Tuesday, April 15, 2014

weekly art update #1

I've had a bit of a creative streak lately, especially since I've been making things for the thousand and one friends that had birthdays this month. I gave all my girlfriends these easy, pretty glittered block letters, and I was excited to pick up the brush again and get inspired by a pretty Lilly Pulitzer print.

Sabrina and I decided to do an art trade, since I fell in love with this yarn color combination, and Sabrina has been really into knitting lately. We haven't decided what I'm going to paint for her yet, but I'm always up for an art trade! (hint to all you artists out there!)

I just bought a whole load of new paints and canvases that I'm really excited to start using!

Have you done anything arty lately?
What's your favorite kind of craft?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 10 Worst Blogging Mistakes I've Made

I've made a lot of mistakes in my 3 years of blogging. Some of them I've learned to fix, others I still continue to make occasionally. Of course, no blog is perfect, but identifying a little trouble before it gets out of hand is a good way to keep things peachy on your side of the blogosphere.

These are the mistakes I've made and how you can avoid them:

1. Centering Text
For almost two years, each and every one of my posts had centered text. Paragraphs upon paragraphs of center aligned words, just because I liked my writing to be lined up with my photos. Thinking back, it makes no sense. Center aligned text is choppy, sloppy and hard to read. Avoid it like the plague unless you're using a one line caption. 

2. Neglecting to respond to comments or emails
I've always had trouble responding to comments via my blogging template, but I usually make sure to return a comment, especially if it's heartfelt or the user asked a question. Every once in a while, things get lost in translation, or I can't find a way to contact the commenter. Unfortunately, I'm also notorious (in my own mind) for forgetting to respond to emails. This is usually open the email on my phone, tell myself I'll respond when I get back to my computer (especially if it requires lots of detail), and then forget to respond. Then, I remember to respond a few days or weeks later and it makes me look like a total flake. Staying on top of comments and emails is a great thing to practice, especially if you're just starting out. It will build good habits and you won't end up like me :P

3. Not publishing to Facebook or Pinterest
For a while, I was skeptical about the exposure I could gain from other social media sites, but once I jumped on the bandwagon, it proved to be worthwhile. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and especially Pinterest are great tools for growing your audience and allowing your voice to be heard.

4. Blogging for the sake of blogging
When I first started out, I was convinced I had to post every single day. That lead to a lot of meaningless, lackluster content. It's important to know how often you can comfortably create content without feeling pressured, and to put your best foot forward when coming up with posts.

5. Linking to the wrong source
Tumblr and Pinterest can often lead to broken links, so be sure if you're featuring content, you know where it actually comes from. Once finding the true source, link back to that. Try to avoid linking to Tumblr posts and Pinterest pins if you can help it.

6. Doubting the blog
It's easy to get caught in a downward spiral with blogging. It doesn't matter if your last few posts didn't get pageviews or comments, there's always a future! It's possible to get new exposure on old posts, and it's possible to double your exposure in a matter of days. All it takes is a positive outlook, some effort, and a love of blogging.

7. Focusing on numbers
One of the worst ways to get stuck in a rut while blogging is to pay too close attention to your followers or view count. If you're worried about numbers, you'll have less energy to put towards networking, writing posts, or discovering new ideas. Sit back, relax, and get inspired!

8. Doing too many blog awards / linkups / tags
While tags, linkups, and blog awards are fun ways to produce easy posts, make new friends, and give you a little break in your schedule, they shouldn't be all you do. Make sure you balance your posts, and don't load your blog with 15 tags in a row. Keep everything in moderation!

9. Neglecting to work with a schedule
An editorial calendar is something I've always wanted to make, but for some reason I've never been able to set it in stone. Of course you should leave yourself a little wiggle room for new and exciting content, but sticking to a schedule is a great way to feel like you're on top of things when it comes to blogging. It's up to you how you want to design it. Some people do a certain type of post every Monday, others make a monthly schedule all at once. Finding a schedule that works for you is an empowering blog choice.

10. Using a title that isn't right for you
For two years, I blogged under my namesake. It took me a while to realize that wasn't the correct fit for me. Using my given name made me feel less inspired when it came to creating content, because I knew, with my name attached, it would have to reflect the "me" that I wanted the internet to see. That was just too much pressure in the long run, so I decided to change my blog's name. Since then I've felt more free to blog, and have had quite an increase in readers and quality feedback.

