Monday, February 28, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Yummies and Crafts

I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head...but I am not very motivated right now to actually do you ever have one of those days/weeks???  Please tell me you do!  My migraine probably isn't helping...

Anyway, I am currently working on a very very yummy treat that I am going to unveil to you tomorrow! the meantime...

Are you looking for a few St. Patrick's Day ideas?  Here are a few of my favorite St. Patrick's Day things I made last year!

Tomorrow I will be showing off a new yummy treat idea so be sure to join me tomorrow to see what I have up my sleeves!

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

SYTYC Spotlight Saturday!

Every Saturday I'm going to feature a fellow SoYouThinkYou'reCrafty contestant from Season 5 - check out their blogs!

Lauren @ Creatively Crafty Baby

i am the mother of the two cutest kids in the world… sorry… its true :) in love with James Bond… (seriously… im married to James Bond) a lover of music… Its as necessary as breathing. a singer a lazy blogger at Creatively Crafty Baby from the ghetto of southern california, living in a town with more cows than people… and I LOVE it… a flip flop wearing, beach loving girl living where it is winter more than half the year… But I wear my flip flops anyway… (havent gotten frostbite yet) addicted to creating… If I go for stretches without having a creative outlet I get a little cranky.

Lauren’s Crafts:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Simply Link {Party} and a {Michael's Craft} GIVEAWAY!!!

WHEW HEW!!!!!!!!!!  I am soooo excited!  I can't believe I hit 600 followers!!!  Thank you so much to all my wonderful followers!  Thank you thank you thank you!

To celebrate...let's have a GIVEAWAY!

I am giving away a $20 gift card toMichael's Craft Store!  HURRAY!!!  Since most of you are crafty, and Michael's are pretty much everywhere, I thought you guys would like this!

Here's how to enter:

Leave 1 comment for each of the below items that you complete:
  • Follow Simply Designing through Google Friend's Connect (on the sidebar).  You can become a new follower or just tell me that you already follow through GFC.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed (or tell me that you already subscribe)
  • "Like" Simply Desinging's fan page on Facebook (or tell me you already do)
  • Follow me on Twitter @SimplyDesigning (or tell me you already do) 
  • Subscribe to get a daily email from Simply Designing so that you don't miss out on anything fabulous!  I promise, only one email per day!  (or tell me you have already signed up for my email!)
And for a bonus entry:
  • Leave me a comment telling me what you would buy at Michael's if you won this gift card!
That means you can earn 6 entries!!!

This giveaway will run until next Thursday March 3rd at 11:59 EST.  I will announce the winner sometime on Friday March 4th! 

Now, let's PARTY!!!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Day to save 15% off of Chunky Bling

Today is the last day to save 15% off of Chunky Bling using coupon code: ASHLEY15

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Birthday Party for my son

A couple days ago my youngest son turned 1!  I can not believe that he is a year old!

Marshmallow Fondant Cupcakes...yum! (I'll show a step by step soon!)

So to celebrate, we invited a few friends over for cupcakes.  It was so much fun!

First Birthday Party Yummies

But I think my favorite part of the night was when we sang to him.  I don't know if it was because he was shy, embarrassed, or just being silly, but part way through us singing Happy Birthday to him, he pulled his shirt up to cover his face!  Sooooooo cute! 

I look forward to a time when he is older and I will understand why he covered his face!  I love to see their little personalities grow and develop!

He did manage to eat his cupcake all gone!  He was one happy boy!

We did a Transportation theme.  We ate marshmallow fondant car cupcakes (in turquoise and chocolate) and I also dipped a few yummies in matching turquoise / brown colored chocolate. 

And then I borrowed a Cricut from my friend and cut out vinyl trucks and boats to decorate plain turquoise plates with.  I think they turned out really cute!

Overall, it was a super fun night but I still can't believe he is 1! 

Taking his first steps forward with his sister's shopping cart!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prioritize Your Decorating Projects

Today, I am happy to have the gals at Arcadian Home Decor from Arcadian Home Decor guest posting today on Prioritizing your Decorating Projects!  I know, moving into a new home, I have a few projects of my own I need to tackle and even though I am an interior designer, I am still overwhelmed!  Thanks, I now have a plan! I hope you enjoy the article as much as I do!

No matter whether you are facing a design project as little as remodeling a powder bath or as big as decorating a whole house from scratch you’ve got to get organized. Each project has many smaller projects within it, so things can get very confusing what if you haven’t prioritized each and everything it takes to bring a project to completion. If you already have interior design ideas the process will be much easier. Prioritizing is a project itself with several important steps which cannot be skipped. Once done, prioritizing will get you on your way to an organized and successful project.

