OOTD: Can you guess my signature color?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cable Knit Chenille Boat Neck Balloon Sleeve Sweater (on sale!): Express // Hunter Original Tour Packable Rain Boot (on sale now on!) : Nordstrom // Solid Black Leggings: Aeropostale // Black Bow Parka (last year): kate spade new york // Headband (old): Forever 21 // Faux Fur Rimmed Mittens (old): Forever 21 // Julep Lip Crayon (in fuschia berry creme): Nordstrom

Well, can you guess it now?

Obviously I love me some pink.  It's my favorite color and it's my brand color, and I pretty much love all shades of it.

Which is why, if you recall from Black Friday, I purchased two of my favorite pink items!

No lie, the sweater really is this bright in color.  I didn't increase the saturation of these photos AT ALL, in fact, I thought about desaturating it!  But I really like the hot pink hue, so I figured I'll leave it!  If pink's not your thang but you really like they style of this sweater, it comes in five other gorgeous colors.  Mine was petite (short arms and torso!) and it is sold out, but the regular is still fully in stock!  And on sale for $50.99.  It's super cuddly, very soft, and in my opinion really cute on!

My other favorite pink item is this pair of Hunter boots!  They were also one of my Black Friday finds.  I had wanted a pair of Hunter boots FOREVER, and found them in ion pink for a great deal on Black Friday.  I got mine from Nordstrom back in November, but the same color is on sale on 6pm right now, linked above.

I am constantly on the hunt for good quality plain (non-athletic) black leggings, since they are my go-to in the winter.  Over the last couple of years, I have been wearing the ones from Aero.  I like that they last at least one winter (and I wear them all the time) and that they have the thick band around the waist so they don't fall down.  Obviously they show signs of wear and tear after a while, as all leggings do, but I really do think they hold up well against other competitors that are in the $10 range.  I mean, I guess these are originally $16.50 but I've always got them for $10.  I just buy a couple new pairs each year and wear those in public, and the old ones during lazy days at home.

My winter coat is from kate spade, but outlet last year.  I love that kate spade parkas are down-filled and super warm.  You can't tell me that having a long coat in Wisconsin winters is a bad thing, either!  It really saves my legs from freezing when the wind is blowing in my direction!

My winter accessories are both from Forever 21 a couple of years ago.  Since it's pretty common to loose at least one mitten over the course of a winter, I'm okay with buying cheap ones!

For lip color, I'm wearing Julep's fuschia berry creme color.  I really love this brand, especially in this color!  So if I were to recommend you add one thing to your beauty repertoire, it would be this! The lip crayons are only $20.

Now cue the hot pink sign-off:


Freebie Alert! January iPhone Background

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hi guys!

Today I wanted to share with you a FREE iPhone background, hand painted by me.  It's a wintry Nordic inspired scene, so enjoy!

You can either save the image above, or follow the link below to download the background:

This first background is being released on my blog, obviously.
From now on, I will be releasing a new iPhone background that I painted each month!  
It'll be themed based on the current season.  

But there's a catch - you have to be on my email list to receive it!

That's right, I'll be sending out a freebie on the first of every month, starting in February.

This image shows exactly where to sign up (on desktop)!  
As you can see, it's just to the right.

If you're on your phone, it's going to be all the way to the BOTTOM, under the about me section.  

I hope you enjoy this iPhone background!

 And make sure to sign up to receive the next one I'll be releasing via email on February 1!


It's 2018

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Hi, it's me again, back for another yearly recap!

It's crazy to me that my blog is now in it's 4th year (I started in December of 2014).  I ended up writing more blog posts than ever before this year.  It's still not exactly the number I'd like to be at, but it's getting close and I'll take any improvement I can get!

Now to recap my year...just be warned, it's a doozy.

On one hand, I feel like I accomplished a ton.  I did a lot of things in 2017 that I would never have imagined myself doing when I wrote my "It's 2017" post last January.  So let's revisit some of these goals I had for the upcoming year.

