This past weekend a whole crew of painters descended on our house, talk about craziness around here! The pictures definitely do not do it justice, but the color in my new craft room came out great I'm very happy with my decision to just play it safe and stick with a color that I already knew
(Benjamin Moore Arctic Gray)it's so cheery & brightWednesday brings counter tops and carpet will be in on Friday.
Eek, it's soooo close!

Mommy Bloggers Rock!

Did you read this article yet? No?
Here, I'll post it below to make it easy for you!
Mommy Bloggers Are Going to Rule the World
by Kari Henley for the Huffington Post 1/30/11

I am turning 44 years old in two weeks -- officially a dinosaur. Despite entering into my third year of weekly writing for The Huffington Post, the world of personal blogging and social networking is still somewhat mysterious to me. I am on the cusp of generations who did not grow up with computers, and remain slow to jump in the pool of gizmos, gadgets and social networking. So far, Twitter has been a befuddlement, Facebook an occasional dabble, and texting a rarity. Any of you out there in the same boat?

I have now seen the light and stumbled upon a remarkable breed of intensely smart, savvy businesswomen that you do not want to mess with: mommy bloggers. On something of a whim, I decided to attend the Blissdom Blogger conference in Nashville, Tenn. to meet a dear friend and get a little blogging education. Nearly 650 mom bloggers, from hobbyist to pro, were there. On another whim, I bought my first smartphone for the occasion.

Always being an overachiever, I decided to attend the "advanced" professional track sessions. As I entered the conference room, armed with my trusty red leather notebook and pen, I was greeted by a sea of laptop screens and handheld mobiles blinking away, and a steady clickity-clack of fingers flying over keyboards like hummingbird wings. The seats near the outlets were premium, and many arrived with their own power cords. I was taking notes... on paper?

I learned that no one sits and takes notes at these sessions anymore... Oh, nooo. Instead, mommy bloggers are listening with one ear while simultaneously taking notes online, posting their favorite nuggets to various lists, reposting links to Facebook, and managing their tweet deck at the same time. We're talking multitasking on steroids.

Mommy bloggers totally rock. They are unapologetic about their dual role of raising children and having a professional life. Many of these women came with their babies in arms, and no one cared because they are bad-ass experts in SEO optimization, personal branding, sponsor ambassadorship and networking. It was shockingly refreshing -- and for me, a mother of four, it was like a coming home.

Alli Worthington, mommy blogger rock star and founder of Blissdom, was there. (I had to Google her after the session to find out what a big deal she was.) Bright, bubbly and completely engaging, she spoke of her life of raising five kids, running multiple businesses, including the hugely popular blog Blissfully Domestic, and making sure all the attendees were properly "loved on."

At one point, Worthington stressed not to be afraid to share our lives online, from the moments at the pediatrician's office, to the linking of industry-related articles, to heartfelt beliefs. "Just tell the world why you're awesome!" Worthington smiled. On a whim, she challenged, "In fact, everyone tweet me right now why you are awesome." With a grin and a flick of the finger, hundreds of women instantly responded, and Worthington proudly displayed her iPad on stage with a running list.

Meanwhile, I am breaking into a sweat. How do I unlock my smartphone again? Did I download that Twitter app thing? What are all these hashtag marks, and why does everyone have an @ sign in front of their "Twitter handle"? Why did I sit near the front of this session? Noticing my impending meltdown, Worthington looked at me, and I had to publicly wave my stupid damn phone and confess, "I don't know what I am doing! I can't tweet you why I am awesome!" At that point, I seriously considered hiding with the guys at the Sherwin Williams conference next door.

Luckily they all "loved on me," and I stayed.

Mom bloggers have begun to infiltrate almost every area of domestic life, actively writing about cooking, traveling, buying on a budget, sharing opinions about new products and offering deals from sponsors eager to capture their market. Many write as a hobby, but plenty more have found ways to make a living blogging from home. What was most striking: they are all so nice.

Unlike corporate hierarchical principles, the online world is a flat line, or an embracing circle. Bloggers are eager to share ideas, collaborate and help one another out. Their b.s. meter is huge, though -- don't try to pull any guerilla tactics here or they will crush you like a bug with their sheer networking power.

