Saturday, June 30, 2012

Highlighted Weekend Links-- Share Your Best Post!

Happy Saturday! Please pop in to link up YOUR best post of the week at my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. More Features on the way tomorrow!

All kinds of posts are welcome here: We have recipes, home remedies, room makeovers, crafts, tips and tricks, fashion advice, book reviews, and more! The code for the button is near the end of this post, or you can add a text link back to me within your post.

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

***PLEASE, If you are a Pinterest user, Pin from the original source so that each blogger gets credit for his/her work.***

~Distressed Coffee Table Makeover via Before Meets After

~DIY Privacy Screen and Subway Tile Planters via Tatertots and Jello

~Roasted Tomatoes (for salads and sandwiches) via The Kitchen is My Playground

Friday, June 29, 2012

::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: Link Up!

Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. I hope you'll link up your best post of the week today, and maybe leave me some comment love. Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link.

All kinds of posts are welcome--recipes, crafts, funny stories, home decor, etc.; but please do not link to Etsy shops, businesses, items for sale, etc. (I have a Sponsors section, if you'd like to Advertise with me.)

Here are a few of my faves from this week:
sources listed below

~Sisal and Starfish Wreath via A Pop of Pretty

~Modern Bird Feeder via Teal and Lime

~IKEA Nightstand Makeover via Craft Habit

~Patio Bar and Grill via Pure Style Home

~And Me? This week featured:

    Time to link up your best post of the week!

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    14 Fab 4th of July Ideas

    I can't believe that the month of June is drawing to a close. Independence Day will soon be here, and I don't know about you, but I've seen all sorts of fun Fourth of July Ideas floating around. I thought I'd round up a few of my favorites to share with you today. If you're one of my Pinterest friends, I'll ask that you please visit the original source so that each person gets credit for his/her own work.

    I love simple crafts that really "pop":

    These should be a hit with the kiddos:

    Every hostess needs a cutesy apron:

    Make your own stars and stripes decor:

    Free patriotic printable!

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    A Few Firsts

    The girls are off at Vacation Bible School this week, so I'm working on some projects around the house, including finishing that makeover work on the vintage metal patio set. I hope you'll indulge me with a few family related photos today. Although Spring was drawing to a close over the last few weeks, we had several "firsts" in our family....

    First Ballet Recital

    Michaela Byrd danced in her first ballet recital mid-May. The girls in the youngest classes (Creative Movement) have their recitals in the studio because the teacher feels like they perform better in a less "stressful" environment...and I have to agree. They were precious, and each girl got to perform a short solo!

    First Kindergarten Graduation

    We attended our first kindergarten graduation, for my Natalie...and I managed to keep from crying! She also got to carry the American Flag, which is a real honor at this school to be chosen.

    First Time on Stage

    And, to her great delight, Natalie had the opportunity to dance on a real stage this year with her ballet class. She was really nervous about it, but (to my delight) when the lights came on, she was one of the only girls in her class to smile and look at the audience while she danced. A star is born?

    With "business" behind us, it's time for fun: VBS, a trip to the beach, library mornings, and yes...the pool!

    What fun things are you enjoying now that Summer is here?

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe

    I like to make bread, no matter what the season. I Pinned a drool-worthy recipe not too long ago, and decided to do a little modifying with ingredients I had on hand. I don't care what time of year it is, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is flat-out delicious! And, really, how can you go wrong when it has Reese's peanut butter chips?
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Serenity Now blog

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
    adapted from Cookies and Cups

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Ingredients Serenity Now blog

    -3 (very ripe) bananas, mashed
    -Reese's Peanut Butter Chips (about 1/2 cup)
    -Milk Chocolate Chips (about 1/2 cup--I feel more is more when it comes to chocolate)
    -1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
    -1/4 cup vegetable oil
    -1 egg
    -1/2 cup granulated sugar
    -1/4 cup light brown sugar
    -1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    -1/2 tsp. baking soda
    -1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    -1/2 tsp. salt


    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan (grease it well, trust me). 
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Serenity Now blog

    1. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in a medium sized bowl and set to the side.
    2. Mash bananas with a potato masher. 
    3. Stir together the bananas, egg, oil, sugar, and peanut butter. 
    4. Add your dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and stir until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Do not overmix!

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Serenity Now blog
    5. Carefully fold in the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. 
    6. Add batter to the pan and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Serenity Now blog

    Let it cool before slicing, and then's just as good as dessert!
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe Serenity Now blog

    Do you like making bread?

    If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this to Pinterest, or even a +1 for Google+. 

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    My First Blog Conference Experience (Heaven at Haven?)

