4.28.2011

GIVEAWAY from Benii Boutiques!

 Here in Wisconsin we are having the coldest spring we've had in ten years.  It's CHILLY! To keep my mind off the chill and on the soon approaching, warm, sunny days I've been shopping for my summer wardrobe.  I'm having a lot more fun shopping now that I feel like I've really found my "style".  Which is why I'm excited to share with you today's offer! A $100 GIVEAWAY from Benii Boutique!
 
Benii Boutique is a Miami based online boutique which sprung from a simple idea to offer affordable style through clothes and services to women who want to look and feel great but need to keep their eye on their bottom line. This fairly new online boutique is currently gearing up to introduce new designer lines for the young and chic business oriented woman of today. The site will also be adding new features which will enable fashionistas to shop based on certain lifestyles and complete looks.  Check out this fun look from their blog-




Just for fun, I pulled together my own look from Benii Boutique (and you can get the full outfit for just over $100!) Unbelievable! 


Love the necklace shown with it too!


Black boots (which I so did not notice are also in the pic above until just now)



If you skip the ring, you can get the full outfit for less than $100!

To kick off these fun changes, Benii Boutique wants to offer you a chance to win $100 shopping spree!

Simply "LIKE" Benii Boutique  Facebook and post your response to the following statement.

"Define your signature style."



I hope you read that CAREFULLY! Your posting the answer (and your entry to win) on THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE!  Commenting on this post will not get you entered, but I do love to hear from you :)

Once you post your response on the Benii Boutique Facebook page you're automatically entered to win! The winner will be picked on May 20th! "

4.27.2011

Organized Desktop -Free Download

About a week ago one of my favorite blogs, The CoffeeShop Blog, shared a desktop wallpaper she created to organize her desktop.  I tend to have a lot of things on my desktop that get moved on and off frequently so I thought that her creation was genius!  She made several versions with lots of color options and generously share them on her blog, but I wanted to try my hand at making one a little more my style.  It resulted in this!


I love that everything is separated.  My husband knows right where his stuff is (and where he can put things).  I tend to have a lot of temporary things at all times mostly to do with ideas for the blog or things that are inspiring me at them moment, works in progress.  I love the texture of the burlap and the fun of the Polaroids.  So of course I made a blank version for you!

Label it as you like in your preferred photo program.  Just right click and "save image as" to make it yours!  Have fun with it! You an even add photos into the Polaroids if you like. I didn't go as far as to create a clipping mask for photos, but if your proficient enough to know how to use a clipping mask your proficient enough to make it work :)  Enjoy!

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Only a couple days left to enter the Kelly Moore Bag Giveaway! Don't miss out!!!!

4.25.2011

Building Block Art, this one's for the boys! (okay, the girls can play too)

My kids LOVE to build with blocks.  Lately my preschooler has been impressing us with his creations and detail in his buildings.  So I thought it would be fun to add some architectural details for him to play with.  Everyone thought this was quite fun and I was soon bombarded with requests for dinosaurs and kitty cats! Children were waiting in line to challenge mommy's artistic abilities with sharpies.




I had taken these pics of the original windows and bushes I surprised the kids with before everything got crazy.  I suppose I should have made some doors.... Now instead of thinking we have way to many blocks I'm wishing we had one more of that size or that shape so we could make whatever at that moment.  If your kids are old enough they will love drawing the details on themselves!  I attempted to allow my preschooler to draw the bulldozer he requested, because he has much more practice at drawing machinery, but he must have gotten stage freight, we ended up with a scribble mess, but he had fun!

4.23.2011

Bump Smitten :)

I love the blog Bump Smitten!  It's the party planner in me, the site is filled with eye candy.  So I was beyond thrilled with Bump Smitten asked to share the MJ&G tutorial for the butterfly wreath! It was an extremely popular project last year when I started MJ&G and I'm thrilled to see it up on Bump Smitten!  If you've already seen the wreath then maybe I can at least introduce you to a great site you may not have found yet!  Just had to share my excitement.  Have a wonderful weekend! .

4.22.2011

DIY Fabric Bracelets Tutorial

Looking to add some color to your spring wardrobe? How about some DIY fabric bracelets. 


