Thursday, October 31, 2013

october in review.

hey everyone! hope youre having a super fun halloween today!

so, in an attempt to continue on refining my blog routine so that it has a more predictable (and easier to plan) flow throughout the month (rather than doing each week individually), id like to introduce a new "month in review" feature where i take a minute on the last posting day of the month (wont always be the actual last day because i think im going to keep taking sundays and wednesdays off, thats been super helpful) to talk about my favorite things (blog-related and otherwise) to happen in that month. 

sounds fun, right? i hope so. 

as far as family stuff is concerned, most of the month was taken up by alices birthday and my birthday , both of which im sure youre totally tired of hearing about. but i couldnt help myself and dug up a couple pictures that i hadnt used in other posts, one from when alice and i met jamess mom at disneyland the evening before her birthday party (seriously the most stressful disneylanding ever, but alice sure was cute):

and one from my birthday disneyland day:

obviously due to all the birthdays going on i havent been able to devote a whole lot of time to the shop, but i did manage to list some skirts and dresses from my old shop as well as tons and tons and tons of hair bows. plus i also made HUGE progress in my knitting patterns. so hopefully ive set things up for the shop to have a good month next month. 

the blog though. 

the blog has had a very exciting month! even though overall pageviews are significantly down from what i saw in september, im really excited about all the cool blog stuff thats been going on. i mean, i did my first ever sponsor spotlight, made tons of new blog friends through participating in weekly wishes,  sponsored a totally rad giveway (that you still have time to enter), AND actually made some money through my affiliate links. i feel like ive been learning so much since i started blogging but this month is the first month where ive really been able to see the results of putting those things into practice, and its been awesome. 

and what has alice been up to?

crafts, mostly. she got some art supplies for her birthday and it appears that now shes a full-time artist:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

the most perfect fall breakfast, ever.

its been a LONG time since ive reviewed a gluten free product, hasnt it? well, im going to freely admit that its mainly because this happened and i just needed a LONG break from doing any food experimentation. 

but then my mom went to the 99 cent store. and you know how my mom is like, a level 900 wizard at finding incredible stuff at the 99 cent store? you didnt? well, she totally is. this was her most recent wondrous find:

and even though i very much prefer savory cheese and garlic type bagels, these sweet, cinnamon and cranberry health food bagels were pretty tasty. they certainly didnt taste nearly as good as a real bagel, but i think im finally getting used to the gummy, disappointing texture of the "better" gluten free breads (because at least its not the dry, powdery texture of the "worse" gluten free breads. 

so all in all the bagels are nice. but when you top them with this (which i magically found on sale):

and the resulting combination:

was nothing short of glorious. i mean, pumpkin is probably my most favorite thing ever, so being able to have it for breakfast was just THE most awesome thing ever. and also a much welcome break from the cocoa pebbles ive had to eat every morning for the past few months. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

weekly wishes #6

you may have noticed that its like, super way late for my weekly wishes post. actually i wasnt even going to do one until just now. 

why? because honestly ive had a rough week. i dont really have anything inspiring of motivating going on and alice is having a huge and terrible growth spurt and i really feel like everythings going wrong right now. i dont want to be a debbie downer so i wont go into detail, but lets say dropping my phone in the toilet is one of the smaller problems. 

when i first sat down to type this post the saying "if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all" came to mind so i decided i should probably skip this week. 

then this evening i realized that just because i had one crappy week (which to be completely fair was largely influenced by the schizophrenic weather making my fibromyalgia all crazy) that doesnt mean i shouldnt try and make next week better. so while i dont really have anything super exciting to share, lets get on with weekly wishes, shall we?

first lets start with last week:

1. keep the tv off as much as possible. best. decision. ever. the house is quieter, more peaceful, i can concentrate better AND alice has gotten much better at independent play (in just a week! how crazy is that)!