Scott Stratten was also there. He is a Twitter god. I did not know that before yesterday, but he is. Author of the book "Un-Marketing," Stratten served as keynote wearing jeans and a white T-shirt that says, "I'm sort of a big deal on Twitter." He is the king of understanding the power of social networking and continually stresses the importance of letting go of the "selling" mindset and into "sharing" to get ahead today.

Gradually, ever so gradually, the new world of social networking began to unfold to me. The new frontier is found in 140 characters, and online bloggers are the true Lewis and Clark of the virtual Wild West. Bloggers want to hear the truth, from the mundane to the profound. They like to engage in a way that is intimidating at first, but clearly addictive once properly attuned.

Have you ever wanted to start a blog but were afraid to try? Here are a few tips I gleaned from the pros:

Just start. Open up that template on Wordpress or Blogger and start writing. Write about what matters to you. Make the thoughts short and in your own words -- as if you were talking to a friend.

Don't worry about who is reading it. One of the big no-nos in the blogger world is begging everyone on your list to "retweet this" or "post this to Facebook." Write it and they will come.

Do not feel obligated to follow every person who follows you on Twitter. It is not an automatic obligation to follow everyone. Be selective of who you truly are interested in before you become "attached."

Ask for help. As I discovered, bloggers are more than willing to share what they know and hook you up. Whether you are a beader, mechanic, chef or bookworm, there is a "tribe" waiting for you out there.

For all you hotshot bloggers out there, my hat's off to you. Rock on, mama's with babies, businesses and communities all at the same time. These are the women who will run for office, manage major companies or end world hunger in a no-nonsense, inclusive and innovative way.


Thanks Kari, you're my kind of gal!

Fresh Start Sunday

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5 (NIV)

Bring On The Paint

The room is prepped, bring on the paint!my new built-in ironing board
newly lowered counter top base
I wanted the room to be a soft gray blue, but for anyone who has attempted to pick out a soft gray blue that doesn't end up looking baby blue, lavender, or any other unwanted shade, you know how hard it is.
I finally surrendered and will be using the same color that we have in our laundry room, Benjamin Moore Arctic Gray (#1577)I know that I love it in my laundry room, and considering my craft room is clear on the opposite end of our house, plus on a different floor, I'm not concerned with duplicating the color.
According to our builder, the painting should be done by the end of this week, and then it's on to carpet and counter tops!

Spring Wreaths + Big News!

I've been busy as can be over here and am so excited to show you what I've been working on! Here are eight new wreaths that I've created, each in vibrant and fun Spring colors. I also used lots of burlap, tweed, buttons and a new style of flower for some layering and dimension. I couldn't be happier with how they turned out!
and now onto the big news.
remember when I recently gushed about Rebel Reclaimed, the adorable shop I discovered here in Grand Rapids?Well, each of the wreaths above can now be found AT Rebel Reclaimed!
AHH, pinch me, seriously!
So go on Grand Rapids peeps, check out the shop for yourself!

926 East Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(near the Farmer's Market)

Tuesday Randomness

Some randomness for you...

1. It's Blissdom week and I'm not going, week is looking like this :
a. pout because I'm not going
b. live vicariously through everyone that is

2. I will make myself feel better by reading happy blogs like this one. And this one too. You should read them too.

3. I've been wearing jeggings. Never would have thought I would like them, but I LOVE them. And kind of wish I had more than one pair. Just whatever you do, do not do a Google image search of jeggings...I did that to try to include a photo in this post, and it wasn't pretty.

4. A reader just posted pictures of the Valentine's garland she made using my tutorial. SWEET! Check out her entire post here.

5. Finally, I have BIG NEWS to share with you but I'm going to make you wait until tomorrow. (ooh, the suspense!) But just between you and me, I might just let it leak tonight on Twitter since I'm about ready to burst!
Random enough for you???

Monday's 10 Things

hi Anne, this picture is for you!

