Sep 29, 2014

Make New Friends {september}

September is dwindling down and October is inching its way towards us. The weather—at least in New Mexico—is crisp and cool, and I'm soaking in every minute of it while I'm here. How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Shoot. I'm talking about the weather. That's a no-no when starting a conversation with a new friend, right? Whoops? Moving on...

I received a really great response from this series last month, and it sounds like several of you went out and found some new blogs to read. That makes me happy since I really feel that's what blogging is (partly) all about. At the conference I went to they really honed in on bringing back that connection and engagement, and I'm really going to strive to make that happen, at least here.

So, here's a rundown of the wonderful sponsors I had this month. I've truly enjoyed getting to know them, and I hope you will, too!


Origami Owl with Laurie English (Independent Designer)

Christmas is 86 days away—crazy, right?! I'm totally smitten with the idea of getting some Origami Owl products for some lovely ladies in my life. If you missed my interview with Laurie, the Independent designer last week, I highly encourage you to read it (and not just because there's a giveaway attached to the post that ends tonight!) Besides the famous living lockets, check out these lanyards (perfect for teachers), leather wrap bracelets, and their new core line for a more modern look.

 

 The Way I Wanderlust

Kayleigh is a woman after my own heart. She loves travel and lives to blog about it—perfect combo, right?!. Whether she's jetting off to England, sharing breath-taking scenes from Canada, or adding to her bucket list on Wanderlust Wednesday (my favorite feature of hers), you can rest assured that she'll leave you itching to hit the road after reading her blog.

 

Beebee Belly

Jen over at Beebee Belly is awesome, and not just because she's living it up in Hawaii with her husband and two kids, but because she writes those posts that you want to read. She shares delicious recipes that real people can actually make (nothing with crazy ingredients or super complicated, is what I mean), and she posts easy DIY crafts. But more than that, she's a military wife AND she serves in the reserves! Also, she's not a fan of the pumpkin craze, which is a-okay in my book! (And one last plug, she has an Etsy page and some wreaths that I need in my life.)

 

World Traveling Military Family

Mrs. B is a familiar face around this ol' blog, and if you haven't checked her out yet, then you need to—NOW! Her thorough and informative posts about travel, especially around Germany, are not only entertaining, but so invaluable with all the advice she gives. If you ever wondered what it's like to live in Europe, WTMF is the blog you can live vicariously through. After you've had your fair share of travel, hop on over to her Pinterest page, because while Mrs. B has a knack for travel, you should see the crafts she makes. If she's pinned it, there's a good chance she'll be making it very soon!

Did you find something in common with someone above? I'm sure they'd love to hear about it—head over to their site and let them know! Let's share the love!

Come join this series next month! 
All the details you need are right here :)

Sep 26, 2014

18, 19, and 20 Weeks {Bumpdates}

These weeks just flyin' on by. I guess that's what happens when you have a toddler who keeps you on your toes all day, every day! We also went on a trip this week—we're home in New Mexico for the next few weeks to break up the deployment a bit more. Anywho, here are my latest bumpdates and a quick little note to my newest baby!


Dear PJ,

Holy cannoli, we're halfway done already! You're currently the size of an endive or a mango, and, more importantly: you're a healthy baby GIRL! Your papa and I got to see you "together" last week, and it was by far one of the coolest experiences of my life. I haven't seen you since you looked like a grain of rice around six weeks, so naturally, I cried when I saw your two arms, two legs, and your lovely little face. I also got to see your heart beat, which is simply one of the most amazing things in the entire world. You were a little shy and kept your legs crossed for most of the anatomy scan (good girl!), but the technician managed to see what she needed to see, and said we should go buy some pink outfits. Don't worry—you won't only wear the clothes your sister wore; I've already bought you a few new things!

I feel you move often now. You like when I eat or drink, because I feel you squirm just after the food/drink settles in my tummy. Last night even felt you kick for the first time! I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and when I got back into bed I felt those familiar blumps that I felt with your sister. You're still much lower than she was, so I can only feel you when I'm flat on my back, but it makes me so excited for the next 20 weeks. 

Speaking of your sister—she keeps us both on our toes! She already give you kisses and says, "hi baby," and I just know the two of you are going to be fantastic friends. Hopefully she'll be a good big sister, but go easy on her for the first few weeks/months since this will be a transition for her, too. 

Stay comfy in my belly, little one! I can't wait to meet you, but you still have a lot of cooking left to go.

Love you, my little love bug! 
Mama

Don't forget to enter giveaway happening now!
Click here and it'll take you right to it!
 

Sep 25, 2014

Origami Owl Interview + Giveaway

I have a really cool post to share with you today with a fun connection, a great interview, and an awesome giveaway.

