I picked up knitting again after a 5+ year hiatus and I've kind of obsessed. It's the perfect wintery activity. I can't stand watching a movie now without knitting in my hands - it feels so productive! My accessories wardrobe is increasing and I'm starting to make gifts for friends.
And headbands galore. The one I'm most proud of is this blue bow headband. I saw something similar when Christmas shopping at J.crew and I recreated the look. Now if only it was cold enough out here to wear!
Are you a knitting/crocheter? If you don't use it yet, ravelry.com is the best community website for yarn-lovers. Great patterns, advice, reviews, and you can keep a queue of projects you want to try and what supplies you need!
E and I are going on a cruise soon (yay!), so I have been researching what to expect, what to pack, etc but I'm a little overwhelmed. Have any of you out there have been on a cruise before? Do you have any tips? There is a whole world out there of cruise insiders and enthusiasts on blogs and chat boards, and I feel like I'm behind already and don't know where to start! (p.s. We are traveling with Royal Carribbean)
Today I have a giveaway from Shabby Apple's whimsical jewelry line. Shabby Apple is a fashion company that makes flirty but modest clothing and accessories for women. One of my favorite cocktail rings is from Shabby Apple, and I've also purchased a few of my favorite dresses from them so I am excited to share this giveaway with you.
The winner will have their choice of one of the three necklaces below:
Sara of Running from the Law has been a long-time blog friend and I was thrilled when she emailed me (months ago!) about a work trip to San Diego. We met up on Tuesday night in Coronado for a dinner of delicious French food, where I sipped wine selfishly in front of her growing baby belly. (which was adorable, by the way!)
Every time I get the chance to meet up in real life with friends I've only known on the internet, it feels a little like a first date. But always I'm amazed by how easy it is to fall into comfortable conversation - after all, we've been reading about each other's lives for years! Sara was no exception and I'm happy to consider her a friend.
My final blog post on blogging in this impromptu mini-series is a list of guidelines I came up with for blog sponsorship. I've been thinking of these for a while as personal rules to help me navigate the blog advertising waters, but I wanted reader accountability on what to expect when/if I ever have blog sponsors.
My main motivation for writing these is that I want to be extremely careful to not let sponsorship dominate my content. The frustration expressed in my blogging philosophy is not directed towards people that have blog sponsorship/advertising, but those that let the advertising take priority over content. I want to guard against that happening here.
For the record, I think making money from a blog is incredibly validating for a writer and is in many cases mutually beneficial for company, blogger, and readers. I fully support it.
Latte Love Sponsorship Guidelines
I will always disclose when links are affiliate (i.e. I receive a small percentage of income on products purchased through my link)
I will give honest reviews for courtesy products with full disclosure, but not more than two per month.
In a product review, I will link to a site homepage and/or to the specific product I'm reviewing, but I will not post multiple or unrelated links or keywords are required in the post.
For giveaways, I will limit the amount of comment entries to two. [I do this only because as a blog reader, I hate having to comment 5x with tweet, Facebook, google friend connect, etc for both the blogger and the product]
I will not require my readers to do more than one of the follow in order to enter a giveaway: "like" a company Facebook page, follow company on Twitter, subscribe to their email list, but I will suggest it.
I will not require my giveaway entrants to follow me on Twitter or Facebook, subscribe to my blog, etc.
I will not write monthly "intro to my new blog sponsors" posts
I will only review a product/hold a giveaway/let you buy ad space if the product or service a company offers is relevant to me/my blog (e.g. No giveaways for children's stuff because I'm not a mom/don't have a mommy blog)
I will only hold a giveaway/sell ad space if the product or service a company is offering is something I would recommend or use. (I am willing to review a company's product in order to determine whether I could hold a giveaway or offer ad space.)
I welcome any questions or comments, but would ask that you not copy and paste these as your own sponsorship guidelines, but think through the issues thoughtfully and come up with a list of your own!
p.s. While still on the topic of blogging - you all should take a look at Jenny's new series: Bloggy Thursdays
[This is becoming a week of blogging about blogging. Thanks for reading!]