    I knew I'd probably start to get comments, emails, and messages about the Haven Conference {blog conference for DIY and home bloggers} in Atlanta last week. My trip had highs and lows, but the conference itself was flat-out amazing. I may do a conference recap another day, but I wanted to tell you about what inspired me from a first time blog conference attendee viewpoint.
    (Clockwise from Top Left: Melissa from 320 Sycamore, Me, Kristin from Favorite Paint Colors...Me and Julia from Hooked on Houses...The Nester and Me...Me and Michelle from Ten June...Me, Cindy from Living on the Bliss, Marian from Miss Mustard Seed, and Kate from Centsational Girl)

    So...was it Heaven at Haven? Read and see...

    I should begin by saying that the only truly negative thing that happened to me was not at all related to Haven, but it overshadowed my first day. I spent most of Thursday on the phone with my husband, trying to find out if my oldest (Natalie) had appendicitis or not. By 9 pm, it was ruled out (the doc had been ready to operate!), and she was diagnosed with a very aggressive virus. 

    It turned out that although I spent much of that first day at Haven wrapped in a cloak of worry, the situation was used to point me towards inspiration. All day long, bloggers approached me to get updates on Natalie, let me know they were praying for her, and to see how I was doing. They sent Tweets, left messages on my Facebook, gave me hugs, and let me know it was okay to shed a few tears at the lunch table. 

    I was truly inspired by the kindness of women I had only ever met through reading their words on a computer screen. Ladies took time out of their conference experience to encourage me!

    Knowing my daughter was fine by Friday morning freed my nerves enough to be able to enjoy the remainder of the conference. I was ready to learn and to be open to new kinds of inspiration.

    I was inspired by the dedication and hard work of the women who planned, organized, and executed the conference. RhodaChrisKateBethSarahTraciKristi, MarianLayla, and Kristin, you did a wonderful job. It was such a pleasure to meet each of you! I am constantly in awe of your collective talent, and humbled that any of you would know who I am!

    I was inspired by the friendliness and creativity of the other attendees. I was fully prepared to feel like a twelve year old on the first day of seventh grade, but friendly smiles and kind words put us all at ease. (If we took a pic together, please email me a copy!)

    I was inspired by the knowledge of the speakers. My favorite sessions were "Photography and Styling" and "I Like Big Blogs." John and Sherry from Young House Love gave a keynote speech that was both hilarious and insightful. They were also very approachable...I got to meet John and Burger as I explored the vendor area.

    In short, how could I be surrounded by such talent, creativity, and kindness, and not be inspired?

    My most sincere thanks go out to all of you who took the time to ask how my girl at home was doing. Thank you for understanding, and for your encouragement. Your friendliness didn't make me feel as if I was depending on "the kindness of strangers."

    I'm home in Virginia now with a bit of a brain overload. So many new things to think about and so many new friends to keep up with. And when I say "keep up with," I don't mean in competition. I came home from Haven with a desire to be a better wife, mother, homemaker, blogger...but not to worry about comparing with everyone else. 

    I'm looking forward to a year of continued inspiration from these new friends. So when Haven 2013 rolls around, I'll be ready!

    Linked to Southern Hospitality

    UPrinting Giveaway Winner

    The winner of the recent Rolled Canvas Print from Uprinting is #14, Paloma from The Coffee Shop.
    Paloma, please email me by 5 pm on Thursday, June 28th, to claim your prize. You can reach me at amandaserenitynow(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you!

    I'll be back later this morning with a few thoughts on the Haven conference!

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    More Highlighted Links--Share Your Best Post!

    Good morning, friends. 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...crafts, recipes, home decor, book reviews--all kinds of posts are welcome.

    *Don't forget about this weekend's Rolled Canvas Giveaway!

    I like to Feature bloggers who not only have great projects, but who also take the time to  link back to me within their post(s). I add many of these Features to my Pinterest page as well as Facebook!

    Here are a few links from Weekend Bloggy Reading that caught my eye.

    ~Summer Mantel (using pool noodles!) via Miss Kopy Kat

    ~Sisal Rope Lamp Makeover via My Life in a Nutshell

    ~Fresh Tomato Pie via My Heart's Desire

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Highlighted Weekend Links-- Share Your Best Post!

    Happy Saturday! I hope you'll pop over to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party and share your best post of the week. I'm in Atlanta for the Haven Conference, so I'll have a nice bunch of posts to feature tomorrow! Until then, have fun browsing the links at the party, and be sure to link up your work too.

    If you linked up, please remember to take a minute or two to browse a few of the other links. Parties don't work for anyone if you leave your link and then dash off. Just a friendly reminder. Thanks!

    *Don't forget to pop over to this week's Rolled Canvas Print Giveaway!

    Weekend Bloggy Reading

    Are you working on any creative projects this weekend?

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    ::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: Link Up!

    Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. I hope you'll link up your best post of the week today, and maybe leave me some comment love. Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link.