All this being said, any mistakes you've made, or will make are just points to learn from. There are no real rules in the blogging world, and if something works for you, by all means, stick to it!
Now get out there, write some posts, and follow your blogging dreams!

What are your worst blogging mistakes?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cherry Blossom 2014 (+ other DC attractions)

Yesterday, my friend Kit and I ran off to DC to see the annual blooms of the cherry trees. I was particularly excited to come across the "pink trees" as there were only a few in bloom this year. Most of the trees were a snowy white color and it was so ethereal to walk under them. The Cherry Blossom Festival is the quintessential spring experience, and one of DC's biggest tourist attractions each year.

As always, the blossoms promised a great time, and so much beauty to take in. This also gave us the time to visit the monuments and other sights that we'd never gotten a chance to see.

Our first stop was my favorite museum, the Hirshhorn gallery. There are so many wonderful works of art here, along with many shocking, troubling, and downright crazy pieces. My favorite was a video entitled "A Short Film About Looking," (I wish they had the whole thing online!) which was just about the zaniest thing imaginable. Of course I couldn't take many photos, but if you're ever in the DC area, check out this museum! It's free, and it's a great alternative to the National Gallery which is partially closed due to renovation. 

Then, we visited the Library of Congress. To be honest, I'd never thought I'd ever step foot inside. What's so special about a library, right? Wrong. This was singlehandedly the most beautiful and inspiring building that I've ever set foot in. The archways, the amazing detail in all the sculpture, and those beautiful stained glass windows in the ceiling! It was like heaven on earth! 

Though we were not able to get into the reading room, Kit and I explored the halls with hearts aflutter. We overheard a tour guide explain the detail of many of the painted walls, and we were inspired by the historical meanings and symbolism. The Library of Congress was definitely my favorite part of our day by far.

Such beauty and craftsmanship. I want to go back! Heck, I want to live there!

Another one of our destinations was an abandoned church in Southwest DC. This church, originally constructed in the 1800's, was condemned and left for dead. That was until an artist purchased it and decided to turn it into a permanent artistic installation. The HENSE Mural project is the beginning to a new art movement in DC, with plans to construct a new art museum and more attractions nearby. I'm excited to see the outcome!

Such a fun and inspiring day!

Where would you go on your day off?
Have you been to any of these sights? What did you think of them?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Was I Raised Too Well? - the Burden of Being a Responsible Young Adult

Today, I took a placement test for my Spanish class, as I was looking to skip a few prerequisites to move ahead with my degree.

I failed.

Well, you can't exactly fail a placement test, but I didn't place high enough to move forward. More of an annoyance than a failure, but a pain in the butt regardless. That means I have to take an extra 5 credits of Spanish next semester, on top of the 6 that I'm already required.

Recently, I've been thinking about my path and life and where it's taking me. I'm a few months away from finishing Community College, and moving on to get my Bachelor's degree in English, and to hopefully become a teacher from there. At 19, having spent 2 years in college already, I'm feeling very low motivation. I just wish I was done already.

In my mind's eye, I should have my career figured out, should be moved into a nice apartment of my own (or sharing one with a significant other) and have a 9 to 5, a professional wardrobe, and pay my respective car and utility payments each month. In my mind's eye, I should be living modestly, but comfortably as I move forward in my career.

In reality, I'm stuck in a community college I don't like, with 2+ years left before I can even consider having a decent degree, half the time I can hardly afford the necessities of life, and I'm still on my parents' insurance. I have a part time job and I begrudgingly attend my classes every day. I'm flourishing by no means, but I'm surviving off a ramen-noodle budget and sheer willpower. I'm always on time to my commitments, and I do my darn-diddly best in most things I agree to do (except Spanish, I hate Spanish)

For most of my life I've felt that I was too old to hang out with my peers. Most people have a hard time believing I'm as young as I am, and I've always taken it upon myself to make sure I succeed.

I don't party or go clubbing often but I do have fun. I know my alcohol tolerance, and I'm never sloppy with such recreational activities. I'd rather play board games than smoke pot because I'd rather feel smarter than dumber. I'm picky when it comes to guys (and I found a really good one), but that doesn't mean I have a stick up my butt. I'm a total Type B personality, and kind of a little old lady sometimes, but that's the way I've always been.

So this is my question. Was I raised too well? Was I given an old soul by accident? Why am I thinking about saving for my future childrens' college fund instead of spending my money on Burning Man tickets? Why did my parents instill these values in me? I wanna be young and dumb, dammit! I wanna wear a mesh bodysuit and overdose on MDMA like all the cool kids! (just kidding, I really really don't.)

