August Photo Challenge

My showing for June was shameless - though better than 50%.

July was nonexistent.

However, with my newfound "freedom" (ha!) I am going to try August with Chantelle @ Fat Mum Slim.  Play along - help keep me accountable!  Oh, and if someone can tell me what iPhone app you use to add text to your photos on your phone, I would be eternally grateful!

And don't forget to come back every Thursday and link up for My Life in an Instagram each week!

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Truth or Dare

Found this new link party and I just love it!  Clever and while I do love, and participate fully in, those link parties with foods and crafts, sometimes it's fun to take a moment and learn a little more about the women you're reading.  Sure they can bake a mean cookie, but what does their house look like?  Or their bedspread?  The junk drawer that even the most organized of homes has - don't lie.

So, thanks to the help of Jade @ An Organized Mess I bring you this week's Truth or Dare moment:

Truth: If you could be one celebrity simply based on their fashion sense, who would you be & why? 
Dare: Post a photo or video of your closet. Tell us what you like & what you would want in your dream closet. 
The truth isn't too telling, but I can share that I'd love to have fun-loving style like Zoe Deschanel.

I'm just not brave or quirky enough to pull it off.  My idea of "not caring" is going out into public with a 3-day old hair and yoga pants.  More slop than style.

Lame answer, I know.

So, I present to you our catch-all, cluster of a closet.  I am forced to share with my husband - ugh.  It is a disaster.  Perhaps with all my free time as a SAHM now I'll clean and organize it. 
Don't judge.  The thought alone about potentially giving it effort gives me points.

And yes, that's a soft blanken (with an N)  My childhood comfort item, shoved in the closet, but not forgotten. I slept with that thing until we moved into this house almost five years ago, at which point, the hubs said it was time to maybe think about putting it away.

Kill joy.


Wilder Creations GIVEAWAY

This week, I want to introduce you to Billie and her husband, owner and designer of Wilder Creations. Her bracelets are super unique and there are tons of colors to choose from! They are braided and knotted in such a way that add the perfect flair and beauty to any arm party you're planning this summer.

"Each time a knot is made it is to remember our fallen heroes. The colors represent the deployment colors and the button is to represent the uniform we wear. The clasped bracelet resembles the circle of friends that is never broken"
-Author Unknown

Wilder Creations started with a single bracelet in support of breast cancer awareness and has grown and gotten more complex in the past 6 months! We can proudly say that we have had over 400 orders and it is all in thanks to our customers, and their word of mouth promotion for our business! We like to keep all of our clients happy and strive to keep things on a more personal level, to help us create exactly what you want. All of our bracelets are made by an Army Veteran who has served 3 tours in Iraq, and he strives to produce the high quality in every bracelet he makes. You can find us on web through our website, Facebook and Etsy store! We look forward to working with you, to create your accessories!

Billie is so amazing that she is going to offer up TWO amazing prizes for this giveaway! You have the chance to win a dragonfly keychain (in your choice of color), as well as a bracelet with your choice of 2 colors and charm! It told you, she's amazing!!  Enter below using the Rafflecopter wigit - GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lemon-Herb Chicken

Be sure to check out this week's giveaway from Wilder Creations {here}  Super cute bracelets made by an awesome vet!

I happy and sad that there is only one chicken foil dish on my list.  Happy because it forces me and the family to venture out and try other things, and sad because chicken is so cheap and easy to keep in the freezer.  Remember my story with the crunchy BBQ chicken {here}?  I know I'm not alone.

Anyway, I bring you #15 from the list.  Sorry I'm jumping around, but I like to keep you on your toes!

Gather up:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 c chopped mixed herbs (I used thyme, rosemary, chives)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (eyeballed it)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (juice from two little guys)
Mix the the herbs, oil and juice together.  Separate your chicken onto 4 individuals foils and divide your sauce onto each breast.  Wrap up tightly and grill over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes.  Because the chicken is steaming in your lovely concoction, the chicken won't come out crispy brown, but it will be served to your table, super juicy and tasty.

The girls weren't huge fans of the herb flavors, but Nate and I enjoyed the bright flavors that the lemon and freshness brought.  So we ate the chicken and the girls at salad (with lots of cucumbers and red peppers) - no complaints here!


