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Friday, March 30, 2012

march featured sponsor: oh so lovely

I asked March's featured sponsor, Sherry of Oh So Lovely, to share a little about herself and her blog for you to read. I love her answers to the questions, especially the tips she gives to new bloggers. Brilliant. Each tip is spot on. I also admire how much she fits into a day! So go ahead and read on, and don't forget to stop by her blog when you're done!

I'm Sherry, a twenty something wife and stay at home mama who loves Jesus, crafts, photography, thrifting, and baking. I'm married to a graphic designer who works full time and we run our own photography business part time so I can stay home with our son. We are very faithful to our church where we are the youth pastor and wife. I'm obsessed with cupcakes and anything vintage.

What do you blog about?
My blog is a lifestyle blog. I blog about my life and the things I enjoy. I share my adventures in DIY projects, recipes, thrift finds, outfits, baby chronicles, and photography.

Why did you start blogging?
I never really knew what a blog was until I started planning my wedding. I found a lot of wedding inspiration through blogs so I got addicted and later started my first blog in 2008, which was about my wedding planning. Later in 2009, I deleted the blog and started a new one that would be my lifestyle blog. It has sense then grown and become Oh So Lovely.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from blogs, and magazines.

Describe your typical day.
My son, Noah wakes up at about 8:00 every morning, which is also when my husband leaves for work. I get up to take care of him first and he watches an episode of Baby Einstein while I eat breakfast and hop on the computer to check my daily blog reads, emails, and Facebook. Sometimes I'll get my post done during this time if he lets me. After his show we go to his nursery for playtime until he gets sleepy, then he goes down for a nap. While Noah naps I edit photos for our photography business ( and work on DIY projects and blog stuff. By this time Noah is ready to eat again and my husband is home for lunch. After my husband goes back to work Noah is ready to go back to bed. I work on house chores and church stuff. At 5:15 my husband gets home from work and dinner is ready on the table. We eat and then he spends time with Noah. Noah usually goes to bed for the night around 10:00 and the hubby and I spend time together watching a movie or playing a game.

What advice would you give to new bloggers?
1. It takes time, don't give up! Don't get discouraged and quit just because you get 0 comments on all your posts. It takes times to gain readers in the beginning. When I started out I wanted to quit because I was doing a lot of work and gaining no comments or readers, but they will come in time. Now, I'm getting several new followers everyday.
2. Be consistent. Don't just post once a month because readers will stop following you after a while. They want to see faithful blogging. You don't have to blog everyday, but give them enough to want to come back.
3. Have a blog design/header. If you aren't design/computer savvy there are several blog designers out there that can make your blog look awesome! This helps get readers as well. I'll just be honest here...I read well designed blogs with good content. If you have those 2 things, you have everything you need,

Are there any projects or big goals you're working on or working towards?
This year my goal has been to really focus on my blog. I love blogging and it's become part of my everyday so why not put more into it. Also, my husband and I are planning a trip to England to visit his grandma in September. So we're working towards saving a WHOLE LOT of pocket change.

Is there anything weird or funny that most people don't know about you?
Most of my friends and family know that I'm OCD about certain things and a tad bit perfectionist, so I would say the fact that I organize the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. The same color of glasses go in one row, etc. and my husband has gotten me to only eat an even amount of cookies...

Thanks Sherry! 

I hope you all have a great weekend! :)
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

my lovely march sponsors

In all the craziness in this month full of praxis tests, practicum observations, and class in general, I completely forgot to ask for sponsor info in any timely fashion so I took a cue from some of my favorite blogs and decided to feature each sponsor by choosing one of their posts from this past month that I loved and wanted to share with you lovely readers. (Holy run-on Batman.) I've broken them into categories because that seemed like a good way to do it, so if you see something that strikes your fancy, give it a click and read on! You won't be disappointed. :)

+ There's a lovely post on Inflammatory Knit about her current knitting projects that makes me wish I was a little more talented with the needles!
+ Check out some beautiful watercolor and lettering projects over on Lovenotes by Lauryn. Two of my favorite things in one.
+ Megan at Megan Down the Rabbit Hole gushes about her love for microns which I totally understand. She also shows one of her incredible drawings in progress!