 Before we get started I must disclose that I have seen this idea around the web.  It's not original to me, however, my method is so I'm sharing the tutorial with you.  That said, let's get started.

I can not for the life of my think of the word for the cotton cord you use to put piping on pillows and what not.  Anyway, that's what I used inside these bracelets.  Cut the cord long enough to fit around your wrist with enough slack to slip over your hand (like a bangle bracelet).  With your favorite fabric glue (one that's really sticky like fabri-tac) or hot glue, glue the ends of your rope to create a circle.

I chose to tear my fabric strip so that it gave a bit of a tattered edge, you may choose to cut yours, but it will tatter with age a bit (unless your using jersey).  You will need a long strip about an inch wide.  Gluing as your wrap, go around your bracelet a couple of times.  This will help hold everything together as well as give it a nice look.  When you get to the end, tuck and glue on the inside.


I will warn you, it's a bit addicting.  If they get wet (my kids decided mine needed to take a swim for some reason) you can toss them into a garment bag and into the dryer.  This all happened before I took the photos shown so you can see, no harm done.


Mix and Match!
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Make sure to show my sponsors some love, they are what keeps me going  and sharing these projects :)

Whimsy Couture offers some really cute sewing patterns! Like this one!


4.20.2011

Weekend Getaway, Chapel by the Spring (and a deal for you!)

So we ended up with quite a bit of snow from yesterday.  BOO! Crossing my fingers that it all melts quickly.  I know there are some of you out there who ended up with even more than we did.  Luckily I was well relaxed from a wonderful weekend away!

Galoshes and I took off last weekend for a girls weekend at Chapel by the Spring in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  It's an amazing old church that my friend Kym has turned into an even more amazing rental venue/retreat.  It's the kind of place that you walk into and never want to leave.  The whole world melts away as you cozy up in front of the fire place with a cup of tea and a good book.


Every where you look there are interesting things from Kym's travels.  The overall feel isn't really as Asian as these images, but I tend to like the Asian pieces so that's what I photographed that night.  The chapel is filled with lamps giving the whole place a very cozy, moody feel.  But in the morning it's bright and cheerful.




The chapel has two loft bedrooms.  One of which is in the original choir loft!  In addition to overnight getaways you can rent the chapel for weddings, honeymoons, baby showers, wedding showers, birthday parties, really what ever you want to do it's a great place to have your event with seating for up to 30.  I'm already working on some event plans of my own :)  More details on that to come in time, maybe you can join me there!

While we were there we visited Northwinds, a perennial farm with an awesome barn boutique.  It was their opening weekend and they were having a great sale.  It was really quite chilly and wet.  The barn was a bit dark inside, but since I now know how to use my camera it's no longer an issue!






So I mentioned a deal :)  Kym has graciously offered you all an offer you can not refuse.  If your interested in checking out the chapel for yourself (who isn't!) you can book either of these special offers (subject to availability).

Book one night get one night FREE!
~OR~
Rent one room get the second room FREE!

Offer good midweek only. Sorry no weekends or holidays. You must mention this deal (and that you saw it here) when booking your stay.  You won't believe what a screaming deal the chapel is to begin with! Check out the website for details.

If you need someone to travel with I'm always up for an adventure! LOL.  Make sure to ask Kym for all the great places to visit in the area, she knows all the fun stuff to do.

4.19.2011

Snow.....

I had to stop in and share this with you today.  It's snowing at our house!  In fact, the weather man is saying we can expect up to FIVE INCHES!


4.18.2011

I was a guest at The Crafting Chicks!

I spent the day crafting with The Crafting Chicks on Friday.  I really wanted to share the DIY chocolates with you in time for you to make them over the weekend so I had to wait until today to share this with you (maybe you already saw it there)  I love it when wonderful creative women (or men!) invite me to think up something special and bring it over the their place.  So I took my little glittery creation (perfect for mothers day perhaps) to The Crafting Chicks, head over there to get the tutorial!

4.16.2011

My Kelly Moore Camera Bag and Giveaway!!

 *Giveaway Closed*

I'm so excited to tell you about my Kelly Moore Camera bag.  Not only because I'm completely in love with it, but because you now have the chance to win one too!  I had been seeing a few options of stylish camera bags pop up around blog land but hadn't found one that I just had to have, until I searched around a bit and found a new designer option, Kelly Moore Bags! Not only do they have beautiful bags for women, but they have a great bag for men too!