Guest Post: Updating and Archiving Your Old Blog Posts

Remember Gina from my July Sponsors shout out?  Here she is, sharing invaluable advice on keeping your blog current, even if it's five years old.  Take it away, Gina...
If you’ve had a blog for a couple years, like me, you likely had scattered beginnings, like me. Your first few posts may have been inspired, funny, adorable...but have you read them since? Did it start out a fashion blog and become a food blog?

After I moved from Blogger to Wordpress, I told myself I’d go through all my old posts and weed out the ones that are no longer relevant. I finally managed this. It was pretty intimidating, but after doing so, I realized how important it is! My reasons are 5-fold. :)

Archives look and sound intimidating, but you can learn a lot from your past self!
  1. Old posts may or may not reflect who you are or what your blog is about now. If a reader chooses to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start...), they shouldn’t become confused. There should be a natural development of both blog and blogger. If a post doesn’t fit in to your mission statement, just delete it! You want your ENTIRE blog to reflect you, not just your latest post.

  2. You will find old posts that make you laugh, or have meaningful advice worth sharing again. Go ahead! Share it on your social medium of choice. Readers who haven’t had time to sift through your old stuff will love that you brought it to their attention. If you didn’t have Twitter back when you published the piece, maybe nobody got a chance to see it! It may be a winner. : )

  3. Long-forgotten articles can be real gems!

  4. Ever promise to write about something and forgot? You can delete that post (or just the promise and pretend you never said it), OR you can take the challenge! It’ll depend on how good you think the idea is, and how well it fits into your blog now.

  5. If you’ve ever started a weekly feature (“Cute Animal Friday!”, “Margarita Recipe Monday!”) and it didn’t pan out...you may have forgotten to go back and edit the first few. If you published “Cute Animal Friday #1!” and it was the only one...you can just take out the part about Friday, and the “#1”. Then you just have a random cute animal post! Nothing wrong with that.

  6. Lastly, even if the post is great, you might want to tweak the titles and search terms to make sure people SEE it when they search certain topics. If the title only makes sense to you, and it isn’t clear what the post is about, change it up! The title should always make things obvious and it should draw people in. Along these lines... improve or remove bad photos. Super important.

All these old volumes need is colour photos and fresh titles, amiright?

Yes, going through the archives is tedious, but sooo worth it. Just make sure you turn off automatic sharing, so your Twitter feed doesn’t go CRAZY as you update each of your 350 posts... : ) oops.

Thanks again Liz for this awesome opportunity! Love your blog and glad to be a part of it for a day!

Please click {here} and be sure to enter my Rookie Books giveaway!  Last day!


My Life in an Instagram #8

Happy Thursday!  We're almost to the weekend - and almost my LAST DAY OF WORKING!!  And then I go home to my other 4 jobs, but whatever!  It's exciting!

The linky is live and ready for your photos!  Make sure you play fair:

  • Follow my blog
  • Link back to this post somehow on your page or post
  • Share with friends and encourage them to join in
  • Visit those who have linked and leave some love 

According to L

So worth it.
An empty cart and a full Diet Coke.  Pure joy.
Salsa fresca
Kale chips - meh
So she likes corn on the cob
Ring finger bling, loving it!
S&D Olivia Bib. Amazing.

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August Ad Space is Available!

You are very smart.  I can tell, otherwise you wouldn't be here.  And for that, I thank you.  Every day, I am humbled and excited by all the visits and comments and action this little spot sees.  Not that I can blame you, I am pretty amazing (and humble as some of my bloggy buddies like to point out - looking at you Kelley @ The Grant Life)

I have SIX amazing ways to get in on the action here.  Everything from your basic button to that can drive traffic to your Etsy shop (and the size is perfect for adding text, maybe a  coupon code to track clicks?) all the way up to the big dogs where you get seen every day
by every set of eyes that hits this joint.

I'd love for you to be a part of the fun!

Some of of my stats:
Over 2,440 followers and fans
Over 1,753 unique visitors each month
My newletter has a 30% open rate (vs the 18% industry average)
I love what I do and I'll do a great job for you! (and I didn't mean to rhyme - anybody want a peanut?)
Oh, what's more, I'd love to give you an amazing deal!
With the amazingness of Passionfruit, use AUGUST at checkout and save 40%.  This is good for the first 3 buyers, so don't wait!!

Ready to see more, click {here}

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So What Wednesday

Oh how I love this one.  Thanks again to my girl Shannon @ Life After I Dew, for making at least 1 of my 6 weekly posts pretty easy.  And guaranteed to be all about me, which I also love.

