Archives for February 2013

The Personal Business Equation

Put Your Heart Quote

As a blogger, we all face the boundaries we are willing to cross, or not cross, at some point in time.

Who do we talk about? How much personal information do we divulge? Who gets a name or a face to the name on the blog versus an initial or some other vague description? How many of our secrets are we willing to spill/be judged for? How open or closed will our life’s book be to everyone that reads our blog? How honest will we be?

The list of questions is endless.

And while I will never downplay these concerns (as they’re incredibly valid and tough for any blogger), I feel like those questions weigh more heavily on those who have a business that is any way tied to their blog. Maybe it’s the same name, or services are offered via the blog, or it’s used to promote the business, or the business and the blog share the same social media accounts – whatever it is, you’ve found a way to combine them.

And because of that, those answers mean more.

You’re no longer wondering if what you say will affect your page views alone, but instead if it will affect your customer base. Will you change what people think about your business/products/services by disclosing your goals, dreams, hopes, beliefs, ideas, flaws, etc? Will they judge the products or services you offer differently? Will you turn a customer away or maybe bring a new customer in?

As a business owner myself, I think about these things every time I write a post. Or send out a tweet. Or post a status update on Facebook. Or hit send on an email. Every time I correspond with someone, I ask myself these questions. And when I answer them, I weigh the answers and do my best to do as little as possible that would instill a negative connotation in a customer or potential customer.

But sometimes it prevents me from putting all of me into the blog, or even the business.

My heart, my mind, and my soul are carefully guarded as I tip-toe these fine lines of honest versus threatening. And it leaves a void, waiting to be filled by more of me. More of the real me.

When Rhi posted about deciding to implement more of herself in her business after someone copied her, it spoke to me. No, I wasn’t copied. And I didn’t face some of the same concerns or frustrations she did, but it was such a beautiful sentiment about putting so much of yourself into a business that people can’t even possibly copy all of your ideas. And that? That is exactly what I want for everything I put my mind to.

But until now … I didn’t feel like I have the right to choose my customers. And while that’s true at times, it’s not completely accurate. The way I run my business majorly influences the kind of customers I attract. Not only that, but it paves the way for the customers I’d prefer not to have to find a different place to purchase their goods. And it’s perfectly acceptable – and encouraged! – to be picky about your customers. Business owners are not required (and should not be expected) to be willing to accommodate every type of customer. Sometimes the fit is just not quite right and that’s okay – no one is meant to be able to please everyone, I promise.

So when I write my posts from now on, and when I post my tweets, and when I send out my emails – I’m dropping the big business feel. I’m getting real, raw, honest and upfront because I know that my heart is pure, my mindset is solid, and my soul is just waiting to be set free.

If that turns someone away, I’m okay with that.

And you should be, too.

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

I always love keeping candles around my apartment, but sometimes the generic glass jars and tea light holders just don’t do it for me. So I decided to make some upgrades.

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

What you need:

  • plain tea light holder
  • lace
  • tape
  • spray paint

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

Start by taping the lace in place around the bottom of the candle holder, making sure it’s as tight and secure as possible. Then – outside or in a well-ventilated area – spray paint around the whole candle, making sure the paint canister is level with the candle holders so that the lace pattern shows up underneath. Give them a little while to dry, remove the lace (you can do another coat if necessary or if you want to rotate the lace so that you can cover the part that was taped – I just decided to hide that part against the wall though ;) ) and enjoy!

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

DIY Lace Painted Candle Holders

The Waterpark Buoyancy Syndrome

Wilderness Resort Waterdomesource

Coin
GoldZone Game
Ropes Course

Between sunning myself in the big water dome that let UV rays in so you could tan and chasing three little boys around, I hardly snapped any photos this weekend. Especially not when we were anywhere near the water. Instead, I enjoyed the moment and am SO glad I did. We played games, watched them do the ropes course, spent enough time in the wave pool that at night when I closed my eyes I felt like I was still rocking, and relaxed in the hot tubs/lazy rivers. It was a nice two-day getaway to break up our routine, but today’s been pretty tough to get back into the swing of things after being away for most of the weekend and yesterday.

To get my “Monday” started right and to boost my energy today, I’m cranking the Thrift Shop song I finally heard over the weekend and working on a new schedule so I can stay organized. How is your week going so far?

And the winner of the Corkcicle is . . .
Kristin Antosz!

Congrats, Kristin! Please email me within 48 hours with your address to claim your prize! :)

And don’t forget – there are still two more giveaways going on right now! Be sure to enter them if you like gift cards!

Shabby Apple Giveaway

While I’m hanging out in hot tubs and going down water slides in the Dells today, I wanted to bring you an extra special giveaway for those looking to add a little something to their wardrobe. :)


Shabby Apple has some of best vintage-style dresses around. Whether it be tulle skirts, lace dresses, or even just every day casual day dresses – they’ve got you covered. They even have cute, retro swimsuits! Perfect for this coming spring and summer.

