Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Photos: My Carefree Weekend of TV and Food

Well, as you can probably guess, my Carefree Bachelorette Weekend revolved around two things: TV and food. That's only fitting, I suppose, since those are my two favorite things in the whole world! And of course, I had to document all the fun. Here's a peek into my shenanigans, including a bit of cleaning that uncovered the above book (toss or blog column?)...
Day #1 of my classic home-alone lunch! The major food groups are mostly covered...
And for some afternoon entertainment, some shows on our new TV... #LazySaturday

Saturday night's feature was Domino's pizza and a viewing of Jurassic Park (and yes, in case you were wondering, I did indeed sleep with one eye open that night...). #PartyForOne
When my mom is gone, I eat a whole donut!

So, what did you do this weekend, friends? Try any good food? Watch any good shows? I'd love to hear! xoxo

Sponsor Spotlight: Olive Yew

One of my favorite things about summer fashion is the dainty, delicate vibe when it comes to jewelry. There's just something about the laid-back beauty of summer that really makes a statement when it comes to some summer trends. One of my new favorite examples? Olive Yew, the North Carolina-based jewelry line from designer Angela Parker-Kennedy. Angela is inspired by the stylish women from her childhood and a never-ending fascination with jewelry. Her pieces, she says, embrace a design that is as timeless as it is versatile -- everything from necklaces to bracelets to rose gold rings to earrings! Read on for more of Angela's inspirations and her tips for finding good deals online! xoxo

Keep in touch...
Official Web site: Olive Yew
Become a fan on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Get inspired on Pinterest
Follow on Instagram
Tell me about Olive Yew. What's the inspiration behind its launch?
I always like simple, petite jewelry (and things in general), so it made sense to me to focus on petite jewelry when I began learning how to make it. I was phasing out of a contract position in corporate and I just couldn’t fathom going back into a cubicle environment. I decided to take a local jewelry making class and really enjoyed it. I’ve always made stuff and I majored in art in college. I didn’t expect this to take off the way is has, but I was pleasantly surprised. Olive Yew has allowed me to remain out of a cubicle since 2011.

Your shop features so many inspiring finds. What inspires you the most?
I get inspired by the smallest things and sometimes it comes from seemingly nowhere. I always try to boil everything down to simplicity. I can let a design get a little crazy, sleep on it and strip it down to the basics...but it’s way easier when I know when to stop.

What are your top tips for shopping online and finding great deals?

1. Google is your friend. I Google almost every item I purchase online to make sure it’s not on sale somewhere else.
2. Check shipping costs too. I hate finding a lower price only to find out that I have to pay a ton in shipping or that I have to pay shipping per piece. At Olive Yew, we have a flat fee for shipping no matter how many items you purchase, and we offer free shipping days often (and promote them on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr & Facebook).

What are some of your favorite fashion and jewelry trends this summer?
I love the orange and florals this season. I also appreciate that heels are getting thicker so I can walk in a pair! As far as jewelry, I prefer timeless pieces over trends.
What is your favorite piece in your shop and why?
This changes often, but right now, my favorite piece is our name bracelet. It works so well with numbers, letters, Roman numerals or symbols. It’s really the perfectly personalized piece.

Dream Vacation: Lego Bridge

How awesome is the Lego Bridge in Germany? Street artist MEGX transformed an old overpass into a colorful ode to everyone's favorite childhood toy. The 250-square-meter bridge was repainted in four weeks!

Who's up for a little getaway? xoxo

[Via Design Milk]

Man Candy Monday.

Good morning, friends, and happy Monday! Are you having a good day so far? As you know, I've been living the carefree life this weekend, and let me tell you, I went WILD. But before I get to that, here's a guy who drives my heart positively wild. We're talking full on pitter-patter here. I first discovered him in this show and now swoon over his character in this show. He broods with the best of them. He's still under the radar enough to not be jaded. And he's a devoted father (translation: sexy times infinity!)...

MIKE VOGEL!!!!!!!!!!

"When my wife and I met, I couldn't talk to her - and my defense mechanism is sarcasm. I belittle someone with verbal pokes and prods. I did it to her out of complete awe. When friends introduced us, I said 'Hi' - and turned my back. Later, I called my mom and best friend and said, 'I think I just met my wife.'"

Friday, July 18, 2014

Have an exciting weekend

Happy Friday, friends! How are you doing on this most awesome of evenings? What are you doing this weekend? My mom is heading to New York for a few days to visit my cousin, and you know what that means, friends...I'll be living the high life as a carefree bachelorette!!! Whatever will I do with my time? I'm thinking some quality binge-watching, a few walks and maybe even a movie is in order. My mom will also be keeping a photo diary of her travel adventures (check out last year's here...), so look for those pics in the coming weeks! Hope you all have a great weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web...

9 songs with lyrics that went over your head as a kid.

What people over 30 know about dating.

8 helpful links for bloggers.

The perfect outfit for summer nights.

I am a feminist. Go, Tiffany!

Ooh, I had such a crush on this guy when I was a teen.

How to keep calm.

Fashion Do or Don't: Patterned dresses?

How fun does this pirate birthday party look?

Great 10 under $100 round-up!

