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Thursday, June 28, 2012

meet Britt Renee

Today, I have a treat for you. Meet Britt Renee. I interviewed her a few weeks ago about her favorite city and summer activities. Connect with her on blog, Twitter or YouTube.

Introduce yourself and your blog.
My name is Britt Renee. I am a bubbly, energetic girl that loves photography, graphic design & the entertainment industry. I blog about life, humor (hopefully some of my blogs are humorous) and a little bit of beauty as well. Also, I am very fidgety & can't sit still very long : )
What's your favorite blog post and why?
That's a good question. I really like my post Cape Coral because it has pictures I took myself from when my boyfriend, and I went to Cape Coral for his cousin's wedding. I love the pictures. Any posts that have my original photography, I love.
Tell us your favorite city you've been to and why.
My favorite city?! I remember my mother took me to California for two weeks in June of 2001. Everything was absolutely amazing BUT I do distinctly remember San Francisco. It was windy but really awesome. I remember my mom and I went down the winding road and went to Fisherman's Wharf. It was an amazing summer!
What's your favorite thing about summer and why?
Favorite thing about summer? Not having to do ANYTHING! I'll actually only have two weeks off but I will have work. Besides that, I will be enjoying my time off from school. No studying! YAY! : ) I do hope to be able to make it to Wet n Wild before I go back for my next quarter. (The school I go to is year-round, 11 weeks each quarter and 2 weeks off).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Take care of yourself {DIY}

Today, I have a treat for you! While I'm traveling and spending some quality time with family, I hope you'll enjoy this lovely guest post from Nicole of Home for Hire.

Hello Dot in the City readers :) My name is Nicole and I blog over at Home for Hire. I like to chat about DIY projects, recipes, life, Jesus, and the everyday. I'm excited to be over here at Beth's blog and sharing some simple homemade sugar and salt body scrubs.

I don't know about you, but when summer arrives, I suddenly become more self-conscience about my skin. Since I don't want to go and spent a lot of money on fancy skin scrubs, I like to whip up my own to help give my skin a summery glow :)

The best part is that all the ingredients can be found in your pantry!

I like to call the first scrub "A Day at the Beach" because it's made with sea salt and looks a little like sand :)

Start with a cup of sea salt (I bought mine at the dollar store!) and mix in 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest. If you want, add a little squeeze of lemon juice. Slowly add in 1/3 (or so) cup of olive oil. It's best to add the oil slowly because you don't want your scrub too oily.

I dub the second scrub "A Day in the Tropics" because it's made with sugar and coconut oil.

Start with a cup of refined sugar and add in 1 tbsp of lemon zest (and an extra little squeeze of lemon juice!). Add in 1/3 (or so) cup of coconut oil into the mixture until it's the consistency you'd like.

When you're finished, you could dress them up in fancy jars for gift giving.

Or, you could be extra resourceful and use recycled containers--they work great in the shower because they won't break and are water proof!

Although these are wonderful body scrubs, I wouldn't recommend using them on your face because of the oils :)

I hope you enjoy making these simple salt and sugar body scrubs!

Here are the recipe recaps for the body scrubs:

A Day at the Beach
1 cup sea salt
1/3 cup (approximetaly) olive oil
1 heaping tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest

A Day in the Tropics
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp lemon zest

Thank you Beth for letting me stop by!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To the mister

Today, is my man's birthday. One of my favorite memories, is from his birthday three years ago. We happened to be in his hometown and went out to dinner, just the two of us. It was a fun way to celebrate and got even more fun with the help of our server. I promise, I didn't prompt the man at all. I did mention it Brandon's birthday, so at the end of our meal, a group of the restaurant staff brought out a dessert for him while they were singing...and they also brought a sombrero. I was thrilled and giggling. What happened next, only makes me wish I had a video camera. Brandon leaned in and the server went for it! Whipped cream went all over Brandon's face!

Thankfully, I had my (gasp) Blackberry to capture the moment!
Do you have any fun birthday memories?