If you need a reminder (I did...), these were my goals for 2017:

Plan more, Worry Less
It's Okay to Say No
Outsource When Necessary
Read a lot
Recap My Successes

In no particular order, here's my recap of the last year!

In terms of business, I did rebrand like I said I wanted to.  My blog went from its original Blogger template to something that actually looks like a website.  I didn't outsource that task like I thought I might.  I ended up figuring out a way to do it myself.  And I am really happy with how it looks right now.  Sort of took the amateur route if we're going to get technical, but it's good enough for right now!

Plan More/Worry Less
At certain points of the year, I got really good at planning out content and my daily life.  Editorial calendars and everything, it was beautiful!  But then I got really really stressed in November/December and stopped writing things down.  Not my best moment.  When I get stressed out, I start planning LESS and then everything snowballs and I become a very crazed person.  It happened.  I'm going to try to not let that happen again.  It just felt like I had way too much going on personally, in my business, and in my regular job.  I'm not very good at forcing myself to take a break, and it sort of led to my negative attitude towards...everything at that time.  I was not a nice or happy or optimistic lady for a little while there.  And I'm still sort of recovering from it, this first week of January. 
But I have since calmed down a bit and am armed with a new plan for success!

Kind of funny how it happened, but the reason for this craziness was partially because my Etsy shop, Midwest Mermaid Art, BLEW UP in terms of business around mid-November through Christmas.  A good thing, right?  While I was extremely happy to be having that type of success, it opened up doors for a lot of unforeseen problems that I didn't even know existed.  It gave me a lesson in having a problem, dealing with it, and then LETTING IT GO.  The third part is what I have a hard time with!   I tend to take things very personally, even when they are out of my control.  So overall, I did a pretty good job at planning more (for the most part) but a very bad job at worrying less.

The reason I was able to have so much success on Etsy was because of the art sale that my friend Courtney allowed me to participate in.  I was hesitant at first because I had almost no inventory.  I was doing mostly custom graduation caps and other made-to-order projects, so I'd have nothing to sell at the sale. Well, I took the first half of November to work like a madwoman to build my inventory.  In fact, I had SO much inventory that my booth ended up looking really amazing!  I did well, granted it was probably not my ideal client shopping that particular sale.  Anything I had left over I listed on my Etsy shop.  And that's when the magic happened.

...Actual Harry Potter themed magic!

At the art sale, I sold a few of my Gryffindor Girls BFF prints.  I had some left over, so I listed them on Etsy...  They immediately started selling like crazy, and I had an equal amount of requests hitting my inbox for custom Hogwarts House scarf colors and hair colors.  So I created 5 combinations of BFFs, and threw those up on Etsy too.  Chaos ensued.  I don't even know how many I sold (I really should count that!).  I restocked again in December.  It was awesome.  Ran into a few post office issues here and there which sent my stress level through the roof, but everything eventually ended up where it needed to be.  Also realized exactly how you need to spell things out for people, because they really don't like to read things.  

Yea, I said it.

Also thanks to Courtney, I had the opportunity to teach two workshops at The ArtGarage in 2017!  I also taught one at kate spade Mayfair, thanks to my fab managers.  Teaching a workshop was one of my bucket list type goals, so I count this as a huge success of 2017.  I realized I love teaching people how to do things that I'm a so-called "expert" at.  I would like to teach more workshops in 2018.  Because what's that quote...
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

Travel wise, I did indeed see NYC.  I saw New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and my beloved Pensacola/Navarre area of Florida.  

Read A Lot
I read, but not as much as I had hoped.  Some of my favorite books were listed here and here on my blog. Here's to more books in 2018!

Recap My Successes
I definitely did that more than I did in 2016, but not as often as I would have liked to.  I did take time now and again to appreciate my successes though.

It's Okay to Say No
Well, I'm getting better at it.  I've started to say no more often, which consequently means that I got to say yes to more.  I'll expand on this in my 2018 goals below. 

I also got an LLC for my business, Midwest Mermaid LLC to be exact.  I created a mailing list.  I proceeded to do nothing with either of these things.  That's this year's task I guess!

