Monday, April 21, 2014

11 Facts + Questions

Hello! Did you all have a great Easter weekend? What's new in your life? I headed back to my hometown this weekend. Friday I had a fun night catching up with friends from high school over drinks. Even though we are only a couple hours away we still don't see each other as much as I'd like! Saturday was a work day where I caught up on lots of e-mail and things on my to-do list, but I also got to play with my niece so I still had some fun. She is the sweetest thing and loves to "talk" at three months! On Sunday we had a nice family dinner and then I headed back to school for a busy week ahead. When I'm not at my own place I kind of forget about social media, so I've been MIA lately on Twitter on Instagram. I'm really trying to get better at that and posting more regularly.

This weekend I was asked to participate in the Liebster Award by Emily of The Small Stuff Counts. To be honest, I had never heard of the Liebster Award before. I started reading Emily's post about it and discovered it's a way for bloggers to recognize other up and coming blogs. How cool is that? That is one thing I love about the blogging community so much. Even though we have never met, bloggers are so supportive of each other and I love these little things that help connect you to even more fabulous bloggers and readers. That's what blogging is all about! Thank you so much Emily for thinking of Hammer & Heels and nominating me! What a fun surprise :)  If you're wondering about the name, Liebster is a German term of endearment which couldn't be more fitting since I am German myself.

So here's how the Liebster Awared works: share 11 facts about yourself. Answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you. Then nominate other bloggers for the Liebster Award.

11 Questions:

Do you collect anything?
Technically, no. But if we're talking home decor and little trays and dishes and things…that's another story.

If you had a Saturday all alone with nothing you needed to do, how would you spend your time?
That would be a dream! I would probably go shopping, grab lunch at a cute cafe, go thrifting, and catch up on my Bloglovin' feed!

What is your pet peeve?
It's funny because I was just talking about it this weekend. One of my pet peeves is when people upload the worst photos to social media. When I say worst, I mean: blurry, dark, uninteresting, with zero effort. I don't claim to take the best photos and I'm definitely not an expert (in fact, I'm working on improving) but if you can hardly see what the picture is of, why upload it? 

What is your favorite season of the year?
Just recently I had a change in heart and decided fall was my favorite season. For the longest time it was summer, but now that we're recovering from a rough winter, spring isn't looking too shabby either.

If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object, where would you go? Why?
Greece! I have always had a fascination with the country and its blue waters and white buildings (probably after watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a kid) and am dying to go ever since. It looks absolutely beautiful, and it would be so fun to experience the culture.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
Honestly, I don't have an official bucket list besides the things I think about in my head. Maybe I should make one. Going to Greece would definitely be on it though!

What is something you fear?
Hmm…the unknown. It really makes planning difficult :)

What is your favorite small business near you?
Raygun in Des Moines carries t-shirts, koozies, and other random things with the funniest sayings related to states in the Midwest. They are so creative and have the coolest shop. That's where I got my "I'm not a player, I just blog a lot" t-shirt!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you meet your expectations?
This is so funny to think about now! I went in phases. I used to want to be a cosmetologist and do hair when I was in elementary, then I wanted to be an athletic trainer, then I wanted to be in sports marketing and wear suits every day so I looked important. I'm still in marketing, but I have a much more entrepreneurial spirit and I'd love to start my own small business someday. Fun fact: I never changed my major in college! I chose marketing and thankfully I love it.

What inspired you to start your blog?
I was away from my friends in a new city at an internship I didn't like. I was tired of coming home from  my internship with nothing to do, so I started reading online. I wish I could remember the very first blog post I read, but it sort of just lead me to a new blog, and then another, and suddenly I was obsessed with the blogging world because everyone had a different story, but they were so inspiring. I quickly found that almost every blogger started their blog as a creative outlet, which was exactly the thing I needed. I related with bloggers so well and I admired the whole community they built. I have always been obsessed with home decor and projects, so I used my blog as a way to organize all of my thoughts and share my ideas. It is one of the best things I ever did, and I never dreamed of saying that the very first day I started it.