2. take some time to read and comment on other blogs. i think this is the first time ive felt like ive gone above and beyond on a weekly wish, all the way up until saturday (since i spend a lot less time online) im pretty sure i commented on way more than two blogs a day. 

and as for the daily wishes.... that didnt really work out like i had hoped. i dont even want to go through the list because its too big of a blow for my fragile perfectionist self esteem. 

so lets just say that thursdays goal of having a cheap dinner at benihana (made it out for just $8.50!) was very much a success:

aaaaaaaaannnndddd thats enough about last week. lets move on to this week:

1. finish alices thank you notes. i did the design, i made the list, and somewhere along the way forgot to order the prints and make the envelopes. so thats my big project for the week. 

2. get some more work done on my knitting patterns. so... "a couple small patterns" has somehow turned into "several patterns plus a more in-depth ebook (or two) and um.... i really need to get something finished because this whole self-employment thing needs to start actually making some money. 

and thats really all i can commit to this week, i really need an easy week (especially because james has school next week. sadface.)

hope you have a great week!

The Nectar Collective

Saturday, October 26, 2013

weekend update #5

hello friends! is everybody ready to have an awesome weekend? i never thought id say this, but i am SO happy to get to go to work today! no really, i havent gone to work since october first so i am truly, genuinely excited about this (also corporate reversed some of the stupid changes that were keeping me from being able to teach). 

anyway, its saturday so that means its time for weekend update!!! ok, so remember last week when i made a whole bunch of cute little baby bows? well those are all up in the shop now, along with matching adult sized bows. for all of them. its seriously so cute im dying. 

and full size bow:

same with the white, blue, and red paisely. mini bows:

and full size bow:

then theres this super happy yellow floral, again in mini:

and full sized:

and last but not least, my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE dutch tulip print! in yellow mini:

yellow full sized:

 AAAANNNNDDDD white full sized:

seriously, are you not just DYING to make matching mother/daughter or big sister/little sister outfits with these? or is that just me?

i also added about seven more of the adult sized bows too, and am feeling REALLY good about my current stock of bows. 

which means now i need to turn my attention back to skirts. 

which means now i need your help. right now i only have patterns made for 2t and womens small/medium, and in order to add any sizes to the line i need to draft completely new patterns. what does this have to do with you? everything. 

because before i get sewing, i need to know what sizes of skirts YOU want, so that i can tailor my inventory to YOUR needs, because these skirts arent for me (though sometimes i wish i could keep them all), theyre for you. so please, leave a comment with what sizes YOUD like to see in my next batch of skirts. 

have a great weekend, ill see you on monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

roasted kale recipe.

hello everyone! hope youre having a great week!

so, i know im super late on the kale bandwagon. but let me explain myself here. first off, when kale first got all cool, i lived in the middle of nowhere arizona where the culture is about six years behind what i was used to in la. second, i had kale confused with arugula or raddichio or whatever that horrid super bitter thing is and thought i wouldnt like it. third i had assumed that if it was a super trendy health food, that it must cost a million dollars. 

turns out i was totally wrong. raw kale tastes just like every other leafy green (though i have a hard time believing that it has magical superpowers. i mean, maybe if youre used to eating mcdonalds all the time...), and it cooks really nicely in things like soups and stir-frys.

also, at most places ive looked, A LARGE BUNCH OF KALE COSTS LITERALLY ONE DOLLAR. two dollars, tops. once i found this out i was totally sold on kale and it became our default green vegetable for weeks when broccoli is expensive. 

and then i found out you can roast it into the worlds most delicious chip-type thing ever. seriously. you know those kale chips you can buy at the health food store for like $5? you can make them at home for $1. and its super easy. 

roasted kale:
(serves 2-4 as a snack or side dish)

1 large bunch of kale
1 tablespoon or so of olive oil
lemon pepper
red pepper flakes

heres what you do:

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

start by washing your kale (obviously) and trimming the leaves off the stalks. next chop the leaves in to more-or-less bite-sized pieces. place kale on a cookie sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. toss to evenly coat (ive read some recipes that tell you to do this in a bowl, but id rather not also wash a bowl) and sprinkle with lemon pepper and red pepper flakes (or whatever seasonings you prefer, thats just what i like). it will look like this:

bake at 350 for about 7 minutes, toss, and bake for about 7-10 more minutes, until it looks like this (youll know its done when its dry and crispy rather than wilted and soggy):

and then youre done! this is seriously my new favorite recipe and im pretty sure james is sick of roasted kale, but i dont care. 

stay tuned for tomorrow when i talk about whats going on in the etsy shop!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

a job interview and an outfit post.

so you probably know by now that on tuesday i had to do something that makes me very uncomfortable and that i havent done in a very, very long time. 

i had a job interview. at anthropologie. 

meaning i had to not only look cute, i had to look anthropologie cute. mom cute wasnt going to cut it. thankfully i scored some fantastic pieces at the knitted dove sample sale at the silverlake art craft and vintage market and felt very well prepared (at least, wardrobe wise). heres what i wore:

sweater and skirt: knitted dove, cami: cotton on, tights: target, shoes, bag, and pin: vintage, glasses: zenni optical
 today im linking up with penniless socialite for look what i got because this outfit is chock full of all kinds of bargainy goodness. first off, right now cotton on has TONS of camis for $2. really. two dollars. this is awesome because literally ALL of my camis are super worn out and saggy because i refused to buy maternity clothes (p.s. im wearing this one, but i think i might brave the mall again soon to pick up some more). 

also my sweater and skirt are both knitted dove. i couldnt find the exact cardigan anywhere online, but most of their sweaters (im a big fan of this one) retail for around $80. i got mine for $15. and the skirt? you can get a black and white one on modcloth for $72.99, but i got an even better red one for $10. obviously youre so totally jealous, right? well if youre in the LA area, from what i hear knitted dove WILL be back at the silverlake market next month, on november 9th. if i can scrape up some spending money by then i know ill be back. 

once i put this outfit together i knew it was the perfect fall outfit, i mean, look at those colors and textures (and the cute little bows on the skirts welt pockets):

now, please notice my vintage whale brooch:

because honestly, i dont think there is any single item that screams "I CAN TOTALLY WORK AT ANTHROPOLOGIE" more than a vintage whale brooch, right?

oh, maybe silver dancing shoes?

or a kodak camera case bag?

because ive totally got those bases covered too. 

i really loved how this outfit came together, its just unfortunate that were having an exceptionally warm fall (i guess to make up for the exceptionally cold and gloomy summer?) and i probably wont be able to wear it again till like, january. 

as for the interview, honestly it was probably the weirdest interview ive ever been to. but well know by monday if i get a second interview....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

how i occasionally get free money. no really. free money.

so, today ive got a big job interview, and LOTS of hair bows to list and thank you notes to design and lots of other things to do so i dont have much in the way of an exciting blog post for you. 

but i do have a totally embarrassing secret to share with you guys!

you know those totally tacky scammy looking "make money online doing stupid internet stuff" sites? well, ive been using a couple of them for a few years now, and actually made some money. 

now i cant vouch for any other sites, but ive been and, and while its totally not a meaningful source of extra income, this does happen a couple times a year:      

first, i want to start off by saying that sendearnings and inbox dollars are literally identical websites, but for some reason you can do both. both of these sites offer some different ways to earn tiny bits of money from doing various tasks (surveys, clicking on ads, online shopping, watching videos, printing coupons, etc), and that money gets credited to your account, and once you reach $30 (they take out $3 for "processing") in your account, they mail you a check. 

a real check. of money. not a giftcard that you have to spend somewhere specific. 

now because i, you know, have a life, i cant really take advantage of things like watching videos, and honestly their surveys dont pay very well (i prefer to use valued opinions). also since were beyond broke and shopping online went away months ago, cash back for online shopping doesnt do us much good. but heres what i do manage to use:

1. email subscriptions. theres a section of the site called "completely free offers" where you can do things like subscribe to an email list and get anywhere from .25 to 1.00 just for providing a valid email address. i just sign up for these using an old email address i dont use anymore. 