Each style comes in a variety of colors so there is something for everyone, no matter what your style.  The insides of the bags are completely adjustable with padded walls that velcro into place with some seriously heavy duty velcro!

I must admit, I was kind of already in love with my bag from the moment I opened the box.  When you open a box to find this, how could your heart not flutter a bit.....

All packaged up in it's own custom storage dust cover bag! 

The bag I chose is the Libby Bag in Caramel.  I chose the caramel color because I think it's timeless and will look even better with wear.  I decided on the Libby because of these two images-


I love that you can carry a serious amount of gear, as shown above.  As an aspiring photographer I'm learning and know that I will eventually want to carry around more gear than I currently do so this bag has room for me to grow.

But as you can see below, it's great for carrying tons of other stuff too!  So at the moment when I want to have my camera with me all the time so I can practice, practice, practice.... I can still carry around my day to day stuff and not have to carry two bags.
Not all the Kelly Moore bags are this large.  I like big bags, and I like that the Libby (along with a couple other styles) can carry a laptop.  But if you prefer something smaller I came seriously close to ordering the B-Hobo in Canary!


Isn't she pretty?  And still with fully adjustable interior and all kinds of options.

I've been putting my Libby bag to good use for a while now.  I've accidentally nicked it with my wedding ring and left some dings, but as I suspected when I ordered the Caramel color, the nicks start to blend in and add character to the bag.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like it's delicate and nicks every time I bump it, this bag is seriously durable, but it happens. 

Kelly Moore is a photographer herself so she knows what is expected from a photography bag.  There are awesome little videos on most of the bags in the website so that you can get a better feel for what each bag looks like and size proportion.  I found the video extremely helpful as I had almost ordered a different bag until I saw the Libby in the video and realized I had barely looked at it on the site! 

You can also check out the Kelly Moore Bag Blog for in depth details and more photos. 


I can't say enough about the quality of this bag.  The zippers are metal and heavy duty.  The velcro inside (as I mentioned) is really really strong, to the point that it takes a bit to get used to adjusting the inserts, but you can feel the quality.  This bag is an investment and you want to feel like it's going to last you and not wear out as velcro can do.  I'm confident my bag will last me MANY years to come.

I know what your thinking.  Taylor! You said GIVEAWAY!  

I was so excited when Kelly Moore offered the chance for you very lucky MJ&G readers to WIN your very own Kelly Moore Bag!   

Here are the details-

Mandatory entry- Visit Kelly Moore Bags and tell me which bag  you simply must have.  *I do need to mention here that the Libby bag I have is a $250 value.  This giveaway is for a bag up to a $200 value.  If you simply must have the Libby, you will need to pay the difference (totally worth it!) but pretty much any other bag on the site is less than the $200 cap. 

Second entry- Follow Kelly Moore Clark on Twitter.  Leave a separate comment that you did

Third (and final) chance.  Because good things come in threes.  Pass the word on about this giveaway.  What ever way you prefer, announce it on Facebook, twitter about it, stumble upon it.  Do what ever you do to share that there is an amazing giveaway going on, then leave me a comment saying what you did.

Giveaway ends April 30th at midnight central time.  I will draw a winner at random.  Good Luck!!!! 

4.15.2011

DIY Easter Chocolates Tutorial

Want to know how to make those fancy chocolates you love to see in your Easter basket at home for a fraction of the cost?  Of course you do!  And it's so much easier than you probably even realize.  I make chocolates for every birthday party and they are always a huge hit.  The suckers are usually the favorites between guests and they are perfect for goodie bags for guests to take home.  But today we are filling our Easter baskets.  I wanted to make a little something to send to the special people in my life as a little surprise.  Here is what I ended up making...




Some small solid half bunnies with small carrots and large hollow bunnies with large carrots.  This was actually my first attempt at the hollow bunnies so I'm not going to get into the hollow method in depth, I'm just not good enough at it yet to tell you how to do it, but I will tell you all about the solid chocolates and how to add colors!

I'm posting this today to give you plenty of time to try it out before Easter.  Put it on your list of things to do this weekend!  