What’s one piece of advice you have for something thinking about starting their own blog?
Just do it! What's the worst thing that can happen? I remember contemplating starting my blog for weeks, and I thought I needed to nail down every little detail before I started my blog. Remember, nothing is irreversible. If you hate your blog name or design, you can always change it later. I promise, the most important thing is just starting. After that, all of the other decisions will come with time as you begin to find your niche, so don't stress about it too much in the beginning.

11 Random Facts:

1. I'm the youngest of 5 kids, with 10 years between me and my oldest sister.
2. Growing up on a farm meant the closest Target was an hour away.
3. I played volleyball, basketball, track, and softball in high school.
4. I graduated with a class of 42 people. There are 1,000 people in my hometown.
5. I am a night owl and would rather stay up late than get up early.
6. American Idol is one of my favorite TV shows right now. I haven't watched the other seasons in forever, but I'm really into this season for some reason. Jena is my favorite :)
7. Coming up with 11 facts is super hard. I'm already stuck and I'm only at number 7.
8. I don't have one favorite music artist. I usually listen to what's on the radio, but some favorites include Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.
9. Out of Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona, Barcelona was my favorite city because of the beach and relaxed feel.
10. I would rather choose ice cream over a meal.
11. I have visited about half of the United States and I want to visit all 50.

Now, the fun part of this award is to spread the love to others. I’m nominating these bloggers for the Liebster Award: 

Tiffany Leigh Interior Design - She's also a student and finds the best thrift items. Tiffany is so talented in interior design plus she has amazing drawing skills!

The Makerista - I met Gwen at Go Blog Social without following her blog before. She was nice and then when I checked out her blog discovered she is a DIY genius with the cutest kids ever. Her photography skills are amazing.

Clothed in Confetti - I recently started following Jenna and now I'm obsessed with her style! She is so creative in her outfits.

Charmingly Styled - A fellow Midwest blogger, Maya is the absolute sweetest girl you'll ever meet! 

Amanda Marie - I heard her speak at Go Blog Social and she shared some of the most helpful photography tips. You NEED to check out her Instagram. I check her feed daily for inspiration :)

Ladies, now that you’re a Liebster Award winner, it's your turn to answer 11 questions and give 11 facts and spread the love to other bloggers! Please answer these 11 questions, include 11 random facts, and then nominate 5-11 small bloggers. Since Emily did such a good job with questions, I'm using hers :) 

Do you collect anything?
If you had a Saturday all alone with nothing you needed to do, how would you spend your time?
What is your pet peeve?
What is your favorite season of the year?
If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object, where would you go? Why?
What is one thing on your bucket list?
What is something you fear?
What is your favorite small business near you?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you meet your expectations?
What inspired you to start your blog?
What’s one piece of advice you have for something thinking about starting their own blog?

There are so many other bloggers I could have included but I've already spent wayyyy too much time writing this post! Can't wait to hear all of your answers and I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Make It: Flower Necklace

Have you ever had something turn out completely different than you anticipated? I dreamed up (what I thought was) an awesome DIY and started working on it on Monday. Everything was going great and I was pleased with the results so far. Apparently it decided to take a turn for the worst and as I was working on it on Tuesday. Everything went horribly wrong. It was taking much longer than I hoped, the painted stripes looked awful, and anything I did to salvage the project ended up making it worse. And all I could think about was the DIY post I wanted to share with you guys today and all of a sudden I didn't have one at all. *Sigh* Oh, the challenges of a blogger….

So I pulled myself together and decided to test my skills at flower necklaces. At 7pm last night. Luckily this one turned out better than the last and I have a post to share with you! It's a win win. I have a shoot today and wanted a cute, unique necklace. Last week, Erin gave us a glimpse of a pretty flower necklace she made, and once I saw this flower necklace DIY, I decided to make my own! Keep on reading for the full tutorial :)

Inspired by Green Wedding Shoes tutorial with a few modifications.