2. grocery coupons. if you print grocery coupons through their site, you get an additional 10 cents per coupon once theyre scanned. i know this doesnt sound like much, but if you print a lot of coupons (like i do) it adds up. 

3. referral rewards. this is exactly what it sounds like, if somebody signs up through your link, you get 10% of what they make, forever. the thing is, ive never signed anyone up, and im getting referral money. why? because once you cash out your first $30 check, you become a "gold member" and get randomly assigned referral accounts out of all the people that sign up without a referral link (if that makes any sense at all).

and most importantly, 

4. paid emails. both sites do these things called "paid emails", which are basically just ads. but the thing is, if you click on them, they give you two cents. again, i know that sounds like nothing, but both sites send several paid emails every day. and they take literally one second to click on. 

id like to reiterate here that i am super lazy and spend less than a minute each day thinking about these sites. and i still get an almost $30 check a couple times a year. not a bad deal, right?

if this seems worth a shot to you, here are my refferal buttons, and if not, i totally get it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

weekly wishes #5

happy monday everyone! so you know how mondays used to be my favorite because it meant all the weekend craziness was over and now i could have a quiet productive work week? well, NOW monday is my favorite because my mom got alice ballet lessons for her birthday and it is literally THE cutest thing EVER. i mean look at that teeny tiny leotard!!! 

and as for weekend craziness, i am relieved to say that there was NONE! after back-to-back birthdays i was beyond stoked to have a REAL weekend, the highlights of which included james making a fabulous jack skellington jack-o-lantern (which alice is IN LOVE with):

and getting free yogurtland with my dad (ive been practicing my free yogurt stacking for a LONG time, and yes, i did eat it all):

then yesterday we spent most of the day at church and after-church potluck before coming home for very long naps. so by time i woke up this morning i was READY for monday. 

and you know what monday means? it means its time for weekly wishes! now weekly wishes is normally exciting enough on its own, but this week i found out that melyssa chose my picture as one of the featured participant photos! seriously? is this even real life?

anyways, as always, lets start with last weeks wishes:

1. clean out and organize alices clothes. DONE!!! i washed all of alices clothes and cleared out almost an entire rubbermaids worth that was too small. and since weve gotten to a point where we dont have TONS of bigger hand-me-downs waiting to be grown into, shes down to a totally manageable amount of clothes now. 

2. start testing out my knitting (and crochet) patterns so i can publish them! sort of. i made the kits for my testers but only managed to get one out to its proper recipient. BUT the project is still moving forward so im still excited (also i maybe got a little distracted and started working on some new patterns....)

and now for this weeks wishes:

1. keep the tv off as much as possible. so heres the thing, we dont even have a tv. because i think its a waste of money and too much noise and i dont want us just watching tv all the time. but we do have a computer and netflix. and um.... i feel like its been on ALL THE TIME lately. alice has been getting into grumpy moods where she ONLY wants to watch tv, and when james is home, he wants to have movies on just about ALL THE TIME. and im sick of it. im sick of the noise, the migraines (from the noise), and the unproductive waste of time. were not getting rid of netflix, but from now on i feel like one movie a day is all i can take. 

2. take some time to read and comment on other blogs. ive really been slacking on this one, and ive noticed this lack of interaction is affecting my motivation with my own blog (and shop, too), so this week im committing myself to commenting on at least two different blogs every day. 

those are my big wishes for the week, but i thought id steal this really great idea from allie and make one small, easily achievable goal for each day of the week, to see how it works for me. heres what ive got:

monday: photograph all the new bows for the shop 
tuesday: rock my job interview at anthropologie (!) and design alices birthday thank you notes
wednesday: enjoy my last knitting class (did i mention ive been teaching knitting at my churchs homeschool co op? well i am) and keep the groceries under budget
thursday: have a nice (and not ridiculously expensive) dinner date at benihana
friday: get alices thank you notes printed and addressed

so those are my wishes for the week, what are yours?