+ Sherry at Oh So Lovely shows a tutorial for prettying up one of those not-so-pretty necessities.. a trash bag canister! I'm sure you could use this for other plastic bags you want to reuse as well. 
+ Over on LDC Designs, Lindsay shows an amazing diy for a chevron chalkboard desk! Not only is it super cute, it's pretty practical too. You could leave someone a message without worrying about having a post-it handy!
+ Drew from Open Ended compiled some amazing diy projects that she has on her list for the spring. Really loving the inspiration board and magic decal diy's featured!

+ Charlene at A Toast to Wonderland shows off one of her many amazingly put together outfits, featuring a sweet polka-dot skirt and a colorful striped Coach laptop case.
+ Woodgrain and Gold's Candace collected inspiring outfits that mix and match bold patterns. There's some rooms in there too for those looking to mix up their interiors! Love it.
life + living
+ Allie from Kisses and Chaos gives smart (and humorous!) tips on how to deal with five things that really suck. Too good!
+ Kate over at Wake Up, Lovely talks about stepping away from technology and why she's feels that it's necessary. There's also some amazing and colorful photos of her taking out technology frustrations on an old laptop!
+ On The Lovely Hunter, Sofia talks about an issue I'm sure most bloggers have dealt with or are currently dealing with, and that's knowing when to stop writing about or seeking out awesome things, and actually start doing them instead. Definitely something to think about!
+ Over on Life is a Canvas, Caiti has been giving beautiful photographic tours of her and her husband's new temporary home- Ireland. Lucky! I chose the one of Dublin but you should check out the rest of the posts because she definitely showcases the beautiful country well.
+ Get to know Brittany from Brittany's Creative Threads with her "50 things you probably didn't know" post!

+ Erin from Eef Etcetera had one of her sponsors post an amazing drink recipe that includes - get this - thin mint cookies! I can't wait to try this one!
+ Over at Adventures of a Misfit Librarian, there's a recipe for Honey Cakes which sounds totally delicious. I bookmarked this one to try later!

So which method of sponsor spotlighting do you prefer, or are both fine? And I mean between this way or showing photos and bios of each sponsor. I think I almost prefer seeing these types because I feel more apt to click on a link that describes an interesting post, which may lead me to check out more of the blog. I'm not opposed to either, just wondering what you think! :)

Come back tomorrow for my featured sponsor, Sherry of Oh So Lovely's post! I love the answers she gave to the prompts! Definitely a good read. :)
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

paper mache bowls: how-to

Just wanted to put together a little how-to for anyone wondering how I made these. It's super simple and I'm sure there's a million ways to do it but this is how I did!

First, grab some balloons and blow them up to the size that you want your bowls. Then tear up some newspaper (in hindsight I would make the pieces smaller - they'll lay flatter and minimize bumps and wrinkles!) and start mod podging it to your balloon. I just dipped my brush straight into the bottle, painted some on the balloon, and stuck down the first piece of paper. Then I brushed over that and kept sticking pieces of paper on until the balloon was almost half covered. Make sure all of the paper is covered in mod podge.

If you make the bowl bigger than you want it, you can cut the edge off later to the size you want, which will ensure that the edge is even and thick.

After going for a while, hold your balloon up to a light and check for thin spots where the light shines through. Cover these spots with more paper until you can no longer see light through it. I think my whole balloon was about four layers thick, at least.

When you're satisfied by the paper coverage, hang your balloon to dry by the little nub on top. I just clipped mine to a clothesline. I let it dry overnight so it would be nice and firm when I went to paint it.

So when your balloons are nice and set, grab some painting supplies!

