May 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Tonight Brandon and I are headed to my ten year high school reunion. Ten years! I was definitely one of the ones that left town after graduation and kind of never looked back. I went to school with roughly the same 100 kids since the age of five, so yeah, come age 18, I was itching for a change. And while I enjoyed high school, I wouldn’t say I loved it. It wasn’t my time, you know? College and beyond- totally my time. But in high school I was still pretty timid, at times bordering on shy. Yep this girl here, with a full on blog for the entire world to see! While I go home often to see my family, I’ve always kind of shied away from the “town” crowd. That said, I made a lot of good friendships (though I’ve only kept up two or three…eek), and am really looking forward to seeing some faces I haven’t seen in literally ages.
Needless to say, I’m planning on a cocktail or two to help take the edge off and these Lemony Gin + Ginger coolers totally fit the bill. This is a not to miss CC bevy. It’s light, irresistibly fizzy, and packs a great lemony zing. And don’t they dress up nicely in these Ball Heritage Collection Blue Pint Jars? I’m so excited to use them all summer long. Reunion or not, you need to make this cocktail. On that note though, high school, did you love it? Was it “your time”? I’d so love to know. Get back to me and happy weekending! xx
Lemony Gin + Ginger Coolers
Makes 2 drinks
- 1 1/2 cups club soda
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 oz (or more) gin
- sliced lemons for garnish
Make the Ginger Syrup (recipe from Martha Stewart)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 piece (about 10 inches long and 4 ounces; or use several small pieces) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very thin rounds
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add ginger; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and let steep 30 minutes. Pour syrup through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard ginger. Cool completely.
May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
Morning friends! A few weeks back I hopped a plane to Texas and spent a brief 24 hours in Dallas to partner with Real Simple Offers on a fun project. I was headed there to get my closet organizing skills on.
Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed to the sweet home of Anna Stratton, armed with a boatload of closet organizing supplies. After a quick meet and greet, Anna was whisked away by a J.Jill styling team to get an entirely new wardrobe. I know, kind of the best gift ever, right? Meanwhile, myself and the Real Simple team got to work overhauling Anna’s closet. Oooh was I in my happy place!
Here’s our before picture. We were kind of in a state of organized chaos- everything had its home (sort of), but it was all very visible. It was missing that polished look.
I seriously had waaay too much fun. I started by re-working all the items from the top shelf, then moved on to switching everything over to Real Simple’s Slimline Hangers in black (love these), and then dealt with all the accessories, shoes, and miscellaneous clothing stored around the closet.
Uniform hangers and organizing items by color does wonders for any closet. I’m also a huge fan of pant and skirt hangers that hold multiple pairs, minimizing the amount of space these items take up and creating a much cleaner look. Also, see those shoes lining the top? Anna had all the shoes stored underneath her clothes. While there was a shelf there, it didn’t provide enough room and she couldn’t really see what pairs she had to work with. We moved the in season spring/summer shoes up to the shelf above her clothing, which freed up space underneath so she could sufficiently store all her winter shoes below. Now it kind of feels like she gets to go “shopping” in her own closet!
I’m a huge fan of closet organizers in all forms to help organize accessories and store folded pieces of clothing. Throw in a spot for a label, and well, it doesn’t get much better than that! I’m particularly fond of this shoe organizer because you can store multiple pairs of shoes in each cubby up top, and boots below. Full on boots!
We wrapped things up with a few more gifts for Anna. This was just moments before the big reveal. Thankfully, she was ecstatic with the results! Head on over to the Real Simple Offers page to see more pics, additional organizing tips, and more!
May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’m a huge fan of Nicole Franzen’s photography, and her recent collaboration with Kinfolk and Amy Merrick is too good not to share. The theme was a flower potluck, where each guest contributed their favorite blooms. They were subsequently turned into bouquets for the table, and even ivy crowns, which guests wore in their hair. Brilliant, right? I love how untamed the arrangements turned out — and the whole setting looks magical.
This reminded me how amazing potlucks can be, although I think they’re too often forgotten in favor of more formal dinner parties. I would recommend picking your favorite course to cook – that’s dessert for me – and then asking your guests to bring the remaining courses. Putting out a quick appetizer will ensure that no one arrives to an empty table. It’s effortless entertaining at its best.
May 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
Happy long weekend! How will you be spending your well-earned time off? Shopping? Barbecuing? Wishing it were a tiny bit warmer…?
I’ll be doing some of each, but no matter what, we all need to eat at some point. I’ve dove into the CC archives, and pulled a few favorite recipes that would be right at home on any Memorial Day table. Hamburgers (or veggie burgers!) are a bit of a given, but the appetizers, sides, and desserts are what will make your party really stand out. And don’t forget my favorite — the pickles!