Start a Design Journal
If you haven’t already started one, you’ll need to get one as soon as possible. Choose a notebook that is big enough to hold your master list of design projects and steps as well as tear sheets of your favorite rooms, colors, styles and decorating ideas from your shelter magazines. Simply tear out the pages and glue to notebook pages for later reference. Determine Your Needs To find out what you are going to need to complete your project, visit the room or rooms you plan to redesign and answer the following questions:
  • What activities do you do in there?
  • Is it a high traffic area?
  • Are children and pets a consideration?
  • What is the main purpose of your project?
  • What are all the steps you need to take to complete the project? (Calling contractors, protecting wood floors, removing furniture, etc.)
  • If your project is DIY then you’ll need to write down all the materials it will take to get the job done. (at this point give it your best guess)
Write the answers down in your journal. Once you’ve answered these questions you will have your master list already created. Be sure to categorize your list into interior, exterior and landscape projects.

Rank By Priority
Take you master list and give each item a ranking from 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest priority and 5 lowest. The number 1’s on your list you will want to get started on right away, for example if your project isn’t a DIY you’ll need to interview contractors first or interior designers.

Next rank your items by project type: DIY for do it yourself; E for experts; Dual for those that will take effort from both yourself and an expert. An expert is going to be a contractor, interior designer or a decorator who provides a specialized service such as den design.

Now you’ll want to rank each item for cost with 1 being high cost and 3 least expensive. After ranking by cost you should be able to create a budget for your project. Taking the time upfront to prioritize your design projects ensures you’ll have less mistakes and a more successful finish.

Content provided by Arcadian Home Decor, a site that specializes in top quality home decor items at extremely affordable prices. Come visit us today!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

How to Melt Chocolate for Dipping

I love dipping things in chocolate!  Almost anything tastes better dipped in chocolate!  Chocolate covered pretzels, marshmallows, cookies, strawberries, bananas, raspberries...I love chocolate covered treats!  But not only does it taste good, it is also a simple way to make homemade goodies!

Chocolate Covered Marshmallows on a Stick with Jimmies

But before you dip, you have to melt your chocolate.  It sounds simple, yet I have found, that it can be so easy to mess up!

I recently received an email asking for help and advice on how to melt chocolate so I thought I would share all of my hints, tricks and tips with everyone! 
  1.  Decide if you are going to use real chocolate (like chocolate chips) or melting chocolate (like Wilton's melting chocolate.)  This will make a difference.  Regular chocolate is more difficult to melt correctly.  Melting chocolate has more room for error.
  2. Decide how you are going to melt your chocolate: 
    • Melting Chocolate in a double boiler will give you the best results with the least room for error, however, it takes longer and is not always the easiest way.
      • To melt in a double boiler, place a small amount of water in the bottom pan of a double boiler, the water should not touch the top pot.  Place the chocolate or melting chocolate in the top pot and start heating.  Stir frequently until chocolate is just melted, turn the heat off and dip away. 
    • Melting chocolate in the microwave is quickest, dirties the fewest dishes and is my go-to method even though it can be trickier.  
      • When melting chocolate or melting chocolate in the microwave, place chocolate in a microwave safe dish (I use a mug).  Be careful, the dish will get hot!
      • If you are using regular chocolate or melting chocolate, set the power to 50% and microwave for 30 seconds at a time. 
      • Stir in between each 30 second interval.  This is important!  Chocolate can actually retain its shape while being completely melted, so if you go by sight alone, you will overheat your chocolate! 
      • When your chocolate is mostly melted, use smaller intervals, 20 seconds, 10 seconds, 8 seconds.  Really.  A few seconds can make the difference between melted chocolate and overheated chocolate, so be careful!!! 
      • When your chocolate (or melting chocolate) is almost completely melted, just stir it.  Most likely the last couple of chocolate pieces will melt.  This is a great way to insure you do not overheat your chocolate. 
Chocolate is easily overheated.  The symptoms of overheated chocolate are tricky to spot because they are similar to chocolate that is not yet fully melted.  Overheated chocolate will be thick, chunky and dry.  If you melt overheated chocolate more, it will just get thicker and drier.  There is a fine line between melted chocolate and overheated chocolate so just be careful.

Chocolate dipped Pretzels with Jimmies

Now you want to you know my real secret??

Vegetable oil.

Before you melt your chocolate, add in a little vegetable oil.  This will help your chocolate from drying out.  It can also fix slightly overheated chocolate!  Vegetable oil is my life saver and I rarely melt chocolate without it!

