Archive for January 2014

Blog Feature Friday: So Much Better With Age

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This isn't a new blog but it's a new to me blog. I just discovered Jamie and her gorgeous blog, So Much Better With Age. I wish I had found her sooner!  Her blog is full of gorgeous photos, home ideas, baking, etc. 

Her house is envy worthy for sure!  Check out her powder room, by the way.  

Make sure you visit her and check out her other amazing projects!  Here are some of my favorites! Please pin from the original source!!

Scrappy but so elegant.

Valentine's Day Fabric Hearts

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valentine's day fabric hearts holidays decorations

I decided to bust my insane fabric stash the other day by stitching up some sweet fabric hearts for some Valentine's Day decor!  I always appreciate the soft colors of Valentine's Day and it feels good to add some hearts and flowers decor makes me feel like spring will come someday!  Anyway, I'd love to show you how I created my fun fabric hearts!

10 Unique Valentine's Day Wreaths

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Everything is coming up roses!  And hearts and arrows and cupids and YAY for Valentine's Day decorations!  I love all the sweet, springy colors that Valentine's Day brings out. As soon as I'm all done with the heavy and dreary winter, Valentine's Day shows up bringing with it the soft reds, pinks, lavenders, and violets that remind me winter doesn't last forever!   Plus it's fun to incorporate other colors as some of these wreaths prove!  

Valentine's Day Free Printable

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The First Year Blog: Blog Feature Friday

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I'm starting something new!  Woo Hoo!  Yay for change!  Each Friday I'm going to feature a blogger I admire, blogs that I read consistently, and/or blogs that are new!    The blogs will be in the home-making genre: DIY, decor, food, crafts, parenting. 

This week I'm featuring Beth from The First Year Blog. Not only is her blog full of great recipe ideas and crafts, she is a sweet friend who is very supportive in the blogging community. I'm so glad I have found her blog! I hope you'll visit Beth at The First Year Blog and follow her recipe and craft journey!

Valentine's Day Bottle Vases

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A few months ago I was browsing through Pinterest and came across a million adorable pictures of felt food for play kitchens.  Have you seen these?  Lilliputian cakes, waffles, burgers, chicken, even entire Thanksgiving dinners all made out of felt.  Every single picture was cuter than the next and I decided right then and there that I was going to make the girls an entire kitchen's worth of felt food!  I am woman!  See me sew felt!

I got right to work by buying an insane amount of felt in a variety of colors. You have to have lots of choices if you are going to sew up food for the whole food pyramid, you know?  Well, I made some broccoli, two fried eggs, and a carrot. And then....well, let's just say making felt food is time consuming and the girls were terribly unimpressed. So I was left with a hoard of felt.  

For Valentine's Day, I used the felt to make some cute felt flowers for hair bows, but also some simple decorations, including these bottle vases.

Strawberry Chocolate Hand Pies (Valentine's Day Dessert)

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Here's something to know about me! I am kind of a snow scrooge. I don't love when it snows, I dread it actually. I do not like all the extra clothes you have to stuff your kids in to go play, I do not like watching Jim shovel (and I hate to do it more), and driving in it is particularly annoying.  I'm not into winter sports so I don't even have that. In fact, I was once kicked out of the beginner ski class on the bunny slope because I was so bad. "Um, can you go sit over there?" said the instructor pointing to a tree.  Nope, this girl can never see snow again and be happy.

Layered Curtains

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I love the look of layered curtains, especially when one is a pattern and one is solid in coordinating colors!  I've seen this in a couple of magazines and I decided I wanted to have this look as well. But alas, I didn't want to install a double rod. What to do?  

SPAM Craft

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Today we are going to craft with SPAM. No, we aren't going to go into your email folders and retrieve SPAM. It's not that kind. Yup, it's the original stuff, the meat in the can stuff. 

Being a Better Blog Reader

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January is the month for resolutions, as we all know. I never make resolutions because I am usually uninspired to keep them. This year, however, I'm going to try. I'm going to be a better blog reader!  You can't be a blogger without tripping over a "Be A Better Blogger" or "How To Increase Your Traffic" article, or the like. Got it. Good content, good pictures, consistency. Check. But what about bloggers as blog consumers?  Are we doing what we are asking our readers to do when reading our blog?  

I recently read a piece written by Mandi at Vintage Revivals, a blogger whom I admire for her originality and beautiful photography. In her post entitled, Pinterest and the Pacman Problem, Mandi discusses the age of Pinterest and how people are truly using it. It is a great article and it got me thinking. How do I use Pinterest?  Has my motivation changed?  Which led to other questions such as "What kind of blog consumer am I? Am I supporting blogging as a genre of writing and bloggers as fellow authors in that genre?" 

I began reading blogs for inspiration. I enjoyed the feeling of connecting with others who are doing what I do, are interested in what I am, taking ideas a step further, and encouraging me to believe that I can use a power tool, build a table, sew a dress. But somewhere along that journey I found myself less interested in reading blogs and more interested in MY blog, which of MY projects are being pinned, how many comments I received on a post, and the all important...are MY page views going up?  It all became about me, my projects, how the readers were effecting MY blog.  Ew.

