Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Hello there, my friends! It's the last day of 2011 and what better way to celebrate such a great year than reviewing this year's accomplishments and things to improve on for next year?

It was so daunting to go beyond my comfort zone this year in terms of blogging but I'm so glad I did because:

1. the Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop came into fruition. This weekly blog party has been a great source of so many project inspirations for me and you, awesome readers of this blog.
2. I created Market Your Biz and Giveaways blog party to help spread the word about the fabulous businesses and giveaways of talented online entrepreneurs.
3. the Blogging for Dollars series helped me and countless others understand what it takes to earn money from blogging.
4. I learned Pinterest and StumbleUpon. These are great sites that really drive traffic to my blog.

On the flip side of the coin, there's much room for improvement in the following areas:
1. consistency in doing features to recognize the exceptional projects submitted in the Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop
2. carving out time to share my experiences in how to host a successful blog party to complete my 31-day series.

I'd like to revisit these projects to celebrate the accomplishments that my family and I achieved:

$18 Goodwill Dresser Turned Hallway Console


Boring girl's bedroom gets a makeover


My mother's $29.14 ruffled DIY headboard


Master bath reveal


For more projects, please check my projects tab.

Thank you, my friends, for a great year with you! Here's to a better year ahead of us. Cheers!



Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Create the Perfect Winter Front Porch Without Breaking the Bank - Guest Post

This year, an inviting winter porch doesn't have to be expensive. This idea was put to the test when our design experts at Balsam Hill were tasked with creating winter porches on a budget of less than $50 for the whole thing! And may we just say, the results are winter porches that will make any visitor want to come in and stay. Make your own winter porch an impressive one without breaking the bank with these tips:

Do: Use bold colors for statement pieces. In the winter, things can turn gray or white, and while we love the feel of a Winter Wonderland, we also love that it gives us an opportunity to use bolder colors than we can during other seasons. Try velvety burgundy, a candy apple red, or evergreens in your decor. Just one large item (like a blanket or a wreath) can make an impact in an otherwise dreary environment.

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Don't: Go overboard. Nothing says tacky like too much, and like the advice of Coco Chanel, take off the last accessory you put on before you go out. It's much better to go for one statement piece than be overwhelmed with a flurry of red or green.

Do: Try budget shopping for pieces and make it your own. Flea markets, online stores and auctions, your neighbor's garage sale. These places are the best to find vintage items that will look great in your winter porch. Velvet fabric that is otherwise too expensive in stores can be bought at a steal at other retailers to make into bows, or throws on a porch chair. Wreaths from last season can still be in style if you take out the elements that make it look dated (for example: sequins and the like terribly date an item). Old wooden photo frames can be finished with inexpensive gold paint and tied with a bow to add an unexpected holiday piece.

Don't: Buy items just because they're inexpensive. Use your eye to pick out the steals from the duds. Always consider, "Is this going to look great five years from now? Can I make small changes to make it look timeless?" Wreaths and garlands are always a nice choice for winter, that poster of your favorite artist's holiday album may not.

Do: Try metallic. Nothing makes an item more luxurious than a finish of metallic paint. Whether you use gold, copper or silver, items that look like they were touched by Midas can make it all the more special. Pinecones brushed with a touch of gold, and wreaths that sport a slight hint of silver on tips can really make your porch a lot more regal than just any other wreath.

Don't: Make everything shiny. Tone your porch down when using metallic hues by complementing them with deep blues, velvety crimsons or an elegant black. This denotes a classic feel and an understated grace that encompasses seasons.

Here are a few of things you can try for your winter porch that will make it look stylish at a budget:

  1. Wreaths and garlands. Investing in a beautiful garland and wreath can make a world of a difference in your winter porch. Buy a set that is as simple as possible and add your own decor year after year. Pre-lit items that shine with clear lights are also a nice option so you don't have to do the work yourself.

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  2. Small artificial Christmas trees. A fraction of the price of regular sized trees, small ones can become a centerpiece for the winter porch. Just add a few of your ornaments and a few boxes wrapped with gift wrap, and you have an outdoor Christmas scene that will draw people in.

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  3. Baskets. Inexpensive and easy to decorate, large baskets filled with your favorite winter items like pinecones, berries, artificial fruit like grapes, pomegranates and the like, will fill your porch with an atmosphere of abundance, and sprayed with a touch of gold, it'll also be quite regal!

