Saturday, December 28, 2013

Only One Blog Post in 2013?!?!?!?!?!?

I have got to get a grip on regular blogging - so I'm sneaking in one post in 2013 - just so my archive of posts doesn't skip a year. :) A YEAR?! Where does the time go? 2013 has been a CRAZY - yet very blessed - year for me. So many things have happened and I've done quite a few DIY projects. I will try to sum this up quickly and then share a few projects with you...

1) I am going to be an Aunt in 2014! My brother AND sister are both expecting baby girls. Zeke and Brooklynn are expecting Greer and Blakelee and Ben are expecting Boston. I can't wait to meet these precious bundles of joy and spoil them rotten.
2) I have traveled to some fun places this year - but most excited about my trip to Pasadena with my Dad. How 'bout them Auburn Tigers?! It has been an amazing football season... I am one proud Auburn Alum. War Eagle!
3) I have recently purchased my first professional camera. After much research I went with a Nikon D5200 and I LOVE IT! I have taken quite a few classes at Samford University and some online courses as well. I did my first "professional" shoot for my brother and soon to be sister in law - for their maternity shoot. I also have started a small - I repeat SMALL - photog business named Dixie Blue Photography. What I have studied and plan to specialize in is small children and portrait pictures.
That being said - I will definitely start incorporating some photography posts in to my blog as well. :)
4) I accepted a new position with my company as a Performance Consultant in a brand new area, and am so excited about where this will take my career in 2014. I was previously a Project Manager managing a Healthcare Reform project - so to say this year was the hardest year of my career - is justified. I am ever so grateful for my job and love the company I work for!
5) My blog has hit over 15,000 visits and I was nominated for a few awards this year despite my lack of blogging. I am thankful that people like to visit and hopefully get a little inspiration from my posts. I am looking forward to what 2014 holds and on my lists of New Year's resolutions is to keep blogging. I will start blogging about other things like photography, my nieces and maybe some random posts. I enjoy this creative outlet and can't wait to share more with y'all.

Now - on to the goods. I am going to post FIVE noteworthy things I've done in 2013. Grab a cup of joe and prepare yourself... this is going to be a long one.

Project #1: Nashville Flea Market
For those of you that don't know me - I LOVEEEEEE to thrift/bargain shop/go pickin', etc... Whatever you call it - it's one of the most riveting things I do!
The Nashville Flea Market is  a market that occurs on the last weekend of every month. My mother made plans for us to go last Spring in 2013 and we hit it big. We decided to go back in October of this year and this time I took pictures of all of our finds. It literally takes us two FULL DAYS to go through all of the vendors. It is definitely Flea Market Heaven. There is old stuff, new stuff, junky stuff, collectible stuff - EVERYTHING! TIPS & TRICKS #10: When planning a trip to a huge flea market, here is a list of the do's and don'ts that my Mom and I have compiled from our trips.

  • Set a budget and bring cash. It's the best way to bargain and get the best deals.
  • Always make a list of what you are looking for. This will help you out SO MUCH! You get very overwhelmed once you enter in a large flea market. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Being a little fashionista like myself, I always want to look cute in public. Don't worry about this at the flea market - if you plan on shopping and hunting - you need to be comfortable. Our second trip - I literally wore tennis shoes, yoga pants, a sweatshirt and a ball cap.
  • Purchase the $20 buggy. It folds and is yours to keep. Trust me, once you start racking up on goodies, the bag you brought to carry things will get heavy quickly. And slow you down.
  • Pack your lunch. Yes, there are food vendors, but they are the typical "carnival" food and nasty. Plus, the lunch you pack - you can eat and walk while everyone else is taking a lunch break.
  • Take breaks to review your purchases and rest your mind. All of that ocular stimulation and walking will wear you down! Plus it's fun to review all of your goodies while still shopping.
  • If you see something you want and can barter for a good deal - BUY IT. It probably will not be there by the time you go back for it.
  • If something is pricey and the vendor isn't willing to negotiate - COME BACK. It is so easy to get caught up in the negotiation/excitement of things you are hunting - but the vendors are always willing to negotiate, especially towards the end of the weekend. Do not back down on what you are willing to pay. 
  • Travel in an SUV. If you have a list full of items you are hunting - your call will fill up quickly!
  • Lastly - HAVE FUN! What's more exciting than hunting for treasures during the day and getting to enjoy Nashville by night?! :)
Here are a few pics of what my Mom and I got at the October trip. The highlights from the trip were: Vintage sleigh, vintage gates that I am going to use as a headboard in my guest room, vintage laundry basket that folds and wheels around (see Pottery Barn's here), vintage rocking horse, an all white ceramic deer head - which is being sold EVERYWHERE for crazy prices, a vintage crocheted Auburn chevron blanket and lots of other small goodies!