What you need-
  • Melting chocolates (you can use chips if your not doing colors) I will show a picture of the package in case this is completely new to you.  You can buy them at Michaels, Joanne's, Wal-Mart or your local baking supply store.
  • Chocolate molds (again, at any of those retailers) really inexpensive.
  • Kid's watercolor paintbrushes (new)
  • Electric skillet (you can use a double broiler on the stove, but this is so much easier!)
  • Small bowls, preferably glass.  One for each of your colors
  • Water
  • Refrigerator
  • Bulldog clips (optional, depending on your mold)
Lets get started.  Here is the package of chocolates I used.

Since I already had my supplies, all I had to purchase for this was the chocolate.  Which means all the chocolates you see in this post were made for less than $3!!!  I had different colored chips for each color I needed but if your purchasing all your things for the project grab a bag of white and some food coloring, you won't need much of each color so a package of white will allow you to create all the colors you need.  That said.... please do not try to ad food coloring to colored chips.  It does not work well.  You will see in my pic I didn't have orange on hand so I combined yellow and red chips.  You can combine colored chips for new colors, but food coloring in colored chips for what ever reason doesn't work well.


Add a shallow pool of water to your electric skillet.  Place your chocolates in their dishes into the pool of water.  DO NOT allow ANY water to get into your chocolate bowls.  Even the smallest drop of water will ruin your chocolate and it will be JUNK!!!!  Seriously, I can not stress this enough.  If you notice your chocolate has become grainy, or appears burnt, you have likely gotten water in it and it will no longer work for this project.  You also need to be careful that your water does not boil, it will burn your chocolate.  If you notice your water start to simmer, turn it down just a tad.  Small simmer bubbles are okay, boiling is to hot.  I had my skillet set between 175 and 200 degrees.

Allow all your chocolate to melt stirring as you go until it's all smooth and ready to go.


You may notice there is sweat on the outside of the bowl, that's fine as long as it doesn't get IN the bowl.

Now for the fun part!  For colored chocolates I prefer for the color to only be on the front and for the body of the candy to be brown chocolate.  The different colors don't taste any different so this is just personal preference.  You may not mind a solid orange carrot and by all means, go ahead and use all orange.  But if your like me.... use your new watercolor paintbrush to brush a thin layer of color into your mold.  You can do multiple colors at once, just make sure you don't layer until the first coat has had time to cool and harden.  


So this was my thin layer of orange and green.  Put in the refrigerator to set (this just speeds everything up so you can get your mold back for another batch.  Once this has set you can add your brown chocolate.


Back in the fridge to set.  They need to set until they pop out easily.  When they are ready they will practically fall out of the mold, so don't try and force them out before their ready.  You can get an idea if they are ready when the shine on the face of the mold looks dull.  Gently flex the mold for the chocolates to drop out.

If your chocolate is a solid color you can fill the mold all the way from the beginning.  If your mold sits uneven, like my bunny, use some bulldog clips to steady it until it sets.


To create the hollow bunny (again, this was my first hollow chocolate attempt so I will just share what worked for me, feel free to google more experienced advice).  You will need a mold with two sides.  It will have indents used to snap it together, I added bulldog clips as well just because mine didn't feel that secure on it's own.

Fill half of your mold full with chocolate (you can paint your other colors on first if you have any).  Put a thin layer of chocolate in the other half of the mold making sure all the details are covered.  Snap the molds together and turn, roll, spin the whole thing so that the full half distributes into the whole mold sealing the two together.  I moved it all around until I thought it had gotten to cool to run then put it in the fridge to set fully.  Once it's all done and falls out of the mold you will need to clean up the seams.  I find a grapefruit spoon does a great job of taking off the excess without accidentally digging into the chocolate.


You can use the grapefruit spoon to clean up the edges of your solid chocolates as well if you need to.  My one package of chocolates  with the little bit of colored chips I had on hand were enough to make two paper towels full of goodies (to give you an idea)

Can you think of a better way to fill an easter basket for less than $5?  I picked up the cute cupcake papers to make the mini baskets to give to friends.  A bit of shredded paper (brown paper lunch bag sent through the office shredder!) at the bottom makes for a pretty package.  I will put them in either a small white box or a cello bag.  You can freeze your chocolates for up to a year in a tupperware with parchment paper.


Now get hoppin!  :)  Couldn't resist.

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