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  4. Heavy fabric. Bought inexpensively at the Salvation Army, your 99 cent fabric store, and outlet stores, heavy fabric like velvet, plaid or flannel can serve as an instant decorative touch to your winter porch. Use a swaddle of red velvet and tie with a ribbon, with the effect of boxes wrapped in Christmas paper to mimic Santa's gift bag. Drape it over your porch swing to not only be beautiful but to help with the cold. Use it as a backdrop for a wreath lain over the porch as table decor. Fabric is a nice, easy way to make it more inviting, and no sewing need happen!
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Make your porch more alluring without spending a fortune on decor with these tips. Visitors and guests will find it hard to leave. Jessica Phan is a designer for Balsamhill.com a purveyor of high-end artificial Christmas Trees. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is perfect for her because she has a wide range of interests, including Art & Design, Fashion, Photography, Painting and Thrift Store Shopping.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Market Your Biz & Giveaways #29 + Vista Print Sponsor

Happy last-Tuesday-of-2011 to all of you, my friends! Come on in and link up your family-friendly online businesses and giveaways. It has been long said that businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. Not only that, businesses really fuel the economy. This blog party, solely dedicated to promoting businesses and giveaways, is my way of giving back to the community so welcome to Market Your Biz & Giveaways!

Gina (who, by the way, already guest posted in my Blogging for Dollars Series) from the Shabby Creek Cottage said it best, "You may not get a sale directly from that site every single day – but you are building brand recognition. Pepsi does not advertise so that you stop what you’re doing and go directly to buy a drink – but when you do need to quench your thirst and you are shopping for a drink, Pepsi is going to be recognizable to you. Bottom line, you need to build your brand!" This blog party helps you accomplish build your brand.

Business owners, we wanna see your products. Giveaways are good because they create a buzz about your business. Giveaway hosts, we wanna join! Readers, here's your chance to win fabulous freebies. So come on in and participate in this virtual marketplace.

Featured Biz

Vista Print is my latest sponsor and I'm so honored that they chose to advertise here. If you are on the lookout for free business cards, inexpensive post cards, or anything related to your business printing needs, Vista Print is the "go to" site.



New Year is around the corner and Vista Print can make you good, quality calendars such as these poster calendars


or these calendar magnets to give out to family and friends. These are really good advertising materials for your biz.


Here's the most surprising (well, at least for me) product that I discovered only now. You can add a personal touch to your checks and make a great first impression. Just check out



to see different check designs they have.


As of this time, they have their custom-printed calendars on sale at 50% off so it's really worth checking it out, my friends. For us who want to get the word out there about our blogs, their free business cards (pay only for shipping) is also worth our time to check into.

Our Party

NO RULES! Just link up your etsy and/or family-friendly business, browse other businesses before you and after you. It's a great way to network with other business owners. For the giveaways, same thing. Just link up your giveaways and join the other giveaways that catch your eye. If you have a creative post and you want to increase your followers, the appropriate blog party for that is called Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop.

Link opens every Tuesday, 5:00 pm, PST and ends Saturday, 11:59 pm.

Here's the party button. Displaying the party button on your blog, while optional, is very much appreciated! For one, it will help you to remember to come back here next week. Secondly, we want to spread the word about businesses and giveaways so many can join in. Mentioning it on Twitter and Facebook will also make you totally awesome :)




MYBG Inspiring Comments

"Thanks for hosting. Linkys for biz and giveaways are far and few; your linky has helped me reach to people saying that Adithis Amma Sews has launched Custom Made Kids Clothing and 2 Skirts are already on sale!"
Creative Mama

"Thank you so much for hosting. I've made a recent sale and believe it is from your blog party! Thanks again!"
Elisabeth Davis

"Thank you for hosting this every week. I have noticed that I do generate a lot of hits from your site and I really appreciate a place that I can find other etsy shops that I might not have seen otherwise. So thank you again."
Kate

"I cannot tell you how much I agree with everything Gina said!! So true to the word!
Also, a huge thank you to you for hosting. Ever since I started marketing my shop here I have had several sales and I believe that they came redirected from your blog! Thank you again and God bless!!"
Maya

"Thanks for hosting! Decent linky parties for giveaways and businesses don't seem to exist! So I appreciate this."
Kahli
Friends, network, buy if you must, join the giveaways, and have fun!

