a lot of repin traffic, but it didn't necessarily lead to a lot of traffic back to my blog. Why? I kind of gave away the cow with the milk on that one. No one needs to click into that pin to get the ideas for a summer bucket list, it's all right there before them.

For greater traffic to my site, I found that slightly less informative pins with interesting titles drew more viewers. Take for instance a project pin like the one below. The process for these shirts is hinted at below, but you can't walk away with all the information - you need to click in for more. This pin has generated almost 800 repins so far.

Or consider this one that has seen nearly 400 pins. An interesting idea (to me) with a fun photo, but in order to really get into the concept, you'd have to click to the post on my site.

3. Sometimes you just need the right eyes on your content.

This was the most gratifying piece for me. You mean, they like me? They really like me?

The ideas and projects that I've developed over the last two years, that I thought were so great, were seen by a whole new audience, probably the best audience to receive them. And guess what? These posts were pinned and repinned like I had hoped that they would be!! No longer a small one or two repin, but hundreds?

Sometimes you need the right stage to put on a good show.

Unfortunately, not all of us can pin to boards with hundreds of thousands of followers, but here is a grand old nod to collaboration. Working together with other writers/creators in your genre can help out a ton! I've loved collaborating on group boards for the Mini Cooks series and now the Endless Summer series. Combining our networks has brought so many more eyes to the content we want them to see. Find like minds and create collaborative boards on specific topics.

4. Pinning your stuff to multiple boards is okay.

This is a real matter of skill. The key, I think, is to pay careful attention to your audience. When are they pinning and from what boards are they pinning? Some boards might dominate your traffic. For example, I see interaction on my board Mommy and Daddy School. Many of my followers follow only that board. So, if I were to pin one of my kid craft projects to the DIY & Ideas on Pars Caeli, this audience that follows only one board would miss out on the pin, and I'd miss out on their traffic.

From the pros I noticed that multiple pins the same post (sometimes different images though) over a series of days and time slots to try to reach different eyes. And as a follower of these pinners, you can either feel turned off to see these pins more than once or perhaps begin to like (feel a moderate sense of peer pressure) these posts more and more when you see them come up in your feed again and again.

5. Use those descriptions for fun or provocative info.

The description of the pin had been pretty lifeless on my pins until I discovered just how much you can make that space work for you! With a great lead-in or teaser, that interesting photograph can become something readers will want to follow. Consider posing questions or alternatively leaving only the most interesting words that will lead your audience. Even a light-hearted joke might do the trick!

6. Keep that 80/20 rule going strong.

No one likes a narcissist. Your readers will get turned off by over posting your own work. Find, cultivate, and repost great work that you find from other creators. Make sure that pins follow your brand and fit with your style, but be sure to promote great work that see and share it abundantly with your audience. And by abundantly, we're thinking 80% of pins from others/brands and 20% of your own content. You'll be surprised by how much more your readers will come to trust you once they see what you are recommending and get to understand your brand identity.

7. Timing really makes a difference.

As I watched the other women set publish their pins, I was surprised to be the first one of the day pinning content. If I pinned a project or parenting post at 2pm, it saw drastically fewer pins than those I posted at 8, 9, or even 10pm (EST).

I caught on (slowly) that the audience I want to hit - busy moms and even busy ladies - weren't pinning until later in the day (largely). Sometimes a recipe or an organizational post would do well early in the morning and early in the week, but projects and longer posts scored higher in the late evening. Additionally, Saturday and Sunday are high pinning times for my audience - and at almost any point of the day - so I tried to save my favorite content for the weekends.

Consider who you want to reach and when they will most likely be on Pinterest. There's a ton of data and pins out there to help you narrow down who pins when, and it's always a good idea to experiment yourself.

I'm so grateful to the opportunity to work alongside these creators, and I'm loving all my new knowledge.

What would you have to add to the must know list of success on Pinterest? I'd love to pin it. :)

xoxo, MJ

20 Must Follow Moms

Happy Friday. Happy May. Popping by to share some fun news.

This is kind of awesome. The warm and talented Stacy of Kids Stuff World has invited me into the cozy guest chair of the 20 Must Follow Pinterest Moms. This space is inhabited by some of the most innovative, creative mamas on the interwebs, and, jeepers, I'm glad to be at the same party with these ladies. I've followed a majority of them for a while, and if you're hooked into my Mommy & Daddy School board or my Create with Kids, you've seen a lot of repins from these geniuses. It's also followed by nearly 250K interested individuals, and it's a delight to have my content out there for this supportive audience.

For the month of May, I'll be guest pinning post from Pars Caeli and sharing some of the great pins from these mommas just in time for summer prep.

I'm incredibly grateful to Stacy for this opportunity. I'm a small fish in this big pond but happy to swim along and learn as I go.