Project #2: Alabama State Wood Sign
Although this is unlike me, I actually purchased this sign at a Christmas Arts and Crafts sale locally here in Birmingham, AL. I got it for $20, which I thought was reasonably priced and I just love it! Once I got it home and hung it up - I thought how EASY would this be to make?! Just take 4 planks of old wood, nail two stabilizers behind it, draw your state in chalk, color it in with a paint color of your choice, cut out a heart in burlap fabric and glue it to your location! Would make a great gift and very fun to make!

Project #3: Peace on Earth Wreath
I just love Christmas time. I see so much love in people and I am fortunate enough to have a large family to spend the holidays with. My love for Christmas naturally overflows with my loft decorations and when I saw this Peace on Earth Wreath idea in the Ballard Designs catalog - I had to have it in my home. I purchased the wreath at Hobby Lobby along with the flocked pine cone inserts for less than $10. I conveniently had a chalkboard already hanging in my kitchen, so I got home, fluffed the wreath, hung it with some red wired ribbon, and then wrote (with chalk) peace on earth with the peace sign in the middle. It is SO CUTE and easy and cheap. I got the most compliments on that decoration in my loft this year.

Project #4: Gender Reveal Party
My Mom and I had the great pleasure of hosting the gender reveal party for Zeke and Brooklynn. I immediately went to Pinterest and gathered tons of ideas and after consulting with the mommy-to-be, we decided that the actual gender reveal would be the oh-so-popular - balloon box reveal. Only to step it up a notch - Brooklynn wanted a BIG BOX. We called local stores in hopes there would be a large shipment box that we could reuse for the reveal. Finally Brook's Mom pulled through with a box from her work. Let me tell you - this bad boy is HUGEEEEE and heavy - but turned out precious! I tried spray painting the box white and again EPIC FAIL. After this disastrous encounter with spray paint - I am officially divorcing from those ridiculous cans. They are not convenient - they are miserable and don't get the job done! Ok, end of my rant. My lesson learned was to use paint. Zeke painted it white for me and then Brook and I painted the large blue and pink polka dots. Now for the fun part - Brook and Zeke already had names picked out for either gender, so instead of the typical "girl or boy?" label, she wanted to use the names they picked. Lo and behold - the good ole computer came through... We printed out the letters, cut them out and voila! The large and in charge gender reveal box was complete - to the tune of $10! Can't beat that! I also decided to use my old full length mirror from my childhood and revamp it in to a chalkboard. I turned the backing of the mirror around and stapled it to the back of the mirror and then painted the backing with chalk. We used this piece as an Old Wives Tales prediction prop. It was a big hit. Lastly - I wanted to share with y'all the cutesy cupcakes we made. I was proud of these. We found the printable letters from Yellow Bliss Road and  propped the cupcakes around an old wood carrying box.

Project #5: Low Fat Buffalo Chicken Dip from Iowa Girl Eats
For all of you football loving people, you know a good Buffalo Chicken Dip is a go-to for tailgating food. To be honest, I was getting pretty sick of this dip. It was either too "buffalo-ish" or just lacking in overall flavor - and FATTENING! I went on a hunt for something a little more appeasing for my figure and found Iowa Girl Eats. This site is AMAZING... lots of good recipes. My advice on the dip is let it cook a little bit longer than it suggests - when the top gets a little brown - that's when you know it's good to go. I also cook my dip in a La Creuset dish and no I don't pay full price for La Creuset baking wear. TIPS AND TRICKS #11: YOU CAN BUY LA CREUSET DISHES AT T.J. MAXX!!!!!!! If that doesn't brighten your day, then I don't know what will. :) Serve with carrots and celery for an even lower calorie snack.

I hope my 5 projects will semi-makeup for all of the blogging I missed this year. I will be sure to make a much more concerted effort on blogging in 2014. Enjoy your New Year's Eve and see y'all in 2014!