Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Consumerist Highs and Lows

Driving past one of my favorite quick spots to dine and realizing they now have a drive-thru!

This is it!

My chance to grab a delicious Panera Bread mocha without unbuckling and lifting two kids out of the car, herding them across the parking lot like a small flock of geese, corralling them in line, keeping them from licking the glass partition to the baked goods or singing "Jesus Loves Me" at top volume (because lots of people love Jesus too, but maybe they don't love hearing songs about it while they enjoy their breakfast), and getting everyone back out to the car without spilling the mocha.

You can see how the drive-thru would be much speedier than the aforementioned way?

Herding loveable, yet noisy children through the mall on an errand when you see the following sign:

Knowing that said store probably has an expensive high-tech sensor in the doorway that detects and deflects unruly, cracker-covered small children and stay-at-home moms on budgets. Knowing that you will likely spend the majority of your time with your nose pressed against the glass window like a poor British orphan in a silent film.

Am I alone here? Has anyone else recently experienced the highs and lows of the painfully beautiful world of retail?

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to link up YOUR best post of the week to Weekend Bloggy Reading. Recipes, crafts, home decor, book reviews, funny stories, you name it. Come prepared to showcase your blog and find some great weekend reads.
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fashion Show Practice

The girls and I were shopping in a local department store recently and one of the managers approached me about allowing Natalie to participate in their Spring Fashion Show.

The girls were having a good morning and instead of whining-begging for crackers-running away-grabbing stuff off racks-torturing her sister, Natalie turned into Miss Congeniality and told the manager her name, her age, her sister's stats, and her favorite color; all with the poise of a Miss America contestant in the final round.

Michaela Byrd was fit to be tied when she found out she's too young to participate, but I distracted her with something shiny.

I agreed that Natalie could walk in the show, mostly because I remember participating in the same one when I was her exact age.

The moment where I broke the rules and curtsied at the end of the runway, causing the audience to do a collective "aaaawww" not only solidified my love of the spotlight, but it also signaled the end of my runway career as I imagine it royally ticked the fashion show coordinator off. I can only hope for a longer arching career for my firstborn.

Natalie and Michaela Byrd's experience with fashion shows is limited solely to their thrice weekly viewing of Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale. (A finer cinematic achievement has yet to be made) One of the things they learned from Barbie (aside from the fact that it's nice when fairies come and do all the work for you) is that runway models walk on a stage.

The girls decided they wanted to have a fashion show practice on the only stage-like structure we have, which is our deck.

Despite the fact that our stage prominently displayed the remains of the woodpile, a box from the hardware store, and a plastic golf bag, two international model scouts (from Pomerania) were in attendance:

One even agreed to walk the runway with the girls:

The girls were offered modeling contracts on the spot, but they signed in crayon before I could read the fine print that said all payments would be made in goldfish crackers and juice boxes.

So I guess the future of fame and fortune all hinges on next weekend's fashion show. It's either that or Toddlers and Tiaras, and I haven't worked on my stage mom routine that much.

I'm nowhere near the level of Tom Hanks. Yet. (If you haven't seen this video, please, I beg of you, click over from your reader. This is funny enough that it's worth a click! I love seeing Tom Hanks run a sewing machine, and the last 30 seconds are priceless.)

"Sexy feet. Sexy feet!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Commenting 101: How to Leave a Good Comment

Welcome to Session #3 in my Commenting 101 blogging series! (To start at the beginning, click here)

We discussed how commenting on other blogs can actually be beneficial to your blog, how commenting can be an encouragement and community builder, and the fact that's the easiest way to grow your blog (beyond displaying good, consistent content).

Today, we'll focus on How to Leave a Good Comment.

Yes, there is a difference between "Good" Comments and "Bad" Comments!

1. Be Genuine
No one is asking you to wax poetic or to have perfect grammar, but a few words from the heart go a long way.

