A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: December 2013

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31 December 2013

The Sins of Blogging -- LUST.

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So a few weeks ago, Redbud Lauren of The Thinking Closet (remember her?) posted a comment to an old post of mine.  Then contributor Alex (yup, THAT Alex!) shared it and commented and I went back and re-read my own post really well.  ...annnnnd it convicted me.  Funny how our own words can do that, isn't it?  The post?  The Sins of Blogging - GREED.

You see, it was the seasons of sponsored posts (ala pre-Christmas) and I had a LOT.  I had been greedy, taking on too many, too much and I was tired.  I needed to hear my own words that enough was enough.  ...and thus...I did.  No more...at least for a little while.

...but that post and those girls got me thinking about more sins of blogging.  Namely lust.  NO, not THAT kind of lust.  We aren't going sexual here.  Truthfully, in bloggyland, there aren't many hot men to oogle at.  Rather, I am speaking about lust as:

a. An overwhelming desire or craving: a lust for power.
b. Intense eagerness or enthusiasm: a lust for life.

(Thanks Wikipedia)

        b.  good
        a. not so much

Power

As a blogger, you have power whether you like it or not.  Whether you have one reader or thousands, you have some power over the way people see the world.  You are influencing what people see, what they buy, what they make and sometime even how they think.  That is extraordinarily powerful.  It is also dangerous.  Power can be heady.   It can feel good.  ...and the only people who SHOULD have power are the ones that don't like it.

I like it a little too much.

I like having people listen to what I am saying and I love inspiring them to make a project, try out a new planting technique or GET CHICKENS!  because they have read something I have written.  It is natural.  Bloggers earn a living based upon affiliate sales when we share a great product we love and you, the reader, buy it.  We often make a small percentage of that sale.  With honesty and integrity, that system works.  ...but it breaks down when the power gets delicious.  When it is more fun to watch the numbers climb on affiliate sales than it is to find and use great new products, something is screwed up.

Spending
Then there is the lust over OTHER bloggers.  This verges on jealousy, but stay with me, ok?  It is very, very hard to browse through other blogs without lusting over something on their site.  It goes like this.  Hop, hop, hop to blog, blog, blog.  All good.  THEN you hit THAT site.  The one that has 6 sponsored posts in a row...and THEY HAVE COMMENTS on them.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?  I WANT TO DO THAT!  Friends, when your brain starts talking in all caps, that would be the point at which you have crossed from a wee bit of green jealousy to the raging "overwhelming craving or desire" bridge to lust.  It happens a lot for bloggers because we are constantly bombarded with each other's work.  We support each other, we love each other, but OH how lustful we can get of each other!  This lust?  It leads directly to spending too much on our blogs.  Too much time.  Too much money.  Sometimes even too much energy and effort on something WE DON'T NEED.

Let me share my story...

There are certain things that REALLY press my lust buttons when I visit other blogs and there are things that I WANT WANT WANT but know I don't need when I hear other bloggers talking.  The first is almost always design.  I love the latest designs that the hip, young bloggers use (you know, the cute ones like Always Rooney that use swiggly little fonts and beautiful, simple graphics).  I am neither young nor hip and I forget that sometimes.  Beautiful blogs like those have me running for the blog designer websites, browsing for the NEXT> BEST> THING.  The problem is that I do not need the next best thing.  A newer, better, hipper design will NOT translate into new readers, a more quality experience for readers or more revenue.  My demographic is squarely in a similar camp with me and some of those young, hip readers come and read, but they know I am not in that young and hip camp and do try to be in it would be silly (like a Grandmother wearing a Juicy sweatsuit...just weird).

