Category Archives: how to

Perfect Hostess Gifts with Lovely Wrapping.

hostessgiftpinI grew up with a mom who taught me to write thank you notes. In fact, my packing list always includes them if I am staying with someone. I like to write it while I am there and then leave them for people to find. She also taught me about hostess gifts. Up until recently, my age exempted me from the hostess gift in most cases. My friends didn’t really have homes and I wasn’t visiting them for housewarming parties or dinner parties. But we grow up, you know?

I have six go to hostess gifts. I also use these as little gifts when the occasion falls for it. The reason there is six is because they never fail, especially for the price. (Okay, I have never given the elephant planter but I could not resist including it).

Let me give away a secret. They are all from Anthropologie. I wish Anthropologie was sponsoring this but they are not. It’s just that for my price range (the mugs start at $8,) I can get a friend something truly lovely and let’s be honest, they usually think it is more than $8 because it is from Anthro. There, now my secret is out.

When I was at the Influence Conference, I wanted to get my roommates a little something. It wasn’t a straight up hostess gift because who is the hostess of the hotel room? But it was a Hey-I’m-Glad-We’re-Rooming-Together gift, a gesture of goodwill. I gave them these Anthro mugs because I am on a budget with a capital B.hostess1

Just to give you some reference, the initial mugs are only $8 which seems pretty reasonable to me for a thoughtful gift. The city mugs–which include some of the best cities in the world: SF, Rome, NYC, Paris, London, more–are just a few dollars more. None of these mugs ever miss.

The candle below is my go-to gift for pretty much everything (there are two sizes). You may have heard me call it my Oprah gift because if I could I would buy you all one and say, “You get a candle, and you get a candle, and you get a candle!!”

The scent is divine. It is the best smell in the entire world. And the jars…When the candle is done (so sad), you simply put the galvanized container in the freezer overnight so that you can pop the little wax out easily and it’s a beautiful place to keep things. The biggest one I’ve included here (there is an even bigger one but I’ve never bought it) is the perfect amount for my aunt, who loves the candle too. I get her one every year. There is also a baby version (closer to the mugs prices) that would be a great hostess gift that comes in a variety of iridescent shades and galvanized silver (I just saw they now come in beautiful emerald and red…how perfect for the holidays!).

I don’t feel bad giving a candle (you know how a candle can be kind of impersonal) because this is the candle. Once you try it, you can never go back.

And yes, I sure did include the elephant planter. There is a giraffe and a zebra too. Why bring flowers and a bottle of wine when you could bring this with a succulent? It’s new so I can’t vouch for it the way I can for the mugs and candles but I can say: it’s an elephant planter.

Also, just want to share that Anthro is doing free shipping right now. Click below and shop those items or others.

Part of giving a great gift, in my opinion, is presentation. It’s not a matter of the look of things and wanting to be seen in a certain way. It just shows you went the extra mile and took care with those $8 mugs (also I just thought of this: what a great stocking stuffer to stick a gift card in?). I live in a studio apartment as I have mentioned 1000 times so I don’t have a wrapping paper room. Shocker, I know. I’ve found that brown kraft paper is great because you turn it into anything. I love the look of it with twine. In this case, I mimicked the initial theme of the mugs and tried to pick colors I thought or knew the girls liked. It was a blogging conference so I chose flowered paper because…my blog title.hostess2

I knew I had to include something elephant related so I cut out tiny cards in the shape of the elephant from that same paper and wrote a short note to each of them and tied it with twine to the mug handle. Then I tied everything up with twine because I like how it looks.

(I see this look at stores and it’s so expensive. Go to Amazon and I think I got the twine at Etsy. Please. It’s brown kraft paper.)

By the way, ignore the wet part of the brown paper in the photos. It was modgepodge and dried clear. Finally, I must keep it real. I ran out of the brown paper while wrapping these! So I rationed it out and gave them all an equal amount and then I told them the truth and we all laughed. See, things don’t have to be perfect. You just have to care.

