12 years of trying to make him like broccoli

today marks 12 years since i married the man i couldn't imagine not having in my life.  it's hard to believe that we've been married for so long seeing as how we're still young (well, i am, but chris has moved beyond that stage of life), but the time has gone by in little more than the blink of an eye.  rather than getting sweet and romantic and gross, because that's just not me, i figured i'd tell you what we've been up to these last 12 years...

year 1: we had to get used to not having an entire bed to ourselves.
year 2: we made our first big (and unnecessary) purchase - a camper!
year 3: i realized that juggling college, work, and wifehood was proving tricky.
year 4: chris was no longer shy about tooting in front of me, and i wasn't happy about it.
year 5: we welcomed the most beautiful baby into our lives - our crazy flojo!
year 6: my little brother moved in with us which was quite an adjustment.
year 7: we bought our house and realized just how much work renovating was.
year 8: our beautiful nephew nevan was born.
year 9: chris finally learns that i fart, too.
year 10: we lose one of our very best friends and wonder how life can ever be happy again.
year 11: we adopt kona, who is just as OCD as me, so it seemed like fate stepped in and gave us a puppy.
year 12: i'm still trying to get chris to enjoy broccoli as much as i do...

let's plan a date!

i wanted to share a pretty exciting upcoming event with my fellow southerners, and i hope you can plan to be there!  so you may be wondering what's so exciting about a blogger meet-up with a group of people who say y'all and drink iced tea like it spews from the fountain of youth, and i'll tell you: these two people right here...

i kid, i kid, beca and i aren't the attraction, but we will be there and i know i speak for both of us when i say that we hope to see and meet a lot of other lifestyle, fashion, food, diy, etc. bloggers in the south (or from anywhere, really, if you want to join)!  it's always fun to meet other people who have created some sort of internet presence through blogging, whether it's to swap ideas, pick brains, or just get to know one another.  beca has done an amazing job of planning what i know will be a fun event - from food to drinks to gift bags.  if you're in one of the southern states, or will be in the area, you can reserve your spot here.  i really hope to see you there!

what i've been working on...

lately i've had idea after idea after idea as far as making prints goes, and i love it.  i think i've been feeling inspired lately because of something that may or may not be happening in november (i know that's vague, but i don't want to jinx myself and get too excited about it if it ends up not working out), so i've been spending a lot of time in the garage making prints for my shop.

first, the top picture is kind of small, so in case you can't tell, it's a zodiac/horoscope calendar.  second, the people in the third picture look like they have cornrows.  i didn't intend to gie them cornrows as i was drawing, but the end result came out like that, and i'm not sure if i like it or hate it.  what do you think?  third, the prints look great in person, but i can't for the life of me take a decent picture.  and speaking of prints and the like, i was so excited to see that dianne shared her girl + parrot prints on her blog!  i always get excited to see things i made in their new homes.

i've also been working on a few things around my house.  i bleached and cleaned this deer skull the other week, but because i can't just leave things alone, i put these air plants in the eye sockets for a little color, but i'm still not sure what i think about them...

so that's what i've been up to, what have you been working on lately?  also, i've got a super awesome giveaway coming up, so be sure to check back so you can enter!

i feel like such a celebrity

i'm SO excited to finally be able to share this secret with you guys - i've been working with two of my favorite people (beca and doug) on one amazing pair of sunglasses to be sold in limited quantities.  and how exciting is it that they're named after me?!  amazing, right?!  i feel famous.  they're currently on sale on fab, and i'd be lying if i said i hadn't checked two ten or more times to see if they'd sold out.

the danielle sunglasses are handcrafted with walnut and maple in the clubmaster style, and i think my favorite part is the two-tone arms.  as always, it was so much fun working with tumbleweeds (because it's no secret i'm beca's number one internet stalker, i mean fan), and being able to see the finished product as well as the other blogger-designed styles!

now i know what you're probably thinking; 1. wow, those danielle sunglasses are fantastic.  you'd be right, they ARE fantastic.  2. these pictures look a lot better than what i'm used to seeing on danielle's blog.  you'd be right again, and i can thank mr. douglas switalski the first, photography master inc., tm, etc. for making me look like a model!  i felt like i was drunk on giggle juice though because i hate being in front of the camera, but that doug is one talented guy to take pictures that don't make me look nearly as awkward as i felt!

the best four days

i feel that as far as my emotions go, it's either all or nothing.  so, at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, i have to tell you that i'm in such a funk after having the best four days; i don't want to work or even think about it - i only want to look at pictures.  chris and i headed to washington, d.c. on saturday (after a stressful morning that i'll tell you about later) to hang out with beca, doug, danielle, andrew, sarah, and josh, and came home on sunday evening after eating the best food, and seeing the sights...