If you're a momma or an educator, click on over and follow the 20 Must Follow Pinterest Moms board. It's an active one so be ready for oodles of inspiration!

Do you know any inspiring moms out there that I should be following via Pinterest? I'm always looking for fresh and positive ways to approach parenting and to teach and learn alongside my children.

Have a bright weekend, friends! Coming at you on Monday with a little something...

xoxo, MJ


Before you go!

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been off all together so I'm running with it, and I have a few things I really want to show you before you go.

1. Joy always brings us the best of the best, and TED talks are no exception. I loved the idea of success and grit. I've been kicking it around this week...I'd love to hear what you think.

2. Before she shuffled off to Istanbul with her talented husband, Jen left these simply adorable Easter cards for all of us to download and share. So sweet!

3. The story of art and painting and motherhood beautifully captured in two minutes.

4. Love how Rachel is styling this new space.

5. These are the eggs to make.

6. And, seriously? From 1000 to 10000 in three months on Pinterest. Here's how Amy did it.

Happy weekend, lovelies. Let's make it a bright one. Beauty awaits us.

xoxo, MJ







Pinners to follow: Learning activities & crafts

Oh, Pinterest, how I love thee. I use my account as the cutest filing cabinet ever to store my ideas for all areas of life. But sometimes the seas of Pinterland are too much, and I need a compass to find my way to just the right place. I'm launching a fun new mini-series to help us find the best of the best in areas that interest.

First up on the list: Pinners to follow for learning activities and crafts

Late February, amidst the sub-zero temps and gray sludge, is my favorite time to plan out summer learning for my three kiddos. I think I need the mental transport to warm and sunny moments. We also have our own Mommy and Daddy school in the summers, but not only that, I also love to throw in learning whenever I can.

Pinterest is a fabulous resource for teachers and parents to connect joy to education. But where to begin? Check out these three pinners and some of my favorite boards.

Melissa of

Melissa is a Pinterest expert. In addition to her keen knowledge of the platform, she is a dedicated teacher, writer/blogger, and an involved mom. Her boards have specific information on learning apps, literacy activities, and fabulous gifts for kids.

My favorite pins are her book list picks for very specific audiences, including Halloween books, great series, baseball reads, comic and graphic novels, and "Can't put them down" guides.

Emily of Second Story Window

Emily fancies the celebrations and joy of life with children, and she's a gal after my own heart. She's also a teacher and momma who creates educational materials over on her site.

My favorite pins are her 21 "little" boards. If you are looking to engage with your toddler to preschooler, there is a virtual plethora of goodies to be found in these well-categorized boards. She is also a collaborative soul so check her mega boards like the Kid Blogger Network Activities and Crafts and the New Teachers boards in particular.

Allison of No Time for Flash Cards

Allison is dedicated to the enjoyment of learning (bring it!). She focuses on early learning and play, and every time I visit her site, I'm inspired to get down on the floor and create something with my kids.

My favorite boards are her subject specific ones covering science, math, and children's book related crafts. Also check out her board just for boys that has so much good messiness and learning to offer.


Do you have favorite pinners to suggest? I'm always looking for the best finds.

And if we're not pinning buds yet, find me over there at MJ | Pars Caeli.

xoxo, MJ




It's a Craft Date


Hey there. Happy week to you! How's September rolling along? Fall is racing in fast and bringing her crisp air and snuggly wardrobes, and I am delighted.

I am also delighted to have a friend. A friend who will craft with me. This week, after much rescheduling and scheming, my friend, Renee and I will break open a bag of supplies and keep our hands busy crafting until we call it a day or a DIY done.

Our plan was to share some pins that have really piqued our interest as of late and decide together on which one was worthy of the craft date. Here are the three projects I suggested. Some of these have been around for a while, and I just haven't had the time to make my own versions.

Which one would you make? Or do you have another project on your mind?

Found via Cottage and Vine

Via Family Chic

Via Martha Stewart

Tune in next week to see what we crafted and just how we did. And if you're lucky enough to have a friend in your life who will craft with you, give them a hug for me. She/He is awesome!!



PS. If you want to make your home a warm, wonderful place to be every day of the year, follow Renee over on Pinterest.

Chat It Up: Inspiration Spots

I've been slowly reconfiguring and reimagining our formal living room into an art space for the entire family. It's always had oversized, comfortable couches and a warm floor-to-ceiling window. It now has a piano, and our children's craft table, and my office armoire. Courtesy of Amazon, a wall hook arrived yesterday so that my husband's guitar can adorn the wall.

When I want to dream or write or clear my head, I find myself gravitating to this room. It's free of children's toys, dirty dishes, and unfolded laundry.

And I believe the intentionality of creating a space for a particular purpose has encouraged me to USE it for a particular purpose. My oldest, M, while practicing a new song on the piano, turned to me and said, "Mommy, I just love this room." I nodded in agreement.