More (and more and more) lately I've been thinking about my blogging anonymity. Over three years ago I started this blog to record my wedding planning, and I told a select few friends and family about it who checked in every once in a while. But after the wedding was over, I couldn't stop writing. I was loving the creative outlet and getting to know so many amazing blog friends; I had forgotten (chose to forget?) that I'd ever told anyone in real life about it.
I loved the freedom to write beyond the trivial - about my marriage, family relationships, life and faith. Things that I generally wouldn't mindpeople knowing - but things that I wouldn't overtly share among most family, friends and acquaintances.
In order to protect my outlet here, I started a 'family' blog where I just posted pictures and generally surface-y things so my family and facebook friends could keep up with our life in California (since it is so foreign for most of my Midwest circle). But by this summer, I was habitually reposting the light content from Latte Love (read: photos and "what we did this week" stuff) to my family blog and filling in a few details, because I didn't have the energy to keep up with both.
When we got back from Italy, I stopped posting on the family blog altogether. It felt so repetitive, and while a few people may have missed it, I don't think there was much interest in it that Facebook updates weren't filling. I continued to hope that Latte Love was fairly anonymous from my IRL community.
But between the summer and now, four different acquaintances have told me that they discovered my blog completely randomly: though searches, my guest posts on other blogs, or link-ups I've participated in. My professor's wife even somehow found my style site! Most had no idea that I wrote or kept a blog and were really surprised to find it.
It's hard not to talk to people I know about something that is a part of my life - both the writing, and the relationships I've formed here. But when I do mention a blog friend, or a DIY project found on a blog, or a comment I received, it often leads into an uncomfortable conversation that goes something like this.
"Oh, you blog? I didn't know that...?" *looks expectantly*
"I do. But I don't feel comfortable sharing it with personal acquaintances"
"But isn't it public on the internet for anyone to read?"
"Yes it is. But most people I know don't know about it, and wouldn't know how to find it."
"Oh." *awkward pause*
So, why don't I just tell my family and friends about it?
There are two big hang-ups for me when it comes to sharing this part of my life. The most obvious one is that once I share this place, I'll have to be a bit more guarded and censored about how I write about my relationships with family and friends, my marriage, and certain things that might affect E or our family in future church ministry.
The second reason might sound a little strange. But my other apprehension is that people I know will read this blog and feel like they don't know me. Admittedly, I've changed a lot in the last 2-3 years. Getting married, moving to California away from my whole community, and starting this blog - in addition to just getting older (and wiser, I hope!) - has changed me. It's easy for me to relate to family and friends as myself-of-a-few-years-ago when I go back to visit, but its sometimes hard for me to reconcile the me of three years ago with the me now (who's still evolving), when it comes to long-time friends and my family. My habits, tastes, and hobbies have changed. My lifestyle is really different. I've been able to share those interests here without reserve, in a way I haven't felt as free to in real life. (Blogging has influenced or enhanced some of those changes!) Opening up the blog makes me vulnerable.
While I'd never plan to tell everyone I know, or post the link publiclyon Facebook, the idea of more openly sharing it with people close to me is looking like an inescapable reality.
So, friends, as I'm considering this decision I'm wondering where you are. Did you share your blog with your IRL circle from the beginning on facebook, etc? Do a few select friends know about it? or would you never, ever share it with people you know?
How would you feel if your circle found your blog?
I'd love some advice as I navigate these waters!
I've been struggling for monthsyears with the way Blogger handles comments. In the 4+ years I've been using this blogging platform, it seems like they should have upgraded the comment system by now! I've had struggles with non-Blogger users wanting to comment without linking to their Google profile, and I've been looking for a better way to reply to comments so that the commenter can actually find my response!
Several bloggers I know use the platform Disqus, (and I use it at my style blog since Tumblr doesn't have a comment platform). But when I looked into it several months ago for Latte Love, I found several blogs that reported they lost all their Blogger comments with the switch. So, boo. Three years worth of comments wasn't something I was willing to give up for the improvement.