Bright Citrus Salad
Spicy Feta and Red Pepper Dip
Sweet and Salty Brownies
Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Buttermilk Ranch Green Salad
Coffee Coconut Milk Ice Cream & Hot Fudge Sundaes
Lentil and Roasted Tomato Salad
May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
Happy Friday, friends! I’m mixing up today’s Life Lately post a bit as Sunday marks a big date on the calendar. Brandon and I will be ringing in six whole years! Six years?!? Where does the time go? This whole 20s period- yeah, too fast, people. TOO FAST.
The calendar aside, I thought I’d take a moment today to share some of my biggest lessons learned over the past six years, when it comes to being in a relationship. The two of us have come to make quite a team, and I really have to remind myself daily of how lucky I am! Of course, I also tell Brandon all the time how lucky he is to have me, naturally. That said, relationships don’t come without their ups and downs, and we’ve definitely had our fair share. The good news is that the longer we’re together, the easier it becomes to recognize those moments as opportunities that ultimately bring us closer together. So…. here goes!
Maintain Perspective A good friend of mine once said, “Don’t end a relationship over a sink of dirty dishes.” In other words, learn not to sweat the small stuff. Ok yes, dirty dishes should be a shared duty, but you get where I’m going with this. It’s so important to maintain perspective when it comes to the big picture of your relationship and learn to let go of the little things that don’t really matter in the long run. I’m a total work in progress here!
Truly Accept Each Other Like truly. I’ve found it’s really easy to gloss over this one. It’s so easy to be like yeah yeah we accept each other! And then constantly nitpick over the little things. The aha moment for me was realizing there are always going to be these little things for both of us. We’ve gotten really good at making fun of each other for our silly (aka annoying) habits and just moving on!
Maintain Your Independence Last year due to a combo of work and vacation travel, Brandon and I were apart for a whole month. I remember telling people this and getting the response, “How will you survive?!?!” I was so perplexed! Sure we’d miss each other, but I’m a firm believer that it’s a good thing to miss each other now and then in a relationship. And to maintain your independence. Along with doing things together, I think it’s also important for the health of a relationship to go out with friends from time to time on your own, engage in separate activities, and so forth.
Laugh. As much as you can. Admittedly a little corny, but truly, the more you can laugh, the easier it will be to weather the occasional storm. How’s that for a relationship metaphor.
And lastly, get yourself some good sounding boards! My go tos are my mom and a handful of friends in their mid 30s (<– those people are gold).
Any big relationship tips you guys have? I’d love to hear! Also, check back in tomorrow for a roundup of CC Memorial Day recipes to get you all prepped for the holiday weekend. Hope yours is a good one! xx
May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Illustration by Ann Shen for Channeling Contessa
I am beyond excited to announce a new CC project that’s been in the works for quite some time. As you guys may or may not know, along with executing events, the majority of my freelance work consists of helping companies and organizations develop their social and digital media strategies. That’s a fancy way of saying I teach them how to tweet, run a successful blog, brand their online personality, implement digital marketing campaigns, and so forth. Since I began doing this work, I always had it in the back of my mind that one day, I wanted to support individual bloggers, freelancers, and small business owners in the same way.
A few months back I got really serious about the idea. At the tail end of some business travel I finally put pen to paper and began jotting down ideas. How did I want to help individuals? What would the services look like? I knew when the words literally did not stop flowing, it was time to bite the bullet, swallow my fears and put a plan into place. Today I’m thrilled to see that plan come to fruition and launch CC Summer Office Hours! Here are the details:
What are CC Summer Office Hours? They’re one-on-one consulting sessions with yours truly, focused on helping you build a better blog and stronger online presence, as well as develop and refine your social and digital media strategies. The sessions are broken down into three distinct service areas:
Blogging for Business: Many people often think CC is my full time job, but it’s really only a small portion. Why devote so much time to something that isn’t paying all my bills? Aside from a deep seated love for blogging, CC continually serves as the biggest source of client work for my consulting business. This is my marketing platform. I firmly believe that a well executed blog can serve as a tool unlike any other to generate new business, increase sales, and grow revenue for any industry. This session is devoted to helping freelancers and small business owners (in a service or product based business) build or finesse a blog that acts to fully leverage your products and services, without making it something that eats up all your free time.
Build a Better Blog For You: All too often I see bloggers trying to mimic content that’s already out there, rather than build out their own individual online space. Blogging is only successful (and fun!), if you stay true to yourself. This session is meant for all bloggers (total newbies to seasoned veterans), who are looking to jumpstart their online space and assistance in developing original content that’s truly reflective of their personal brand. We’ll work through developing your “blog brand,” creating content that sets you apart, mapping out a manageable editorial calendar, and tweaking your social media strategy so it all works to your advantage. This session is highly customizable, and meant for both business owners and general bloggers alike who are looking to either start a blog the right way, or give their current one a makeover.
