Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Reading List

Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think that there are many things cozier than wrapping yourself in a nice blanket (maybe with a dog) and indulging in a good read. I thought today would be a good day to share a few books on my Winter Reading List with you. I hope you'll take a minute or two to share some titles with me in the comments!

Disclaimer: Y'all know I love (love!) Fluffy Books, so please don't begin reading this post expecting me to do a hard sell on Abnormal Psychology or An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics. I spend enough of my day grasping a very thin thread of sanity that would most likely be snipped should I attempt to utilize too many more brain cells. There's enough seriousness on the news, in the papers, etc. If I'm going to take the time to read, I want to be entertained.

Well, now that we got that off our collective chest, I will begin (I apologize for the small photos, but Blogger decided it would be fun to randomly crop off the bottom 3/4 of all my photos today and I've had to play around and resize)....

1. Mini Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella
I won't give you excerpts from any more books because I don't love you enough to type them all out, but this book made the cut just for the following:
"A mother in J Brand skinny jeans with an impeccably dressed daughter walks past, giving me the Mummy Once-Over, and I flinch. Since I had Minnie, I've learned that the Mummy Once-Over is even more savage than the Manhattan Once-Over. In the Mummy Once-Over, they don't just assess and price your clothes to the nearest penny in one sweeping glance. Oh no. They also take in your child's clothes, pram brand, nappy bag, snack choice, and whether your child is smiling, snotty, or screaming. Which I know is a lot to take in, in a one-second glance, but believe me, mothers are multitaskers."

As far as chick lit goes, this is one of Kinsella's better stories in some time. Kinsella writes funny, quirky, likeable characters, and Becky Bloomwood is back in action as a mom with a serious shopping problem in this continuation of the Shopaholic series.

2. The Reluctant Entertainer, Sandy Coughlin
I purposefully waited until Blogland had quieted down about this release from blogger Sandy Coughlin. I wanted to forget about the hype before I picked the book up and decided for myself. I'm not quite through with it yet, but Sandy's straightforward advice on how to become comfortable with entertaining really hits home. Hint: It's not about you!!

3. The One Hundred, Nina Garcia
This one goes on my "To Read" list. I suppose it's as close to Project Runway as I will get, unless Heidi Klum decides she wants to be my BFF and invites me to hang with her, Nina, and Michael. PS. I bet that would be a delightfully snarky evening!

4. Nikon D3000 for Dummies
Another for my "To Read" list. I'm a little intimidated, which I suppose confirms and solidifies my "Dummie" status (Yes, I know I spelled it wrong. That's why I'm a dummie. Dangit, I did it again).

5. Me, Myself, and Lies, Jennifer Rothschild
This Bible study is billed as a "thought closet makeover," and I am so eager to begin it with some of the girls from my MOPS group. I'm guilty of self-destructive thoughts, and it's time to clean house!

I doubt I'll find the time to get through all of the books on my "To Read" list within the next month, though I'd like to try. This is, obvisouly, in addition to my rigorous course of reading Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living when they arrive. Think my kids would notice if I just sat on the couch all day??

What about you?

{Do you have any great reads to recommend for this Winter? Do share in the comments!}

There's only one thing missing, and that's a delicious treat to munch on while you read. Come back tomorrow and I'll share a recipe with you!

Ad Spot Winner!

We have a winner!
Kelli at Random Thoughts of a Supermom won the 3 month ad spot and ad button design from Designer Blogs! Email me to get set up, Kelli!

Thank you to each and every blogger and business owner who took the time to visit, comment, and link up this past weekend. If you are interested in showcasing your blog or business here, please see my Advertising Page for details. I offer very competitive rates!

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Highlighted Weekend Links-- Share Your Best Post!

Happy Saturday! I hope you'll pop in to link up YOUR best post of the week at my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. Open for new links until Sunday at 10 pm (ET). We have recipes, home remedies, room makeovers, crafts, fashion advice, and more!

By linking up you'll automatically be entered to win this week's Giveaway for a 3 month ad spot here and an ad button design from Designer Blogs! Remember that in order for your link to be considered eligible, you'll need to link back to me or include my party button in your post. Whichever way you prefer is fine with me, and I appreciate you helping me get the word out about my party! The code for the button is at the end of this post.