Flowers, $7 at Hobby Lobby (They always have 50% off sales, so buy flowers when they're on sale!)
Gauge 26 Floral wire, $3 at Hobby Lobby
Yarn or twine
Scissors or pliers (I used a scissors but recommend a pilers if you have one on hand)
Total: $10

Step 1
Cut your yarn or twine to your desired length of necklace. Make it longer because you can always trim it. I wanted to tie mine in the back so I can adjust the size accordingly.

Step 2
Cut wire and wrap it around the yarn to secure it, creating a crescent shape. This adds structure so the flowers hold their form. I used a thicker wire than suggested because that's what I had on hand, and it was much more difficult to work with.

Step 3
Add another piece of wire for added structure. It's okay if it looks messy because it will get covered up by the flowers. Ideally, I would have put several more vertical wires from yarn to wire, but the wire was difficult to secure tight enough so I made due with just one.

Step 4
Start by arranging your filler flowers. I used faux flowers so I could keep my necklace for a while and just trimmed pieces to fit. How you arrange it is up to you, but I wanted some filler to stick out the edges and create shape, so I had them extend from the outside of the crescent. After you arrange your filler, secure it to the wire by cutting a short piece of yarn and using that to tie around the filler and the wire.

Step 5
Now is the fun part! Start arranging your flowers until you come up with a design you like. I removed the flower from the stem by simply pulling on the flower head until it came loose. Once you decide on an arrangement, it's time to secure them in place. Cut a short piece of yarn and wrap it around the green plastic "stem" of a flower. Then, tie the yarn ends around a piece of wire or filler piece to secure it. In the other tutorial they used wire to secure the flowers in place, but my wire was too thick so I used yarn and found it to work much easier.

You can cut a piece of felt to cover the back of the necklace, but I decided not to.

Once I got the hang of the wire and improvised a little, the project went fairly quick and I was done in about an hour. The original tutorial was made for bridesmaids, and the necklace would also be cute for a fun party or celebration! I'm seriously loving this DIY because it's so cute and easy.

Did you like this DIY? Where would you wear your flower necklace?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Style Secrets: $6 Moto Jacket

Oh, hello Monday. Though I had a great weekend, I'm finding myself off to a slow start and wishing I had just one more day to get things organized and get ahead of schedule. But who doesn't, amiright?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine: I don't purchase anything if it's not on sale. This goes for clothing, home decor, accessories…you name it. Call me cheap, but I consider it savvy shopping. Why pay full price if you don't have to? You see, retailers have a cycle they follow. New arrivals come in and are marked at regular prices. After about three weeks, the "new arrival" prices are discounted to move inventory and make room for more clothing coming in. If you're patient enough and figure out the retail cycle of your favorite stores, you can find things for as much as half off or more. So worth it. It's so predictable and every time I walk in J.Crew or Banana Republic I quickly browse the full-priced items in the front then head straight to the sale. Another not-so-secret secret? Stores have sales all the time! Banana Republic is known for their 25% store-wide sale they have at least once a month. If I'm shopping and don't see an extra sale happening, I'll wait. These are not earth-shattering tips people, I'm just super aware of all of the sales happening (thank you, e-mail) and plan my shopping trips around them.

I wish I could say that I was eyeing this jacket for a month waiting for it to go on sale, but I wasn't. In fact, I had never seen it before. In my local mall, shopping is sparse and we don't have a huge selection of stores. I was looking for an outfit for Go Blog Social and needed a moto jacket and wasn't having any luck. JCPenney has the occasional cute piece, so I walked in and had a mini celebration when I found this jacket on clearance. The price? $6. Sometimes you just get lucky! I wasn't sold on the multi-colored buttons, but at $6 I couldn't pass it up.

Last weekend when I wore the jacket to Go Blog Social I got tons of compliments and was asked numerous times "Is that vintage?" and my favorite ,"Is that real leather?" Sorry guys, I'm not that good!

So there you have it, part one of my style secrets. What shopping tips have you learned over the years? Do you have any rules you follow when shopping? Where do you find the best deals?

