what we’ve been up to lately…

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Why You Should Keep Blogging

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Why You Should Keep Blogging -even though HGTV hasn’t called, you don’t get a cheque from Google Ads each month, and your basement is full of old projects

Blogging is hard.  It’s fun, and creative, and pretty, and hard.  It’s hard to keep coming up with new ideas, it’s hard to learn how to take better pictures, it’s hard to be a business woman, it’s hard to keep doing it all over and over again, especially when you don’t see the results you are hoping for.  I don’t think anyone but a fellow blogger realizes the kind of time put into blogging, and how all consuming it can be.  I’m not complaining, I’m just telling you how it really is.

Over the last year I’ve struggled with the question of whether it’s all worth it, or whether I should quit and put my energy in other places.  I think this is a question that lots of other bloggers face as well.  So, I thought I’d share some of the conclusions I’ve come to, and shared at Blogpodium over the weekend.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you’d go to the library and see the new Owl magazine, and the first thing you would look at was the section on the back cover, if I remember correctly, that had the magnified images.  It was a really tight shot of something, and you had to figure out what it was without seeing the bigger picture.  I think blogging is a little like that sometimes.  We spend so much time looking at our analytics that we can lose sight of the bigger picture.  We may need to put down our magnifying glass and step back to see the whole.

Magnifying glass

When I was weighing up if I should continue, I thought a lot about the hits and the money I make on the blog -or the lack thereof.  We look at our daily hits, and how much money we’re making and sometimes it’s a little disappointing to us.  Sometimes we feel like we’re investing all this effort with very little pay off.

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But, what if we consider the other things we get out of blogging?  What if we were to weigh up those other benefits, would it counterbalance things?

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I shared these thoughts at Blogpodium, and I also checked in with some of my blogging friends about the reasons they keep doing it, beyond the money and the hits, and here are some of the reasons we came up with.

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I blog because it is a creative outlet for me.  It gives me the push I sometimes need to be creative.  It helps me to go beyond the thinking, dreaming, pinning stage to actually making things. Just about everyone I talked with about why, shared a form of this answer.  Things like to push myself, to be intentional about being creative, to try new things, as a creative outlet, because I’m an artist, and to explore.  I have to say this is all at the top of my list too.

I was most struck in my conversations my one woman’s response “to reclaim myself”, and another who said “to reclaim joy”.  As a stay at home mom, especially when I first started and my girls were really young, blogging was a way to do something just for me.  Part of creating, is perhaps recreating ourselves.  Another wrote “to transform” -everything from old furniture, our homes, to our very selves.

Of course, part of blogging is also to connect with others, to network, to inspire others, to share our passions and our stories, and in that way to be of service to others, and share something positive and beautiful with the world.  We hope to make the world a better place in our own, perhaps small, but beautiful way.

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There are as many reasons why people blog, as there are people who blog.  So many “small” reasons, but added together, they add up to a lot, enough to counter balance other things.

Weighing things up

At the end of the day, I blog because it makes me happy, it adds to my life, and it’s worth it to me.  In times when I get discouraged, I’m reminded of this saying “don’t apologize for being in the middle of your story.”  If I compare my first post to my latest post, I can see my growth, and improvement.  I’m getting better at this, maybe not at the speed I would like, but I’m making progress, I’m getting there.  It’s okay to not have arrived, to be in the middle and not at the finish line yet.  It seems like a cliche, but what we really need to do is keep going and keep getting better.

I love this video.

I hope you’re encouraged to keep going if blogging is adding something to your life.

Encouraging quotes

I’m sometimes tempted to think that it’s all or nothing.  That if I’m not great at something I should give up.  But it’s not all or nothing.  Some is better than none.  Some hits, some money, some comments, some work with brands, some growth is better than none.  And it’s really not all or nothing.

Some is better than none

It s not all or nothing

In fact, sometimes hard things teach us the most.  What if your discontent is actually a gift to help you pursue something greater?

The gift of pain

These lessons are true of blogging, and true of life.

The printables are available for free download here It’s not all or nothing, Some is better than none, What if your discontent is actually a gift to help you pursue something greater?

And since I am a blogger -print these pretty printables and frame with clipboards, these are from the dollarstore with the metal spray painted gold, and then covered with gold leaf.  Enjoy.

This post is linked up at The Inspiration Gallery, and The Weekend Retreat Link Party.