    All kinds of posts are welcome--recipes, crafts, funny stories, home decor, etc.; but please do not link to Etsy shops, businesses, items for sale, etc. (I have a Sponsors section, if you'd like to Advertise with me.)

    Many of you know that I'm in Atlanta attending the Haven Conference, hopefully learning a lot to share with you and networking with some brands and bloggers. Because of my crazy travel schedule this week, I don't have any features to share, but I would love for you to take a peek at some of my posts from this week! Comments tend to go down the summertime, and I truly do love the feedback.

    Haven Maven

    *Don't forget, adding your link to this week's party (and a direct link back to me within your post) earns you an extra entry in this week's UPrinting Giveaway!

    Without further ado, time to link up your best post of the week!

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Rolled Canvas Print Giveaway!

    We have our big beach trip coming up in a few weeks, and I am not too ashamed to admit that I turn into a paparazzi mama at the beach. There's nothing like sandy beach memories! A really cool way to preserve one of your summer moments is with a Rolled Canvas Print from UPrinting. Guess what? One of you is going to win a FREE 16 x 20 Rolled Canvas Print in this week's UPrinting Giveaway!

    Here we go!

    Here's how you can enter to win your own 16 x 20 Rolled Canvas Print


    (Please leave a separate comment for each entry your choose to do)

    1. (Mandatory to enter) Visit the UPrinting Canvas Prints page and leave me a comment here telling me what kind of canvases UPrinting offers. (Hint: It is found right on the Canvas Prints page!)
    -To earn extra entries-
    2. "Like" Uprinting on Facebook.
    3. Tweet this Giveaway!
    4. Facebook this Giveaway with a link to this post.
    5. Follow Serenity Now on Facebook.
    6. Follow Serenity Now on Pinterest.
    7. Add a post to this weekend's Weekend Bloggy Reading link party and include a direct link back to me within your post for an extra entry!

    My Weekend Bloggy Reading link party will open tomorrow morning at 8 am ET. Bring your best post of the week to share!

    Here's the button code for the party if you want to get a head start! 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

    *Giveaway open until Sunday night (6/24) at 10 pm ET. Giveaway open to US Residents only, 18 years of age and older. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. No prize substitutions allowed. Winners allowed to win once over a 6 month period. Only email addresses used for the Giveaway will be eligible to claim the prize. Prize includes one 16 x 20 rolled canvas print, with 2 inch or no border, 1 Business Day turnaround, free shipping to US residents. 

    Disclaimer: You should assume that I will receive free print products in exchange for the post. Any and all reviews posted are based solely on my own experience and may be atypical. Please practice due diligence in making any related purchase decisions. Interested to hold a giveaway like this? Please sign up here

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    How to Get a Hydrangea Plant to Bloom

    Otherwise entitled, "How My Hydrangeas Got Their Groove Back." The hydrangea is my absolute favorite plant to see in a yard, with a possible exception to a lovely rose bush. We've struggled with our bushes for several years now, so I just had to share with you all how we were finally able to get our hydrangeas to bloom!

    It always starts the same way, someone will give me a hydrangea plant as a gift, or I will buy one of the beautiful, flowering ones I see at Costco. They look so lovely in our yard for a day or two, and then...nothing. 

    Here's an example:

    Talk about a dud, huh? This one sits in our front flower bed by the driveway, and it sported those dead stalks and bare leaves for 3 or 4 years. I thought maybe it needed some "recovery" time after being planted, but no such luck. 

    As much as I love hydrangeas, this was not a most welcoming site to come home to. And the two bushes in the rear flower bed boasted an identically pathetic look.

    Before I got frustrated and just ripped the darn thing out, I decided to go to our local nursery and see what they had to say. The guys at the big box hardware stores are nice, but they usually have no idea what they're talking about. I wanted someone with real experience with plants!

    My nursery suggested trying a soil test first. 

    When I mentioned this to a friend, she said, "Wow! Aren't those expensive? I looked into sending our sample off once, and it was going to cost close to $40!"

    As you can see by the price tag, the soil test I used cost less than $2, and took almost no time to complete!

    As you can see, our soil is designated as alkaline, and the nursery suggested adding Aluminum Sulfate to the soil around the plants:

    So, last summer, I enlisted T to help me measure everything out, and we added a small amount (following the instructions on the bag!) of aluminum sulfate to our hydrangea's soil.

    Wowee---what a difference!

    I was so excited and pleased to see blooms on all three of my hydrangea plants this year! The one in the front yard is bursting with pink and purple blooms and the two in the back yard have blue blossoms. Too pretty!
    If you have problems with your hydrangea plants, I highly recommend visiting your local nursery and seeing what they have to say. In this case, it was worth the trip for me!

    If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. 

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