P.S. Thank you for participating in the Sparrow $50 giveaway! We have a winner!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Life Lately

Happy Friday!! Did you all have a great week? I am busy working on my new website (Which I cannot wait to share! It's going to be good.), finishing up school presentations, and work projects. It's still unreal that I am graduating in ONE month! So much to accomplish in such little time. Anyone that's applied to jobs (so, everyone) knows it is a job in itself, but I'm trying to stay patient and hopeful that the right opportunity will come.

Thank you to everyone who took the reader survey! If you haven't yet, please do. It's a huge help in learning about you guys and what you hope to learn, see, and read about at H&H. It's been unanimous that you want to see more home related and DIY posts which is super exciting! It's definitely something I want to do more of myself, so it's always nice to see when our opinions and thoughts line up :) I'm doing lots of brainstorming post ideas and trying to get organized with my blog so I have an editorial calendar planned out in advance. Usually I write posts the night before (or in this case, the day of) but I want to be better about getting posts done ahead of time so I know exactly what posts are coming up and you can follow along with sneak peeks of upcoming posts for the next week. Would you like that? Another idea I have is giving you guys the option to ask me questions regarding your home decorating challenges. I haven't worked out all of the kinks or figured out exactly how I would incorporate it into the blog, so let me know if this is something you are interested in.

Some of you also mentioned you'd like to see more personal posts as well, and you're in luck! I was lucky enough to be featured by one of my favorite bloggers whom I met at Go Blog Social last weekend, Erin of House of Earnest! I took part in her Meet and Greet series where she interviews up and coming DIY bloggers. Head on over and check out my interview and find out why I started DIYing as a kid!

After the positive feedback on Instagram, I will share with you my styling tips for decorating shelves! Stay tuned for that blog post, hopefully coming next week.

Today is the LAST day to enter the Sparrow Boutique giveaway for a chance to win $50 to their amazing shop!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Go Blog Social 2014 Recap + Reader Survey

Photo by Katie of To Live For Style 

I'm still on a weekend high, you guys. Go Blog Social was more than I ever expected, and I still get excited when I think about all of the wonderful memories and amount of knowledge I took in during the weekend. I was blown away with how open and inviting everyone was. It's always intimidating walking into a room of hundreds of beautiful, successful bloggers, but I never felt more comfortable despite my shy nature and that's because of the positivity and genuine personalities of everyone I met.

With a packed full schedule of 7 speakers both days, I was surprised how fast the days flew by! Each speaker presented great, relevant information along with action steps and I found myself taking diligent notes because I didn't want to forget a thing. They weren't afraid to share resources that worked for them, tell stories, and give us advice for taking our blog to the next level. I was relieved to see no one felt entitled, despite how big their blog following. In fast, the speakers were just as excited to be there as we were, and I felt lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring, motivating individuals. As bloggers, it's easy for us to get caught up in the numbers and compare ourselves to others as if it's a competition. It was so refreshing to hear speakers address this and emphasize how important it is not to compare yourself. At a blogging conference we are all there to learn, and it's important to help each other out. Aside from learning blogging tips, I was inspired by everyone's drive and motivation. We all share a common interest and it was great to bond and give each other advice.

I'm coming away from GBS feeling renewed, energized, motivated, inspired, and happy. Not only do I have a new perspective of blogging and hopes to build Hammer & Heels into a community you will all love, but I developed genuine friendships. Erin was an absolute joy to meet. She is so down to earth and honest, and inspires me to be a better blogger and person. Jessie is incredibly beautiful inside and out. Mary is an amazing food blogger (and author!) who I am so thankful I got to know over the weekend. She's one of the friendliest people I have met.

Photo by Mary of The Kitchen Paper

In the coming weeks I am working on several changes for H&H and I can't wait to share them with you! As much as I didn't want the weekend to end, I was anxious to get home and get to work on new ideas. On Sunday I purchased a domain and now I'm working on a blog redesign! I also have a few other things in store as I refine my focus, write new post ideas, take better photos, and integrate more original content, but first, I need your help! You are what makes H&H worth it, and I want your feedback on blog content. Please take a couple minutes to take this quick survey so I know what you like, what you dislike, and please give any honest suggestions! This will help me create content you will love.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your answers!