A little about Shabby Apple – We believe in both femininity and feminism. As feminine women, we create clothing that is artful in design and crafted with a vintage-style flare. Each piece is carefully constructed to both flatter a women’s figure and maintain her mystery. As feminists, we created a company that is women-owned and operated and that donates to help other women start their own businesses. With our old-fashioned style and modern ideals, we believe the best is yet to come!

Today, Shabby Apple is giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky winner!
What would you buy if you won?


February Sponsor Giveaway – Over $90 Value!

February’s sponsors have come together to bring you some awesome prizes! If you’re interested in being featured here next month, check out the advertising page for more info!


will include at least one hair product, one lip balm, and one sugar scrub.

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shop | blog | twitter | facebook 

 

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shop | blog | twitter | facebook

 

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Enter below!


The Cheese Maker Extraordinaire

Last weekend we took a trip up towards Door County to use a Groupon we got for some cheese. In my mind, it was going to be the perfect road trip before we took off – a nice ride along some pretty back roads and time away from the house for Nathan and I to bond. Instead, it was nearly single digits while fresh snow filled some of the unplowed roads yet and Sookie threw up twice. Perfection. Or something not like it at all.

Luckily, the ridiculous amount of cheese we got has been SO good so far. My favorite is an onion and garlic cheese that we got that leaves you with the worst possible breath you could imagine, but tastes SO good. And to continue the week of delicious and fattening foods I love, we went to a cheese class last night that taught us how to stretch fresh mozzarella.

I don’t think I have ever eaten so much cheese in one sitting in my life. Any way that mozzarella is normally served, it was there for me to devour. And of course I had to try everything twice to make sure I knew what I liked. Or didn’t like . . . which was apparently nothing. Not only that, but we got to stretch and package our own mozzarella to take home with us. We started with the curd already made, but ournext goal is to learn how to make the curd so we can make it from start to finish.

Totally unrelated to the cheese trip and the mozzarella stretching, but WAY more important –

Today is Nathan’s Birthday! We blogged a little bit about how we’re celebrating over on the Gnarly Whale blog, but I wanted to be sure to share the deals with you guys if you’re wanting to get your hands on some Gnarly Whale goodies! We have a pretty awesome giveaway going on, but if you’re looking for specific items or want to stock up on Gnarly Whale products – now is the time! We’re celebrating his birthday with our biggest sale since Black Friday so hurry up and place your orders by the end of the month!

bday1

Even though today is his birthday, our bigger celebration is happening this weekend. We’re headed to the Dells this weekend to hang out with his family, celebrate both of our birthdays, and celebrate a rather belated Christmas gift exchange. All I want to do is soak in the hot tub though because it’s been so freakin’ cold here lately. Spring, I’m ready for you. I’ll take your windy rainy days over the bitter cold and snow any day now.

how is your life lately?
any fun weekend plans?

The Blogger’s Rut Disguise

Two nights ago, I had a huge epiphany in the shower while I was talking to Nathan. (This is totally irrelevant to the post, but I felt the need to set the scene and then I second-guessed myself because it sounds like waaay more information than anyone needed to know. But I wanted to keep it there anyway. Truth be told, I do my best thinking in the shower and more often than not, ask Nathan to hang out in the bathroom with our dogs while I rattle off my ideas at a million mph and get clean. Now that I’ve made this post way more awkward than it needed to be, I’ll move on with the point.)

Said epiphany was about blogging.

I was having the same conversation I’ve had with Nathan every month since December, complaining that my blog is a bit lost. More so, I’m a bit lost when it comes to my blog. The content isn’t always easy and free-flowing and more often than not, I feel like I’m writing “filler” posts to fill a void. Even when I wrote about things I loved, it felt off. My blog became boring and more of a chore. What was something that used to excite me and fill me with satisfaction now left me frustrated and uncertain. And whenever I tried to fix it, I failed. Miserably. Features didn’t last, posts became impossible to write, pictures seemed pointless to take, and my theme/niche/blog topics felt like they were now written in an ancient language that no one understood anymore.

I blamed writer’s block/blogger’s rut. I blamed a lack of time. I blamed my other priorities. I blamed jealousy. Anything that could be blamed, I blamed it. And I felt justified doing so because nothing else made sense.

Until last night when it hit me.

I struggled with my blog because I was struggling with my life. My goal has always been to be honest, truthful, and real when it comes to my blog posts. And in order to do that, I need be active in my own life – not easily watching it pass me by. Which is precisely what I’ve been doing.

I put my life on hold when we finalized the plan to move to Florida. And when The Gnarly Whale had opportunities that came unexpectedly. And when I got sick. And when Nathan got sick. And when our dog was injured. Every moment that threw a bit of a curveball into living a little bit just slammed another nail in the coffin, leading to a life that was filled with a heaping pile of work and an extra-large side dish of stress.