I want to get out and see the world instead of staring at textbooks for the next 2+ years.

That being said, I wouldn't trade my weird premature-adultness for anything. I just wish the little mistakes I make didn't bother me as much. I wish I had everything figured out as opposed to worrying how I'm going to pay the Verizon bill this month.  I'm in no way complaining, as I am eternally grateful for all the opportunities I've been given, and I do my best to make the best of them. I just wish there weren't two or more terrifying years of uncertainty laying in front of me.

But if I didn't have the scary bits ahead, I suppose I'd be less prepared when my time for stability actually comes. Maybe 2 years from now I'll be SUPER on top of things. Maybe not. Anyway, wish me luck in the ridiculous amounts of Spanish I have to take this coming semester!

Do you ever feel to old for your place in life?
Any tips for surviving a class you hate?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Healthy Snack Ideas - Strawberry Greek Yogurt Cups

One of the hardest steps towards eating healthy is planning. It takes time to eat good food. As time consuming as it can be, it's well worth it. Over the past few weeks, I've been doing some research and testing out ideas to find easy, healthy snacks with minimal preparation. This particular idea took about 10 minutes to put together, and produces 8 portions. You can't get much quicker than that!

To make these, you will need:

Plain Greek yogurt (4 cup bulk size) - not the "fruit on the bottom," light, flavored, or vanilla kind. All of those have crazy amounts of hidden sugar and other ingredients that just aren't good for you. Yes, plain Greek yogurt is an acquired taste, but give it a shot and you'll come to love it! Since I switched over to plain Greek, all other yogurt tastes "fake" to me now, probably because it is.

Strawberries or other fruit of choice.

100% Raw Honey - honey is another product you need to watch out for. Most times, people go for the little plastic bear jars, or the cheapest kind (we're all guilty of that from time to time) But most honey, except raw, is processed with added sweeteners. This processing also takes out some of the best things about honey! Honey is great for allergy prevention, especially if it's local to your area. So next time you go to the farmer's market, pick up a jar of honey! Not only does it do a body good, it's awesome to support a local artisan, and to promote a healthy ecosystem!

Ziploc containers - I purchased the (8 count) half-cup size bowls, though you could certainly use a larger size.

Once getting all your ingredients together, scoop the Greek yogurt evenly into your containers. Tap them gently on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles and allow more room for other ingredients.

Add a spoonful of honey to each of your servings. Stir them up if you so desire. For extra sweetness, add a natural sweetener like Stevia, or more honey to taste.

Then, I used one strawberry for each container, cut into quarters. Other ingredients like almond slivers, chopped walnuts, or raisins would make a great addition as well.

This is great for portion control and easy portability. Definitely a good solution for anyone that's always on the go!

What are your go-to healthy snack ideas?
What's your favorite Greek yogurt?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Etsy Swap!

This past month I participated in the Sping Fever Etsy Swap, and was so excited to do so! I was assigned to shop for Vicky over at Lovely. Healthy. Whole

She has the best tastes, so it was really fun getting to pick out items for her! I know she has a thing for glitter, so I found some gold glitter earrings, a pretty coral Essie polish that was on one of her Pinterest boards, and a lip balm from LUSH (because who doesn't love LUSH?!) Also, how great is this photo that Vicky took? She's an awesome photographer!

The package that was sent to me was from Lacey from Humming Right Along! She sent me a darling little felted fox brooch, a Virginia shaped cookie cutter (so unique!!), a super sweet card that I'm totally gonna frame, and some yummy chocolates! I couldn't be happier, thank you Lacey!

This swap was SO much fun and I urge you to join in if they have another. I definitely will!

What's on your etsy wishlist?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Blog! (+$50 to Amazon!)

3 YEARS! It's been 3 years since I started this wonderful little blog. 3 years of laughs, of craziness, of change and progress. Words can't even describe how thankful I am to have this space, and to have met all these wonderful people through blogging. And those I have yet to meet! My life would definitely not be the same without all of you, or this little space on the internet. 

Those of you that have been around a while, know that I don't let an occasion pass without celebrating! That's why, to say thank you to all you lovelies out there, I'm hosting a giveaway! There are so many ways to enter, including a few creative ones! I can't wait to see what the next year holds for this blog and I, and I hope you'll all be here with me too!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a $50 Amazon gift card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you all so much!
Good luck!