PS: I'm not a blog police but in the name of order and organization, you'll be my bloggy BFF if you link up in the appropriate links :D Please note that there are two links. Here's the link for your businesses. There's a second link below specifically for giveaways so how about linking up your giveaways in there? Besides, it's easier to find and join your giveaways if they're in the appropriate link. If you accidentally linked up in the wrong spot, don't fret. Just click the red x before your link to delete it, then link up in the correct spot.

Link Up Your Family-friendly Businesses Here




Link Up Your Giveaways Here
To bring maximum exposure for your giveaways, I'm collaborating with Brynn from MommyDigger so please feel free to link up your giveaways, too, in her party every Wednesday.





Sunday, December 25, 2011

Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop 12.25.11

MERRY CHRISTMAS, my beloved friends! My heart is so full right now because of my family and friends, and that include you, my friends in Blogland. Without you whom I made friends over this time, I don't know if I have lasted a year blogging. Your weekly participation in this blog party has inspired me to keep creating (in my turtle pace) and to keep posting topics that I find helpful to me and I hope useful to everyone else. THANK YOU for being here regularly.

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Blog Tip
Have you heard of QR Codes? One example is like the image below. Check out Tricia's tip on how to generate your own QR Codes and why it's useful.



Favorite Blog
You clicked, inlinkz tallied. The readers' favorite blog post this past week, being the most viewed post, is Domestic Imperfection's Ruffle Tree Forest post. So easy to do, my friends, so I pinned this on Pinterest for next year's holiday season.



Our Party
To the main course of this post.
For those of you joining us for the first time, we only have 2 easy, simple rules:

1) Link up your creative post - can be a DIY project, decor, photography, crafts, recipes, poem, thrift finds, link party, or that informative syndicated post that can make us laugh, or cry - in short, whatever you're proud of! And if you like to link more creative posts, go for it! We'd love to see them :) (No links to businesses or giveaways. We have another party for these exclusively every Tuesday called Market Your Biz & Giveaways at 5 pm, PST.)

2) Follow as many blogs as you desire, preferably starting first with the one who linked before you and after you, before branching out, and let them know by leaving a comment. (Following me will be very much appreciated, and I definitely follow back. Just let me know you're following.)

Displaying the party button on your blog, while optional, is very much appreciated :) It will help you remember to come back and link up to the the happiest blog party on the block (ahem!). It will also help others find their way to the party which we all love because the more the merrier :)

Link opens up every Sunday at 5:00 pm, PST and ends Friday at 11:59 pm.



Friends, go ahead and get to know each :) One followed blogger is one gained friend. And please, don't forget to join my Market Your Biz and Giveaways blog party every Tuesday at 5 pm, PST. It's your chance for free promotion of your family-friendly business and giveaways.

Now, let's party like no other!




Burning question: Do you prepare cookies and milk on Christmas Ever for Santa's visit?

Yep, so Santa will leave nice gifts to my girls (wink, wink). How about you?


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Taste Buds-Friendly Sauteed Asparagus

During this holiday season when so much sweets creep in our diet, having vegetables like asparagus for a change is much welcomed in my family. I know, not everybody likes asparagus, so I'm so thankful that my family loves this veggie and whenever we have this recipe, we end up with no leftovers at all.

To cook this simple dish is very easy. All that are needed are 1 lb of asparagus,

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cubed onions and mashed garlic,

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salt and soy sauce to taste,

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1/2 pound of ground meat, browned. Saute garlic until golden brown. Add onion and saute until crystallized in color.

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Add asparagus. Season with salt and soy sauce.

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Serve and enjoy!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Your Living Room – A Centerpiece for Your Home

Howdy, friends! Are you ready for Christmas yet? It's just 2 hectic days away, then all the crazy schedules will taper down a bit til New Year comes again. In my family, we take down the Christmas decors after the New Year, and that's the time our living room starts looking like normal again. Speaking of living room, we are all in for a great info today because Laurence from Wooden Furniture Store is sharing with us today some useful tips on creating a fabulous living room. Take it away, Laurence!

The living room is sometimes the place (other than the bedroom) that best reflects the personality of the homeowner and demonstrates their taste and knowledge of both interior design and style.

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It showcases the aesthetic choices that they make when putting together a home and how well they are able to use the available space. The function of living rooms differs slightly from home to home; some may use them for recreation, gatherings and entertainment areas, while others like to keep them as pristine formal meeting and guest areas. Some rooms may even be large enough to accommodate an attractive oak dining table, doubling the function and allowing the opportunity for more attractive pieces.