So next time you decide to dip chocolate, melt carefully, stir frequently, and add a touch of vegetable oil to your chocolate to ensure perfectly dipped treats!

This idea was also published in The Current

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Free Baby Sling!!!

Free Baby Carrier from Seven™ Slings ($39 Value)!!

I've never used a baby sling before but I know a LOT of mamas who LOVE slings!!  So this deal will be just the thing to get me to try one!! 

Have you heard of Mamapedia?  It is a great site that has deals at 50% off or sometimes even more!  Love that!  In this case,  it's 100% off: FREE! 

I saw the deal and thought that I could buy one for a friend since my youngest is almost 1 years old, but it says they work until 35 pounds!!  Holy cow!!!  That means I could carry my 1 year old hands free!  Sign me up!

This deal, which is good for 2 more days, gives you a voucher for a free sling, you just pay shipping!  And you get to pick any sling you want!  Amazing!  I already ordered my voucher, now I just need to decide which sling I want! 

So if you need/want a sling or have a friend who might want one, go check out the won't get much better then free!

Click here for your: Mamapedia - Free Sling Deal

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SYTYC Spotlight Saturday!

Every Saturday I'm going to feature a fellow SoYouThinkYou'reCrafty contestant from Season 5 - check out their blogs!

Kirstin & Jo @ KoJo Designs

We are Kirstin and Jordan, sisters who blog over at kojodesigns.  We’re both stay at home mama’s… Kirstin has a 2 year old, Burke, and a newborn baby, Piper Jane, and Jordan has two little girls, Keadryn (3) and Sayla (2), and she’s due with Number Three (another sweet baby girl!) in February.
Pretty much, we love to make things… We have slight addictions to pretty paper and fabric, love nothing more than putting together a kickin’ party or shower, and both still subscribe to Martha Stewart Weddings even though we’ve each been married for 7+ years- haha!  .
Other fun facts about us- Jordan loves salty treats, Kirst loves sweets, Kirstin’s favorite season is summer and Jord’s is winter, Jord would live in a hoodie and jeans if she could, Kirstin would wear a sundress every day if the weather permitted. In our pre-baby lives Kirstin taught elementary school in the ghetto and Jord gallivanted around the world, living in exotic places and learning Spanish and Arabic.  Oh, and we both LOVE travelling, Jesus, dark chocolate, happy hour at Sonic and being in the mountains.
Check them out at KoJo Designs.

KoJo Designs Crafts:

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Chunky Bling Jewelry Party - Code to get 15% off your order

So do you remember the other day when I told you all about Chunky Bling and showed off my new bracelet

Well I am very excited to be able to host a Chunky Bling Party!!

The party starts right now and goes through February 24th!

If you like their jewelry and want to purchase something for yourself or as a gift (Mother's Day is coming up!), please head over to my Chunky Jewelry Party Page

When you check out, use this coupon code:  ASHLEY15 and you will get 15% off of your jewelry purchase!!!  15% off is a great discount especially since they have jewelry starting below $10!!!  What a deal!

I have not been compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  However, like most parties (ie tuperware parties), I have the opportunity to earn jewerly through this party.  And. mostly, I am just very excited to be able to offer my readers a 15% off discount! 

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Simply Link {Party}

Holy cow!  I am sooooo close to hitting 600 followers I can't stand it!!  I am so excited!

When I hit 500 followers, I did a giveaway for a $20 Starbuck's Gift Card and it was a hit!  So I want to know, when I hit 600 followers, what would you like to see as a giveaway?  Another Starbuck's giftcard, a Target gift card, a gift card to a craft store and if so, what one, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, other? 

YOU TELL ME...what type of giveaway would YOU like??

Stay tuned because I hope to hit 600 followers soon so watch for the giveaway!

Also remember, you can follow me through GFC (on my sidebar), subscribe to my RSS feed, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to my daily email.

Also, please come back later today!  I will be hosting a Jewelry Party with Chunky Bling!  And if you purchase an item through my party, you will get a 15% discount off of their already low prices!!!  So take a moment and check out Chunky Bling so that you can plan your purchase for later today (and through the 25th!)
Again, thanks to all who visit every week and link up!  I enjoy seeing all your link ups every week!

Let's party!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A new great Jewelry site and a Review - Chunky Bling

Beaded Watches

I just heard about a new jewelry company called Chunky Bling.  I love jewelry so I decided I had to check it out and I was surprised by what I found.

This is not just another jewelry company.  They offer customization of their jewelry, and they offer the ability for you to custom design a watch!  A WATCH!  (I totally need a new watch...)