I thought it would be easiest to just hold the balloon while I painted the paper so I left it inflated. It took about three coats before all the newspaper was hidden so I just hung the balloons on the clothesline in between layers. They dried pretty quickly.

When the paint is dry, pop the balloon! I cut the top off so it wouldn't just burst but deflate quickly. I wasn't sure if the bursting would tear it. Just help the balloon along as it deflates and unsticks to the paper.

Next, I leveled off the tops and just trimmed until the bowl had the depth that I wanted.

After that, paint the inside of the bowl whatever color you want. You can see the first gold layer of my little bowly in the back!

Once the inside is dry, you're done! Easy as that.

Click to see the finished bowls. :)

Hope you're having a great week!
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Friday, March 23, 2012

paper mache bowls

At some point in my scrolling through the internets I saw these really fun wooden bowls that were painted white on the outside and gold on the inside. I wish I remembered where they were from because I can't for the life of me now, but anyway, I thought I had this ingenious idea of recreating them with paper mache. I really liked them and thought "hey I can do that myself on the cheap!"

Apparently I wasn't that original because it only took some random browsing on Pinterest to see that a few people had already done just that. :| Oh well, I was still proud of myself for coming up with the idea in the first place, even if it wasn't that hard to think of. ;)

I'll do a post on my process next week, otherwise this post would be a little photo heavy because I took advantage of the beautiful day and shot some bowly glamour shots outside. One of those times as a blogger that you picture every neighbor peeking out their window, wondering why you are laying in the grass taking pictures of some odd colored bowls. :)

As you can see, I ditched the white in favor of a springy melon color just to jazz things up a bit. Though I will probably still make the white ones one day as I improve my mache-ing skills. These bowls are a lil lumpy but I love them all the same. Believe it or not, this was my first time doing paper mache. Never got to make one of those weird masks or vases in elementary school art class or anything so I just rolled with what I knew! It's not really rocket science, but alas, there are ways to do it and there are better ways to do it.

Have a great weekend! Hope you're getting the same lovely weather we have!
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Monday, March 19, 2012

chai spiced apple crumble

I think one of the top complaints (or maybe the only complaint) about having fresh produce is not being able to eat it quick enough and having it go bad. I always want to buy tons at a time so I can have a variety to pick at, cook with, and mix into whatever, but that's a perfect way to have more than you can eat in the small window of freshness.

One thing I never thought of until the produce was too far gone was to quickly whip something up that will extend not only the freshness, but the deliciousness as well. I mean, a mushy berry is edible, but who wants that? I've been finding everything from baking the fruit and making jams, to freezing it into cubes to add to drinks and smoothies later.

So today I did what I've been wanting to do and salvaged two granny smith apples who had seen better days. You know the deal.. soft spots, a little bruising on the peel. Not something I want to bite into, but a little peeling, a little chopping, and you've got yourself the base for a delicious little crumble. A chai spiced crumble to be exact! Now, you can make this with fresh-off-the-tree apples for sure, I just thought I'd try this recipe as a way to bake up my existing apples that needed a little love.

This recipe calls for five apples and since I only had two, I just halved all the spices and other ingredients. I know, that's not exactly half the apples but it was delicious so good 'nuff in my book! That's some fancy baking math for ya.

I can't wait to take full advantage of the recipes I've collected and not waste a drop of fruit or veg this summer. And besides just saving my last two apples, this recipe was absolutely amazing. The chai flavor is spot on. It's like sipping a latte only you're spooning it into your mouth with baked apples. So good. The crumble is crisp and the apples are warm and tender. It would definitely be a winner over ice cream, especially with this warm weather! But I just devoured it out of a bowl and it was amazing just like that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

eleven things

So I've been tagged by Lisa of Lala Faux Bois to do the "11 things" jam. Never one to turn down a good meme, here are my 11 things and all that goes with it!

There are five rules:
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.