Now onto my goals for 2018!  Actually, they are my quarterly goals for January-March.

Big Picture:  I want to focus on setting quarterly goals instead of yearly ones.  I got this advice from Jenna Kutcher's Goal Digger Podcast (a must-listen!).  Planning out my next 3 months seems way less daunting than planning out my next 12.

Editorial Calendar/Daily Planner
I want to start strong by getting back on the editorial calendar train!  That means that I'll plan out my whole month in terms of content.  Pre-prepare (is that a word?) a lot of content, which I have been doing, so that I'm not writing a post in the same day as I am publishing it.  Which is usually how I post anyways.  My editorial calendars that I did make in 2017 were life-changing.  I'm also a huge fan of writing down my daily to-dos in an agenda.  I'm pretty good at doing that, although it did also fall off in that stressful time towards the end of the year.

Weekly Blog Post
The editorial calendar will help with this.  But this goal is pretty cut and dry.  

The Mermaid Monthly + Freebie
You better get on my mailing list now (the "Stay Updated" section on the right hand side of my blog if you're on your computer and all the way to the bottom if you're on your phone)!  I'm going to commit to sending out a monthly newsletter at the end of each month.  I'd like to do more, but I know if I set that as my goal it wouldn't happen.  As an incentive, I'm going to be sending out a freebie in each newsletter!  It's going to be a downloadable iPhone background hand painted by me, themed for the upcoming month!  Woo hoo!  The first background will be posted on my blog next week, but from then on, it will be in my newsletter sent to your inbox, The Mermaid Monthly.

Refine My Pricing
I'm getting waaaay better at pricing the things I sell, but it's nowhere near perfect.  I know that most people who sell things they make have a hard time with this (we tend to under-sell ourselves).  I've spent a long time pricing emotionally, and that needs to stop.  For example, "oh, that person is so sweet though, I'll give a discount even though they didn't even ask for one."  That is dangerous behavior (hello burnout).  I need to actually pay attention to the time and money it takes for me to create something rather than throwing out an arbitrary price and hoping it isn't too high.  Not everyone is my ideal client, and that's okay!  I'm going to take time in January to really think about this.

I want to meet all the amazing people in this area. And even the country!  I met so many lovely ladies at the Female Foodie retreat in SLC this summer.  I want to continue to put myself in situations like that, because there's so much to learn from other people in my same areas of expertise.  I got to host one Instagram giveaway last year, and I'm part of another this month.  And it's a BIG one.  I want to do more of that type of thing in 2018!

Say No.
This is to build on my goal from last year.  Really cracking down on this one.  I need to say no so that I can say yes more.  I don't have a lot of free time.  I need to use it wisely.  I can't give in and say yes to something that I don't have time for/don't want to do today, because it WILL screw me over tomorrow.  Saying yes to something that I don't want to do means I have to say no to something else.  I think I actually have the "saying no" part down actually, it's the "feeling bad and stewing about it" part that I need to work on.  The guilt.  I hate letting people down, but I need to realize that I am not responsible for helping everyone, all the time.  And to learn to say no and then move on.

And it's okay to say no so that I have time to rest.  (I have a super hard time with this concept.)  I feel the need to constantly be doing something.  I'm trying to train myself to relax at certain points of the week.  I'm trying to schedule in downtime, because GOD KNOWS I need to.

Passion Project
I need to say "no" more because I need my time to follow my passions!  I have a new passion project in the works, and it has to do with foodie adventures.  I felt like I made my foodie endeavors a bit more of a job than a fun hobby in 2017, which makes me so sad because I truly do love it.  I'm going to pursue this project so that I can get back to enjoying food photography and eating the best things ever!  Not to mention sending out vibrant and rich content for you all to enjoy.

Legitimize My Business
LLC? Done.  Mailing list? Done.  Accountant, lawyer, separate business bank account, business coach, web designer, media kit, personal chef (jk)?  Want.  Anyone know anybody?

Well that's pretty much the long and the short of it! (But mostly just the long of it, hahaha.)

