Tag Archives: guest

Guest Post with Julie Morris: What to Put on Your Wishlist for Positive Life Changes

Want to Make Some Positive Life Changes? Here’s What to Put on Your Wish List

Sometimes, all we need to make a positive life change is a little push – or maybe some material motivation. As the holidays roll around and you’re creating your wish list for friends and family, you may want to consider how the gifts you receive can spur you into making some life improvements. Here’s what to wish for if you want to focus on self-betterment this holiday season.

If you want to stop eating junk

Is it boring to structure your holiday wish list around eating healthier? Maybe a little bit. But the dramatic improvement in your mind and body you’ll experience when you begin to focus on a healthy diet is anything but. Think about adding a subscription to a food delivery service to your wish list. Blue Apron is a popular choice, as are Plated and HelloFresh. These companies deliver pre-portioned, fresh ingredients to your door with easy-to-follow recipes. It’s the easiest way to cook from home. Not only will you be able to forgo the fast food, but you’ll also save a lot of time that would be spent scouring the internet for healthy recipes and shopping at the grocery. Here’s a solid guide to all the meal kit companies out there.

If you want to work some mindfulness into your life

We could all stand to be a little more mindful – or put another way, live in the present. We spend so much time stressed out and worried about the past and future, we often forget to take time to relax in the now. If you want to be a mindful person, you can wish list some things to help.

Try asking for some adult coloring books (or kids’, for that matter). Coloring is a stress-reducing hobby that lets you disconnect from technology and focus on yourself – if just for a little while. Here are some more mindfulness benefits of coloring.

You can also wish for some books to help you get on a mindful path. Make Peace with Your Mind, The Power of Off, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are some perennial favorites (here are some more). Really, making your home life more comfortable in general is one great way to de-stress. Check here for some items that will make being at home more fun.

If you want to get more organized

Being organized is one of those things that can positively impact many other areas of your life. It all starts with having your stuff together. Your wish list should include closet hangers and organizational cubes, maybe one of these nice Moleskine planners, and even a tracking tag that you can put on commonly-misplaced items for easy location (it works with Bluetooth!). Check here for more great organizational ideas.

If you want to save a little bit of money here and there

It’s not on a gift-giver to help you with your overall finances. That’s a year-round task for you and you alone. But they can give you the gift of incremental, but still worthwhile, savings. Think about ways to save money throughout the year – LED lighting options for your home, rechargeable batteries and battery docks, and long-lasting beeswax candles come to mind. Here are some more ideas.

Gone are the days where you just hope and pray that someone gets you something that you may like during the holidays. Be smart about your wish list. Don’t just pick whimsical items because they are free (to you at least). Make that wish list count, and fill it with items and services that can help you reach your self-improvement goals.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com


Valentine Accessory Styling with Penny Snark

Well hi there! I’m Penny Snark, and I’ll be your guest poster today. On my blog, The Sconnie Sling, I write about pinup fashion, tiki bars, and all things vintage and fabulous. When Julie and I decided to collaborate, it was obvious that the theme should be the holiday that’s on everyone’s mind: Valentine’s Day.

Now, I have a (somewhat ironic, I suppose) love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I love all things pink and cute and sparkly, and I’m quite fond of hearts as a motif. Julie and I had agreed that styling an accessory in our own ways would be the perfect swap post, and I think we both got some major heart-eyes over the glittery ombre heart headbands from BeauXOXO . But Valentine’s can be rough for the uncoupled…there’s a reason they call it “Singles Awareness Day”!

So I couldn’t resist a bit of a snarky take on the Valentine’s Day outfit, which really should be expected considering my name. I wanted to create a look that was flirty and feminine, but with a bit of an edge to it. My Havana Nights dress paired with an argyle cardigan paired with punky accessories gave me the “cute but dangerous” vibe I was going for. Though I guess handcuffs and spikes are romantic in their own way 😉 I actually have plans on V-Day for once; a friend and I are going to see a magic show, and who knows. Maybe one of the magicians can pull a boyfriend out of a hat for me.

Don’t forget to head over to The Sconnie Sling to see how Julie styled this adorable headband and hear about her Valentine’s Day plans!