If you haven't yet, please be sure to visit some of the other links here at the party and say a quick howdy to those who have taken the time to visit you. That's how a good blog party works--lots of participation. Otherwise we just have a bunch of stagnant links, and that's no fun for anyone!

I'll be around to leave comments on every single link, but I thought I'd share a few that caught my eye:

~Kelly's post on The Soldier's Angels touched my heart!

~Nurturing Cuisine shared a simple and inexpensive way to bring an Apple Cinnamon Scent into your home.

~Dani shared Ten More [Fashion] Rules Your Mama Taught You. Loved this one!

~Stacy linked up a really fun Framed Cork Board and some super cute tacks.

So, what did you have up your sleeve this week? Come by and share it with us! Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers' work too.
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, January 28, 2011

::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: Link Up!

Welcome to Weekend Bloggy Reading! I hope you'll check out a few of my favorite posts from around Blogland this week, and be sure to link up the best post of the week from YOUR blog.

The twist for this week is that by sharing your link here, you automatically get an extra entry in this week's Giveaway for a 3 month Ad Spot on this blog along with an Ad Button Design from Designer Blogs.

**In order to be eligible, I'm asking that you please link back to me here OR include my party button within your post. Whichever way you prefer is okay! I don't request this out of vanity. Linking back is a basic blogging courtesy. To share the love and spread the word about the party, I ask for a simple link back or blog button in your post. Thanks, and I'm hopping off the soap box now!**

Here are some of my faves from this week:
Sources listed below

~Holly made a Ballard Knock-Off Laptop Bag and hosted a Knock-Off Party.

~Mom in High Heels showed readers how she created an Explorer-Themed Room for her son Indy. Love!

~Emily shared her thoughts on How to Live Big. Are you a rule-follower too?

~Amy's Valentine's Project for Little Ones is sure to be a big hit!

~And moi?
This week, I Stayed Home while T went to Vegas and I made a Valentine's Tinsel Heart Wreath. I also hosted a little Bliss-at-Home Project for bloggers like myself who couldn't make it to the Blissdom conference this year. My 3 month Ad Spot and Ad Button Giveaway are still open! Click over to find more chances to win.

Time to link up your best post of the week (please, please include a link-back or my party button!)
Here's the button code if you'd prefer to use that rather than a link-back:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Party is open until 10 pm (ET) on Sunday night.

Remember that blog parties work best when bloggers participate, so if you have a chance to visit a few of the other links, you might find a new friend or two!

I have a Blessings Unlimited party tonight (weather permitting) and hoping for a chance to relax the rest of the weekend.

{What are you up to this weekend?}

Thursday, January 27, 2011

3 Month Ad Spot and Ad Button Giveaway!

I thought it would be a nice winter pick-me-up to offer a little Giveaway today. One lucky winner will receive a 3 month ad spot here at Serenity Now as well as an ad button design! A great way to get some exposure for your blog, Etsy shop, or online business.
Lauren from Designer Blogs has graciously offered to design a 125 x 125 button for the winner. The button will be yours to keep and advertise wherever you like. If you already have a button, then you can consider having Lauren create an "I've been Featured" button or something else for your blog or shop.

Something I work really hard to do is find a good balance between sharing my life with you all and featuring the wonderful women and shops who make it possible for me to share my life with you. Blogging consistently is hard work, and the money from sponsorship helps justify the time I spend writing, crafting, and visiting other blogs. I take this balancing act very seriously, and I hope that comes across to my readers!

Anyone is welcome to enter this Giveaway: bloggers, Etsy shop owners, small business owners. Current advertisers can also feel free to enter, and I'll tack on the 3 months to your ad slot if one of you wins. My only limitation is that your blog/site/shop has to be appropriate for my audience...this means that pervie psycho crazies need not apply!!

You can check out my Advertising Page to see what I have to offer my Sponsors!