Monday, June 25, 2012

on the road

Happy Monday!
Today, I'm joining my new blog friend, Molly for #YOLOMondays:
Thanks to the many blog friends who imparted their advice for road tripping a few weeks ago when I asked. We officially started the epic road trip ((16+ hours the first day)), so I'm sharing some of my own tips, along with some advice.  
Games to PLAY
+ Travel bingo cards (printables)
+ State license plate game

Snacks to EAT
+ Trail mix ((I use mixed nuts, M&M's, raisins, sunflower seeds))
+ Apples, dried fruit
+ Stock the cooler with mozzarella cheese sticks, water, seltzer and coke zero
We also try to stop at places we don't normally get to eat

Audio to LISTEN
+ Books on tape ((AKA audio books, but I'm old school))
+ Music ((think mix cds from summers past and random radio along the way))
+ Podcasts or sermons/inspirational talks ((think TED))

I also passed the time by trying to get a photo of the state welcome sign in each of the five states we entered and other random IG pics ;-)
What did you do over the weekend?

Friday, June 22, 2012

5 reasons to join me in July

Happy Friday! Can you believe it's getting close to the end of June already? That has me thinking about all kinds of summer fun I want to seek out: road trips, bar-b-ques, trips to the pool/beach, and more. What about you? If you're thinking about next month, consider joining me for the journey! 

Here are five reasons you should:
  1. Looking to expand your blogger network and make new friends?
  2. Need some advice about how to use Twitter to its full potential?
  3. Would you like to be featured on someone else's blog?
  4. Do you have a great guest post idea to share?
  5. Want to find another blogger to partner with at affordable rates?

If you answered YES to even one of those questions, make your way over to the sponsor page and check out my rates. I'd love to partner with YOU and spread the word about YOUR blog next month!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

links to love {on a Thursday}

I know, it's only Thursday, but let's pretend it's Friday and I'm sharing my almost weekly post of other blog posts I enjoyed from the past week or so. Ready? Here we go...

Some blog posts and internet reads I've enjoyed lately:
I'm loving the suggestions from 7 easy health changes

5 ways to get the most out of summer

Don't miss this summer treat in your freezer from Kim

A really cute engagement story dubbed Sparkle Day.

Need some perspective on summer blogging? Check out these 5 tips.
Check out Erika's full post and feel inspired to wash your hair less ;-)

This hair tutorials is on my to-do list. Thank you Molly!

I'm really excited about Jessi's latest venture and so inspired by the bit she shared earlier this week.

What are you digging this week?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How do you connect with other bloggers?

I asked all of this month's blog sponsors to answer the question above. My hope is that their words will inspire you to connect with more bloggers or handmade shop owners. So let's see what advice they have for us...
Emily of Our Nest in the City says
I wish I could use Instagram because I adore following people's pictures through that medium on Twitter, and I feel it's a great way to see another side of the blogger's lives and get to know them better, but alas, I don't have an iPhone. Hopefully when my current phone contract is up I can convince my hubby that it would be a good investment :)
Otherwise, I get ton of blog hits via the links I post on Facebook. Though it's not my favourite medium, it's the best for my blog so it's a necessary evil, haha!

Britt Renee says
I have always just tried to connect with others all with links to my social media sites. I hope that made sense : ) For example on my youtube account I include all my links to everything in my description box. On my blog, I include links to everything as well. I'll post links to every new post that I blog about from my blog on my facebook, twitter, and my youtube. I'm not sure if I have one personal favorite social media site. I definitely love youtube, instagram, twitter & pinterest. Although I more so keep my pinterest for remembering these and for things that inspire me, to do.

Heidi of Row House 14 says
I use both Facebook and Twitter for my blog and shop. I use my twitter account for both my own use and for my business. A lot of people feel that it is important to keep personal and business matters separate. To some extent I agree, but at the same time I think it is so important for people to know who you are when it comes to small businesses. People connect to you in a different way and that has its advantages. If people see my tweets about teaching, going to concerts, or even rooting for the Steelers, then they have a better idea of who they are supporting when they purchase from my shop!