Guest Post: Table Setting Rules

Let’s face it: summer is prime party time, and throwing together a chic sorree can get a bit daunting; fortunately the lovely people at FTD have your back. Here’s some tips from them to help you set your next table like a boss.

Whether you’re throwing a formal affair or a hosting a casual dinner party with friends, it’s important to follow basic table setting rules. This is because knowing what dishware, silverware and glassware to set your table with will make allow you to provide a memorable dining experience for your guests.

That’s why FTD created these guides that illustrate different table setting rules including: formal, casual, and buffet. Ever wonder where the salad fork or dessert spoon goes? Each guide features a list of everything you need to set the proper table including an illustration of where each item should be placed. Use these guides to help you determine which table setting is best one for your event!

BT1

Photography by: Jen Wojcik
Basic Table Setting Elements:

Center

  • Charger – The charger is the center stage of the table setting. As various courses come and go, they are set on top of the charger, including the salad course, soup course, and fish course. When the dinner course arrives, the charger is taken away.
  • Service plate – The service plate, or entrée plate, is placed on top of the charger (if one is provided), and is usually taken away before the next course.
  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course that is served. Therefore, the soup spoon is placed on the outer edge of the right side.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the informal table setting.

BT2

Photography by: Peaches and Mint
Buffet Table Setting Elements:

Center

  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the plate before service begins. Napkins can also be placed at the buffet table near the utensils.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is typically the largest fork.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – Soup is typically the first course so the soup spoon is placed on the outer right edge of the table setting.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses.
  • Wine glass – A single wine glass is all that’s needed for the buffet table setting.

BT3

Photography by: Lane Dittoe
Formal Table Setting Elements

Center

  • Charger – The charger is the center stage of the table setting. As various courses come and go, they are set on top of the charger, including the salad course, soup course, and fish course. When the dinner course arrives, the charger is taken away.
  • Service plate – The service plate, or entrée plate, is placed on top of the charger, and is usually taken away before the next course.
  • Napkin – The napkin is folded and placed on top of the charger before service begins.
  • Menu card – The menu card can either be placed on top of the napkin or inserted into the folds of the napkin for a more formal display.

Left-side

  • Salad fork – Salad is the second course that is served, so the salad fork is placed at the outer left edge of the table setting. The salad fork is usually smaller than the dinner fork.
  • Fish fork – Next to the salad fork is the fish fork. In a formal setting, the fish or seafood course is served after the salad. Traditionally, the shape of the fish fork is designed to optimally lift the flesh away from the bones. In a dinner without a seafood course, the fish fork is used as the second course fork.
  • Dinner fork – The dinner fork is placed to the immediate left of the charger or service plate. The dinner fork is usually the largest of the three forks.

Right-side

  • Soup spoon – In a formal service, soup is the first course that is served. Therefore, the soup spoon is placed on the outer edge of the right side.
  • Salad knife – The salad is served after the soup, therefore the corresponding knife is placed to the left of the soup spoon.
  • Dinner knife – The dinner knife is placed to the immediate right of the service plate, corresponding with the placement of the dinner fork.

Top

  • Butter plate – This plate is placed to the top left corner of the place setting.
  • Butter knife – This is placed on top of the butter plate, pointing left and the blade facing down so that the handle is towards the guest.
  • Dessert teaspoon – Placed above the entrée plate, this is the smallest of the spoons.
  • Dessert fork – Placed beneath the desert teaspoon, and can be used for the fruit course.
  • White wine glass – The white wine glass is placed closer to the guest, as it is usually served before the red wine — along with the second course.
  • Red wine glass – The red wine glass is larger and taller than the white wine glass.
  • Champagne flute – The champagne flute is placed to the outer right of the glasses, because it accompanies the first toast.
  • Water glass – This glass is the largest of the glasses, and is placed closest to the guest directly above the knives.

Guest Post: Falling in Love

Hey guys, as the title of this post clearly states, I have another guest post for you! My lovely Aunt Ingrid, at the ripe old age of 27, has recently made a career jump from bad-ass auditor to bad-ass real estate agent, and to spice things off she also started a blog that chalk full of all sorts of fun home-related facts and ideas. Her inaugural post, which she was kind enough to share with us, is a letter to buyers talking about how wonderful it is to fall in love at first sight with their new home. Enjoy and check out her blog and facebook page for more tips, ideas and fun facts.