Let's start with the fun connection: many moons ago (around five years ago, to be exact) I was a soon-to-be bride obsessed with the idea of having cupcakes at my wedding. I taste-tested my way through bakeries across Albuquerque, but when I landed at Cupcakeology, I knew that was it. They were, hands down, the best cupcakes I had ever tasted, so naturally we had them at our wedding

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got an email from Laurie, the owner of Cupcakeology (which has since closed—major sad face), wanting to place an ad on my blog for her business, Origami Owl! It was so much fun talking to her again and catching up after all this time. Not only is she a Jill of all trades (WAHM, baker, and teacher), but she's also a former Army wife who found a light on the other side and is thriving. She's also graciously giving away two sets of Origami Owl products! Enough of me talking about her, check out what she has to say (and don't forget to enter the giveaway!) 

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Hi Laurie! First of all, I have to talk about cupcakes, because they're still one of my favorite things. How did you get into the cupcake business?
For as long as I can remember, my mom and I were always the ones who did the baking for every event going on in our family and circle of friends. After I had my daughter in 2006, I was fortunate enough to stay home with her. All of that free time is what got the wheels spinning. We spent about 6 months coming up with recipes. My husband and brother would come home every day to cupcakes marked with post-it notes and a score sheet. Once we had all of our recipes down, we found a location and got to work on opening Cupcakeology. I was much better at baking and cake decorating than I was at dealing with contractors. My mom and I did the majority of the build out at both of our locations. It was more work that I could have every dreamed of, but it really did feel like my second child. I miss our aqua stained concrete floor and pink, swirly walls just about every day! I haven’t convinced my husband to let me recreate that look in our house, just yet, but I’m still working on it.

I really miss our customers too. It was really special to be involved in people’s lives like we were. It wasn’t any aspect I had even thought of when we opened, but making someone’s wedding cake, 1st anniversary cake, baby shower cupcakes and subsequent birthday cakes was a great feeling. We made great friends with some of our regulars and are still in touch!

While all of your flavors were amazing, my absolute favorite was your cheesecake (my stomach is growling just thinking about it again). What was your favorite cupcake flavor?
The Butterscotch Top Hat. I still don’t eat very many cupcakes and I haven’t made any of these since we closed up shop, but the vanilla cake with marshmallow frosting and butterscotch ganache, would definitely be the one I’d make for myself.

You closed up Cupcakeology (fantastic name, by the way) and moved to San Antonio. Why the sudden life change?
When my husband’s time with the Army was up, he worked several jobs as a contractor. We actually spent more time apart during the 5 years Cupcakeology was open, than living together. In 2011, he moved to San Antonio for a job at Ft. Sam Houston. Being a commuter family and depending on flights to be on time to make our daughter’s kindergarten performances was just too hard on everyone. It was a lot easier when she was little and missing school wasn’t a big deal. So in January 2012, we moved to San Antonio. I still drag my husband into any and every bakery we find on vacation, but I have no desire to open another one!


Do you still find yourself in the kitchen baking up batches of cupcakes?
Ha! I saved so much of the equipment and supplies from Cupcakeology, because I honestly thought I would bake from home. Texas passed their Cottage Food Law in 2011 and I was all set to bake! In almost 3 years, I’ve made a few batches of cupcakes and a handful of cakes. Every time I do actually bake, its really hard to scale it down. I’ve resigned myself to baking awesome cakes for friends and family. My daughter has had a cookie cake every year since she’s been old enough to specify what she’d like.  

What made you decide to start selling Origami Owl products? 
We live in a pretty rural suburb of San Antonio. Now I spend my days as a substitute math & science teacher at the local junior high and high school. I had never done direct sales of any sort and honestly, I was kind of hesitant to jump into it. I had heard of Origami Owl before and had even tried to order a locket for myself, but I could never figure out what exactly I wanted. For Christmas, I received a Living Locket as a gift from my step-mom and I was hooked!! I was amazed by the quality and loved that I could swap out the charms, to customize whatever look I was going for. It was only $149 for my start up kit, so I figured I had nothing to lose and at the very least I would end up with a lot of jewelry that I loved. I could have never guessed that it would take off like it did and most importantly, that I would have so much fun doing it!

Being an Independent Designer for Origami Owl has really expanded my social circle and was a great way to meet, not only people in my small town, but also all of the amazing teammates that I’ve become very close to.

Can you tell me about the company? I've heard the name floating around, but I don't actually know much about it.
Origami Owl was started by a 14 year old girl who wanted to make enough money to buy a jeep for her 16th birthday. Bella Weems and her family went on to create a direct sales company that not only offers amazing jewelry to its customers and a fantastic business opportunity to its designers, but a true force for good. Giving back to others and fundraising is really the back bone of this company. Origami Owl has partnered with ChildHelp to raise awareness about child abuse and to educate children about bullying. They’re currently working on a curriculum that will be available to any school that focuses on bullying prevention and letting children know that they can speak up about.. We donate the profits from 3 specific charms to directly support ChildHelp.

Origami Owl truly treats its Designers like family. They now offer health insurance, reduced cost college courses and incentive trips to all registered Designers.
I've also heard about Origami Owl's "Living Locket," what does that mean, exactly?
Living Lockets are the heart and soul of Origami Owl. They were the first product offered and are the canvas on which you can add charms, plates, dangles and chains to. We now offer a Twist Face Living Locket that allows you to switch out the face of the locket and change looks as often as you’d like. We have faces that feature Swarovski crystals, our new Heirloom face for a vintage look and colored enamel faces for an extra little pop of color. Our lockets range in size from small to large and hold anywhere from 1 to 12 charms. Our Heart Living Locket is my personal favorite.