I may have just found my dream date book for next year.

Who left the sexiest voice mail?

Look! It's two chimps watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes!

The new briefcase is back.

Fashion lessons learned from '90s Barbie.

This brave teen is so inspiring.

5 things to do before publishing your blog post.

Everything I've ever felt about celeb crushes.

Wedding planning wisdom from three savvy designers.

On this day in 1992, the first photo was uploaded to the Internet.

*Special Offer: StickyGram, the company that turns your Instagram photos into cool magnets, is celebrating its third birthday today! They're offering 15% off on a pack of classic magnets. Just enter WEARE3 at checkout!

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now YouTube! See you there, friends! xoxo

[Photo via bippity boppity boo]

Etsy Love: U.S. cloth napkins

My inner road tripper is already brainstorming how I'd use these state-inspired napkins by Minnesota-based designer Nicole Porter -- on a summer picnic, eating lunch in the car while cruising down the highway, cooling off with some ice cream on the beach. And of course, I'd be paying homage to my favorite states: Illinois (Midwest pride!), Louisiana, New York and Wisconsin. What fun! xoxo

P.S. State pillows, state prints, U.S. cutting boards and home state return address stamps! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Diaries (The Remix): Reading #44

Ms. Bear's Kitchen: Red beans and rice cheesy burritos

This week's Ms. Bear's Kitchen coincided with our church's night to cook for the homeless, so it worked out that I only had to think of one thing to make! I was telling Melissa that I need to branch out more and try some new recipes, but Melissa told me that part of this column should focus on not just the food, but the memories that go along with it. So, we started talking about our favorite trips and the food that goes along with them, and we both thought of New Orleans at the same time!!! We had such wonderful trips to the Big Easy and always enjoyed the food immensely. I made a weird concoction this week, but we all agreed that it was really good. I hope you enjoy it! I also have included my mother's fruit salad recipe, which really hit the spot after the spicy red beans and rice burritos -- we joked that this is a fusion meal, between the Cajun and the Mexican parts of the meal! Fusion cuisine is all the rage now, you know!

Red beans and rice cheesy burritos (weird, but true!) sure to crank up the Cajun or Zydeco music as you make this. We were all toe tapping as we cooked. I got so into it that I didn't realize Janelle had helped Melissa with her bath and washed my swimsuit while I was cooking!!!! Here's what you need to make this delicious dish...

*1 box Zatarains Red Beans and Rice
*1 can chili starter tomato sauce
*1 can chili ready tomatoes
*1 can corn
*1 package shredded cheddar cheese
*1 package Southwestern chicken pieces or smoked sausage
*Flour tortillas
*1 onion
*1 green pepper

Chop the onion and green pepper and let it simmer with the tomato sauce and drained tomatoes. Add corn too if you want. Cook the red beans and rice according to directions. When it's done, add beans and rice to a tortilla, add the tomato/veggie mix, top with cheese and either sausage or chicken -- or both! Roll up the tortillas and put them in an ovenproof dish. Cover with some of the tomato/veggie mix and top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and hot. These were even better the second day!
Elenore Erlandson's Pudding/Fruit Salad -- so easy and so refreshing after a spicy meal!

*1 box of Jello instant vanilla pudding (size depends on how much fruit you put in)
*1 can pineapple tidbits
*1 can sliced peaches
*2 cans Mandarin oranges
*Other fruit that you might like....grapes, strawberries, cherries, etc.

Drain and mix the fruits together. Save the juice from the Mandarin oranges! Add the dry pudding mix to the Mandarin orange juice in a covered Tupperware. Shake until thoroughly mixed. Pour over the fruit mixture and stir. Then chill until it's cool and serve. It's really good! For a low-calorie fruit salad, you can leave off the pudding, but you should at least try it once the way my mother used to make it!!!! Everything is better the way your mom used to make it!

If you want the full Cajun experience, you will want to eat this on a Monday because that is the official day to eat red beans and rice down in N'Orleans! And, go to Pandora and search for Zydeco music, turn it up and as the French say... "Bon Appetite!!!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Michelle from Mischka Boutique, the Sydney-based jewelry designer of eclectic, beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces -- everything from rings to necklaces to bracelets to earrings. Not only does Michelle feature her own unique designs, but she also feature the work of local and international designers. "We search far and wide for those stunning creations that add the perfect finishing touch to any outfit -- so you don't have to." How cool is that? I love the marketplace feel of her shop!

She's giving away this sparkling LOVE necklace in rose gold ($99) to one lucky reader. The necklace is rose-gold plated with high quality cubic zirconia crystals and sterling Silver. The chain length of the necklace is 42cm. It would be fun to add a little bling to your summer wardrobe, don't you think, friends?

For your chance to win, simply visit Mischka Boutique, and leave a comment below, along with how you'd style the necklace if you won. You can also LIKE Mischka Boutique on Facebook and FOLLOW on Twitter for extra entries -- just make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry and include @melissablake in your tweet. A winner will be chosen at random next Wednesday, July 23rd, so you've got a whole week to enter! Good luck, friends! xoxo

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.

"What's so great about normal?" --Katrina Elam

[Photos via My Summer Twist]
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