Patriotic Table Setting

When I decorate a table with a specific theme, I like to search for items in my home which are the colors I plan to use...and color is everywhere! So for this table I chose, of course, items in
white and blue.

(But what I really love is the vintage look of the turquoise blue with the pure red. These are also colors found in nature!)

I wanted to keep the setting somewhat simple and rustic so instead of using real napkins, I pulled from my linen drawer dish towels in patriotic colors. I also love the idea of using mason jars for drink glasses.

This is Monkey Cake, or pull apart cake, made with walnuts and lots of butter. Recipe is below.

And there you have it!

We are actually headed camping tomorrow morning down at the Jersey shore. And yes I am taking that Monkey Cake with me...LOL! Looking forward to the ocean because temperatures are going to be hovering around the 90-100 degree mark for a few days in these parts!!!

Have a great weekend and happy 4th of July!


Refreshing Lemonade Pie

So as you may know by now, our family vacation during the past two weeks had us all over the South. We first traveled to Winnsboro South Carolina and spent time visiting our dear friends Dan and Dawn on Lake Wateree, then we were off to see Charleston and onto Spring Hill Florida to spend a week with my parents. While in Florida we took day trips to the sponge capital of the world, wonderful Tarpon Springs, and to the always fabulous Walt Disney World. Finally we headed to Atlanta for the Haven Conference and afterwards made our way to Columbus Georgia. Our sweet friends Susan and Marc went out of their way to show us a fabulous day on Lake Oliver, part of the Chattahoochie River. So as a result of all of the beauty and wonderful hospitality we experienced, I am completely inspired by all things Southern.

My Haven Wrap Up!

Wow I can't believe it has already been one full week since we left my parent's house in Florida to drive up to Atlanta so I could attend the welcome cocktail party for all of the Haven Mavens!

Haven was so much fun. All these DIYer's/Bloggers, roughly 300 attendees in one place for 2 full days of talks, lunches, interactive workshops and so on...enough to make a girl's head spin I'll tell ya!

Haven Maven

When we signed in on Wednesday afternoon each attendee was given a canvase bag filled with all kinds of goodies.

Mr. Goodwill Hunting gave a great talk about smart thrifting...he was so funny that he kept us in stitches for over an hour. Also plenty of great tips were in the content of his talk...will be sharing with you later!!!

Miss Mustard Seed, Marian Parsons and Shauna from Perfectly Imperfect gave an advanced painting class...super informative!

I was so excited to win a can of Annie Sloan chalk paint. The color I won was Antibes Green.

Not sure what I am going to paint with it but I am really looking forward to seeing how it applies since to this point I have only used homemade chalk paint.
Haven was great and it was so wonderful to meet so many creative people. I'm not sure but maybe I will be able to convince Mr. Rosemary Lane to attend next year's conference with me!

Ciao for now!


Our Final Stop ~ Lake Oliver on the Chattahoochee River

This past Saturday was spent with our hosts and dear friends Susan and Marc on Lake Oliver which is part of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus Georgia. This incredible couple built their fabulous home on Lake Oliver, complete with a spectacular view of Alabama right on the other side, back in 2002. Their home is a wonderfully comfortable place to relax and spend time. It exudes so much charm and elegance that their home feels just like one big southern hug. 

In addition the weather was superb so we took complete advantage of it!

For dinner Marc prepared these amazing smoked ribs. One tip Marc shared with me was to make sure you cut off the membrane on the rib side which runs perpendicular to the rib bones themselves. This makes it easier to separate the ribs after they are cooked. He prepares the ribs by first spreading on a mustard base and then tops it with a secret rub recipe before he starts to smoke the meat. How long did they cook you ask??? Well Marc smoked these ribs for a good six hours.

So while those gorgeous ribs were smoking, we hopped into Susan and Marc's speed boat and took the kids tubing. Oh my did they have fun!!!

First the boys had their turn...

And then the girls had theirs...

Even Mr. Rosemary Lane and myself took a turn....wooohooooo! 

And of course we had to take the time for the kids to jump off of the boat into Lake Oliver.

Buddy (a.k.a Sister Batrille) had fun looking on!!!

Afterwards we sat by the pool and waited for the ribs and corn on the cob to be ready for our feast.

Sue's adorable sister Jen joined us with her sweet hubby Geoff. Aren't they cute together?