Jessica Rae says
As someone who is trying to build a career as a film composer I try to use social media the best I can to promote my website and blog without completely aggravating my friends. I utilize my Facebook Fan page for this as people have to "like" me to get updates. I do heavily use my Facebook profile and Twitter as my mainstay though. I love scheduling Tweets using Hootsuite to stay constantly in the conversation. I use Pinterest to pin and promote my posts when there is a particularly good image I have.
Mindy of Marigold Road says
I pitter around on Facebook and Twitter when I have time and comment on other blogs!

Kate of From the Guest Room says
For me, I didn't totally dive into social media at first when it came to promoting and networking in regards to my blog, From The Guest Room. During the first six months of writing my blog, I didn't see it as something bigger than just me writing about my life. Once I took myself seriously and saw that readers were actually getting inspired, learning new recipes and relating to my stories, I felt alot more comfortable promoting my blog as a source and not just a personal journal. I first created a facebook page for my blog, seperating my blog promotion from my personal facebook account, hoping to not bombard all my friends with shameless self-promotion. This allowed people to make the choice to subject themselves to my blog updates, not force it down their throats, which is how I wanted my blog to be among my friends, a choice, not a required reading! Shortly after, I remember chatting with a film-maker friend of mine who is the king of networking via twitter. He has made friends all over the country, gone to meet-ups and received plenty of gigs through the way of twitter. His example led me to get on Twitter, and it is by far my favorite social media outlet. As for other social media outlets, here's a quick run-down of my experience. I have, but am not a huge fan. I don't dislike it, just not a big fan for me personally. I also have Pinterest, but again, not totally hooked. It's cool, but I only use it a few times a month to be honest. And finally, I use instagram and love it as I can automatically sync my updates with Facebook and twitter, allowing me to update more outlets in less time, plus I personally think people generally like photos better than text! All in all, social media has done wonders for networking on behalf of my blog and it's an extremely inexpensive way to get the word out. Which fits my budget to the T AND allows me to make heaps of new friends!
Culturemaker(s) says
We use primarily Facebook and Twitter to promote our posts and interact with readers. We recently took up a new effort to Tweet one thing a day not related to our content. This has proven useful to spark conversations we wouldn't have otherwise had. We use Hootsuite to schedule all the posts at once relating to a particular article we want to promote. This is incredibly useful as we have a constant stream of writers generating new content. We use Pinterest and Reddit to get content up as well, but our individual writers use their accounts and either pin images, or post links to Reddit. We have had some very real success using Reddit in the past.

How are you connecting with others in the blog community?

And if you want to join me in July, please consider reserving your place today! Check out my sponsor page for VERY affordable rates and reserve you spot today :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

an ordinary day with me

One thing I love about my day job, is that no two days are the same. There is often routine in my work day, but depending on what's happening things are not the same every day. However, the summer has a rhythm of its own and I'm finally into the grove of summer at the office, so I wanted to share my a typical day in photos.

7am #SheReadsTruth

7am breakfast

8am arrive at work

8am my desk/work space

12noon-ish lunch is often eaten at my desk, but sometimes outside

when weather/time allows, I go for a walk in the cute neighborhood/town surrounding the university

2pm trouble-shoot the wide format printer or some other piece of equipment in the print shop

by 5pm I almost always change clothes as soon as I get home from work ((and almost always into sweatpants))

7pm dinner ((usually prepared by the mister))

8pm snuggles on the couch with Milton and enjoy some blog reading/writing time

9pm watch an episode of a past TV show on Netflix ((we currently love Friday Night Lights))

...and just for fun, I have to include this Meme that captures my work life so well (courtesy of Facebook)
My friends think I play all day. My family thinks I make crafts. My boss thinks I make the Campus Center look good ((note the streamers)). Society thinks I teach college students. I think I help people. I actually walk around the Campus Center and stand on a chair when necessary.