My creativity was gone and my life had become dull. My life was suffering and therefore, my blog tanked right along with it.

I didn’t need to get out of my blogger’s rut. I didn’t need to find more time. I didn’t need to overcome jealousy. I needed to re-align my priorities and make time for the things I love to find a way back into my life. I needed to make time for my creativity to flourish. I needed to find time for me.

And only then will my blog will find it’s place in my life – whatever that may be.

DIY Wine Bottle Photo Lamp

Annie has an AWESOME tutorial to share with you guys today – pretty much the perfect thing to go along with yesterday’s giveaway. So after you drink your bottle of wine that’s been chilled with the super fancy Corkcicle, you can repurpose your wine bottle into something almost as useful as the wine itself.

If there are two things in this world I love, it’s my friends and wine. Okay, maybe there are more things than that… but those are the things that inspired this latest DIY project.

What you need:

  • one printed photo
  • spray water bottle
  • glossy mod podge
  • paintbrush
  • wine bottle
  • goo-gone
  • battery powered LED lights
  • yarn/fabric scraps

To do the translucent photo transfer, start by covering the front of your photo (which has to be printed from a normal printer) with a few layers of mod podge, letting it dry in between each layer. Once the final layer has dried, spray the back with water and begin peeling off the paper very gently. Try using just your finger tips and not your nails, as the mod podge can tear pretty easily. Once you’re done, the photo should allow light to shine through.

To remove the label from your wine bottle, apply some Goo Gone around the label and let it sit for a few minutes. This should make it easier to peel  off the paper, but you might need to add a little more as you go.

Once you’re done with those steps, roll up your photo transfer and put it into the wine bottle. I used some knitting needles to place the photo on the outer edge of the bottle. Then insert your strand of LED lights, keeping the battery pack on the outside. You can also add some yarn or fabric scraps to the inside of the bottle, just to help the light carry and keep the photo pinned to the edge of the bottle.

You can add a lampshade to the top of the bottle and hide the battery pack there, or just keep the wine bottle as is. Now you have a cool lamp with a personal touch. Enjoy!

Corkcicle Review + Giveaway

On Valentine’s Day, we went mostly electronics free. We did watch a movie, and we did use the iPad to find a recipe for our fondue, but phones went untouched and emails/texts/orders went unchecked. It was one of my favorite nights we’ve had together in a loooong time. To make it even better, we ate way too much food with homemade fondue and got to test out a new gadget I was given the chance to not only review, but give away to one lucky reader, too!

Meet the Corkcicle:

Corkcicle Review & Giveaway

This is probably one of the coolest things we own now. Not only is it crazy easy to use, but it’s something that you don’t have to prepare anything to use it.

All you have to do is open you bottle of wine, pour out a bit to ensure that when you put the corkcicle in it doesn’t overflow (I totally didn’t do that and didn’t read the directions so let’s just say that’s from personal experience, too.) and then slide the frozen corkcicle in. Then you’ll have chilled wine without an ice bucket and without having to go back to the fridge and/or snow whenever you want more.

We’re not really red wine drinkers, but the great thing about the Corkcicle is that it can be used for both red and white wines. Once you’re finished with it, you just rinse it off and throw it back in the freezer for whenever you’re ready to use it again. A simple, no-mess solution to keeping your wine tableside and chilled during those romantic evenings like ours. Or when you’re watching sappy movies and don’t feel like crawling out from under the blankets or setting down your Ben & Jerry’s to get up. Just sayin. If you don’t like the classic cork look, they Corkcicle comes in various colors, too!

Corkcicle in Action

And you can get your hands on one, too!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I used to loathe today. I was definitely one of those anti-vday ladies, even when I had a boyfriend to call my valentine. Hallmark holiday. Just an excuse to spend a ridiculous amount of money. Blah blah blah. If there was a reason to hate today, I used it. And then I got married.

Nothing much changed right away, but this is our second Valentine’s Day as a married couple and it wasn’t even a question that we were doing something together tonight. We planned out fondue, and a movie night, and chocolate covered bananas, and no computers or phone … all without the usual “well, let’s not doing anything because it’s a stupid holiday” conversation. And that’s when I knew I had lost my edge.

No matter if you’re single, or have a boy/girlfriend, or are married and able to spend today with someone special, or even with someone and can’t spend today with them – I hope today is filled with lots of love from someone. Even if that someone is yourself. And even if it’s in the form of sweet affirmations – I hope something is extra special today for you!

Luckily, I know someone is going to have an extra special day because they won the HUGE Valentine’s Day giveaway! The winner is: Cody Nations! Please email me within 48 hours to claim your prizes! :)

How are you spending today?