  • Read the post.
This might sound ridiculous, but you'd be amazed at how many times I've received questions about things that were very clearly spelled out within my post. One blogger mentioned to me once that a commenter told her what a "cute boy" her DAUGHTER was!

By taking the time to read what the blogger has to say, you'll be much better equipped to leave a genuine comment. Not reading the post and making a silly comment only makes you look bad.

  • Look for Details.
Find a few details that stand out and try to mention one or two in your comment. It shows the blogger that you were paying attention and took the time to read the post.
  • Name Calling!
Using the blogger's name (unless it's The Nester--wink!--) is also nice because it is a nice, personal touch.

  • No Spam
Steer away from canned or spammy sounding comments. (More on that next week)

2. Comment Consistently
If you have a favorite set of blogs, give them feedback on posts you really enjoy. This is great for networking! I've been known to notice a comment on another blog and click the person's profile to check out their site. Sometimes I find a new blog to love!

Creating a Blog Roll of sites you love and admire and commenting regularly can lead to blog friendships. These are the girls you can approach in the future to write guest posts for you when you go out of town for a week.

If you're a regular commenter, I'm more likely to remember you and take the time to visit your blog when I can.

3. "But I don't have anything new to add."
I've heard that several times throughout the series. All I can say is most bloggers (myself included!) read and appreciate each comment. Any effort you make to let me know you enjoy my blog or like my work is a huge encouragement to me!

4. At a loss for words?
Many of you with new, smaller blogs probably (hopefully?) make an effort to visit the blogs of those who are leaving you comments. Sometimes you'll come across a blog that is so completely different from yours that you're not really sure how to comment. Are the posts poorly spelled, or is the content just plain out there?

When that has happened to me, I try to find one positive thing (whether it's the blog design, or something--anything!-- I have in common with the writer) to comment on, thank them for the visit, and go my merry way.

5. Make it easy for me to return your comments!
You made the effort to leave me a fabulous how do I get in touch with you? More on that in the weeks to come!

Let's end with a little game, shall we? I will grant you 10 points if you can pick the GOOD comment out of this batch I cooked up:

I really hope you can see which of those comments was a keeper!! Hint: it's the last one. That comment would make me much more likely to visit your blog.

Thanks for joining me today. Next time, we'll be discussing Commenting Etiquette!

Any questions or comments? {wink}

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dresser Top Makeover (Spring Cleaning)

I've been working on overhauling my girls' room lately, starting with Styling the Bunk Beds. It's all part of the instinctual motherly urge to start Spring Cleaning the moment the hint of warmer weather is in the air. We had a freak snow on Saturday night that frosted all of my beautiful daffodils, but I didn't let that stop my "urge to purge!"

A very unfortunate Before:

Note the enormous bucket of hairbows and the changing pad, which has not been used in some time, as Michaela Byrd is three now and potty trained.

I started with a big trash bag and tossed old diaper changing things, an empty (?!) box of thermometer covers,  a tissue box with only one tissue, Natalie's "collection" of clothing tags, and various and sundry objets d'crap.

I also went through the dresser drawers. One in particular had not been opened in at least two years and contained a size 3 month Vegas onesie and two pairs of baby socks. And that was all. Once those were tossed, I had an empty drawer.

An empty drawer, can you believe it?!

It didn't stay empty for long. I didn't have any dividers, so I used a couple of child-size shoe boxes as makeshift organizers to hold very important items like "jewels" and Hello Kitty lip chapstick. And one must never underestimate the importance of an extra nightlight.

On to the dresser top!

There was an empty, dusty Southern Living at Home tray in Natalie's old room, so I brought it in to corral some smaller items.


The PB planter that holds brushes and combs

An old Avon container stores clips and barrettes (will come up with something better for the bows in the "bucket" later)

The giant label on the pink lotion was bothering me, so I ripped it off and wrote a favorite quote on the front:

The other side of the dresser has some framed "name art" that I quickly freehanded so they'd each have something to display. I found it slightly frustrating that by the time I had one area straightened out, they had destroyed the other side...