Wordpress

Which leads me to the next biggy -- Wordpress.  Everybody and their mother (literally sometimes) has Wordpress.  "Nobody" is on blogger anymore (except me).  I have been fighting this lust battle for OH three or four years now?  Slowly, blogger after blogger transfers over to Wordpress and everyone says "It is so wonderful!"  "You will love it!"  "You HAVE to do it!", but I haven't been convinced yet.  I have not seen evidence that moving to wordpress will be worth it.  I am not guaranteed a 4-5 times increase in revenue by moving to Wordpress -- nobody can prove to me that actually happens (well they haven't to date...).  Meanwhile, I watch Wordpress bloggers struggle through a transfer of ALL of their content (takes FOREVER and can be a HASSLE and a half).  I watch them deal with their blogs "breaking down" when they have a post that hits big and sends their traffic higher than normal.  I watch Wordpress bloggers now paying to upgrade their sites to be mobile sensitive for iphone and ipad users.  It seems like a lot of work.  On Blogger, I am sitting pretty.  Viral posts go viral and I just get to smile.  My blog has never crashed from 4-5-10 times as much traffic as usual.  Blogger automatically adjusts blogs for mobile users.  Google hosting rarely "goes down".  Blogger is free.

Perhaps someday I will need Wordpress.  I know there are some bloggers that NEED the capabilities that a self-hosted blog gives them.  I AM NOT THEM.  For as long as I can hang out here on Blogger for free, I have to do so.  As much as I WANT to be in the cool kids camp and hop over to Wordpress, I will not do it until I need to.  Right now, I don't need it.

Cameras and Such...

There are a few basics you needs for blogging.
     1. A platform (I use Blogger)
     2. A camera (unless you are only writing thoughts, not sharing tutorials etc.)
     3. Thoughts and Ideas

That is it folks.  That is where you start.  Then you might need:
     1.  A Blog Design (sometimes free, sometimes VERY expensive)
     2. Materials (if you are a craft, food, DIY blogger you need STUFF to work on)
     3. Editing Software (can often be free like PicMonkey or cost a lot like Photoshop)
     4. Time (lots of it if you want to be successful)

That is where I am.  Still.  Level 2.  I need no more to be successful where I am.  Let me walk you through my blogging purchases.

     1.  Blogger -- see above -- still free, though i pay $5 a year for additional photo space because I post a LOT of them.

     2. A Camera -- I use a D7000 and have owned a D40 and D5000.  Those are good (GOOD) cameras, but are not top of the line.  I must also note that I purchased all of my camera gear while running a photography business as well as my blog.  I used them for both.  For a blog only, all I need is a good DSLR (the D5000 is perfect) and a 50MM 1.8 lens that costs about $100.  I do NOT need more than that and while there are others with better photos than mine, I HAVE been able to get my photos published in print AND online with large websites.  I DO NOT need more camera gear...but let me tell you I DO lust after more!  (The links above are affiliate links on Amazon and I receive a tiny portion of sales when you buy gear through them!)

     3. Thoughts and Ideas -- no worries...too many of them and they are free.

     4. A Blog Design -- This is important, but doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.  My design is a blogger template from Designerblogs.com and it cost $40.  A one time fee and a designer comes in and makes it "work".  I actually won that design (so it was free) from another blogger, but I WOULD consider paying that amount for a basic template if you are going to be a professional blogger.  A tiny bit of design can go a long way towards making your site look custom and professional which leads directly to securing jobs with brands and securing larger writing gigs.

     5. Materials -- A LOT of my materials come from thrift stores (and the side of the road for free) and now a lot come from brands that I work with.  Spending an arm and a leg on craft supplies JUST so you can blog is kicking yourself in the foot.  Shopping a thrift store for supplies leads to original projects that your readers can DO without spending an arm and a leg as well.  If you are just starting out, consider honestly the amt. you spend on supplies vs. your revenue.  Is it worth it?  (More on this later)

     6.Editing Software -- This is a hard one for me to speak on.  Perhaps someone else might chime in here?  I use Photoshop CS 5.  Again, a great (expensive) program, but not top of the line anymore.  I purchased it for my photography business and heavily use it for blogging as well.  I don't think you need the latest, best version of photoshop as a blogger.  CS2 is perfect for many.  ...but OH how I lust after lightroom LET ME TELL YOU.

     7. Time.  This is the hardest one.  More on that later.

Ok -- this article has gotten LONG.  I am going to stop for a breather, and will be back with a little more on my thoughts about time and materials and the lust war.

...continued HERE...


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28 December 2013

Jump Into Jewelry with Aki for New Years!!!