beca and doug followed us from d.c. to our house to stay with us until tuesday afternoon, and it's so weird without them here.  and kind of lonely.  we thrifted, ate, watched dexter, ate, baked cinnamon rolls (actually beca baked them and i stood in the kitchen and talked), rode through the woods on the trails, and ate.  surprisingly, flojo didn't even want to attack them, and kona's been asking when they're coming back.

chris and i both just enjoyed the last few days so much because these are awesome friends that know how to have fun and don't expect us to wear filters or put on airs, and that's so refreshing.  we found great treasures thrifting (and chris posed that plastic rabbit and put it with beca & doug's box of finds), and we can't wait to do it again (and hopefully danielle and andrew can come, too)!  it seemed like the countdown to the day we left for d.c. was never-ending, but those four days went by so quickly.  i just can't convey how much we enjoyed it, and i wish we could make a monthly thing of it!  you can see more (and much more attractive) pictures on beca's flickr page.

i'ma get, get, get, get you drunk

so i made this stew the other night that was too good not to share.  luckily it's made with a lot of things you probably already have, which means it's not one of those super expensive recipes with ingredients you don't keep on hand, much less have ever heard of!  but i have to confess something to you: i've actually never cooked with beer, so this was a first.  because it calls for about a bottle of guinness, i did wonder if i'd end up table dancing during dinner seeing as how it takes little more than a sip for my frank the tank to come out.  but, good news, it didn't impair my judgement or my inhibitions!

what you'll need:
- 6 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 pieces bacon, chopped
- 1 2/3 cups Guinness beer
- 1 pound whole baby carrots
- 1 8 ounce package cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed

what you need to do:
- combine 6 tablespoons flour with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. dredge chicken thighs in the mixture to coat completely; transfer to a plate.
- heat 4 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. add the chicken and cook until well browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side; transfer to your crock pot. arrange the chicken in an even layer in the slow cooker.
- add bacon to the pan and cook. sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour over the bacon and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more.
- add beer and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  pour the mixture over the chicken.
- add carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme, spreading in an even layer over the chicken. pour broth over the top.
- cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, 4 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low.
- stir in peas, cover and cook until the peas are heated through, 5 to 10 minutes more. season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

it's a different flavor than the typical stew, as the beer almost gives a slight sweet flavor, but man is it good!  let me know if you try it out and what you think of it!  and have a great weekend!

makes my heart go pitter pattern

so i think i've come to some sort of realization.  as much as i've tried to make myself think otherwise, i believe i like patterns more than solids.  i've always felt like i'd prefer solids, and i used to tell myself that it was just more difficult to find solid colors, but i'm finally taking the first step and admitting that when given the choice, i go for patterns (and especially patterned shoes).  whew, i can't believe i just said that.

blouse: TJ Maxx // skirt: target // belt: vintage, thrifted // shoes: chelsea crew via modcloth

the weather is beautiful, and while summer clothes still suit the temperatures, they don't suit my mood.  but, i can't exactly put on cozy cardigans and boots without the guarantee of smelling like an armpit.  so that's why i loved this outfit; sleeves and closed toed shoes, but still lightweight and comfortable and no offensive armpit odors.  win!

what i'd like to be wearing

no, it's not mint green skinny jeans, zara heels, sheer blouses or arm parties; what i'd like to be wearing are these awesome vintage finds and handmade pieces!  it's probably a little nuts that i spent the morning browsing the internet for all of the things i'd like to have after i spent the weekend going through closets and drawers getting rid of all the things i don't need!  i may have a problem...

from the top: vintage dress, booties, sunglasses, purse, blouse, ring, panties, dress

aside from cleaning out clothes and shoes i don't need, i also cleaned the rest of my house (yay) and ate ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, and ice cream.  oh, and watched movies.  it was a pretty low key weekend, but that's how i like it!  how was your weekend?

a woman's right to shoes

so yesterday's post was serious, and today's post is, uh, ridiculous.  maybe.  i hope you're a fan of sex and the city so you can understand the silver shoe thing!  when i watched the episode "a woman's right to shoes," where carrie's beautiful new silver jeweled manolo blahnik peep toes were stolen from the party, i fell in love with those shoes, and although i didn't know when - if ever - i'd have the need for silver jeweled peep toes, i knew i wanted some.  so fast forward a few years until now, and guess what, i actually do need silver heels!

this is the ultimate in frivolity, so bear with me.  i haven't forgotten about those heels all these years later, but like i said, i didn't need a pair as i'm sure they wouldn't be worn much.  on saturday i met my sister, my stepmom, and one other bridesmaid for a dress fitting for my sister's wedding next june (p.s. i'm going to be a bridesmaid).  when i asked her what type of shoes we were to wear and she said, "it doesn't matter what style they are as long as they're silver," i think my heart skipped a beat.  that meant i now had a legitimate, bonafide reason to own shoes like carrie's!