What looked like this:

Now looks like this:

I think the Spring cleaning might carry on into the summer, no?

Linking to Kate's Fair Weather Forum at Centsational Girl and Leslie's Purge Party at Goodbye House, Hello Home!

*Hope you'll come back tomorrow for Session #3 in my blogging series Commenting 101.*

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crafty Cutter Link Highlights and Giveaway Winner

*Are you here to link up to Weekend Bloggy Reading party? You can stop by to share your best post of the week until 10 pm (ET) tonight!

I hope you all had as much fun as I did sharing your "Crafty Cutter" projects at the I {Heart} My Crafty Cutter link party this week. Thanks to each and every one of you who joined the party, visited some of the other links, Tweeted or Facebooked about the party for me, and linked back--those things all help me to grow the party so that I can continue to take the time to host it. Big hugs!

Mark your calendars for April 19-22---the next Crafty Cutter party!

Here are some of the highlights from the party. Please give these ladies some comment love and tell them I sent ya!

~Front Porch (or Indoors) Column

~Frosted Vinyl Memo Board

~Car Vinyl (Toy Story Potato Head Family!)

~Anthro Knock Off Lampshade

~House Sign

~Using a Cricut to Cut Fabric (please read the disclaimer)

Remember, these are just the highlights...the party had tons of crafty inspiration!

The winner of the $10 Starbucks Gift Card and Stitch Sense Coffee Cozie is #13, Savannah from Chasing Noah, who linked up a Family Sign Tutorial. Please email me by Tuesday at 5 pm (ET) to claim your prize!

Don't forget that today is the last day for the March Silhouette Deal and Discount Code! Check that post out if you're in the market for your very own Silhouette SD or if you're in need of some of the new Fabric Interfacing. Great deals! Please use my affiliate code SERENITY when you shop.
Silhouette Electronic Cutting Tool

Did I feature you today? If the answer is "yes," feel free to grab this button for your sidebar!
Featured At Serenity Now

Hope you'll link up YOUR best post of the week at Weekend Bloggy Reading. Lots of great reads this weekend!

More Highlighted Links--Share Your Best Post!

If you're here to link up to Weekend Bloggy Reading, it's open for new links until 10 pm (ET) tonight. Please share your best post of the week with us!

Here are a few more links that caught my eye!

~Camera Strap Cover

~Fabric and Embellishment Monogram Kids' Craft

~Ham Biscuits

~How to Signature an Image (this is a great way to keep your blog posts from being stolen!)

~10 Blogging Tips to Increase Followers

*Please, if you haven't already, take a few moments to visit a few of the other links from the party if you linked up this weekend. I love hosting, and I love commenting on each post...but it's no fun for anyone if we just have stale links sitting around. Get out there and find some fun reads! {wink}

Did I feature you today? If the answer is "yes," feel free to grab this button for your sidebar!
Featured At Serenity Now

I will be back with a post highlighting a few of my faves (and the Giveaway winner!) from the I {Heart} My Crafty Cutter link party.

*Don't forget that today is the last day of the March Silhouette Deal. If you don't have a machine, you can purchase a Silhouette SD and software along with a fabric interfacing and heat transfer material package at a fabulous rate--just $229. If you already own a Silhouette (aren't you lucky?), you can buy the Fabric Interfacing for 25% off! Please use my affiliate code SERENITY when you shop!
Silhouette Electronic Cutting Tool

Saturday, March 26, 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).

All kinds of posts are welcome: We have recipes, home remedies, room makeovers, crafts, fashion advice, book reviews, and more! The code for the button is near the end of this post.

If you haven't yet, please be sure to visit some of the other links from 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!

Keep reading to see just a few of the posts that caught my eye so far:

~Stunning Office Transformation

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

I'm making my way around to each link for commenting as well as balancing my family time this weekend...please be patient with me! Hosting two blog parties this week has me in need of a breather!

If I've featured you, feel free to snag this button for your blog:
Featured At Serenity Now

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