Here's what I'm most thankful for, right now!
1. Sneaking away for a night with Eric + some great friends.
2. Amazing snowfall in Northern Michigan (1-2 inches an hour!)
3. Safety while traveling.
4. Coming home to see more great progress on our home projects.
5. Our builder who was willing to send me pictures via text of what he got done while we were gone.
6. An exciting new opportunity for Cora Anne -
I'll hopefully be able to share soon!
7. Finding a very talented, very kind new blog designer and looking forward to a new blog in February.
8. New and very sweet friends around the blogosphere.
9. A very tired little girl after a play date with our neighbor tonight. Yay for quiet evenings!
10. Awesome progress for Joanne. I love how the entire blogosphere has gathered to pray for her. Follow her updates here:

What are you most thankful for today?

Fresh Start Sunday

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

It's getting real....

My new craft room is really taking shape! This week brought base boards, trim and the base for my counter tops. It also brought our first snafu as the counter tops were originally installed at counter top height rather than table height. Since I plan to use the counter tops for my sewing machine and serger, I really needed them at table height. Nothing that unscrewing a ridiculous amount of screws and re-drilling them into my brand new walls didn't fix. (note to self : time to come up with an amazing back splash option to cover up that mistake!)and meanwhile, we've had two other projects in the involving this blank wall in our living roomand one that Claire has finally caught on to,
"hey, this looks like a Claire-size house!"
I'll fill you in on details of those two projects once they're done!

Intense Love Treasury

Thanks so much to By Sara Lynn for including my HELLO tags!

Tutorial : 3D Hearts Garland

With Valentine's just around the corner, it was time for me to get to work on some cute decor! I'm pretty sure I never decorated for holidays like Valentines before Claire was born, but something about having a little girl in the house makes it so much more enjoyable.
This tutorial shows you how to make a
paper garland of 3D hearts!

1. Begin by selecting your paperfor this one, I'm only using two, double-sided papers. You could use as many or as few as you like depending on the look you're going for

2. Create a heart template from paper. I just grabbed a small piece of scrap paper I had, folded it in half and cut out a heart. The heart template doesn't have to be perfect, but you will want all of your hearts to be the same. My heart is about 1.5 inches tall, yours can be any size.

3. Beginning at one side of your paper, fold a crease down your paper, just big enough to trace your heart. Trace heart after heart the entire length of the paper.
4. Cut your hearts out and repeat through your entire sheet of paper
5. Repeat for any other papers you are using until all your hearts are cut out
6. Now to assemble the garland! Stack two hearts on top of each other, and begin stitching along the crease. A little tip : be sure to pull some extra thread through your needle before you begin so you have some on the end for hanging!

7. Continue to feed your hearts through your machine until your garland is as long as you need. I left just about a centimeter between each set of hearts, you can increase or decrease the spacing depending on what you prefer!

8. Once you're done stitching your hearts, pull each of the "sides" apart to create the 3D look, and you're ready to hang your garland!These look great draped, or hanging vertical.
There's just so many options for how you can make these. I kept mine pretty basic, but they could easily be glammed up with glitter and such. Or, let your kids make hearts of their own and string them together for them!
happy heart decorating!

Bumble Bees

Two sweet bumble bee pillows covers, now in the shop

Rebel Reclaimed

Okay, how in the world has this shop been around for months already and I had no idea it existed??? I stumbled upon Rebel Reclaimed on Fulton in GR (near the farmer's market) and was instantly smitten.
Just take a look...I didn't even know where to look, and then I was so busy chatting it up with the super-kind owner Dann, that I'm pretty sure I missed a ton (must.go.back.pronto)one of each, pleaseand these too!uh huh.I'm pretty certain I could have taken down an entire wall display and hung it on my new craft room wall and been very content. Once my room is in order, Rebel Reclaimed will be high on my list for decor!

Monday's 10 Things

Here's what I'm most thankful for, right now!
1. Having Eric home for a three day weekend.
2. A breakfast date with Eric while Claire was at school, what a treat!
(And I'm not just talking about the monster cinnamon roll we downed)

3. Claire's amazing teachers, I love them every time I see them and talk with them.
4. My little girl belting out "How Great Thou Art" in church, hands raised in the air and all!
5. Sledding with my family, plus amazing winter weather making it enjoyable to be outside.
6. Great progress on our house projects.
7. We're past the "dust" portion of the projects.
8. Our overnight getaway is this upcoming weekend!
9. My parent's willingness to take Claire so we can get away.
10. One month from now we'll be in Florida, bring it on!!
What are you most thankful for today?