But last week as I was scrolling through all your comments from my last post and trying to figure out the best way to respond, I decided to look into Disqus again...just in case.
It turns out, in September, Disqus launched an update which allows Blogger users to import their comments! Happy day. So I took a deep breath and added it this weekend. Within an hour - all my comments transferred over! Everything looks good so far, so I'm very excited for this change. (and p.s. If you commented on my last post, you probably didn't get a response notification, but I did do some responding!)
If you haven't created a Disqus profile, you can do so here or in the comment section below. Alternatively, you can comment with your Twitter handle, Google profile, Facebook profile, blog/website, or just your name. The best part is, you can get replies to comments via email so you never have to track down the post to see if there is a response!
I hope this is an improvement for you guys when commenting here, and I hope some of you other Blogger-users make the switch as well. It's been such a relief already.
I've always intended this blog to be a record of my life, not become my life. That's why I don't apologize for absences. If my blog starts to become my life instead of just a way to talk about my life, then it will be time to walk away.
I love my community here. I love chatting with friends in comments, and on Twitter. I spend significantly more time reading other blogs than I do on writing my own. But I've been getting a little discouraged lately by reading blogs written by full-time bloggers. By blogs that seem to exist solely for income and popularity. I followed a lot of them because I felt like I had to. (They're popular! Everyone knows about them! I have to win all the giveaways! Maybe I'll get more traffic if I do!)
So here is my little PSA, which I'm preaching more to myself than anyone else:
You don't have to have 5,000 (or 50,000) followers to have a good blog. Some of my favorite blogs in the world have less than 100 followers, and don't worry about how to increase their following.
The reality is, Latte Love will never be able to compete with the daily, semi-professional, over-edited dSLR photography found on popular blogs. There won't be monthly header redesigns, or sponsor posts. There won't be weekly giveaways and pinterest-worthy DIY craft tutorials. There probably won't be cutesy photos of E and I out on 'date nights'.
I started a blog in order to write. And to share that writing, and a little portion of my life, with the public on the internets. So, thank you for being here, despite the perpetual lack of all things that seem to make blogs popular/profitable. I hope, in one tiny way, that this could be an encouragement to other bloggers who feel overwhelmed in the sea of twee.
I really don't mean to offend anyone with this post, (and part of it is just unsubscribing from those particular blogs that invoke these feelings, and letting it go), but since I think the culture of blogging has been changing so much over the past 5 years especially, I wanted to share this and get your thoughts.
One of the highlights of our week off was a New Year's Eve wedding!
Tricia, the bride, is a co-worker and friend. Her husband's parents have an avocado ranch on a gorgeous hill in a rural area. It was picture perfect.
This was the most DIYed wedding I've ever attended, and I got to be a part of it. (When I say DIY....they even made all the alcohol they served - beer, wine, mojitos, sangria, and kahlua!)
I helped set the reception up on Friday & Saturday. The bride and groom built and stamped succulent boxes for the table centerpieces, with lanterns. The table runners were strips of burlap. We put together all the flowers during the rehearsal on Friday evening, just like I did the day before my own wedding!
The bride and groom created this monstrous succulent wall out of a pallet. It weighed over 500 lbs, and then spent 2 months gradually tilting it up to the roots of the plants would hold when it was upright.
I can't wait to get the professional pictures to share, because once it got dark, my iPhone wasn't doing the place justice, but the whole wedding turned out beautifully with a sunset ceremony, a live band (of friends!), and a cake buffet. I made two lavender lemon bundt cakes you see below :-)
There is something so electric about weddings of friends. As someone who has been married for two and a half years I feel so much excitement for the newness and the romance of marriage on a wedding day. But I also I feel joy that another friend gets to experience the wonder and struggle and comfort and completeness of marriage.
Part of my Christmas gift to E was a night's stay in San Diego during our week off. A little staycation.
We started with some quiet reading time at Barnes and Noble. E is always reading, but this time it was for fun, not school!
One of E's stocking stuffers was movie tickets. We went to see The Descendants. I'm amazed that George Clooney could pull off the family man character, but he did and the movie was very poignant.