And then we feasted...

Our day began to wind down so Susan watched over the kids as they took one last dip in the pool.

This was the end of not only our day with Susan and Marc and their family, but also of our two week southern tour. And I have to tell you that this has been one of my absolute favorite vacations! We were shown so much southern hospitality that I am now completely head over heels in love with the South, not to mention feeling nothing less than totally inspired by its beauty! From the spectacular homes and amazing welcomes we received from our hosts and hostesses, to the fabulous food we dined on with them...I am all ready to start planning our next southern trip!

 A huge thank to Susan and Marc for showing us such a wonderful day. We feel so blessed to have been able to spend the last two weeks with our beloved family and friends.

God is so very Good!

 Y'all come back now Ya Hear!!

Sharing with these fantastic linky parties...

Please Vote for 21 Rosemary Lane ~ One of the Project Pinterest Challange Top 12

Whew weeee...we just arrived home last night from a 15 hour car ride up from Columbus Georgia. (Not an easy trip by any means with a 9 and 7 year old, but you know what...they did surprisingly well!) And this morning to my surprise, I opened our emails to find that my Chalk Paint Desk project has been selected as one of the top 12 in the "Project Pinterest Challenge" going on over at the blogs Two Yellow Birds Decor and The Taylor House.

In this challenge the final contestants were decided upon by 4 lofty judges and now, just like on American Idol, the final judging is up to your vote!!!

My Pintspiration was Miss Mustard Seed's fabulous chalk paint buffet. I know you must have seen this piece all over the blogosphere...and why...because it is flipping gorgeous that's why!

As if it isn't exciting enough to be one of the 12 finalist, I actually had the thrill of meeting Miss Mustard Seed herself, the incredibly talented and wonderfully sweet Marian Parsons, at the Haven Conference last week.

Honestly...this women is a living doll and it was a real honor to meet Marian and attend all of her seminars!

To vote for my Pinterest Challenge project, just click on the button below and you will be taken to the link where you can cast your vote. All you need to do is scroll to the bottom of the post to where you will see the 12 thumbnails of each nominated project. (Mine is number 5)  Below the image you will see the word VOTE and all your need to do is click on it!

Join Me for These Series:

Let me tell you that all of the entries are unbelievably creative and so spot on, that I have to say
"It is an honor just to be nominated."

Thank you sooooo much for your constant love and support. The voting will close at midnight Thursday June 28th, and the winner will be announced on Friday June 29th.

Have a great week!


Featured Post Today Over at the Thrifty Groove

Ok Ya'll...I am still here down in the very deep south enjoying the last leg of our wonderful southern tour. Today we are in Columbus Georgia on lake Oliver which is part of the Chattahoochee River, and let me tell ya...it is gorgeous here. We are visiting our dear friends Sue and Marc and their beautiful family just spending the day hanging out by the pool and river. More to come on this later!

But I also want to let you know that today I am being featured over at the blog The Thrifty Groove. Diann has been gracious enough to give me the opportunity to create a special post for her super thrifty blog.

If you want to see how this was done, just hop on over to the Thrifty Groove to check it out!!!

In the meantime have a super duper Saturday and I'll be back later to share our day here in Columbus Georgia!


Top Five Blogging Tips I Learned at Haven Yesterday

If you've been following me you will know that I am attending an amazing conference in Atlanta Georgia this week for DIYer's who also happen to be bloggers. The conference was conceptualized and implemented by an amazing team of blogger's who felt that a conference in this genre of blogging would be a wonderful place for like-minded and passionate DIYer's to come together and celebrate the spirit of DIYing.

While at the conference I learned some amazing and incredibly valuable information from the various workshops I attended. So I decided to put together a list of what I came away from the conference learning.

So without further ado...

MY Top 5 Tips on DIY Blogging

1. The number one thing I came away from the conference with is that photography is HUGE in attracting and keeping readers. Why...because we as bloggers, and well let's be honest here, our species like it or not, are visually driven beings and we enjoy looking at interesting and pretty pictures. Many times a new visitor to a blog will simply skim the photos before reading any of the content. If the photos are colorful, appealing, nicely presented, but most of all easy to see (not being small and unclear), then prospective readers (followers) will stay around to read the blog post. So if you have a good camera, but have no real background in photography, it is incredibly helpful to take an Intro to Photography Class and learn how to use your camera as well as the basic of photography. Even the smallest bit of information with regard to taking photos will reap you much in the way of increased viewership. 