20 Fall Project Ideas

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I love fall.  Today I’m sharing a round-up  of 20 of my favourite fall projects to inspire you.  To see all the instructions on how to make any of them, just click on the title or the picture.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Blondies with Pumpkin Frosting

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Paper Flower Pumpkin

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Ombre Pumpkin Tower

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Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

fall dessert ideas

 

String Pumpkins

inexpensive fall decor

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Truffles

fall chocoate desserts

 

Fall Leaf Book Page Garland

Inexpensive fall decor

 

Pumpkin Sugar Cubes

fall teaparty ideas

 

Fall Front Door -in Lime Green and White

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Pot Scrubber Pumpkins

easy pumpkin crafts

 

Mini Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Maple Glaze 

pumpkin recipes

 

DIY “Give Thanks” Plates

sharpie on china dishes

 

$10 Fall Pillows

Inexpensive fall decor

Pumpkin Filled Cream Puffs with Carmel Sauce 

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Fall DIY Subway Art

how to make your own subway art

 

Silver Pumpkins

Silver Mercry Glass Pumpkins

 

DIY Fall Doormat

how to paint a doormat

 

Fall Pinecone Wreath

white fall decor

White Fall Planter

white fall decor

 

Burlap Acorns made from Easter Eggs

Acorns made out of Easter eggs

I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing.  Can’t wait to share more great projects and recipes for fall with you.  With all these great ideas, life really is a party!

This post is linked up at the Be Awesome Link Party.

Adventures in Macaron Making

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One of the things on my summer bucket list, was to try my hand at macaron making -the light, sweet, delicious French cookie that is notoriously difficult to get just right.  But in the spirit of, what have we got to lose, we gave it a try.    Let me say first that my girls and I envisioned this as a mother daughter enterprise, but it’s so precise that it’s not really kid friendly.  I did do a fair bit of googling before I started.  I found this post from And Cute very helpful, and used the recipe from here too.  They also recommend this video, watch it before you attempt to make them.

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My first attempt at making macarons was for the Flamingo party, so we went with bright pink. Attempt no. 2 was for the aqua party, so we went with a pretty aqua blue.  I do really like the fact that Macarons are supposed to mature in the fridge a few days before you make them, so you can get ahead on your party prep, and not be attempting these -along with all the other party prep on the day of.  The recipe calls for very precise measurements -use a scale.  I did have a little trouble getting my almonds fine enough to go through the wire sieve.  Perhaps next time, I’ll try roasting the almond meal a little before putting it in the food processor in an attempt to dry it out a little, which might help it grind a little more finely.  The video I watched has great explanations about how long to mix them, and what consistency you’re going for.   Once you reach the right consistency it’s time to pipe them.  Here’s what I learned.  The first time, with the pink, I just kind of eyeballed it.

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After letting them dry, I put them in the oven, and let them bake.  It was all looking so, so good.  And I actually thought for a moment, could it be that I am actually making these perfectly on my first attempt?  I saw the ruffled feet, and they looked amazing when I took them out of the oven.  As they cooled though, they deflated a little.  When it came time to take them off the parchment, they totally stuck.  I also noticed that they had a darker spot in the middle -meaning they were really undercooked.

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So…I looked back at the recipe and realized that I made them too big, and they weren’t cooked enough.  For attempt no. 2, I broke out the ruler.  Keep in mind that they spread out and get a little bigger as they settle.

Macaron 2

These guys came out much better, although even some of them were a little sticky on the bottom.

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You can also notice in the picture that they got a little golden on some of the edges.  I think next time I would cook them a little lower, maybe 275 instead of 300 degrees, and maybe a little longer.  These ones weren’t perfect, but they were still super yummy, and I was really quite happy with them.

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I filled them with a little raspberry butter cream -just push some raspberries or even raspberry jam through a fine sieve to remove the seeds and add it to your buttercream.  So, so yummy.

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What could be better with a cup of tea? Nothing.  And the great part about not perfecting these on the first or even second go is, getting to eat your eat all your attempts.  Let’s just say my family is really behind this process.

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It’s always good to try and lean something new.  With home made macarons, life really is a  party!

 

This post is linked up at the Be Awesome Link Party, The Inspiration Party, and The Weekend Retreat Link Party.

Aqua Themed Pool Party

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Today my daughter’s turning 10!  Happy Birthday Paige!   I can’t believe we’ve hit the double digits!  This year Paige requested a pool party, so last weekend we got together with friends and family to celebrate.  Although thoughts are turning to fall in blogland, it’s a hot 30 degree day here, and certainly still warm enough to fit in a few more pool days.  We were so blessed to be able to have the party at my sister-in-law and brother-in-laws house, since they have a lovely pool and live only a few minutes away -thanks Keers and Steve.  I did worry about rain -since it’s rained on Paige’s parties for about the last 3 years, but the forecast was for sunny skies.  Despite the forecast about 15 minutes before we were set to begin, guess what -it started to rain.  Picture me holding an umbrella over the desert table and praying.  The prayers were answered, and it only rained a few minutes.  By the time the guests arrived it stopped and it was time for the fun to begin.

Ombre watercolour invitation diy

Paige’s favourite colour is aqua, and it went great with the pool party idea, so it became our theme.  For the invitations, since Paige loves art, we came up with the idea of ombre watercolours.  I designed the invites, and then printed them onto watercolour paper.  Paige then painted with watercolours to create the ombre effect.  Really simple.

Pool party activities

The main event at the party was, of course swimming.  But I had a couple other little activities set up, just in case.  One was this fun water table.  We’ve had it for years, and every spring I bring it out and it’s like a new toy.  This worked great between lunch and dessert, when the kids were done but the adults were still eating.