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A Room to Relax
For a typical homeowner, the living room is a place to relax, watch television and entertain guests. At a basic level, it usually consists of basic furniture such as coffee tables, television stands, coffee tables and bookcases/cabinets.

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This is the room where the most money is spent due to the combination of electronics and furniture that make it up. As it can be one of the largest rooms in the house and is intended to be the hub for guests and hosts, this results in a lot of opportunity to select a great variety of stylish and quality furniture that allows people to have their own style and deck out the room for what they want to use it for.

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Entertaining Your Guests
If you have a television in your living room, a quality wooden television cabinet is essential both in terms of aesthetic and functionality. As well as offering housing and support for media players and consoles, an elegant television stand can really bring a room together and perhaps even be the centerpiece depending on your plans for the room. Coffee tables are one of the unsung heroes of the living room; they help bridge the gap between seating and the television and offer a place to put drinks, books and ornaments. These can come in a wide variety of colours and styles to ensure that they fit into the overall aesthetic of the room.

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The Three Main Things to Think About
Whatever you intend to use your space for, there are three main areas to keep in mind; comfort, aesthetic and functionality. Of course it is important that you and your guests are comfortable in a room where being seated is a primary function, but it is also essential that the quality of the products is high so that they do not deteriorate or damage easily. Add these elements to a piece that is stylish and reflects your personality and you will have a special living space for you and your family.

Thank you, Laurence! This inspires us to take a fresh new look at our living room and incorporate these tips in revamping the centerpiece of our home.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Market Your Biz and Giveaways #28

Happy Business Tuesday to all of you, my friends! Come on in and link up your family-friendly online businesses and giveaways. It has been long said that businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. Not only that, businesses really fuel the economy. This blog party, solely dedicated to promoting businesses and giveaways, is my way of giving back to the community so welcome to Market Your Biz & Giveaways!

Gina (who, by the way, already guest posted in my Blogging for Dollars Series) from the Shabby Creek Cottage said it best, "You may not get a sale directly from that site every single day – but you are building brand recognition. Pepsi does not advertise so that you stop what you’re doing and go directly to buy a drink – but when you do need to quench your thirst and you are shopping for a drink, Pepsi is going to be recognizable to you. Bottom line, you need to build your brand!" This blog party helps you accomplish build your brand.

Business owners, we wanna see your products. Giveaways are good because they create a buzz about your business. Giveaway hosts, we wanna join! Readers, here's your chance to win fabulous freebies. So come on in and participate in this virtual marketplace.

Featured Biz

Catherine is the owner of Shadow Dog Designs, your place to purchase unique, handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry! She loves working with gemstones of all kinds and creating beautiful pieces of jewelry that will last a lifetime and, hopefully, be passed on to the next generation. The jewelry-making bug bit her hard about 12 years ago and she has been selling her designs since then. Finally, a Shadow Dog Designs ArtFire shop was opened October 1, 2010.

{In case you're like me wondering how she got this unique business name, it was named 11 years ago to honor their 3 (now 2) rescue dogs who "shadow" her everywhere and give her undying love, support and playfulness. Such a lovely tribute to man's best friends!}

Her Copper Ammonite Lime Swarovski Crystal Earrings Handmade Jewelry is one of her excellent products.


In keeping with the holiday season, she made this Santa Christmas Earrings made from Swarovski Crystal in Siam Red.


Here's my favorite of them all, the Swarovski Crystal Christmas Earrings made in Emerald Siam Green.


But that's not all, my friends. Check out these other lovely pieces of handmade jewelry and you'll surely be in jewelry heaven :)

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1. Sponge Coral Chunky Orange Red One of a Kind Handmade Necklace Ethnic
2. Heart Agate Pendant Chalcedony Gemstone Chunky Necklace Handmade
3. Beautiful Freshwater Pearl & Sterling Handmade Earrings
4. Lampwork Boro Beads Labradorite Hematine Bracelet Handmade

Our Party

NO RULES! Just link up your etsy and/or family-friendly business, browse other businesses before you and after you. It's a great way to network with other business owners. For the giveaways, same thing. Just link up your giveaways and join the other giveaways that catch your eye. If you have a creative post and you want to increase your followers, the appropriate blog party for that is called Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop.