Student to Blogger: My only regret when it comes to blogging is that I wish I had started sooner, as in during college! Because of that, when dreaming up these sessions, I knew I wanted to devote one session to current undergrads. A well curated blog can take you farther than you ever imagined when it comes to building your career. This session is dedicated to college students looking to start and run a blog during their undergraduate years that can work to their advantage when it comes to applying for jobs and entering the work force, or planting the seed for their future business ventures. Please note, if you’re a student and currently have a blog- this session applies to you as well.
How do the sessions work? After scheduling your session, I’ll send you a detailed questionnaire via email so I can learn more about your business, current blog, or long terms goals (depending on your situation). Once you’ve completed the questionnaire we’ll schedule a 75 minute call and get to work!
What do I get?
- One 75-minute one-on-one phone consultation (international clients will use Skype)
- A detailed outline of notes from our call, including a customized set of action items to put your plan for creating a successful blog into place
How do I set up a session? Send me an email at email@example.com with a summary of your needs, reasons for setting up a session, and the session you’d like to purchase. If you’re not sure which session is best for you- that’s fine! Once you’ve sent along your background I can help you determine which one is most appropriate based upon your needs.
I’ll be offering sessions from Monday, June 3rd through Friday, August 30th. Since I’ll be balancing things with my regular clients, I’ll be offering a limited number of sessions each month, so sign up sooner rather than later to reserve your spot! To schedule a session, get the lowdown on costs, and access a laundry list of FAQs around these consultations, head over to the CC Summer Office Hours page.
It goes without saying none of the above would be possible without all of you. The sweet devoted people who come back day after to day to say hello and see what we’ve been writing about- you make all the difference! So if I haven’t said thank you enough- thank you thank you thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
Now let’s get this summer started- shall we?
May 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
Have you been introduced to Jeanine, of Love an Lemons? It’s hard to miss her signature food photography on Pinterest (with that white marble backdrop!), and her blog is admittedly the first place I turn when I’m looking for something healthy and delicious. Although we’ve been followers of Love and Lemons for a while, we wanted to know a bit more about Jeanine’s day to day life, and what goes into the blog we know and love.
Where did you grow up, and where did life lead you once you left? I grew up outside of Chicago and moved to Austin after college. Had to get away from those winters! I love to travel all over, but I’m happy to call Austin home.
What jobs have you held in the past, and what’s your current day job? I’ve been a graphic designer for number of years, working at various studios before going out on my own. Currently, my day job is made up of design projects, recipe development, food styling & an assortment of content development work.
How did you first get into cooking? Any formal training? My mom always cooked, so I’d say I learned the basics from her. But it was my first trip to Italy that inspired my passion for it. Italy changes people.
Love and Lemons has the most incredible recipes – what made you start blogging? What have you learned since your first post? At first, I just wanted a place to record what I was making. I’m usually a terrible note-taker so blogging has forced me to write things down. I also wanted a place to recap little every-day moments. I can easily remember vacations and special occasions, but “regular” days have a way of blurring into one another. My strongest memories are associated with food so it felt like the perfect format.
I’ve learned so much since the first post – from how to use social media (I had previously avoided it at all costs), to how to make certain foods look pretty (risotto, I’m talking to you). It’s also been fascinating to learn what types of foods my readers respond to the most. I’m sure other bloggers see traffic boosts when they post bacon or cupcakes… but the ingredient my readers seem most obsessed with is cauliflower. I mean, who knew?
How much time does one recipe take from idea to final post? That can vary quite a lot, and it largely depends on the type of post. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that end up taking forever, and the more complex projects end up working out quickly. It all depends on the flow of the day.
How do you balance life and blogging? I don’t really. I’m constantly working on it or thinking about it. I’m always on the lookout for inspiration, so it’s on my mind even when I’m choosing restaurants, vacations, etc.
What’s your morning routine? I wake up to my little puppy biting my hair. (No alarm clocks needed here!). I get up, feed the dogs, then make breakfast and pour coffee. I head to the computer and usually start the day editing photos or writing posts before moving on to other projects.
Favorite part of your day? happy hour
Your dream weekend involves… Long walks and good food. Bonus points if the long walks and good food are happening in an exotic location, but a simple stroll around our own town makes me pretty happy.
Three products you can’t live without: Chameleon cold brew coffee, avocados, and the obvious… lemons.
Your guilty pleasure: the box of “weekday” wine in my fridge.
Most recent happy purchase: The cupcake I ate about 15 minutes ago.
Plans for this summer: Not sure yet. Hopefully a trip of some sort, but I usually don’t plan those things until the very last minute.
Something about you most people wouldn’t realize or know: I realize my blog looks pretty clean and organized, but I’m kind of a mess. There’s laundry on the floor, and I can hardly see my computer desktop because so many file icons are piling on top of each other.
Thanks, Jeanine! It’s reassuring to know that you enjoy the occasional cupcake, and that we might just find a box of wine in your fridge!