With the neverending winter we've experienced in the Midwest, the art room has become my cozy haven. In warm weather, I typically perch myself on our back deck, underneath the blue umbrella that matches the skies I adore.

I've been reading more and more from the writers and bloggers I love, and I keep hearing them tell me to   find a space to create (or make a space where I can create). For some, it's been a local coffee shop or a library. For others, it's a park or their studio/office space at home.

So let's chat it up. Where is your inspiration spot? And if you need one, what must this space have to allow you the freedom to embrace fresh ideas?


 PS. Wanna see my gatherings for a great office space? Check this board.

AltNYC, the party before the party

After years of following along with the events, classes, and conferences put on by Alt Summit, I am taking a leap (in my yellow heels) and going to AltNYC. Needless to say, I am over-the-top excited about this gathering of fabulous bloggers, interesting sponsors, and experiencing Martha's HQ for the first time (I'm sure she'll invite me back).

I've been doing some behind-the-scenes research to get this party started, and I've started a fabulous list of blogs and authors who are headed to NYC on June 20.

Head over to my Pinterest page and follow the AltNYC board. I've opened it up so that you can pin your blog, and we can all get to know each other before we ever hit the big city. (And you won't be creaped out if I know your name before we meet.) Leave a comment with your email address or send me a direct message on Twitter (@parscaeli), and I'll invite you to pin. Please add the names of other bloggers you know who are attending!

I am delighted to feel all this talent in one spot! If you're not headed to AltNYC, follow along here to see what it's like to experience not only Alt, but NYC for the first time through Pars Caeli. Yikes!

xoxo, MJ

PS. Go grab the code for your badge over on the Alt love pages. I'll be looking for your yellow circles proclaiming I'm headed to AltNYC!

PPS. You can also send me an email at to get access to the board!

Grown-Up Goodness: Blogging Better


Sometimes great things just fall in your lap.

Sometimes they come in lovely, unexpected emails. Like this.

Miss Paige over at Approaching Joy has been so good to me throughout this whole blogging journey, and the goodness just keeps coming. Yep, it's just who she is. And she's got a rocking new URL so go follow that happy link and check out girlfriend!

And, thanks for coming back..because Paige is helping me and all my blogger buds out with a super easy, way for us to blog better...and get the credit and traffic we deserve from all this online goodness.

Here's the beauty herself...and don't forget to watch that Vlog down there where you get to hear her, too!!

I had the opportunity to attend the Word Camp Fayetteville conference recently and highly recommend any kind of tech conference to anyone interested in blogging.  The sense of community there was amazing. If you'd like, you could check out my "How to Rock a Conference" post.   

Okay, enough shameless self plugs.

A big issue discussed by the community at the conference was that of watermarking. Though we all love Pinterest and the awesomeness that it brings to our computer screens, there is always the matter of making sure the original creator/ author / photographer gets the credit. If I were to see a snazzy pinnable from MJ on Pinterest (which I often do) I would want to be able to click on the picture and visit her site.  Chances are I would then fall in love with MJ's writing style and fun personality and be a follower for life.

But what if that process didn't happen just like that.  What if I saw MJ's image on Pinterest, clicked on it and saw it on another blogger's page?  That blogger (who was really trying to do the right thing because she always heard to credit images where she found them) credited the image back to Pinterest, leaving me am back where I started and not having had a chance to fall in love with MJ. Bummer.

There are two things we can do to prevent such bummers: 

  1. Always, always, always credit images back to their original source.  
    Saying something came from "Pinterest" just isn't good blogging business.
  2. Watermarking.
    If the image the was originally pinned from MJ's sight had a watermark I could easily see that, Google "Pars Caeli", and, of course, fall in love with MJ.

The question is: What's an easy way to watermark my images? 

Check out my video and I will show you how!  Together we can help the world realize that they need to fall in love with our content!  (Also: Click "full screen" to see this video in the way it's supposed to be viewed.)

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Isn't that easy?!?

Something that I didn't say in the video but is worth mentioning: The beauty of this is the ease for next time.  Once you have your brush made & saved, go into the brush options and click "Save Brushes".  By doing this, your watermark will come up every time you load Photoshop and from there all it takes is a click.

Last thing:  Don't be like me and watermark every third image.  By making this process easy I hope to personally get a more streamlined photo/image creation process with this always being my last step.

Try it out.  Let me know if it works or if you have any problems.  I'd love to help.


Thank you, Paige!!! I love the ease of a Photoshop brush with my logo. Look out for some crazy good watermarked images, my friends. I'm hoping to see yours, too!!

On this note of blogging better, I have been a very lucky girl this summer in meeting up with amazing blogger ladies like Amy and Melanie. I can't wait to tell you more about these visits in the upcoming weeks. Super affirming and inspirational!