*Click here to take survey*

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hello Go Blog Social + Giveaway!

Sparrow Blazer ℅ / Big Star Jeans / Francesca's Blouse (similar) / TJMaxx Betsey Johnson Bag (similar) / BCBGeneration Heels (similar)

You guys, I can't believe it's finally here!!! I have been waiting months for this weekend to arrive and now, today's the day! I'm attending my first blogging conference, Go Blog Social, which means I get to meet so many of my favorite bloggers and readers (um, hello Erin, Lauren, and Jessie) Not to mention, learn a TON about blogging. So many emotions going on right now: excitement, nervousness, eagerness…I want to take as much in as I can. Next week I will give you a run down of the weekend, share my favorite notes, photos and more! Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram for instant updates the entire weekend :)

Anyways, can we talk about this blazer from Sparrow Boutique for a moment? Everything about it is perfection. I'm dying over the gorgeous bluish purple hue because it's so unique, and the zippers add the perfect amount of edgy-ness. You can bet this is worn on repeat! My love affair with blazers continue, and this is my favorite one yet. If you take a peek around Sparrow's website you'll notice that this blazer is not the only gem. In fact, the entire boutique is full of adorable clothes that need to get in my closet. To treat you all for being so lovely, I teamed up with Sparrow to offer you one $50 gift card to Sparrow Boutique. Enter the giveaway for your chance to win until April 11th! Be sure to leave us a comment telling us what you would buy with your $50 gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Make It: Marble Tray

Hammer & Heels: DIY Marble Tray

Hammer & Heels: DIY Marble Tray

Go ahead and file this DIY under "smallest effort, biggest impact." For all DIY novices out there, this one is for you. Break out your gluing skills from elementary school because that's all this little wonder takes! Despite the fact that this DIY is foolproof, it's seriously a favorite because 1) it's marble 2) I love trays. Basically every room in your house should have a tray! They keep things looking neat and organized by keeping items "in place." Like, say, on your coffee table. Your stack of books, trinkets, TV remote, coasters, and other things are scattered across your coffee table looking a little messy. Just by arranging those items in a tray, your coffee table looks put together and intentional. 

If you want to see how I did it, read on for the full tutorial.

Kitchen knobs of your choosing - Home Depot, $16 for two
Marble tile - Home Depot, $4
Gorilla glue - Home Depot
Gold spray paint - Home Depot, $4
Total $24

Home Depot had a couple different options for marble tiles. I originally saw the Carrara Marble which was a little thinner slab and shaped as a rectangle instead of a square. The tile I chose is Calacatta Marble. Calacatta is known for having more dramatic veining, and when using just one slab, I wanted the marbling to be more noticeable. If you want to get technical and read up on the differences between Carrara and Calaccatta, Houzz did an entire article. It doesn't matter which you choose, just go with the one you like best!

Step 1
Spray paint your knobs! Gold makes me happy, and gold combined with marble makes me even happier. In store, Home Depot's knob selection was a little sparse. There were few knobs that were big enough for the size of tile I was using, and the gold options were even slimmer. I decided on the modern knobs because they were substantial enough to work with the thick marble tile. They were spendy, but definitely achieved the look I was going for. I gave my knobs 3 coats of paint, letting them completely dry in between coats. Always use thin layers of paint to avoid drips.

Step 2
Measure the placement for the knobs. I took an old fashioned ruler and measured the knobs so they were placed in the center of the tile. Mark the spot with a pencil.

Step 3
Glue your knobs in place. Drop enough glue to cover the bottom of the knob and press on the tile. Use your ruler to double check your placement is even.

Not too bad, right? I would also suggest gluing felt to the bottom of your tile so you don't scratch your furniture. After coming home from the craft store I realized I didn't have the felt on hand like I thought I did. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

Also, the newest issue of La Petite Fashionista Magazine came out yesterday and I love the story on a fun bridal shower and a cute lemonade bar with delicious recipes! You can read my article on how to build your dream closet (while doing a little spring cleaning) here. I hope you like it!

Hammer & Heels: DIY Marble Tray

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