Archive for the ‘sponsored’ Category

Sponsored: Beating Boredom with Learning on the Go

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This post is sponsored by Intel. Stay connected on the go this summer with Intel Tablets .

 

We had a grand time on vacation this summer. We started out with a quick trip to Vegas to see Chris’s grandma get remarried, then we headed to Los Angeles to play in the sun and introduce Penelope and Felix to the magic of Disneyland. And it. Was. MAGICAL. Chris and I both agreed that it was more fun to go as parents with young kids than it was to go as a kid. Seeing their faces light up with every little ride was priceless.

After the great food and fun times in the Los Angeles area, we headed east to see Chris’s family in Phoenix. Chris’s sister Shelley got back from an 18 month stint in the Chicago, Illinois area, so it was a happy reunion. Both Shelley and my youngest sister-in-law Brooke are in transition this summer.

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Brooke’s transition has been the hardest. She’s playing a waiting game until she finds out where she’ll be in the next few months. Not being able to plan for the future has her in a rut of sorts. And bored.

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So to beat the boredom, I busted out a calligraphy kit for her and we’ve spent some time working on calligraphy. It was wonderful to teach her and Shelley. They’re naturals and made fabulous company while I filled my practice sheets. Have I mentioned how awesome my in-law’s are? You should be jealous.

Learning artistic and domestic skills online has become quite popular recently. With the rise of online learning at istilllovecalligraphy.com, Atly, Craftsy, Skillshare and about a million others, there are so many things you can learn online. I’m more than a little biased towards the calligraphy class I offer at istilllovecalligraphy.com. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

I LOVE, LOVE to reach out to people all over and get them excited about the art of Calligraphy and coach them along the way. Best part? Students can take the class wherever they go since it’s tablet compatible ( Intel Tablets work especially well).

What do you do to beat summer boredom?

#spon: This post is sponsored by Intel. All thoughts and content are my own.

Maternity Style: My Mom-iform

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This post is sponsored by White Plum. Find all sorts of great fashion items for the every day woman at a fabulous price. Use discount code MELISSA20 for 20% off your entire purchase until 7/7/14. 

I’m officially 25 weeks along now (how is it flying by so quickly?), spending more and more time each morning scouring my wardrobe for comfortable items that will stretch with me throughout the day. I’m finding I reach for my stretchy dresses and leggings more than anything. I’m also finding that I’m running out of shirts that adequately cover my belly.

Funny how clothes that I thought would fit for my whole pregnancy are already becoming too tight/short.

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To remedy that situation, I sewed up Megan Nielsen’s ruched maternity shirt in a mint jersey. The mint color is a bit of a gamble for me since I’m prone to stain just about anything lighter than middle-grey. But it’s such a gorgeous color I couldn’t resist.

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It’s also such a neutral color that I can pair it with just about any of my pants (that still fit). This one-layer wonder is going to get a lot of wear this summer.

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As all of Megan’s patterns, this was a breeze to sew up and fit was spot on the first try. Adjustments made:

  • lengthened shirt hem by 1 1/2 inches
  • lengthened the sleeve hem by 1 1/2 inches
  • tapered the sleeve at the hem by 1 inch
  • raised the neckline by 1/2 inch

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I added a raw band to the neckline and sleeve hem, then steamed the bottom hem so the knit would roll nicely. I need to launder the shirt so the sleeve and collar roll a little more, but as the hem is now, it doesn’t bother me.

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Chris said he liked the ruching. I do too. I’ve tried to sew items that will work for both maternity and postpartum, but this may be the only exception. I don’t see how it will flatter post-pregnancy, because it’s ruched only in the front, but I’m more concerned about comfort at this moment. The leggings will definitely be great after baby arrives, though! I live in leggings these days.

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Outfit details:

What are your go-to summer items for comfort? Leggings? Tees? Skirts?

 

Partied Out: Secret Garden Party Details

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This post is sponsored by Tai Pan Trading, where you can find outrageously awesome decor and fashion for a fabulous price.

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First off, I want to give a huge shout out to Tai Pan for making our party possible. We couldn’t have made quite the visual impact without their generosity or fabulous decor.

Alt Summit put a call for party submissions several months ago (August? September?). I quickly emailed Erin (I’ve been wanting to collaborate with her for some time), and we put our minds to work. Alt went with Erin’s genius plan for a Secret Garden themed soiree.

Why the genius? Because it totally played into the styling and decor that already exists at the Grand America (our venue)!

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photo by rue rococo

We took on two more extraordinary creative partners, Alix and Brittany, and planned the heck out of it. I can’t begin to tell you how much hard work went into every little detail. Nevermind. I guess I can because you’re here, reading this.

Our hurdles:

  • $1000 decor/photography budget
  • a refrigerator box and a dishwasher box and a bundle of 10′ pipes that needed to be transported 700+ miles
  • arranging seating in a 500 sq. ft. room, half filled with a meat carving station
  • hanging things without touching the walls
  • finding time in our busy schedules to make everything happen

 

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photo by Justin Hackworth

Knowing that the florals were taken care of (minus shipping them 700+ miles), it allowed us to focus on the decor. Unfortunately, if we wanted any kind of big statement (and we did) $1000 wouldn’t get us a whole lot.

Tai Pan let us borrow the most magnificent over-sized urns, topiaries, ceramic gnomes, 4′ lions and more! Every little piece was the right kind of whimsical detail to make the party great.

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by Brooke Dennis

We used two 5′ planters on either side of the interior of the door to hold the 8-10 tall florals. With our team and the help of serious floral foam, we got them to create a cozy archway that made such a fabulous impact on entry of the room. Sort of an Alice-in-Wonderland moment.