What do you do all day?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I'm into {June}

I'm loving this bi-monthly series of sorts and the chance to make note of everything from TV to music to what we're eating.
TV show worth watching
Friday Night Lights. We started watching about a month ago and are currently enjoying season 2. I find it fascinating how much I enjoy it since I've never been much of football ;)

movie I've seen
The Avengers. Another surprisingly entertaining movie. I haven't seen most of the other movies based on the comic book characters, but still found the witty banter very entertaining throughout the movie.

in my kitchen
Lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. I seriously can't get enough of it! We've been enjoying lettuce from our garden on a regular basis. I love that we can harvest it and new leaves grow back on each stalk.

in my ears
The local country station. I'm totally blaming it on Friday Night Lights.

items of note
we currently have 20 yard dumpster parked in our driveway...yep, it's time to do away with all the trash from the renovation
+ we have really generous friends
+ I'm loving our cooler weather so far this summer

what I'm looking forward to
+ our road trip and spending time with family and friends
+ attending a three day meeting in Bloomington IN for my professional association in July
+ two more months of summer
+ removing the mounds of trash from our garage (see photo above of dumpster)
+ we picked up a coffee table from the curb over the weekend and I can't wait to refinish it

What are you into lately?

Friday, June 15, 2012

baking (chocolate chip cookies) with bananas

Last night, I really wanted to bake. I had been mentally preparing all week, thinking about what ingredients we were low on/out of and gathering them as the days passed. I had picked up chocolate chips and whole wheat flour last weekend at the grocery store. This morning, I stopped to buy eggs on my way home from taking the mister to work. Even though, we'd opened the bag of chocolate chips, there was still half a bag to work with and I had everything I needed to get baking...or so I thought.

Finally, I had a free evening at home alone. I returned some emails, even scheduled a few blog posts for the future and then I opened the refrigerator door to find we had no butter or margarine! I sighed and returned to my seat on the couch so I could quickly google "butter baking substitute." Several things came up, most of which involved oil and then I found this article from I was somewhat skeptical, but after reading about using oil or bananas as a substitution I gave it a try. Guess what? It worked!
I liked the flavor and consistency. The batter was more sticky than usual cookie dough. Once they were baked, the cookies were soft and chewy. They weren't overly sweet (probably because I cut back on the sugar, from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup plus the natural sugar in the bananas). And I don't feel guilty for eating four cookies when they came out of the oven and the chocolate chips were all melty. So, I'm sharing the ingredients and their amounts in case you want to try it out!

1 1/8 white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 bananas, mashed (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 chopped pecans

preheat oven to 375*F
combine first three ingredients in bowl, stir and set aside
mash bananas in mixer (remove from mixer to measure and make sure it's 1/2 cup)
return to mixer, add sugar and blend
add vanilla and egg
remove from mixing stand and stir in chocolate chips and pecans
drop by spoonfull onto baking sheets
bake for 8-10 minutes (they won't be golden brown)
yield: 2 dozen cookies

Have you made any discoveries while baking?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I wanna live in a rowhouse too!

Today, I'm excited to introduce Heidi from Row House 14 to you! She lives in a rowhouse in Baltimore (or as the locals say Bal'mor) where she shares her life as a teacher by day and designer by night. What's a rowhouse you ask? It's a 16th-century architectural design that started in Europe as a way to save space when building in a city. 

Baltimore has a ton of these (I should know because I used to live there too)! As you probably know if you've been around here long, I appreciate city living and older homes. I was always enchanted by Baltimore's rowhouses, especially in Fells Point and Canton. The photo below is from Heidi and shows Fells Point from the water. Without further ado, I'll share my interview with Heidi!
Tell us about your blog/shop.
I'm Heidi and I blog at Row House 14, a lifestyle blog that also focuses on design, food, music, and other things that I love. I also have a handmade business in which I design and create greeting cards and stationery.