5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.

  Why? Because. :)

11 Random Things

1. I broke my pointer finger in 6th grade from running in the schoolyard (I can practically hear the "I told you so's" from every teacher ever) and because of where I broke it, I had a cast almost up to my elbow. To make it better, they wrapped my pointer and middle fingers together for support when they casted it so I had a permanent gun hand for months. I'll have to post a photo sometime. ;)

2. Bats are my favorite animal. My dream pet is a flying fox.

3. Spinach is the only vegetable that I don't like. With an exception for spinach dip. Love that, probably because of all the bad stuff in it.

 4. The sound of things dragging on carpet is my nails on a chalkboard. No one understands it and everyone likes to test me when I ask them to stop dragging their feet or something by doing it again. It makes my blood curdle, it's that annoying. It also makes me want to punch.

5. My first ever sewing project was a puppet of The Great Goblin from The Hobbit. In seventh grade we split into groups and made puppet shows for different chapters. My chapter had the scene where the goblin gets his head chopped off. So my goblin has a velcro-attached head for easy removal. :) Once again, I should post a photo of this one day.

6. I've never been to Disney World. You would not believe the faces I get when I say this. Unless you're making one now. ;)

7. Mine and Charlie's one year anniversary was on 7/7/07 which everyone everywhere kept saying was going to be such a lucky day. (Remember that?) We went out to dinner that night and just happened to choose a restaurant on the bay whose foundation collapsed just as we were waiting for the check to come. Because of the mad dash to evacuate, we got our seafood dinner for free! Luck comes in strange and scary packages.

8. I have four guinea pigs. We got two girls the summer before my senior year and by September, one of them (surprise!) had given birth to two wee little piggies. Baby piggies are the cutest thing. They look like tiny kangaroos because their feet are so big!

9. I really want to take swing dance lessons sometime soon.

10. I still want to get a tattoo someday. Not sure what or where but it will have to be someplace easily hidden due to my profession.

11. I'm a big time sleepwalker. I've woken up in different pajamas, I've eerily rearranged things in my room, and I sometimes wake up in different rooms altogether. The best is when people tell you the things you did on one of your rampages. It's like being black-out drunk without getting to attend the party.

Lisa's Questions

1. What was your favorite vacation?
Any vacation to the beach. Just give me hot sand, waves, and ice cream and I'm content!

2. What is your first childhood memory?
I have a brief memory of being in my walker. It's just like a view almost of looking up at the kitchen table from my low seat. But that's the first thing I remember that I know of.

3. Cats, Dogs, or both?
Both. I already know what kind of dog I want when I move out and what his name will be, but I would like to get a cat one day. They just fascinate me with their nonchalant-ness and their general independence and snobbery. :)

4. What was the first concert you ever went to?
Britney Spears. Ha!

5. What’s your favorite thing to cook/bake?
I like to cook and bake new things, so that's probably my favorite. I like eating new things and I also like trying to make the new recipes successfully. 

6. If you could time travel to any decade, what would you choose & why?
Tough. I'm torn between the 40's and the 20's. Or maybe even the Victorian era? That'd be a tough choice if I had to pick just one. But let's go with 40's then in that case, for the fashion, the music, the cars, and the dancing! I'm just fascinated by that time.

7. Describe your perfect day off.
It would start with getting up early. I have a crazy hard time with this part because it's so nice to sleep in, but I just enjoy the day more when I get up early. So after that I would want to get coffee and breakfast with Charlie, and then we'd spend the day walking/shopping/browsing through one of our favorite little towns. Then dinner outside because that's fun when the weather's nice. Then I'd finish it all off with ice cream!

8. What’s your dream job/career & what was it when you were a kid?
Absolute dream job is to own my own creative company.. some sort of designing, whether it's paper based, fabric, or other materials. When I was a kid I was pretty sure of what I wanted to do. I actually have two projects saved from when I was little and one says I wanted to be an artist and the other says teacher. Today I have my BA in graphic design and I'm going for my Master's in teaching. Following my 5 year old heart's desires yo.