There Are Several Ways You Can Enter:
(Please leave a separate comment for each entry)

1. (Mandatory to Enter) Leave me a comment with your name and the name of the blog/shop/site you'd like to advertise. This is so I can make sure you don't sell pervie stuff or support child labor or something.
2. Tweet this Giveaway and be sure to link to this post.
3. Facebook this Giveaway and be sure to link to this post.
4. Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect (so your cute face shows up on my sidebar over there -->) or let me know if you are already a GFC Follower.
5. Blog about this Giveaway and include a link to this post.

I'll leave the comments open until Sunday night at 10 pm (ET).

{Good luck!}

In other news, special thanks to each and every one of you who stopped by my little "Bliss-at-Home" project yesterday. It's a bummer we can't make it to the Blissdom conference this year, but we had fun with our own little virtual meet and greet, right?

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to link up YOUR best post of the week to my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. It would be awesome if you could please link back to me or add my party button to your post. Share and share alike, right? I enjoy reading your posts and leaving comments, and it helps get the word out about my party when you take a minute to link back. Thanks!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not Going to Blissdom?

Raise your hand if you're not going to the Blissdom blogging conference in Nashville this week.


As I put this post together yesterday, I wondered if I'd be the only one left to raise my hand.

If you've been cruising around Blogland this week, you've probably noticed that many bloggers are traveling to Nashville for Blissdom, a conference to learn about blogging and meet other bloggers within your niche.

If you're like me and are staying home this year, whether it's due to lack of finances, lack of time, or even maybe a lack of interest, it's still easy to get caught up in the "woe is me" complex. You might be questioning your validity as a writer, a crafter, a baker, a decorator, a member of the blogging community. You might be feeling like maybe you're not good enough to hang out with those fabulous girls in Nashville anyways.

I know I did.

Why do we blog?

One of the reasons I blog is because I like to interact with readers and other bloggers. I enjoy finding out more about how other people live. I bet you do too.

There's no reason you can't also get to know some cool people this week.

What's one of the easiest ways to find a new blogging friend or two and maybe even a new Follower?


I'm talking about something deeper than linking your latest post up to a linky party and then leaving and linking up to 5 more.

I'm talking about something deeper than a comment that's limited to "that's cute" or "nice post."

You can do better than that.

Today, I'd like to invite you to stick around for a minute or two.

Leave me a comment: tell me your name, what part of the world you live in, what you think the blogging community could improve at, and what you love about the blogging community. Or whatever.

THEN, click on the person above and the person below you in the comments section and leave them a thoughtful "hello" on their blog. Take a moment to read what they have to say, introduce yourself, interact with them.

This is your chance to find your own little blogging Bliss today, right at home.

Will you take it?

*Come back tomorrow for a super neat Giveaway from ME! I've never done one quite like this, so I hope you'll stop by.*

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Valentine's Tinsel Heart Wreath

All the Valentine's posts floating around Blogland lately have inspired me, and I decided to find a way to make an inexpensive, simple Valentine's wreath. Today, I'll show you how I made a little bling for my front door!

I picked up a 10 inch green "florist's" wreath form at The Dollar Tree last year and found the 15 foot tinsel garland on clearance after Christmas for $1.50. The wooden heart came from JoAnn Fabric (40% off!), and the ribbon was leftover from last year.

I started by pinning one end of the garland to the wreath form using a flat head pin I discovered on our bulletin board.

From there, I just wrapped the garland around and around the form, trying not to pull too tightly and snap or flatten the tinsel. Surprisingly, 15 feet was just long enough. If I had a larger wreath form, I'd need another garland.

I tucked the end of the garland under a piece that was already wound around and used my ribbon to attach the wooden heart to the top.

We have a most unfortunate looking metal front door. Blech. This means no hanging wreaths from pretty ribbon, but I managed to secure the ribbon to a plastic wreath hanger.

Despite the awful metal door, I was quite pleased with how simple this project was. The heart is easy to detach, so this wreath can be used again on the 4th of July and Christmas, of course.

{Have you added any Valentine's decor to your home yet?}

Linking to The CSI Project.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegas, Baby

If there was ever a time to wrap myself in a fluffy bathrobe, lock myself in the bathroom, and rock back and forth on the floor chanting "Serenity Now" to myself over and over, it would be now.

T left for Vegas yesterday for a conference.

Without us. Well, without me.