I am always searching for the perfect gift for people. If I find it in June, I will buy it for Christmas. Check out my pinterest board for some really awesome DIYs and products!

Follow Flowers in my Hair | NB Creative Inc.’s board Gifts on Pinterest.
Aren’t those prices reasonable? Like I said, they are my go to all year round but not going to lie, they will come in handy at Christmas. What is your go to?
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How to Win a Lip Sync Battle with Adele’s “Hello.”

Hello. It’s me.

lipsyncHere is the thing: Long before Jimmy Fallon, I knew I had a gift. It was a useless gift but it was a talent nonetheless. It wouldn’t bring me money or fame. It would not even make me cool. But still, I nurtured it. This was the gift of lip syncing which I have been honing since middle school. Last week, I was gently challenged by a friend with her own rendition of Adele’s “Hello.” She did a great job.

I didn’t send for her. But she came for me. So I had to deliver.

I have spent many years on the craft. I’m here, not only to show you how a champion performs, but to give you some tips I have learned over the years. I hope you understand that I am bragging about a skill that has no use whatsoever in the real world. This appears to be a common theme in my life. And yet. It is what it is, my friends. It is what it is.

Here is Adele’s version:

Here is the link to my version on Facebook. I could not put it on YouTube for several reasons. I wish! I know the rule is I shouldn’t make you click in order to see something because no one wants to make the extra effort BUT I had no other option. Check it!

Here are my tips when it comes to How to Win a Lip Sync Battle:

+You must over enunciate the words you are singing. If you sing them or say them as if you are normally singing, it isn’t convincing. Adele has a big voice. Luckily, I have a big mouth.

+Don’t consider it an impression. Feel the music. Become the music. I did have the gleam of the tears in my eyes during one point. Because I felt it.

+If you feel it, you won’t need to spend much time on hair and makeup because the music is inside you. I took my hair out of the top knot it had been in for several days and undid the dreads that were forming (my hair does this) with my fingers. I think it is very clear no brushing was involved. I gave myself a bold lip and Adele’s signature liquid eyeliner. I gave myself 90 seconds to accomplish these things because the adrenaline was in me. I had to use that adrenaline to get the best performance I could, not waste it on hair and make up. I also discovered that Sepia is really flattering for everyone.

+When lip syncing, you cannot ever think this thought: “I must look so stupid.” Instead, you must think: “I am Adele and I am creating the music video that will win all the VMAs.”

+There cannot be a hint of laughter in your eyes or in your mouth or anything. Again, you are the music. WHY WOULD ADELE BE LAUGHING DURING ONE OF HER SONGS?

+This may seem obvious but you have to know the words. You have to know them so well that you could actually sing them because part of this is about confidence, you know? Mumble, mumble, mumble isn’t going to work.

+You may never be as good as me and that is okay. I am still proud of you for trying.

+Finally, sell it! Own it! Kill it!

Maybe I am so good at lip syncing because I do not take myself seriously. It should be obvious then, that I do not take this post seriously, that I am laughing as I type. I hope you are laughing with me and not at me. I really hope that.

Goodbye,

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There is something about giving things away, especially this thing: a Kate Spade Wristlet in a chic green, big enough to hold a phone, small enough to wear on your wrist as a wallet or even a small clutch. My gal pals and I (such a funny word(s)) have joined together so you could win it. Just remember, we do verify entries and if you enter, you must live in the United States (I know! It’s sad but shipping is just an issue). I can’t tell you how excited I am that someone is going to own this!katespademintgiveaway

Macy | Anne | Liz | Alexis | Lindsay | Nina
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DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes.

DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 3Living a studio apartment, there aren’t many ways to hide things (like messes or even organized piles and files). Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get more organized. Enter: storage boxes that I can easily fit on top of my book cases. Of course, I fell in love with the Kate Spade storage boxes that were outrageously expensive (like…$54.00 for the nesting boxes). I could not afford them and yet I was seeing them more and more on Pinterest. People were making similar ones themselves so I thought I would give it a go. I knew I wanted to do the bold stripe and then decided on a dalmatian print.

katespadeinspirationboxes

What do you need to make boxes inspired like those?
-Boxes (the smaller ones I used and the larger ones both come in pairs, the smaller pair is $10 and the bigger pair $20)
-Painting Tape
-Oil Based Sharpie in Black (and white…if you want to fix a mistake or two) (I got this pack)
-Oil Based Sharpie in Gold (for the accents…a marker is easier than paint)
-White Craft Paint (to fix mistakes)
-Black Craft Paint
-Paint Brush

Let’s get to it, The DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes

DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 5

First, have all your supplies at the ready (that means the black paint poured out) and paint brush chosen. For the striped boxes, start with the lids to get a feeling for it because they are simplest. To divide evenly, start the tape here where the silver corner begins. See?

DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 6

Place tape on each side of the lid so there is a large white space between them. Then eye the middle area. Place tape there. You’ll have two windows that are basically equal on each side on that equator line. Tape there.

The goal here is to tape, press that tape down, and paint quickly. Because of the material of the boxes (it’s not like they are super expensive!) if the tape is on too long, it will pull off that shiny layer leaving paper. So press the edges of the tape down and paint quickly (don’t worry about the finesse, just make sure you get around the edges of the tape…I as you can see from the photos, I did not want to extend the stripes of the lid the side of the lid; I used scissors with the tape to get a clean edge). Don’t wait for the first coat to dry before you start a second coat and here is the crazy part…don’t wait for the paint to dry before removing the tape. The first time I did wait and it was a disaster.

There are pros to doing this: the lacquer doesn’t come off and the box doesn’t become papery on the black and white parts (so the straight lines don’t even matter). The con: your lines are not 100% perfect. I used the white paint to fix that issue (of course, you don’t have to use the white paint by all means, don’t!). I also used the black sharpie to create crisp lines.

For the sides, I do not recommend taping all four sides at once (I did this and disaster struck). Tape one side at a time. You’ll take two horizontal lines and keep them as even as possible. Paint and remove the tape. Let it actually dry before you move onto the next side so you can match the placement of the tape.DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 6

For the smaller boxes, I actually drew with the oil based sharpie the dalmatian print. I used a print I liked and mimicked it for awhile before I had it down. Again, I started with the flat surface of the lids.

DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 2

Use the Gold Oil Based Sharpie to color in “the hardware” and the “edges.” Decide which way you’ll have the boxes face and place the now gold “label holder” (official title?) on the appropriate side of the box.DIY Kate Spade Inspired Storage Boxes 1

Then start organizing! It’s more fun when you’re organizing using pretty things or is it just me? I actually ordered two more small boxes for more space. I will probably leave those white and change the silver hardware to gold.

Here is the thing: these do need a few touch ups. But the fact is, this project and I needed a break from one another because it was bringing out all my neurosis. But I love them and I am so glad I did it. I might do more. Ultimately, with the supplies I already had plus the fact that these are customized to my design aesthetic, I have so much more storage for a lot less money than if I would have gone and bought the Kate Spade Single Set of Nesting Boxes For a Lot of Money (even though I obvi love Kate Spade).

katspadestoragepin
Is this a project you would try for your girl boss office storage?
xo,
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So You Have a DSLR, Now What? | Photography 101.

photography101I had a DSLR for a long time before I learned how to shoot manually by taking classes and seeking out knowledge. Now, I can’t imagine shooting auto. Still, I know I waited a long time to learn because I was intimidated. I’m a writer and numbers were involved (eek!). A few people have asked where and how I learned. I definitely recommend taking a class. A great one can be found through Nicole’s Classes (where they also often have sales) but if a class isn’t in the cards, check out a book like The Busy Girl’s Guide to Digital Photography.

My goal here is to make this a simple series–Photography 101 for shooting manually with your DSLR. It won’t be exhaustive because I want to focus on the basics in order to keep things as clear as possible.

First things first, turn your camera to M for Manual. If you’ve been playing around with other settings (I was always fond of Macro), you probably have taken some great photos. The issue with these presets is that they use Auto Exposure for each setting which may not be correct for the light, the depth of field, or the photograph.