So this, week, here's what I'm saying SO WHAT to:

  • I am feeling super excited and a little scared that this is my last Wednesday in the 9-5 gig.  It's exciting because this is totally new and uncharted territory for me.  Scared because, what if I fail and need to desperately seek out another full-time job?  Not sure my pride could handle that, so best not to fret.
  • One of "big" contributions to our family's bottom line is switching to Three Buck Chuck from Trader Joes.  Cheap and wine.  I see it as a win/win.
  • When my critical, competitive spirit hit (after I saw my 201 followers and said "well, others have more) I took a moment, had a sad moment and then a YEAH moment to keep going!  Even the big dogs had to start somewhere!
  • I am finally catching up Teen Mom from this season and cannot believe what a train wreck Amber turned out to be.  Holy.  Crap.
  • I struggle with all of the coverage in Aurora, CO.  It's tragic, and it's news, but I really hate the idea of the shooter getting all of the attention he craves.
  • I am so geeked and nervous that a week from now, I will host my first trunk show with Stella & Dot.  Praying for a few sales and maybe a few shows from it so I don't get utterly discouraged.
  • I wore leggings to work on Tuesday knowing that I was going to a Thai buffet for one last lunch with my work-husband.  The extra stretch and give is necessary.
  • Of the last, oh, 6 movies we've rented from Redbox, I've actually watched and payed attention to zero of them.  Like this one tonight - Acts of Valor.  I'm sure a delight, good story, whatever.  But I'm busy writing and doing other things.  Sorry for the split attention family - I'll try to be better.

Make sure to enter the weekly giveaway from Rookie Books.  Free stuff.  You know you want it.


Kale Chips

Make sure to check out this week's giveaway {here}

Last weekend, after the morning rain had passed, we packed up and hit up the Farmers Market.  The large one in Minneapolis is always fun, full of good food and vendors, so it makes the trip worth it.  This time around, I was buying cilantro for our salsa and overheard the vendor talking to another patron about kale chips.  I'd seen the occasional pin on Pinterest, so I thought - why not.  For two bucks, I could try to make a healthy snack that would satisfy my need for salt and crunch, without derailing Operation Hot Mama (soon to come, once this lady can hit the gym mid-day thanks to the child center at Lifetime!)

The process is simple, and I tried a few different temperatures and times to see who really had the right idea.  This is the method I found gave the best to get texture and crunch - without burning.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Then get to prepping your kale.  You can use any variety that you'd like - I asked my new Farmers Market buddy and she gave me green kale - but there's also purple, dinosaur and probably others too!

Prep the leaves by removing the large rib that runs down the center of each gigantic leaf.

The method I used was folding the leave in half and pulled on the rib.  It came apart pretty easily.  From there, tear any large pieces into "chip" sized bites.  The leaves will shrink a bit in the oven, so try to make too small.  Basically, you're looking for somewhat consistent sizing so they cook evenly.

Then comes the part when you get to be creative.  Toss the leaves with olive oil and then sprinkle the seasonings of your choice.  I've read about others using Old Bay Seasoning, ground chipotle, seasoned salt, or good ole sea salt.

I used seasoned salt on my first batch and added a heavy hand of garlic salt on my second round.

What the health nuts of the world don't tell you about these - literally melt-in-your mouth chips - is the green leafy flavor doesn't exactly cook down.  They are STRONG.  That's not to say that they're not a good snack, but be warned.  Liv, who eats just about anything, other than raw tomatoes or cooked bell peppers, took one and said "it's like dirt."  She tried her courtesy bite, so I'm pleased with that anyway.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  I personally thought they were best fresh out of the oven, slightly cooled, but that's just me.  Worth an experiment anyway!


Mexican Corn

Check out our latest giveaway with Rookie Books (now thru 7/28)

The happy sibling to the very popular Italian Corn found on my summer grilling list.  I'd never eaten cotija cheese before, but I am a new fan.  It crumbles very easily (like feta) but has a sweet, salty taste.  There is more moisture than a feta or blue cheese, but I could see substituting one of those very easily on corn.  Perhaps I'll start a new bucket list (when I finish this one!)

The steps are exactly the same as the Italian Corn {review them here}  Instead of Parmesan, you'll use my new favorite cojita cheese, and substitute the lemon juice for lime juice.