Dinnertime found us in Little Italy at a place called Mimmo's Italian Village. I had looked up reviews and recommendations for moderately priced Italian, and we ended up here. It turned out to be just ok. The pasta dishes were good, but when we wanted to order 'secondo' (and no, we didn't even use the Italian word for it) the waitress was surprised and asked if we wanted to take it to go. Not a good sign for an Italian restaurant. Also, E thought it was amusing that they were playing the Godfather soundtrack in the background. Anyway, we know we're never going to find the same amazing food without paying more money than we have right now. I'd give Mimmo's a 3/5 stars.
We stayed the night at the San Diego Hilton Resort & Spa, which would have been nice, except their jacuzzi had ridiculous amounts of chlorine in it and it ruined my bathing suit (and my contacts, and dried out our skin blah). It's taken over a week to get reimbursed and get it all sorted out. (You may have heard about this on Twitter) So that part was pretty disappointing and frustrating and I kind of want to forget about.
For breakfast we planned to go to a spot that E's been talking about for a while - Hash House A Go Go. It's located in the Hillcrest neighborhood and it's popular. We slept in and didn't arrive until after 10am so we had an hour wait to get seated. Thankfully, there's a coffee shop a block down so we sipped on lattes and read while we waited. It was well worth the wait We had recommendations for our choices...I ordered the sage chicken benedict (with chipotle hollandaise!) and E ordered banana walnut french toast. Each plate was easily enough for two of us, and we eat a lot!
What a week this last one has been. Ten days off of work and school with no real plans. Good food. (Time to cook!) Time to clean. Time to read. Time to relax. I think I could get used to this - a life of leisure. We both spent the week in a slow, giant exhale after a long year. It's been so refreshing.
I know the holiday recap posts can get overwhelming, so I'll try to be brief.
I cooked the entire Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. It turned out to be a little too overwhelming for me. Christmas Eve was just appetizer foods: Cheese and crackers, pigs in a blanket, jalapeno poppers and E's favorite: party pinwheels.
I spent all Christmas Eve cooking and most of Christmas morning. The dinner menu:
butternut squash casserole
homemade cornbread stuffing (SO yum)
green beans almondine
My MIL made the green beans and cranberry jello salad. The rest was on me! I was most nervous about cooking the prime rib, but Pioneer Woman helped me through it. But by the time we actually sat down to eat, I was pretty stressed out, so I vowed not to hog all the kitchen responsibilities next year. (I basically begged to make it all) We had a few family friends in addition to E's parents and brother for a group of ten, which was a nice size, but seemed so much smaller compared to my family gatherings.
E did an amazing job on Christmas. I don't mean to guy gush, but I was surprised and thrilled to find my favorite Jackie cardigan and these gorgeous MacAllister wedge boots from J.Crew under our little Christmas tree. He also got me the pair of green BDG jean from UO I've been pining for.
I also received a sewing machine! I spent two hours last night just opening and meticulously reading the instructions. I know a little about sewing from quilting lessons as a teenager, but I still have a lot to learn! I asked for this machine, on the recommendation of my professional seamstress aunt, who loves it. (in case you're looking for a good one!) It's super lightweight, and a steal. I'm hoping to use it to modify/alter clothing I thrift, and maybe try something more adventurous.
In the afternoon, we skyped with my family to open presents. Despite a shaky connection, it was fun to see everyone for a little bit. It was sunny and 80 degrees here, and dark and 30 degrees there! That part I don't miss.
(my two little sisters and the boys in their lives)
We also got some projects done around the house last week- deep cleaned closets, washed windows, put away Christmas decor, and generally got our lives back in order. We had a couple other adventures I'll mention later.
It was such a refreshing week, I wish we could ease back into work/school a little slower, but today it was back to life as usual and this sweet time is already fading in memory. I've had fun reading about all your holiday breaks - I hope they've been as relaxing and productive as mine!
I'll leave you with this little video of the family dachshund, Pookie who learned how to open her own Christmas presents (and promptly destroy them)