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photo by Justin Hackworth

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photo by Erin Mercado

I didn’t get nearly as many photos as I would have liked, but here’s a little snippit of some of the signage I made and the hankie wall. We pinned the hankies onto several moss plaques. It made a fun statement, but when the hankies were gone it still looked nice.

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photo by Erin Mercado

Flanking either side of the exterior doors were lions. They were at least 3 feet tall. Alix made giant floral crowns for them. I loved the juxtaposition of those two elements.

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photo by rue rococo

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Shhh!! It’s a secret! It was so wonderful to work with such talented ladies. From left: Erin, Brittany, Alix, Me

Alix made the photo backdrop from shredding lace and dyed thrift store bed sheets. Inspired by this pin (anyone know the original resource?), but a TON fuller. It made a fabulous impact in the room.

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photo by rue rococo

We kept the tables pretty simple with moss runners, river rocks, ceramic gnomes and inspirational quotes. Trying to find quotes that would fit the Secret garden theme was TOUGH! I watched the movie with Penelope about a month or so ago. I forgot how sad it was. Penelope even started crying! She was so sad to see the little girl’s mom ignoring her. It might have hit a little too close to home for Penelope (Chris has been picking up a lot of slack lately with all this Alt craziness).

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by rue rococo

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View all photobooth pics here.

Planning a party of this scale couldn’t have been done without such great support of these fabulous ladies (and a husband or two). Working with these inspiring women was so much fun (a little too much fun at times, even).

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Another special thanks to all of the people and brands that helped make our vision happen: Tai Pan Trading for decor and jewelry, Lizy Bowden for florals, Spoonflower for the hankies and Tiffany for the C-stands for the backdrops.

Now I’m ready for a nap.

Sponsored: Have I Done Any Good?

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Inspired by this month’s give-back theme for the Fiesta Movement, what do you plan on giving this year? I love this idea of paying it backward! I’ve been a lucky recipient of in years past (way before blogs were ever a thing). It’s great how such a small gesture can brighten someone’s day.

 

 

Growing up we did sub-for-santa almost every year. There were some years when we gave to strangers and others to families in our immediate neighborhood. I have such fond memories of door bell ditching presents. I remember the panic I felt when my brother’s pants got caught on a chain link fence. Not panic for my brother’s behalf (or behind), but panic that the unsuspecting family may find out our plans. Good times.

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The most memorable was my first Christmas at college for one of the girls in our complex:

For nearly two years, Hanni’s only contact with her Germany-based family had been email and Instant Messenger. Two guys in our building knew how much she missed her family and saw the most beautiful opportunity. For about a week they canvased the complex for any donations, each of us giving as much as we could.

I remember sitting in my apartment, hearing audible shrieks and sobs coming from the hallway the night those guys ditched the plane ticket on her front door step. I can’t express the joy that filled my heart, knowing that she would be able to have her family near during Christmas break.

After the break she told us about her surprise trip. She didn’t inform her parents about her upcoming arrival. It was Hanni’s sister who picked her up from the airport, wrapped her in a large box and delivered her to her parents on Christmas Eve. For a while, Hanni’s parents insisted they wait until Christmas Day to open the large gift. It didn’t wait.

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I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall at the moment Hanni’s parents realized their whole family would be together at Christmas. For a moment, our complex wasn’t about selfish desires and school finals. Through serving, we were in sync with the real Christmas spirit.

Perhaps one of the most important ways I can “give back” this year is to teach my children that Christmas is not about gifts. It’s about something more. For our family it’s about remembering Christ and about being just a little more patient, kind, loving and giving. All things I’ve been terrible at lately. Holidays stress me out. It’s my goal this week to get out of our house and do something kind for someone else.

What are your favorite ways to give back during the Christmas season? 

This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my participation. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

Sponsored: 2013 Christmas Candy Box Freebie

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Inspired by this month’s give-back theme for the Fiesta Movement, what do you plan on giving this year? I love this idea of paying it backward! I’ve been a lucky recipient of in years past (way before blogs were ever a thing). It’s great how such a small gesture can brighten someone’s day.
 
Ford Fiesta is teaming up with What’s Trending for a Tube-A-Thon benefit for Covenant house. Click here to participate and find out more.

 

It’s that time of year when my family comes in town and we make caramels! My mom will be in town in about a week so I thought I would get the ball rolling a little earlier on this year’s candy/gift box. Introducing the 7th Annual Christmas Candy Box!

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Last year we were in such a rush I ended up doorbell ditching most of my candy boxes on our way out of town. This year I look forward to getting these babies done in plenty of time to spare. And this year’s design is so easy, I’ll have a load of these boxes made up in no time.

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Each year, I’m limited to the constrains of the print margins of an 8×10 piece of paper. It’s really not much room when it comes to making boxes. I’ve found that pillow boxes are great, but they can be a pain in the rear to score and fold.

Regular boxes can be easier, but there are too many sides to cut and glue. However, a three-sided box is just the trick! I can make it nice and roomy, it’s easy to cut and fold, and the triangles are fun. I was able to cut the whole template with regular scissors and fold with just a bone folder (a credit card would do just fine).

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The box is 5.75 x 2.5 x 2.5. It’s the right size for a small assortment of candies, jewelry, baby clothes (a onesie would fit perfectly in here) and gift cards. I designed the box very much like this year’s thank you printable. They match! Looking for more shapes and designs? Check out previous years:

2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012

I’ve got two versions of the little gift box, one with a label and one without. Download the free* printable below.

 

 This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my participation. The opinions expressed are my own.

 

*This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!
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