Let me break it down the best I can.

So what is Exposure?exposureExposure: the actual process of capturing light with the camera to produce an image. It is the combination of the F-Stop or Aperture (the same thing) and Shutter Speed.apertureAperture or F-Stop: literal opening of the camera lens. It also controls the depth of field.* Annoyingly because it is opposite of my intuition, a large F-Stop gives a smaller opening while a small F-Stop give a larger opening. A smaller opening offers less light a darker exposure and a larger opening brings more light into the image and a brighter exposure.
shutterspeedShutter Speed: It is the duration that shutter is open and exposed to light, measured in seconds. For example, if I am photographing sports, my shutter speed is going to be fast. If I want to take in a lightening bolt, I will have an extremely slow shutter speed so my shutter is open for longer in order to hopefully capture the bolt. A long shutter speed requires a tripod because one cannot hold a camera still long enough for that lightening both. Fast or slow, the shutter speed will affect the Aperture and vice versa.

ISO: This number is how sensitive the sensor on your DSLR is to light. A low ISO number means less sensitivity to light and a high ISO number means more sensitivity to light. A higher ISO also means more grain or “noise.” When possible shoot with as low of an ISO as possible. Change the ISO last after you have tried to adjusting the Aperture and Shutter Speed so you don’t lose quality. Like Aperture and Shutter speed, these all effect one another.

I  have a Canon Rebel T2i so you may have to check your manual but this is where I am able to determine my exposure, change my aperture, shutter speed, etc. You’ll also see that I tried to take a picture with my phone of what you can see if you look through the viewfinder and press the shutter down slightly.cameratrioWas this helpful? Feel free to ask me any questions but keep in mind this is a series of Photography 101. At first, this was so overwhelming me. Take a lot of photos. Put your camera on manual and play with the aperture and shutter speed.

P.S. After the photoshoot of my camera, I cleaned it. 🙂
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Spa Night for $5 or less.

Spa Night for $5 or lessHere is the deal. I have champagne tastes on a beer budget. It’s just the way things are. I also have Nonna’s blood running through my veins that demands I find the best deal on things. Hence, my plan to create a Spa Night for $5 or less per person. It included: face, hair, and would have included nails if not for our fascination with the Harry Potter movie both of us have seen many times. But whatever.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-the ingredients for the hair masks (all of which you can find in your kitchen already)
-Shower Cap (dollar store)
-Face Mask (use what you have or try this one from target–cheap and easy)
-Cucumbers for your Eyes OR better yet these Cooling Eye Masks (we found at the dollar store as well…but if it’s isn’t still there…here is one)
-Bonus: for your nails, use what your have or try my DIY Gel ManiSpa Night for $5 or less 1You’ll also need girl talk, a movie you’ve seen before so it’s okay if you talk over, towels, dim lighting to complete the experience, some mood music if no movie (there is a spa Spotify station or you know, Enya). The thing is, I have to do these nights with another human because I get antsy. I can’t sit still. I think once my nails are painted it’s the perfect time to start cleaning up (spoiler alert…it’s not).

And can I tell you, the eye masks (which cool when you put them in the fridge) were an impulse buy but I am in love. As soon as I put it on, I heard cherubs singing. This spa night happened to take place in Florida but I was sure to bring that back with me and I might be wearing it as I type it. It is amazing and refreshing and just…trust me. It’s the little things, right?

One thing that I also recommend is a little champagne or cocktail to go around too. It ups the price tag depending what you get but we were just so exhausted that champs would have put us into a coma and we need to be ready for Harry Potter land the next day. I think instead we had greek yogurt with fruit. It was delicious and healthy in its own right so we just pretended we were at one of those uber healthy spas where there would be no alcohol.

Also, this is a super easy giveaway if you want to switch out the champs for Starbucks!starbucks-gift-cardgiveaway collage
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What do you think? Are you up for spending $5 and getting the perfect spa night? xx, Signature

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