The Nectar Collective

Saturday, October 19, 2013

weekend update #4 + a BIG etsy giveaway!!!

hey everyone! hope youre having a fantastic weekend! i am VERY happy to announce that weekend update is back! for some reason i had very lofty expectations of getting RIGHT BACK TO WORK immediately after my birthday, but in reality it took a little extra time for me to recover from copious amounts of birthday-ing. 

but before we get to business, lets talk about something totally awesome and fun, ok?

this week, the lovely lisa at love to go - happy little things has put together a HUGE etsy giveaway that i am so honored to be a part of. honestly im a little bummed that i cant enter to win it, because, check out these prizes:

1. a handmade clutch (of your choice) from the happy cactus shop

2. a (totally super cute) geometric embroidery piece (again, your choice) from hugs are fun

3. a handmade tote bag (yes, your choice!) from love to go - happy little things


4. a FIFTY DOLLAR etsy gift card for whatever your little heart desires!!!

and please be sure to check out all the other lovely sponsors: 

what are you waiting for! enter to win here:

ok, back to work now. 

so, ive been working on the downloadable knitting patterns that ive wanted to do forever. and since working on ideas is totally different from working on actual things, its been kind of difficult to get myself to really focus on the task at hand (namely, crafts). but that being said, i did manage to carve out some productive craft time, and make lots and lots of teeny little bows:

in one.... 




FIVE!!! different fabrics! 

these will be up in the shop early next week, as well as the larger bows that im trying to finish up over the weekend. 

what do you think? which fabric do you like best? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

my favorite birthday freebies.

everybody knows that the best part about birthdays is all the free stuff places will give you just because its your birthday. and if you didnt know this, im about to blow your mind: TONS OF PLACES WILL GIVE YOU FREE STUFF JUST BECAUSE ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY. 

seriously. if you google "places that give free stuff for your birthday" youll find TONS of super-long lists of free birthday treats like this one

the only thing is, like 95 percent of these free things are food, and as you know, im allergic to pretty much every food. so a big chunk of these freebies are lost on me. BUT NOT ALL OF THEM!!!!

in honor of my birthday, i thought id take a minute to share my personal favorite birthday freebies with you:

1. sephora. if you join sephoras (free) beauty insider program, two things happen: 1. every dollar you spend at sephora earns you a point that can later be traded in for prizes (not very useful unless you spend a lot of money at sephora) and 2. a deluxe sample sized (meaning, like, half the size of a regular product) free gift during the month of your birthday! and the gifts are usually pretty good. one year i got a trio of lip glosses, last year i got two wonderful lip balms, and this year theyre giving out a set with benefit mascara and highlighter:

2. daphnes. if youre not familiar with daphnes, its a california chain of what can best be described as healthy greek fast food. and they have this stuff that they call "fire feta" that is literally the best food on the entire planet. anyways, if you join their pita points loyalty program, you get FIVE FREE DOLLARS of daphnes for your birthday. i know that doesnt sound like a lot, but five dollars is the exact price of a family-sized tub of fire feta (for me to eat entirely by myself). 

3. benihana. if youve been reading this blog for a while, youre probably familiar with this totally embarassing story from about six months ago (until very recently it was my most-viewed post), if not, i would like to remind you that benihana totally gives you a free $30 gift certificate for your birthday. you just have to sign up for it in advance. 

and this last one, i actually missed out on, because i didnt realize it was only valid on your birthday (and we spent my birthday at disneyland) but, 

4. yogurtland. so i just found out that yogurtland (my favorite place for dessert when we have a few extra bucks) has this super awesome rewards program, that lets you earn free yogurt. you get 3 free ounces just for joining and three free ounces on your birthday (and if you buy a lot of yogurt, the amount of free birthday yogurt goes WAY up). and um.... with the way we like yogurtland..... well probably get to platinum level (16 oz of free birthday yogurt) by next year.

so those are my favorite birthday freebies, what are yours?