What's your favorite blog post (choose up to three) you've written and why?
As of recently, these would have to be my favorite posts. I like to be true to who I am when I'm writing. The first two posts let it all out in the open and I don't hold anything back. I like being able to say what I need to say and have conversation with the blogging community. The third is the most recent. When I can be around live music, write about music, and photograph music, I am truly loving every bit of it-- it's like I am in my element! :)
Blog Because You Love to Blog
Irrational Fear
First Thursday JC Brooks Uptown Sound
Tell us your favorite thing about where you live.
I live in Baltimore and wouldn't have it any other way at this time in my life. So many people that I speak with know Baltimore as a city with a bad reputation. They think of Baltimore as the same place they see on The Wire. Sure, there are places in this city that truly are that way. However, it isn't all bad. I love that I am a 20 minute walk to the water, literally right around the corner from one of the biggest parks in the city, and the fact that Baltimore is split into so many different neighborhoods with such a variety of cultures and things to do. These neighborhoods make this city what it is and truly gives it the charm that is referred to in its nickname Charm City.
Summer: love it or hate it and why? 
Love it and hate it. Love it because I am a teacher so the summer means two months of free time. Hate it because I live in Baltimore, the most hot and humid city in the world (ok, maybe I'm overexagerating here, but it can be pretty rough). I think the love outweighs the hate though. Nothing is better than spending time outdoors and having the free time to do so! :)

If you haven't checked out Heidi's blog and shop, be sure to stop by! Her etsy shop stationary designs are amazing!
{all images belong to Heidi}

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 30 for 30 {take 1}

Last September was my first attempt at the 30 for 30 challenge. I thought I'd try it again for the month of June and I'm almost half way through. I've been less intentional about selecting the clothes I'll wear all month (last time I chose them in advance). I've been including shoes in the 30, but with it being summer, I find I wear a greater variety of shoes. So, I may need to re-think that. Here are my first 12 outfits and I know it's terrible to only use cell phone images. Last week, the weather was lousy for outdoor photos and then it's just way more convenient to take a cell phone pic on my way out the door...forgive me?
As you may recall, a few weeks ago I shared some honest thoughts about my hesitancy to post what I wear. Thank you to those who left kind words and encouraged me to post photos of outfits I put together from the things I already own. I was so encouraged, it spurred me to take on 30 for 30 this month.
This has been a season of doing more with less (read: my shopping budget shrunk). Just because I can't "accidentally" wander into the clearance section of Target and find three tops, a dress and tights for less than $50 as I did last year at this time (and I'm not saying that isn't frugal shopping by some standards), I don't have to sacrifice looking cute and feeling confident altogether. I attribute much of my new approach to reading the ebook, The No-Brainer Wardrobe, but I also know my mother's style influences me. You see, my mom liked to look pulled together and I take it as a compliment when someone compliments an outfit or look. I can't help but think of her when I get those comments.
So, here I am giving you more than idea of what I'm talking about, peppering this post with outfits I've worn that make me feel confident or professional or comfortable (and often a combination of all three). I don't want to wear anything that's restrictive or revealing. When I dress comfortably and feel confident about my look, I find that I can be myself better because I am not fussing with an awkward dress or rearranging a wrap skirt (who invented those things anyway?) throughout the day.
So, there you have it. Thanks for indulging me and letting me share some recent outfits from my spring / summer closet. One thing I love about doing the 30 for 30 challenge are the accessories. I love wearing scarves (as you can probably tell), necklaces and earrings. 

What do you love wearing lately?
{linking with Lindsay for WIWW}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DIY gifts for Dad

Looking for ideas for a last minute Father's Day gift? Check out these 5 ideas you can pull together just in time for Dad's big day.

make some art for his desk or workshop
Dad plaque
take some photographs for a framed collage
photo collage + free printable
bake some unique cupcakes to celebrate his love for golf
tee time cupcakes
put together a car wash kit
daddy's car wash kit
homemade ketchup, spicy mustard and relish
midnight snack attack recipes
Do you have any handmade ideas for Father's Day?