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WHEW.  We are in that lull after Christmas and before New Years and if you are anything like me, your hands are needing something to craft while you are cloistered indoors (thank you snow and ice).  Aki is bringing us the perfect little craft inspired by the oh so wonderful and always wallet-emptying Anthropologie.  Take it away Aki!



Hello again you guys! If you're looking for something to glam up your New Year's Eve party outfit then this post is just for you. I'll show you how to make this easy hair comb inspired by Anthropologie's Stargazing Barrette. It's really easy and cheap - plus you can make way more than one with the materials that you get (or you can just use what you have on hand! That's what I did). Let's start!

Supplies


  • Star-shaped flatback crystal rhinestones - different sizes; I got mine at a craft store.
  • Round flatback crystal rhinestones (Get them on Amazon for super cheap -- a little over a dollar for almost 1,500!!)
  • Gold spray paint
  • E6000 glue
  • Plastic hair comb




Arrange how you want your stars to sit on your hair comb. 
Take a photo to remember or else you'll have to figure it out again after spray painting them :)





Spray paint your stars and wait for it to dry. It helps to stick them 
down on a strip of double-sided tape so they won't fly off when you spray them with the paint.





Glue the first layer onto your comb with E6000.





Then glue the next layer. Wait for that to dry fully (i.e. not moving at all anymore).





You may just choose to leave it as it is, I actually like it better this way, but if you want more bling...





Glue on the rhinestones with E6000 as well, using a toothpick or cotton swab to apply the glue. Wait for that to dry and you are done!

Wasn't that relatively painless? Now make a bunch to give to your friends - the season of giving isn't over yet! 
Have fun crafting, and till next time! :)

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Thanks Aki!!  I think these are so adorable and would look great for New years, but also for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or any old day!!



If you have been LOVING Aki's posts on Jewelry making (and I KNOW you have!), 
make sure you follow along on her blog, Minted Strawberry, on facebook and pinterest!

Miss a contributor post??  
Just click on the contributor post button at the top of the blog and catch up with ALL of our contributors!


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23 December 2013

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

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22 December 2013

glow.

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glow.

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20 December 2013

It isn't too late. They still want to hear from you.

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It is ok.  You don't need to worry so much.  I know the mailing window for Christmas cards is officially passed -- you know it is today, right??  USPS gives you until the end of the day today to get those cards in OR ELSE.  Or else what, you ask?  They won't arrive by Christmas - DUN DUN DUN.  You DO know that the friends and family that you are sending cards to are OK with getting cards after Christmas, right?  They just want to see your pretty picture of all those kids, or get that handwritten note from you, or have just a token from you that you are thinking of THEM.  It is OK if it didn't get there before the Christmas presents were ripped open.  It really is.  They just want to hear from you.

So today, we are going to tackle those late but lovely cards and not only that, but today A Nest for All Seasons is teaming up with Minted. to help remember those January birthdays.

Confused?  Don't be.

You know that one person  in your life that you just KEEP forgetting to buy something for because her birthday is in January?  (I have two in my fam!)
  I have the gift for you.

You know those Christmas cards you though you would order last week but never quite got around to it in time for Christmas mailing?  
Got you covered.

Get writer's cramp hand addressing envelopes?  No worries.  Got that covered too.



TODAY friends, one of you is gong to win $150 to the Minted. store AND two FRAMED art prints.
  Yup.  I am hooking you UP today!  First, though, I am going to show off the loveliness that is Minted.

I have wanted to work with Minted. for a long, loooooong time.  I love them.  I think they are classy and beautiful and far cooler than me.
I love just about everything on the site, and yes, choosing which prints and designs to order is the hardest part of ordering from Minted.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?


This year I knew I wanted to send Christmas cards (some years we just skip!) because we have our new little baby girl.  So I took our five minute photoshoot with the kids (see last year's  five minute Christmas card shoot HERE) and loaded the best photo into Minted.  I knew instantly that I wanted to go with the glittery ornaments, but the question was COLOR.  Red or gold?  I might have vacillated between the two for OH 25 minutes straight.  The decision?