Guest

Dear Home Buyers,

I remember the first time I set eyes on my future home. It was in the evening and I had been touring home after home after home. I was tired and frustrated, and then I saw her on the multiple listing service. She was built in 1923 and has a front-porch that spans the front of the house and a stunning oak tree over the front yard. I never believed in love at first sight, but that is what it was then and still is today. I called my realtor and immediately told her that we had to see it. I had a contract on my home that same day, and have had no regrets.

That feeling of “love at first sight” is the experience that I want my buyers to have. I want them to know that this huge purchase is for the right reason and for the right home for them. In my efforts to place home buyers, I try to get to know them by scheduling an initial listing appointment and asking targeted questions such as “Are you okay with a little demolition” or “Do you want to pay more for move-in ready or would you like that diamond in the rough?” After about 15 minutes of a good heart-to-heart conversation about their needs, I have a better picture of what they want and they understand that I have their best intentions in mind.

As an agent, I am here to help the home buyer and negotiate on his behalf. How can I do that without getting to know them on the front end? After all, we will be in constant contact for the next 30-60 (or more) days, depending on the first search and closing date.

From that initial appointment, I am able to personalize my home listings to the clients’ needs. Any person can pull a search of 50 homes in your target area, but the home buyer becomes numb to the flood of information. By sitting down and discussing the criteria, the home buyer and I (realtor) narrow down the prospects. It is a much more enjoyable experience and I believe leads to a happier client and happier sales transaction.

Please let me know if you have any interest in buying or selling your home. I am happy to help!

Happy Hunting!
-Ingrid


Holiday Gift Planning with Verhanika of Whole Soul Lab

Verhanika

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the amount of Christmas stuff that seems

to sneak up the minute Labor Day happens. Seriously?, I think as I look up at the

inflatable Peanuts characters, bedecked with red hats, This is a bit overkill. But for

the most part I am beyond thrilled about the upcoming season.

Christmas is my favorite holiday by a landslide. I love all the decorations, the food,

the forced family time, and, most importantly, the presents.

I love giving and receiving presents, but often find the hardest part is dealing with

how much to spend and on whom. See, I often equate the amount of money I

spend on a person to the amount that I value someone. My husband and family

receive bigger, more expensive gifts; everyone else gets cute smaller things. My

mom is the one I usually spend the most on. I’ll find myself surrounded by gifts all

for her and start to mentally add up how much I spent. Yikes.

And the funny thing is that none of these people care at all about how much I spent

on them.

I could’ve sent them a card with a rock I found on a hike and they would be thrilled.

You know why? The gift was thoughtful.

The key to spending within your limits this holiday season is not about setting

a budget (although that helps), but making sure you are creating a gift that is

thoughtful and well intentioned.

Your sister, who loves One Direction (who doesn’t?) could be happy with tickets to a

concert or a binder with a collage of pictures of the band. Both are thoughtful, one is

significantly cheaper.

Or for your foodie best friend, you could get him a fancy copper cooking set or a

few small bottles of fancy oil and vinegar. Both are thoughtful, one is significantly

cheaper.

So, to fully engage with the thoughtfulness of your gift, you’ll actually have to put

some thought into it.

Try this process:

Sit down with a piece of paper and write down the names of everyone you need to

or want to buy gifts for.

Next to their name write a few words to describe that person and their interests. For

example, Julie I would describe as warm, sassy, loves good food, fashion, and kitties.

Then, brainstorm ideas for them. You can start big and get small or start small and

get big or start in the middle and go wherever. Just get a few ideas down. I like 7-10,

but there are no rules here so however many you feel like.

Then take a look at what you came up with, check out your budget and circle the gift

that seems most in line with what you want to give them and how much you have to

spend.

Ta-da! Thoughtful gift discovered.

Julie has a huge range of things that can easily become thoughtful and less expensive

gifts because they involve a degree of hand-crafting. Dig through her archives to find

some good ideas. My favorite this year will be making a chai tea blend that loved

ones can just throw into a pot with hot water and milk and have instant chai tea.

Hope this helps, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me through my

coaching business Whole Soul Lab at wholesoullab@gmail.com.