Pattern Play: Small Print Florals

How was your weekend? Did you enjoy a little breathing room and time away from the day-to-day?

I totally did. I was a pinning fiend and discovered and uncovered inspiration and ideas from some magical pinners. I'm so excited to share with you some great projects, gifts, and parties in the weeks and months ahead. Come back over for some fun, pretty please?

On Saturday morning, the whole fam took a trip to our local farmer's market. I adore farmer's markets and all the unique and fresh treasures they hold. True to form, one of my favorite little businesses was selling spring scarves for $7 (what a steal!), and, yes, I came home with a present.
Today's pattern is this cute purple, small-scale print scarf that's brand new to me. I have no delayed gratification skills whatsoever so I had to put it right to use.

I also found these great small print florals while shopping around with my laptop that make me want to run skipping into warm weather (I did find myself skipping through the grocery store parking lot this weekend, so I might as well look dressed for the part, right?).

These are total steals as well (left from Mod Cloth and right from Old Navy).

What pattern are you loving these days? Has it made it's way into your wardrobe yet?

Thanks for coming with you soon!


"Twitter is the blogger's water cooler"

Today's quote is from the wonderful Nicole Balch from, a beautiful blog about stylish living. Nicole put on one great class last night through the Alt Summit Channel on Growing a Readership, and I was one of her 90 happy students.

I might be a little bit infatuated with everything Alt Summit, but in a totally unbiased way, I also think they are offering some fabulous classes for only $15 that are hip, informative, and filled with other really great bloggers (who you want to invite out for coffee after the one-hour class but they live all over the globe so you just meet up in the twittersphere).

I'm not going to give away all her nuggets, but here are 5 that you can put to use in your own blogging.

#1 Be Original              

What should you post to grow your blog? Original content that sets you apart from other blogs. Nicole recommended a ration of 90:10 - 90% original photos, layouts, tutorials, and creative writing and 10% share cute buys and faboo recommendations.

New to me: the idea of a blogger book tour. Some publishing companies like Chronicle give 10 or so blogs original content applicable to the new book and get the word out through great blogger reviews and posts. Love that.

#2 Share You

Your readers want to get to know who you are. Who is the great Oz behind the curtain? Share your story in fun and interesting ways. 

Nicole mentioned Mighty Girl's life list. Her blog follows the 100 or so things she wants to do with her life. Try spicing up your profile by letting people hear your story and connect with you, the author of your webhome. 

I also learned some awesome nicknames for loyal readers. I wish I could remember all the good ones, but it definitely made me think I need to have some kind of name for you good people who come here to see what's happening in my piece of Heaven. (my inspires? I'm still thinking...) 

#3 Predictable Fun                                        

Your readers come to rely on you, and consistency is key. Your timing doesn’t have to be every day. Nicole started blogging three times a week and now she's bringing us gorgeous photos and content daily..maybe even more soon. 

Stay consistent. But don’t put the pressure on yourself. Aim for once a day.

#4 Become BFF with Social Media           

Social media is fantastic. Stay attentive to the little things. Can your readers find you? This means easy buttons to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.

Keep the same username for all your platforms so that someone can easily search for you.

Twitter = blogger water cooler!! Keep it fun. "Twitter is a great way to interact with your readers and jump into conversation…traffic will come naturally."

Oh, and match your header to your domain name.

#5 Comment Etiquette

"Don’t have anything in your house that is not useful or beautiful." via Pancakes and French Fries. That has nothing to do with anything, but I found it inspiring!

Stay active with other bloggers and leave a thoughtful comment. And a clear don't – don’t put your URL in a comment. You've already added it in to the basic info on the post. Double dosing here is clearly tacky.

Every post initiates a conversation. It's a like a great party. Be sure to respond to people. "Talk to the people who have been nice enough to talk to you."

And everybody loves comments. So true, so true.

Honestly, what I love best about the Alt Summit classes are the completely creative, dazzling folks who join in the very chatty webinars. You get a complete blog roll and a ton of twitter handles to follow...and I've found some great *inspires* to keep me going for quite a while.

Happy blogging!

Here we go.

A blog is born. Do blogs hatch or are they birthed? I'm not really sure, but I can tell you that this one has definitely been a lengthy labor. And, just like childbirth, I'm going to go ahead and forget all the painful, ungodly details and plow on through to the happy moments.

Welcome to Pars Caeli (pars kilee), a piece of Heaven. This web home will soon be filled with designs and ideas that inspire me and my family. I imagine that you're pretty inspirational, too, so I look forward to learning about all the amazing ideas and projects you have to share.

As I learn more about all things blog, you'll find me fiddling my way through Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram (@parscaeli). Stop over a say hello!

It was really lovely to have you over. Hope to see you here soon.