Red.

These cute little cards look like glitter, but they are actually just a print the looks like glitter.  
Perfect for writing a little note on the back with some Metallic sharpie (I LOVE me some Metallic Sharpie!)

Your order comes packaged with these beautiful fabric ribbons for hanging...

Of course, I couldn't pass up the cute little stickers for the envelopes (find them in the Minted. party section), 
one with a Christmas theme from the Silver and Gold collection, the other in a cute floral.  Aren't they adorable?


You WILL want some type of closure for your envelope because the ornaments with the ribbon end up being quite thick and the extra 
security of a sticker holding the envelope closed is necessary.  (Otherwise Mr. Postman will end up with an ornament photo of you and yours.)


Another added bonus?

Minted. will address your envelopes for you.
You type in the addresses to their database and they show up looking all professional-like.



Once they arrive, they go straight to the Christmas tree -- fun, eh?


Of course, I am not only behind on Christmas cards, but of course the gift list is NOT quite finished yet.  
So shopping way I went on Minted. and I got LOST in the art print section of Minted.  Seriously, GO LOOK.
I was so impressed by the selection of original art prints from really cool Indie designers.
This one titled "Swift Fox" by Natalie Groves gets me every time.


...but it is rude to talk about things without offering some to YOU, so enter below for YOUR chance to win TWO art prints (FRAMED!) shipped straight to your front door, IN ADDITION to the $150 you can spend on cards to family and friends, more art prints or whatever your little heart desires over at Minted.



Make sure you ENTER before Christmas (even if your cards won't get there before the big day!)
Now let's get Minted. shall we?


Still wanting to try for Christmas delivery?  Here is the schedule from Minted.

This post was brought to you by A Nest for All Seasons and Minted.  All opinions, photographs and copy are by Amy Renea. 
Product was provided for the completion of this review and would not have been possible without the folks at Minted.  Thank you!  

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If you are going to buy Christmas presents via Amazon, PLEASE consider clicking through my Amazon links below (or throughout the site) to support A Nest for All Seasons financially. I make a small commission on any product you buy at Amazon and the price to you is the same. THANK YOU!




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19 December 2013

When Espresso Cake Explodes out of the Mug -- I Rejoice.

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So this go around with Envolve had me setting up shop in the kitchen, but NOT turning the oven on (saving energy you know!).  
So how did I get delicious cake without the oven?



It all started here...


Recipes for Chocolate Espresso Cake in a Mug...and tortilla soup...and more...



Dig a little further and BADABANG.
 


Let's get crackin'...


No really. 
I simply dumped the pre-measured dry ingredients into a mug...



Added my oil, milk and vanilla (there are precise measurements on the recipe, but by my third time 
around making these, I just used a "splash" of each and the recipe turned out each time!)

Mix it all up really well and your mix should fill only up to about the halfway point on your mug.


Now pre-heat the oven...

NO WAIT.

DO NOT pre-heat the oven.

Save all that energy and pop your single serving mug of chocolate goodness into the MICROWAVE.

Heat for 90 seconds (no more -- no less)!

...and do not be alarmed when the cake starts to go up and OUT of the mug! 
 It shrinks back down immediately once you open the microwave door 
(this was as fast as I could grab a pic as the cake was sinking...it was actually higher than this!)

Add ice cream and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....


Just a note:  The cake DOES sink back into the mug, but leaves little drips down the side.  
I totally didn't care, but you might, so perhaps use a larger mug than standard sized for this recipe!
In any case...mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....


To package your gifts in a jar, simply measure out the ingredients in plastic baggies (recipes on the bottom of post)
add cooking directions on a little tag and pretty them up with cellophane and ribbon!


Want the free printable recipes for 5 different gifts in a jar?

Have at it folks!








Now who do you know that wouldn't enjoy a hot cup of soup or fresh from the microwave cake?


Give the gift of yum yums and save your friends energy in the process -- WIN WIN!


Thanks PPL Electric Utilities!



This post is brought to you by the PPL Envolve Project. Products were supplied for this post and this content would not have been possible without them. All opinions, photographs and copy are my own.




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