I'm pretty sure they don't let little kids into Vegas. Or at least that's what T told Natalie when she asked if she could please go to "Baygus" too. She is the last person that ever needs to go to Vegas. Ever. A trip like that would only end in a highly rated episode of Cops.

So she and Michaela Byrd are home with me until Wednesday night.

In all fairness, I was invited to tag along, but I didn't think that Protective Child Services would take kindly to finding two children left in the care of a couple of Pomeranians.

I'm not even trying to pretend like I have it all together, because I don't. And they know it.

I can't get away with yelling "YoubettercutthatoutrightnowandstopspittingatyoursisterbecauseyourDADDYwillbehomesoonandthenyou'rereallygonnagetit!"

No, that doesn't seem to work as well when they know that Daddy left on a plane for the magical world of Baygus and that he won't be home until Wednesday, which is also known as Ballet Day in our house.

I'm beginning to feel the same slight twinge of resentment that I felt the last time T left for a Vegas conference. No sick baby this time, but there was a backseat tantrum over a handful of crackers no less than 2 minutes after I dropped T off to catch his plane.

I have been comforting myself with the fact that T left his beloved flat screen TV unguarded and I will be watching as many girlie shows as I can possibly squeeze into my schedule while he is gone. I think The Bachelor in HD will be sooo much better than plain old stone age TV. Maybe I'll even eat chocolate, paint my fingernails, and let the dogs sit on the leather couch with me while I watch.

What happens in Virginia, stays in Virginia. Right??

Let's keep that last part our little secret, 'kay?

Stay tuned this week for a little craftiness and a Giveaway from moi!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Bloggy Reading-- Highlighted Links!

Weekend Bloggy Reading  is still open for new links! If you haven't taken a minute or two to browse this week's list of links, please do. Who needs magazines when you have free eye candy on your monitor?

The blog topped 800 Followers this weekend! For a "blog about nothing," that's a pretty big deal. I was so excited to see some new faces pop up on my sidebar. Several bloggers linked to my party on Facebook, Twitter, and their own blogs this weekend, and I'm sure the new traffic comes from their generosity. Special thanks to any and all of you who gave me a shout-out!

I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my favorite links from this weekend's party, so without further ado:

Veronica made some Valentine's Matchboxes:

Do you think Jane would notice if I hung out in her fabulously Transformed Living Room?

Stephanie shared a recipe for Pure Deliciousness:

There are lots of other great links to read through: recipes, stories, revelations, room make-overs, you name it!

Thanks to each of you who came by, and especially to the bloggers who took the time to link back and leave me a comment...I appreciate it more than you know!

The party is open until 10 pm (ET) tonight, so there is still time to link up YOUR best post of the week. The code for the party button is below, in case you'd prefer to use that instead of linking back. You'll find the party right here.
Weekend Bloggy Reading

{Hope your weekend was wonderful!}

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Come Link Up Your Best Post of the Week!

I hope you'll stop by today to link up your best post of the week to my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. I see some great links on the list...if you've already linked up, please be sure to take a minute or two to visit a few of the other links. I'd be willing to bet you'll find a new favorite blog! You'll find the party here, or just scroll down one post. {wink}

We're hosting a 3rd birthday party for Michaela Byrd this morning. I've been rushing around: cleaning, baking,  hiding junk, and decorating. I'll be back later today to visit those of you who linked up to the party!

Just a reminder...this month's Silhouette Promotion ends today, and you can use the code SERENITY when you shop. To see what the Silhouette shop has to offer, or to see what a Silhouette machine is, just click the little button below.
Silhouette Electronic Cutting Tool

{Happy Weekend!}

Friday, January 21, 2011

::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: Link Up!

Welcome to Weekend Bloggy Reading! I hope you will leave me some comment love today and also take a minute to link up your best post of the week from your own blog.

Here are some of my faves from this week:
Sources Listed Below

~Leslie featured a thought-provoking guest post on Restoring Your Husband's Shining Armor. Good stuff!

~I fell in love with the rustic look to Jodi's Coffee Table.

~Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes? I am intrigued, Chiara.

~Melissa shared 4 Tips for Styling Coffee and Console Tables. Great photos!