What types of charms are available? 
We have just about everything! I attended our 2nd National Convention, in Phoenix, in July where they released new military charms, bridal charms and Swarovski crystals! My favorite charm of all is the iced coffee drink. I’m an absolute Starbuck’s junkie! 

What are your favorite OO pieces?
I’m loving our new Sophia earrings. They look really pricey, but they’re not and I get compliments on them just about every day. I have very short hair now and I’ve found that earrings that make a statement are my new best friend.

I’ve always been a silver girl and never really mixed metals, but I’ve found myself mixing it up lately. Our new Lanyard Living Lockets are great for teachers and nurses who have to wear a badge, now you can dress it up a little! 

Besides charms and necklaces, OO also sells bracelets and earrings, right? What's hot right now in terms of jewelry?
Yes! Our new Take Out Menu features over 300 new items. We have so many gorgeous earrings, many of which feature Swarovski crystals and our leather wrap bracelets are flying off the shelves! For those people that like a little more modern look, our CORE line is gorgeous!! All of the pieces in that line are .925 sterling silver and the meanings behind each piece are very thoughtful. Each memento is so elegant and dainty; they’re great to stack and layer.  

You also mentioned that they have military charms out now—does Origami Owl also ship to APO addresses? 
We do ship to APO addresses now!

Can you do online parties or in-home parties like other companies?
Yes! Interactive Facebook parties have become very popular. There’s no cleaning house, preparing snacks and drinks. It’s a lot of fun to spend 30 to 45 minutes with a group of friends on Facebook, play some games, win prizes and our Hostesses get some awesome incentives. While I’m a fan of in-home parties, that’s not always feasible and the Hostess can really expand her invite list when her guests can be anywhere in the world!

If someone was interested in purchasing something or wants to learn more about Origami Owl, where should they go? (Mention your site, FB, etc.!)
You can shop 24/7 at englishcharm.origamiowl.com. If you have any questions about what might look good together, etc. I can always be reached by email at laurie.english@gmail.com.

I’m the kind of person that loves shopping on line, but if I can have a physical catalog to cross reference, even better. I’m happy to send out one of our Take Out Menus to anyone that would like one. Just send me an email!

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That was some awesome info, right? I feel like I learned so much, and now I really want to buy a living locket for myself. Luckily, you all have a chance to own a piece of Origami Owl. I'll pick TWO lucky readers will win one of following:


Awesome, right? Use the Rafflecopter below to enter!


Want to feature your blog or business here next month? 
Check out my sponsor page for more info!


Sep 23, 2014

It's....A.... {Gender Reveal For Baby #2}

Okay, the moment you've all been waiting for is here! (You've all been waiting for this, right? The big reveal?) Yesterday, Julia and I flew into New Mexico and after grabbing some lunch, and dropping off our things at my parents' house, we jumped back in the car and headed off to the gender reveal.

Before we got to the reveal we had to pick up the cake.


Oh, the cake! I used Bittersweets Bakery in Albuquerque, and worked with Kerry, the owner. We collaborated over the phone and email since I was in Georgia, to make sure the cake would be just right. Kerry was fantastic to work with, even from miles away, so I can only imagine how great she'd be in person. Anyway, I sent her photos from my gender reveal pinterest board for designs I liked and basically told her to go for it—pick a ruffle design and let me be surprised. Then, I called her back the day I found out the sex so she'd know what color to make the cake. I was nervous to pick it up (cake wrecks anyone?), but it looked perfect!


So we arrived at the restaurant and met up with the rest of my family. Originally, we were going to wait until the end of the meal to do the reveal—we were having cake after all, but I couldn't wait that long. As soon as we all ordered, I decided it was time. I had everyone write down on their place mats in blue or red crayon if they thought I was having a boy or girl. And then it was finally cake-cutting time!!

(Just a reminder; I actually already knew the sex; my husband and I found out "together" last week during the anatomy scan. We used FaceTime and saw the big reveal at the same time. Then, I just kept it a secret from everyone until last night!)

Wanna know what we're having??? Here's a video of the big reveal:

It's.....A......

....
........
...........
.............

You watched the video, right? Because, there's a pretty big spoiler alert in the next paragraph!

Color me surprised! Practically everyone thought it would be a boy, so naturally, I started leaning that way, too! But a girl? Another girl?!! AHHHHH!!!! I'm SO. Stinking. EXCITED! 

Here are some close-ups of the cake, because I think it was perfect and just the way I wanted it to look. I mean, you can't go wrong with the gorgeous ombre blend...especially when it's pink!


 


So, there you have it! Baby number two is (hopefully, if the technician saw right) a GIRL! Now I'm off to go buy more bows, dresses, and all things pink :)