It is so important to remember that some bloggers rely on the revenue they receive from their blogs. Their monthly income, vacation fund, whatever, is dependent on the content, photos, and page views.  It is vital that these bloggers keep their finger on the pulse of their blog, resuscitate it when necessary, and continue to grow it and make it better.   

That being said, I still had to answer the question, what kind of a blog reader am I?

Not a very good one lately, I had to admit. I pin pin pin but rarely click through to the blog. Not cool. Pinterest didn't create that project, someone somewhere purchased the supplies, planned the project, executed it, spent time photographing that project, maybe even staging it, then spent time to write it up and put it out there for me, you, us.  Pinning doesn't help those bloggers. Clicking through to the actual blog and taking the time to read the post is what helps these bloggers, proves to them that people are interested and appreciating their work.  And yes, adds to those page views  which help them get paid.

When I do click through, do I comment?  Do I tell the blogger why I thought the project was interesting, beautiful, or special?  Even if it is a project I don't think is for me, I clicked through for a reason and I should let the blogger know why. I don't need to be insincere but how many seconds does it take for me to say , "You picked a great color!" or "that fabric looks perfect!" How does it make the blogger feel?  Validated and appreciated. I need to comment!

Finding a gorgeous or original project, do I share it on my FB page?  Do I take a minute to email it to another friend?  Do I write a little blurb on my blog about it?  Not lately.  With the changes to Facebook's algorithm, fewer and fewer bloggers are sharing projects since they don't get placed in  news feeds as readily as updates without links. It makes sense that bloggers who rely on those likes and page views will maximize their updates. But the blogger whose project is shared and maybe only reaches 100 followers instead of 10, 000 is still seeing their work appreciated and viewed and maybe those 100 followers that do see it are the 100 that matter to the shared blogger.

In the blogging world, we talk a lot about supporting other bloggers and how to do that. I decided that this year, I will go back to the beginning, and read blogs as I used to: as a consumer, as a craft and DIY enthusiast, and as a fellow blogger who supports the entire genre while still appreciating the revenue. 

I will click through more when pinning.
I will comment more when visiting blogs.
I will share more despite it not benefiting me.
I will take the time to send a personal email to someone to say "That post mattered."
I will be a better blog reader.


Caesar Chicken: Weeknight Meal Idea

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It can be so hard to put a hot, homemade meal on the table during the week.  By the time everyone comes home, backpacks are dealt with, homework is done, etc. there is little time to spend hours at the stove. I find myself in that situation last week and threw together a quick and easy meal that we all ended up loving. My husband called it restaurant quality! 

How To Make A Scrappy Tassel

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Before I go into how to make one of these beauties...

I am going to tell you a story.

Your Favorite Posts! 2013 Top Ten Posts!

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2013 was a long, hard year. Granted, we are all healthy, safe, and comfortable and for that we are always grateful. But we tried to get lots of house projects done on a wee budget, I struggled as a stay-at-home mom, and, oh this and that, whine, whine, whine.
One of the bright spots for us was this blog and for me, personally, reaching out to YOU, friend. Connecting with you, enjoying your comments, appreciating your encouragement, and getting to know you is what drives me to continue blogging when I'm tired or burned out.
And so, in honor of my awesome readers, here are the posts that got the most action!

Chocolate Meringue Cake (Valentine's Day Chocolate Dessert)

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A few years ago my sister made a declaration, similar to George Bush's "I will not eat broccoli" declaration. She decided she was no longer baking. She wasn't a good baker, she didn't enjoy it, she wasn't doing it.  I was secretly happy since I am a good baker (pat pat on my back), I do enjoy it, and I want to try different recipes. Thus, the holiday baking duties have fallen (or rather, I placed them) onto me!  I try to do something different for each holiday, something we haven't tried before, and then I also try to bring or include something familiar. This year for Christmas dinner, I tried a Chocolate Meringue Cake recipe I found on the great cooking blog, Heat Oven to 350.

Happy New Year!

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I hope you all had a blessed holiday season!  

I have been away from my computer and haven't visited any of you, checked emails, or edited a single picture in preparation for posting.  Christmas was busy, of course, as I'm sure yours was. The day after Christmas, we drove 10 hours to visit my parents and sister in North Carolina. What started out as a wonderful trip turned into stomach flu misery. It started with Molly and traveled through each one of us. I was hit the hardest. I spent days in bed sleeping away the nausea and still do not feel myself. 

During the last night of our visit, my father was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. I'm grateful to say he is fine and all is and will be well with him. But we left with heavy hearts not knowing exactly what his hospital stay outcome would be.

So I am here, barely, but here. I have a cache of post ideas waiting for me to go forward on them and I hope to get some of it accomplished this weekend.  

Much love to all of my dear readers who are so generous with their time in reading my blog and coming along with me on my journey in homemaking.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2014!