~And moi?
This week, I showed you my new Snowflake Window and shared about a great Silhouette Promo that ends on Saturday. On Tuesday, I shared a tutorial on How to Make the Perfect Cafe Mocha. I opened up a little and shared about Friendship on Wednesday, and Thursday brought another Silhouette tutorial featuring a Valentine's "Hugs and Kisses" Bucket.

Time to link up your best post of the week to share! Let me know if you need help getting your link to appear.

Here's the button code if you'd prefer to use that instead of a link-back:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Party is open until 10 pm (ET) on Sunday night. Please leave me a comment with your link if you have trouble getting it to appear on the list. I will get it posted for you!

Remember that blog parties work best when bloggers participate, so if you have a chance to visit a few of the other links, you might find a new friend or two!

I'm off to get ready for Michaela Byrd's 3rd birthday party tomorrow morning! Thankfully, the birthday girl agreed to a Cinderella themed party like her sister had. This makes things decidedly easier on Mommy.

{What are you up to this weekend?}

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Simple Valentine's "Hugs and Kisses" Bucket

I decided to get a head start on Valentine's Day gifts when I was thinking of a new, inexpensive Silhouette vinyl project to show you. I put together a simple Valentine's Day "Hugs and Kisses" easy that even if you don't have a Silhouette machine, you could do something similar on your own.

My supplies:

  • Two metal Vday buckets from Target's Dollar Spot
  • Two rolls of Vday ribbon from Target's Dollar Spot (I only used one)
  • Lovely, delicious chocolate (Hershey's Hugs and Kisses)

I took a peak at my bucket and decided I wanted my vinyl to be 3 inches high and 4 inches wide. I opened up my Silhouette software and played around until I designed something I liked enough to try printing:

I followed the directions included with my premium vinyl and before I knew it, I was rubbing my "artwork" onto the bucket.

And my final product?

I made two, one for each of Natalie's preschool teachers. I think they'll make a pretty sweet gift {no pun intended}.

{Have you started thinking about Valentine's Day gifts yet? Any simple or inexpensive ideas?}

Pin It

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Good (Friend) is Hard to Find

I had the opportunity to meet up with an old friend from high school yesterday, sans le children. She was in town visiting her parents, taking a quick break from a hectic residency in Miami (she totally lives a Grey's Anatomy life!) I haven't seen her in several years, but when we gave each other a hug, it was like 10 years melted immediately away into a puddle on the floor of Panera Bread.

Three and a half talkative hours later (!), I left our lunch feeling as if we hadn't skipped a beat in our friendship, despite the time spent apart. My heart was happy to have had a chance to reconnect with someone who spent many high school and college hours with me shopping, hitting the movie theater, partying, gossiping, and shopping some more.

At the same time, I couldn't help but feel a pang of sadness, knowing that a good friend is hard to find. I don't normally pour my heart on the blog this way, and maybe it's a total turnoff to you.

But maybe there are other readers out there who feel the same way? 

I think women are inherently programmed to seek out connections with others. I always feel a smile on my face when I meet someone who I can relate to, share with, talk about my feelings with. I love my husband, but he just doesn't get into Project Runway the way a girl friend does. He doesn't understand what it's like to be a mom, to want that pair of shoes so badly that your feet practically itch, or how I panic if I've left the house without earrings on.

I have dozens of friends. Wonderful, sweet, sassy, stylish, smart, encouraging friends. But I sometimes find myself wishing for deeper connections. Something beyond the everyday "Hi, howya doin?" type of connection.

It made me think of the lucky ladies travelling to Blissdom this week for the big bloggers' conference. Am I the only one who sometimes feels she's standing in the middle of a big, crowded conference room, surrounded by perfectly friendly, lovely people...but wishing for maybe just one person to really connect with? Someone to tell how you really feel, someone you can call to come over for a visit when you haven't vacuumed in a week, someone who will tell you that you need to stop wearing those pants because they make your butt look big.

I don't have anything wise or witty to impart today. I don't want to sound whiney or ungrateful for the wonderful women in my life.

I'm just honestly curious as to how many other ladies out there feel the same way that I do.

Flannery O'Connor wrote a short story in the 1950s called "A Good Man is Hard to Find." I think she might have had it wrong!

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