I once read that home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to go back to.

2.  The second point that was drilled into our heads was the importance of content. Your blog content needs to be interesting, informational and engaging. So how do you achieve these goals? First off you need to be engaged yourself...you need to be passionate about what you are writing about, but mostly you need to be blogging because it is something you do for you! I know you have heard this time and time again, and the reason why is because it is true. This is because if you are not portraying your authentic self, people will sense this and not feel drawn to read you. So don't hide who you are but embrace it...write about things that not only expresses the love for you have for DIYing, but make sure to expose your true personality in the process. Most of all write in the voice you know best...your own.

Also "keeping it real" will let your readers and prospective followers know that you are not perfect...just like they are not perfect. And not every last thing you do will go down exactly as planned. Let your readers know what problems or pitfalls you've run into, how you were able to troubleshoot, and what you would do different the next time around. This makes you and your blog relatable as well as approachable to your readers, and your honesty will provide far more valuable information than any straight forward tutorial could.

Finally...try from time to time, to leave the end of your post with a question for your readers to respond to. Readers like to give their opinions, and the invite for their input opens the door for your readers to not only feel engaged, but the invite is there for them to leave the comments we all love to read.

3. Limit the linky parties you join. Only select the parties that give you good numbers in the way of being referring sites and try to only link up the posts that you think are worthy of a feature. Now I will admit, it  is sometimes very hard to know what is going to be a hit and what will be a dud. I've had things that I've linked up on a whim like asking folks to help me choose 5 photos out of a selection of twenty, to submit as a project for my photography class. Out of the blue the next week when I went to link up to the same party, I was in shock to see my frantic last minute request for help had ended up as a featured link from the previous week's party. But what happens when you link up to too many parties is that this cuts into your page ranking. Your page rank indicates the importance of your page to search engines. I am no expert here on how all of this works, but apparently when you link out, in effect you are actually reducing the importance of the page you are trying to promote. In addition (and I've been guilty of this) if you have a bunch of links hanging on to your page, your post could actually end up looking like a SPAM to search engines. Now with that being said, linky parties are a great way for newbies to get themselves some great exposure. I personally had this experience when I linked up to my second or third party, I received my first feature which drove my pageviews through the roof, along with my readership. So I did link up a lot in the beginning and I continued to link up, and as I linked up I continued to get featured on various blogs. But little did I know as my blog grew in pageviews and followers, I was in fact relinquishing some of the importance of my blog's pages to search engines, thus lowering the probability of them being found during a prospective reader's Google search.

4. Since we are on the topic of search engines, do your best to title your blog post to reflect exactly what your post is about. For example...if you are posting a recipe for a healthier carbonated beverage, you should title your post something like this..."Healthy Carbonated Drink Recipe" or "Low Calorie Soda Recipe".  This is a phrase that would be used by someone trying to find out how to make a healthy carbonated drink. The search engine's Ro(bots) will pick up on the key words in the search and then launch their search to find related topics. If this seems to generic for your style, you can go ahead and come up with something more colorful and kitshy like  "Fizz Ed" and then add in brackets {Carbonated Drink Recipe}. This way the search engine's "bots" will still key in on what your post content talks about.
Also when writing posts for your blog, use hyperlinks to other posts in your own blog. This keep readers at your blog as they click here and there to read previous related posts. You can either refer to other posts in the content like I mentioned, or simply add at the end of your post something like...
"If you like this recipe you may also want to check out my vitamin packed Shrimp and Strawberry Salad."

One other thing you can do is to re-name your photos with the simple title of your blog post. So instead of  "img 2345.jpeg" being the name of your photo...it will be "Healthy Carbonated Drink Recipe". This is extremely important now that we are in the era of "Pinterest" and Google images so that your photos can be easily tracked back to your blog for the credit.

5. And the final tip...HAVE FUN!!! Like I stated earlier...blog for your own reasons and don't be afraid to not be 100% perfect or to let your real self shine. Make sure you maintain your integrity by staying true to who you are and to be honest. Don't copy the blogging styles others because it will NEVER come across the same on your blog, it will only come through as not being very authentic. Also it will not help you to establish your own voice. Give your readers credit, if they are smart enough to follow you then what else can I say?

Have a great day!!!


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