9. What clothing item is your weakness & you can’t stop buying?
Sweaters and cardigans, without a doubt. Just thinking about it reminds me of all the colors and styles I still "need" to acquire.

10. What’s your favorite holiday?
Christmas, hands down. I actually go through a pretty intense withdraw all through January (and sometimes February) where I long for holiday foods, movies, music, and gatherings. Everything is so much prettier and more fun during the holidays! It usually takes a spell of warm weather for me to get over it. ;)

11. What’s your sign? :)

Here's my questions..
1. What food do you typically crave?
2. Do you have any superstitions? Things that are lucky or unlucky to you? Explain!
3. Would you be friends with high school you? Why or why not?
4. What was your first pet?
5. What's one TV show you'll never get tired of?
6. What has been your favorite age so far?
7. What's one product you couldn't (or at least wouldn't want to) live without?
8. What is your favorite summer beverage?
9. Now that summer's on the brain, what is your favorite warm weather activity?
10. Is there a recent trend you just can't/couldn't get on board with? What is it?
11. What's your idea of the perfect night? (Out or in!)

Hopefully these people haven't done it already, but I'll tag Kate, Cosmia, Lauryn, Kait, and Megan.

Anyone else can do this too! I just don't even know who hasn't done it at this point!

Hope you're having a great week!
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Friday, March 9, 2012

homemade ice cream: chocolate swirl


I've been an ice cream fiend for as long as I can remember. Summer or winter, it doesn't make a difference. Ice cream is delicious anytime, anywhere. I've been dying to get the ice cream maker attachment for the KitchenAid mixer ever since I found out there was one. And it wasn't just the price tag that has kept me from getting one. You need to be able to dedicate a decent amount of space in your freezer to keep the bowl chilled, and space is one thing I really don't have at the moment. 

One lovely, amazing day, I came across a recipe for homemade ice cream that did not require any sort of ice cream maker! I bookmarked that one and a little while later, found another! The recipes have slightly different ingredients so I want to try both and see what the difference is. I started off with one from The Wannabe Country Girl, whose recipes never disappoint. And surprise, surprise.. neither did this one. 

I wanted to start with something fairly simple so I just used the base recipe and added chocolate syrup to make a chocolate swirl ice cream. 

Making it is super simple and it takes almost no time at all. The longest amount of time is waiting for it to set in the freezer. Thankfully, yesterday was such a beautiful day I got to escape the house and by the time I came back, the ice cream was ready and waiting. :)

Just be careful that you don't over mix! You want the cream to just hold its shape. You're not looking for stiff peaks like you do with whipped cream.

For the chocolate swirl, I just swirled some syrup around the sides of the container, poured about an inch or so of cream mixture, swirled a little syrup on top, and then kept alternating those layers. You can mix in anything you want to the basic recipe (cream + confectioner's sugar). Go crazy! I fully intend to get my mixology on and experiment with as many flavors as I can think of. I already have two in mind for next time!

I got quart + a pint of ice cream out of this. Won ton containers are pretty awesome (and free) for things like this. :)

Grab a spoon, dig in, and enjoy!

What's your favorite ice cream flavor? I could always use more to add to my list of things to try!
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

april call for sponsors

I decided to use this break in my crafty plans to put out an April call for sponsors. I have a few projects I'm about halfway through but I need to take today to knock out some school stuff so I don't craft away my whole spring break (no matter how much I'd like to). So look forward to fun things in the upcoming days and weeks!

Now, about the sponsor thing. Check out the sponsor page for the full run down, but I'm still offering spots for swap or pay, depending on your needs. I also have my feature spot open for April so if you like the idea of a solo post and being in the limelight on the top of my sidebar, shoot me an email before it's snatched up! I'll be accepting sponsors for April up until the 31st, so think about it! Also, since I started this sponsorship in January, my readers and views have more than doubled! That's double the amazing people spotting your ad and feature post should you choose to partake! :) It's no secret that advertising works, I just thought I'd let you know how it's working out for this lil blog.