so here's the thing: i can be incredibly impulsive when i decide i want something.  my sister's wedding isn't until next june, so i truly don't need these now.  BUT, i have a difficult, if not impossible time finding shoes in my size (5), and i found a pair that's not only my size, but it's a steal of a price, AND they are so similar to carrie's manolos that i bet i could trick someone into thinking they are real (but obviously joking is no friend of mine.  obviously.)!  but there is only 1 left in my size.  so what do i do?  buy them now and covet them forever or let them go and wait until closer to the wedding date to start shopping for their twin?  HELP!

a little bit of truth

i'm sure you probably know by now that i prefer silliness to seriousness, but sometimes i have to put on my big girl pants and save the laughter for later.

i don't look at my blog as my personal space to air dirty laundry, but i do feel that i have a voice here, albeit small, and there are some things that just need to be shared - like a public service announcement, if you will.  last week my sale and business with a one-word name flash sale site was officially over, and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth - like lemon rind marinated in trickery.  to receive payment for sales, i had to confirm the payment amount, only the amount i had was significantly higher than the amount that site had calculated.

the buyers from the site explain to (potential) sellers that items are sold on their site for 4 days at a discounted rate (set by the seller), and then the site takes 20% of the retail price.  the seller submits retail prices, discount percentages, and sale prices, and then verifies that the site has received the correct information.  sounds simple enough, right?  i thought so, too.  i began to worry about potential problems as soon as the sale went live; my balancing print for example has a retail price of $21, and should have been put on sale for $17.22, only i noticed that the retail price was set at $32 and the sale, or "discounted" price, was set at $27.99.  clearly that's not a sale at all seeing as how it's $6.99 higher than the retail price in my shop.  so i contacted the buyer i'd been working with, but received no response.  not having any control over the site, i just accepted that a mistake had been made, and hoped that the prices on the next set of prints going on sale would reflect those i'd submitted.  much to my dismay, the retail and "sale" prices were incorrect; instead of the retail and sale prices i'd submitted, $16 and $13.60, respectively, the retail price was listed as $26.99 with the "discounted" price was $18.99.

when it came time for them to send payment for the orders i'd received, i wanted to be sure that i was paid my percentage for the items' selling price.  after multiple emails to the site, and multiple vague responses, i was finally told, in a roundabout way, that they will raise prices as they see fit (sellers' prices be damned), and that's why they require sellers to submit and verify their prices BEFORE the sale starts.  this means that in addition to them taking 20% of a seller's retail price (which is understandable and explained beforehand), they will also raise the prices and pocket the difference all without telling the seller.  this, my friends, was absolutely NOT mentioned in the information provided to me, and it most likely wouldn't have been mentioned had i not demanded to know where the extra money was going after they'd raised the prices on every item in the sale.  those thieves pocketed over $100 of extra, free money from my prints, meaning they came out making MORE per print than i did.

i already know how difficult it can be to make a living in the handmade marketplace, thanks to the wal-mart mentality of not wanting to pay an item's true worth, but to think that a supposed "legitimate" site is taking advantage of so many artists and designers by basically stealing from them through underhanded business tactics and not divulging important information makes me livid.  my sale is over, my lesson is learned, but my point with this post is to hopefully let other handmade shop owners know the actual details of doing a sale with that site: it's thievery.

had i been informed of the site's practices in the beginning i would have simply said no thank you and forgotten about it, but not being told until after the fact, and in a roundabout way even then, makes me feel taken advantage of.  i feel that by not being open and up front, that site is running an unethical business, and i don't want for any of the talented artists i know to be exploited.

because many of my readers are handmade business owners, i felt the least i could do was post this as a warning and review of my experience.  while you are the only person who can know what's best for your business, i do urge you to do the math and to really think long and hard before doing a sale with them; decide whether or not you can afford to have anyone - not just this site - potentially profit more from your work than you.  handmade is special, it's unique, and a little piece of you goes into every item you make; don't let yourself of your items be undervalued.  the end.

a little bit hippie

a little forewarning: for some reason i couldn't manage to take a single normal picture!  sometimes i just really, really don't want to be serious.  i won this dress on ebay a while back, and after seeing the pictures, i think i am going to go ahead and shorten it a few inches, but aside from the length, this dress encompasses all of my favorite things in a dress: it's from the 70's, it's off-white, it has crochet detail.  so basically what i'm saying is - put me in a VW bus on my way to san francisco and i'll be a happy girl.

 dress: vintage, ebay // bag: vintage, purchased at an SPCA yard sale (because i love helping animals!) // sandals: kork-ease via ebay // jewelry: vintage, from grandma's jewelry box

and as if my vintage outfit wasn't making me feel 70's enough, i had the three best songs ever recorded in the history of music on repeat - this one, this one, and this one.  well, i actually have them on repeat pretty much every day, but it just added to the theme of the day.

so how was your weekend?  and are you doing anything for labor day?  i am - cleaning out the bathroom closet.  fun, fun!