Pool party 2

We also set up some origami to make paper boats.  The paper boat idea became part of the decor and went well with our water theme.  I just cut up some pretty aqua scrapbook paper and printed the instructions.  Paige had fun teaching her friends how to make them.

Orgamin boats themed party centrepiece

We used the boats and some water -coloured with a few drops of blue and green food colouring to make aqua, to make easy centre pieces for the tables.  Luckily we’d tried it at home first, and discovered that paper boats actually absorb the water and sink fairly quickly.  We used parchment paper, and some basket liners that had a waxy finish to make the boats for the centre pieces and they worked great and lasted the whole party.

Origami boat garland and aqua paper lanterns

We continued the origami boats into a bouquet of paper lanterns and pom-poms.  I made lots in different aqua paper, and sizes, and strung them into a few fun garlands.  I love how this turned out.  We hung them from the deck and over the lunch table.  For lunch, we had hamburgers, hotdogs, and salads around the pool.

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We also played a few typical pool party games at the party, like Marco Polo, and colours.  Paige also wanted to have a “diving contest”.  It was so much fun.  The kids had to name their dive and then jump in -with marks for creativity.

Pool party games

We printed out a few number signs and designated some judges.  There were a couple younger kids who didn’t want to jump in the deep end so they helped judge.  It was hilarious.

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After lunch it was time for dessert!  We had a lot of fun putting together the aqua/blue dessert table.  Weeks and weeks before the party, I happened to see at One Krieger Chick, an adorable ombre “Make a Splash” sign, so Paige and I gave it our own twist and used it as the pretty backdrop for the dessert table (and now it’s in her bedroom).  To add some height to the table I used my vintage suitcases.  I was reminded again how great it is to have serving pieces in white and glass -it doesn’t really take too much of your colour, here mainly just the actual food, to really create a great effect.

Aqua blue dessert table 2

The tiny little bottle, beside Paige’s picture, is a little origami boat in a bottle.  We used Pudding Fish Cakes  AMAZING video to make them and they turned out great.

Origami boat in a bottle

One little issue, cause nothing is ever quite as easy as you hope it will be, was some of my boats started to sink.  I followed the instructions on the video, but maybe because I had a different kind of resin or because of the heat and humidity when I was making them, after waiting the two hours for the resin to harden to a certain consistency I added my boats and noticed about 15 minuets later that they were sinking into the resin.  After all the work of finding mini bottles, finding resin and chalk pastel, and then folding all those tiny, tiny boats I was feeling beyond sad to see the shipwreck.  I put on my timer and used tweezers every 15 min. for about two hours to pull them up and reposition them, since they weren’t totally submerged, and I thought I could still rescue them.  Some did sink too far, so I pulled them out and waited to add in new ones.  At the end of the day it all worked out, but if I were doing it again, I’d do a test one to make sure before making 10 of them!  Here’s a shot of the one beside my camera lens cover, just to show you the scale of how tiny they actually are.  We put them into tiny organza bags and included them in the loot bags for our guests.

Tiny origami boat in a bottle necklace

I also made a little drink table on the side, with cold drinks.

Aqua pool party

Now, for the desserts! -our favourite part.  I made vanilla cupcakes and decorated them with different shades of aqua blue icing.  I just started out with the lightest shade, and then kept adding more gel food colouring as I went along.  The little flags are made out of toothpicks and washi tape.

Aqua blue dessert table desserts 1

I found fun mini Chinese takeout containers and used them for blueberries.

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When it comes to blue food, you have to get a little creative, so just think of your favourites and add a little blue chocolate.  We made rice crispies and dipped them in blue candy melts.  They were the first thing gone.

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I also made sugar cookie bars -they were a first and so, so much easier than sugar cookies, but with all the same great taste.  I used the same icing as the cupcakes to make them ombre too.  And the pom-pom pics are just pom poms from the craft store hot glued to a toothpick -love is in the details.

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I also wanted to include some candy, and there were little bags so our friends could take some home too.  I used rock candy, gummy sharks, and home made lollipops.  I used the same recipe and technique I used here, except we used aqua food colouring, and added lemonade flavouring this time.  They looked so, so pretty.

Aqua blue dessert table candy buffet

I also tried my hand at making home made macarons for the party.  They were my second attempt and still not perfect, but they were still really good.  We made them blue and filled them with a raspberry butter cream -I’ll be sharing a whole post on my successes and failures in macron making soon.  What I do love about these special little cookies is that you make them a couple of days before you need them and let them mature in the fridge, so it’s great for a party since it isn’t last minute.

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Last, and almost forgotten in the fridge, which is why they aren’t in all the photos, classic blue jello, with a squirt of whip cream.  All the kids loved them and they were certainly easy peasy.

Aqua blue dessert table desserts blue jello

One last detail, I used another vintage suitcase to hold the little loot bags with the origami boats, chapter’s gift cards, and candy from the sweets table.

Pool party 4

We really had a wonderful afternoon celebrating Miss Paige turning 10!  Happy Birthday Paige, you certainly make my life into a party!

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