And just as I mentioned in the Italian Corn tutorial, the inside the foil will brown from the melting cheese, but the flavor is amazing.  And because the cobs don't exactly come off the grill dripping in cheese, I had a little extra on the table, with limes to add extra flavor (read: add more cheese = more happiness)

Rookie Books {giveaway}

We've got a super awesome giveaway with only a few hoops (as opposed to some giveaways out there!)

All those gorgeous beaded bracelets that I make and sell on Etsy - wanna know where I get my awesome thread?!  THIS LADY, right here! 

Sonja, owner of Rookie Books has then most incredible selection and quality of waxed linen that I've found.  Your local beading or crafting stores will probably have your basics - white, black and brown.  But what about all those other fun colors?!  Right here.  Perfect for those beading tutorials that are out on Pinterest {like here}

Here's a little more about Sonja in her own words:

Sonya Richards is from the Netherlands where she got her degree in Fine Art. She moved to the US five years ago and fell in love with Portland, OR. She currently works at a local art and craft store where she teaches book making classes and all other crafts that involve paper, while simultaneously working on her Etsy store at home. Rookie Books was founded 2010, initially to showcase Sonya's handmade books, but it quickly became a popular shop too for waxed linen supplies. 'I needed a wider variety of colored thread, and in smaller quantities for my own book projects. After searching everywhere to no avail, I decided to start selling it myself. Plus now I had all colors available at all times! The majority of my customers are jewelry makers and it's wonderful and surprising to see what beautiful things they use the thread for.'

I think what attracted me to Sonja's shop the most was her simple, clean business.  As a shop owner, I know how cumbersome having 100s of items for sale can be to manage.  Let alone for your supply shopper.  1000s of items, even with tags to search a little easier, can be hard to weed through.  Sonja has 30 differnent colors of thread, sold is varying package lengths and color counts.  Simple.  Beautiful.  And, she writes the cutest little cards with each order.  Handwritten, such a thoughtful touch - I probably should start doing that....

So did you go check out those projects?  Excited to make some for yourself!?  Here's your chance to win!

Sonja is offering up TWO prizes:
  • 15 yards, winner picks 3 colors
  • 25 yards, winner picks 5 colors
Enter with the Rafflecopter wigit below!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Things I'm Loving

Today I'm linking up with Meghan @ MNM's to give thanks to the little things and share some of my favorites.

Magic Mike.

Could have used more dancing (especially by Channing) but it was totally what I expected and I loved having a night out with some girl friends to giggle and look at half naked men.  And if you saw it, and saw the same previews I did - I will not being seeing the new Katniss scary movie.  No way, no thank you.

My iPhone.
I'm boarder-line addicted to it, but it's just such an impressive tool.  Calculator to manage our new budget, games for the kiddos (Avery loves Peek-a-Boo Zoo, totally worth the 99 cents!), every social media outlet so I'm able to putz around when I'm bored.  Oh, and the occassion phone conversation.

Stella & Dot


I've taken the plunge into becoming a stylist and it's been awesome.  I spend a little too much time on my wish list, but it's hard not too with things that are this cute.  I am hoping to get my samples tomorrow so I can wear them for our family photos.  Waiting until Monday will be painful.

Pregnant in Heels

I've said it before, but I think Rosie Pope and I would be best friends in life.  She's a fashionable mom, with her act together and doesn't stress too much.  Or at least doesn't let it show.  And she helps these incredible clueless women, who make me feel super smart and totally on top of my game.


My Life in an Instagram #7

Time to show your stuff this week! Link up below, link back to this blog (via button below or otherwise) and be sure visit the other posts and leave a comment or two!

Here we go!

(left to right, top to bottom)

  • My sweet niece, Nora, after a swim.  Don't you just love her hair!  I should not be jealous of a 2-year old's hair!
  • Pitched a bunch of old Food Network mags, but snagged the mini books first.  I've got a lot of cooking to do!
  • Trouble 1 (Jack) and Trouble 2 (Olivia).  Still best friends and worst enemies.
  • Liv's shot of my outfit on Saturday.  Loving the maxi.
  • Silly hat at Don Pablos for Grandpa's birthday dinner.
  • Shot from the car this weekend - running errrands and no meltdowns (yet).
  • My new best buddy, Chuck.  Three Buck Chuck, that is.  And isn't the glass cute!  My SIL made it with my logo - she's so thoughtful.
  • Happy Birthday Grandpa (poor Avery was already in bed)
  • STELLA & DOT!  My guide to success!

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