Link opens every Tuesday, 5:00 pm, PST and ends Saturday, 11:59 pm.

Here's the party button. Displaying the party button on your blog, while optional, is very much appreciated! For one, it will help you to remember to come back here next week. Secondly, we want to spread the word about businesses and giveaways so many can join in. Mentioning it on Twitter and Facebook will also make you totally awesome :)




MYBG Inspiring Comments

"Thanks for hosting. Linkys for biz and giveaways are far and few; your linky has helped me reach to people saying that Adithis Amma Sews has launched Custom Made Kids Clothing and 2 Skirts are already on sale!"
Creative Mama

"Thank you so much for hosting. I've made a recent sale and believe it is from your blog party! Thanks again!"
Elisabeth Davis

"Thank you for hosting this every week. I have noticed that I do generate a lot of hits from your site and I really appreciate a place that I can find other etsy shops that I might not have seen otherwise. So thank you again."
Kate

"I cannot tell you how much I agree with everything Gina said!! So true to the word!
Also, a huge thank you to you for hosting. Ever since I started marketing my shop here I have had several sales and I believe that they came redirected from your blog! Thank you again and God bless!!"
Maya

"Thanks for hosting! Decent linky parties for giveaways and businesses don't seem to exist! So I appreciate this."
Kahli
Friends, network, buy if you must, join the giveaways, and have fun!

PS: I'm not a blog police but in the name of order and organization, you'll be my bloggy BFF if you link up in the appropriate links :D Please note that there are two links. Here's the link for your businesses. There's a second link below specifically for giveaways so how about linking up your giveaways in there? Besides, it's easier to find and join your giveaways if they're in the appropriate link. If you accidentally linked up in the wrong spot, don't fret. Just click the red x before your link to delete it, then link up in the correct spot.

Link Up Your Family-friendly Businesses Here





Link Up Your Giveaways Here
To bring maximum exposure for your giveaways, I'm collaborating with Brynn from MommyDigger so please feel free to link up your giveaways, too, in her party every Wednesday.





Sunday, December 18, 2011

Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop 12.18.11

My goodness! It's just a week before Christmas. Have you completed your shopping yet? I still have a few on my list that needed more visits at the mall. In some way or another, I'll definitely finish up on the 24th :)

For those of you who are keeping in tuned to my Blogging For Dollars Series, just like everybody else, it will also take a holiday break and will resume in 2012.

Blog Tip
Are you looking for online software trainings that really work? Available 24/7? I just found this cool site called lynda.com and I've learned so much from its free videos, particularly the ones related to Photoshop Elements. You might also learn a tip or two that you'll find useful in your blogging career.

Favorite Blog
You clicked, inlinkz tallied. The readers' favorite blog post this past week, being the most viewed post, is The Homeless Finch's Metallic Ornament Wreath. I enjoyed the tutorial but best of all, how these inexpensive materials, when combined together, can result to something that looks classy and expensive, just like this wreath.



Our Party
To the main course of this post.
For those of you joining us for the first time, we only have 2 easy, simple rules:

1) Link up your creative post - can be a DIY project, decor, photography, crafts, recipes, poem, thrift finds, link party, or that informative syndicated post that can make us laugh, or cry - in short, whatever you're proud of! And if you like to link more creative posts, go for it! We'd love to see them :) (No links to businesses or giveaways. We have another party for these exclusively every Tuesday called Market Your Biz & Giveaways at 5 pm, PST.)

2) Follow as many blogs as you desire, preferably starting first with the one who linked before you and after you, before branching out, and let them know by leaving a comment. (Following me will be very much appreciated, and I definitely follow back. Just let me know you're following.)

Displaying the party button on your blog, while optional, is very much appreciated :) It will help you remember to come back and link up to the the happiest blog party on the block (ahem!). It will also help others find their way to the party which we all love because the more the merrier :)

Link opens up every Sunday at 5:00 pm, PST and ends Friday at 11:59 pm.



Friends, go ahead and get to know each :) One followed blogger is one gained friend. And please, don't forget to join my Market Your Biz and Giveaways blog party every Tuesday at 5 pm, PST. It's your chance for free promotion of your family-friendly business and giveaways.





Burning question: Secret Santa - in or out?

It's so IN in my family and at work. Just a little fun thing to do to break the monotony of gift-giving. What about you?


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