Hope your week is going well! It's getting quite springy around here. :)
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

i spy: kool-aid dyed yarn

Finding yarn for a project never seemed like that big of a deal before. I would think of a project and general colors I wanted, go into a craft store, and peruse the selection until some beautiful skeins jumped out at me. Or better yet, I would just go in on a whim and stock up on whatever colors caught my eye so that'd I'd have some new pretties to add to my stash.

That was until I wanted to start a project for somebody else. I'm not going into too much detail just yet because I'm not sure who reads my blog these days that I know outside of blogland. And I don't want to ruin any surprises. :) That being said, the pattern I fell in love with came along with a very specific color palette that I really don't want to stray from, because it's a big reason why I liked it so much. I went on a hunt for yarn to match and realized just how hard (read: incredibly mind-numbingly frustrating) it is to find yarn in just one brand and material that has all of the colors you need. That is, without going to a specialty yarn shop and trading your first born for the necessary supplies. (I have a story about accidentally buying a $50 skein of yarn, but that's another embarrassment for another day.)

This project kind of fell to the wayside because of the craft store discouragement, but I am determined to find a way to make this happen in the beautiful way it was intended. Enter, Pinterest. I saw a photo pinned over and over on my front page, of yarn sitting in bowls with Kool-Aid packets next to them. I was intrigued but didn't think too much of it because I figured it could never yield the vibrant colors I wanted and in the variety that I needed them. Then I did a little research and found out I was so happily wrong..

{sources - left to right, top to bottom} one. two. three. four. five. six.

I see lots of natural colored yarn and Kool-Aid packets in my future. There are many different methods, such a steaming the yarn or soaking it in vinegar, and just as many results, like the vibrant solids and unique gradations. 

I'm definitely going to try this for my project and I'll let you know how it goes! That way, I can pick a yarn I like for the feel and texture, and not have to worry about it coming in every color I need. Check out the sources for some how-to's and color samples. Stunning! Can't wait to try it. :)
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

march already?

Is it just me or does it not seem possible that we're headed into the third month of 2012 already? I'm just finishing up midterms this week and spring break begins at about 8:00 tonight. I think it's flying by because I've been busier than ever lately with school, work, practicum, and studying for the Praxis which is two weekends from now. *cry*

February was pretty good though! I just went back this morning to read my welcome february post and see if I did all I wanted to do. From my list of three mini goals, I've started number one, which was to start stretching with the hopes of getting back to my original flexibility from when I was a dancer. That will be a continuous one for a while. As for number two, I'm doing really well in my practicum. One month down, one and a half to go! And number three was to figure out how to keep up with blogging while having a job, which I am still working hard at. I would like to have posted more last month, but I'm still learning ways to make it easier for myself, like scheduling posts for days I know I won't be home, and making a folder of "banked posts" so I always have a good back up if I can't do what I planned on doing one day.

So to set a few mini goals for March..
1. Keep on stretching! Also, start some sort of workout since my favorite yoga vid isn't On Demand anymore :(
2. Keep working on blogging more often! Ideally, I like to blog every weekday like I did when I first started.
3. Pass the Praxis
4. Make make make! I've been hoarding supplies and sketching away.. now is the time to make so I can open my shop for the Spring!

And I guess I should finally get over the fact that we had one day of snow this winter. It's time to start thinking about flowers, green leaves, and sunshine. :)

Oh! And please take a look at March's sponsors, sitting pretty in my sidebar. :) You'll see a bunch of brand new friends alongside some familiar faces. Click around and find some great new reads! I know I have!

So what are you looking forward to this month? Goals, plans, springtime in general? :)
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