The other great thing Chunky Bling has to offer is their price point is so reasonable!  I love finding a great piece of jewelry at a great price!  And they prices are truly very reasonable! 

Here are a few things I am eyeing on their site right now:

Look at how fab this Elegant Pearl Bracelet is!  I have several shirts this would look perfect with! 

This Swarovski Pearl Ring is just precious!

This Diamond and Ice Watch is particularly beautiful, but you can custom design your own watch, even choosing your own watch face!  How cool is that?

Having seen their site and how inexpensive their jewelry was, I was interested in knowing how nice their product was.  So (hurray!) Chunky Bling offered to send me my very own piece of bling to review!!!  Squeal!  This is what they sent me:

A Birthstone Bracelet!  This is a photo I took of the actual bracelet they sent me!  Isn't it so pretty?!  I was particularly surprised at the quality of the bracelet, it is good quality, beautiful and oh-so-sparkly!  I love it! 

I have to admit, I was a bit worried since my husband and son have February birthdays and then my daughter and I are in different months, how it would look with 4 birthstones but two of them being the same color.  But I LOVE it! 

(I will never be a hand model, I know!  But it just looks so pretty on!)

I particularly like this Birthstone Bracelet because you can customize it using the birthstone colors of your choice!  Wouldn't this be a fab Mother's Day gift from (or to) that special someone in your life? (Don't be shy...forward this post to your man. Not-so-subtle hints work best most of the time!)  Or wouldn't this be a lovely gift to give to your own mom for Mother's Day

So if you are looking to add a little bling to your wardrobe, check out Chunky Bling!

Check out their site and tell me, what would be the first thing you would purchase from Chunky Bling?
Beaded Watches

I was not compensated for this post however I was sent a bracelet to review.  All opinions expressed are soley mine.  Chunky Bling is an affiliated sponsor which means, if you follow the link from my blog and purchase an item, they give me a million dollars...or...just a little in-store credit towards the purchase of my own jewelry :)  Yeah...definitely the second one! 

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Service Opportunity - Super Scarves Project


A friend just told me about this Super Scarves Project.  Now I don't knit or crochet, but I am sure some of you do!  If you do, listen up: here is a chance to help out workers for the Super Bowl next year!

Basically, the project is to have people from all over the country knit or crochet a blue and white scarf that will be given to the Super Bowl volunteers to wear as part of their uniform.

What a great idea!!  My friend has a goal to make at least 25 scarves to donate.  I am sooooo impressed!!!

They need 8,000 scarves total and only have 2,500 so far with one year to go.  Ack! 

So if you knit or crochet and are able to help with this project, all of the information can be found here


Also, I was told by a follower that the Special Olympics is asking for scarves as well.  Their deadlines are sooner then the Super Bowl one, but it is still a great project to participate in if you are able to.  Get all the details here

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fox News Segment - Valentine's Day Treats

Here is my segment on Fox News Morning Show from Friday. My four year old came on the show to help me show off some yummy Vday treats!  Isn't she just a cutie?

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More Heart Decor

Well I am a bit sad that this is my last Valentine's Day post....I love Valentine's Day! 

My husband and I actually went out last night though to celebrate.  Tomorow, we will be staying in.  Although I think I might whip up a batch of chocolate fondue for dessert.  Yum!  (Here is my super-duper easy-peasy recipe for Chocolate Fondue.)

But in the mean time, I wanted to share with you the last of my Vday projects for this year.  It was actually what I sent to all of those who won my Facebook Pay-it-Forward Giveaway and my Spontaneous Giveaway a couple of weeks ago.

Yes.  Everyonce in a while I hold Giveaways on Facebook that aren't on here!  Be sure to "like" my Simply Designing Fan Page so you don't miss anything!

Oh, and did you know I'm on Twitter too @SimplyDesigning!

And finally, if you want to be sure you don't miss out on anything fabulous here at Simply Designing, you can always sign up to receive a daily email from me.  I promise you only get one email per day, I never sell or giveaway your information, and it will be chock full of all the latest and greatest that is happening on my blog!

Ok.  Well, here is a sampling of the different prizes that my winners won!  They each were sent (1) amazing hand-made 6" heart wreath!  (I sure hope they all liked them!)

Pink Yarn Wrapped with Berries

Red Yarn Wrapped with Berries

White Felt Wrapped with Red Felt Flowers

Red Felt Wrapped with White Felt Flowers

Tissue Paper and Yarn Wrapped with White Felt Flowers

Pink Sparkles with Berries

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