Let's kill it in 2018!

This post contains affiliate links.


4 Steps to Decorate a *Decked Out* Themed Christmas Tree (on a budget!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

So, you want to decorate a themed Christmas tree next year?

Thought so!

Over the last few years, my mom and I have been really into decorating one tree with a theme.  She has actually done a lot of themed trees in the past, but for a number of years we just were setting up your typical tree with our whole ornament collection.  

This year, we set up a "sweets and treats" themed dessert tree!  
Cakes, macarons, cupcakes, spatulas, and a chef's hat to top it off. 
Our tree had a major sweet tooth!

It's really not as hard as you think to have a themed tree!  Although I will say, some themes are going to be easier than others.  

Below, I'll try to outline the best steps to take for creating the themed tree of your dreams!

Step One:  Choose your idea.
We've done a Packer green/gold tree, a shoe tree, a silver and blue tree, a
hunt, fish, camp" tree, a 12 Days of Christmas tree...  There are an endless amount of ideas to choose from!  One piece of advice I can give you is not to get super obscure with your idea, unless you don't mind spending a bit more time and money on making your tree fabulous!  For instance, I didn't decide on a macaron tree.  I love macarons and we have quite a few macaron ornaments on our tree this year.  But you have to come up with an idea that is going to have ornaments that are easily accessible.  Broadening the idea to be "desserts" instead of a specific type of desserts made it a lot easier to find enough ornaments to fill it!  

Also, choose a color scheme that will fit in with the theme you have chosen and add at least one metallic (gold, silver, rose gold, etc).  For this one, we chose light pink, white, and other colors that you'd commonly think of with cute desserts, with the metallic accent being gold.  For hunt, fish, camp, we stuck to the more traditional route of red, maroon, dark green, and plaids, also using gold as the metallic accent.  You'll thank me later that you chose a color scheme, because your tree will have a more cohesive look.  Last but not least, consider what types of ornaments/colors you already have a lot of.  Maybe there is a hidden theme sitting in your vast ornament collection right now!

Step Two:  Give yourself enough time.
So, you're thinking that one day about a month ago, we just came up with the grand idea to do a "sweets and treats" Christmas tree, right?  WRONG!  This is where being over-prepared comes in handy.  We came up with the idea at this time last year!  After we had done the hunt, fish, camp tree, it was time for something much girlier.  Right after Christmas, we were able to find everything we needed for at least 50% off (the deals were generally around 60-80% off).  If you want to do this in the most economical way, you MUST start to do your shopping right as the Christmas season ends!  That means coming up with your idea waaaaay in advance (like a year ahead of time), NOT on the day you're setting up your tree!  That doesn't mean you can't pick up finishing touches when you're ready to set the tree up.  Before December even begins, stores are already putting their Christmas decor on sale for 40-50% off.  So if you're looking for something that was out-of-stock at the end of last year, scoop it up this year while you still can!

Step Three:  Shop at the right stores!  
Our favorites for Christmas ornaments include Hobby Lobby, At Home, Joann Fabrics, Walmart, Michael's, Kohl's, and Walgreens. These are great places to start.  But remember, you're starting at the END of the season.  You're going to find a lot of things on clearance/deeply discounted at the end of the season at these stores after December 25th (sometimes before).  This is also where your chosen color scheme will come into play.  Don't focus on only buying the "novelty" ornaments (like my cupcakes, cake slices, etc).  You can purchase plain glass bulb ornaments that are in your color scheme as filler!  

Same goes for your ribbon.  Buy at least 5 spools of big 2-3inch ribbon.  That's a hot tip if you're really ballin on a budget, as you can get it pretty cheap and it really fills the tree.  I usually will grab 1 colored patterned ribbon in my color scheme, 2 spools of plain color, and 2 spools of gold ribbon.  And your "plain" ribbon and gold ribbon don't necessarily have to be plain.  They can have subtle patterns, like gold polka dots on gold ribbon.  Make sure you have a tree skirt with a fitting pattern/color as well!  We didn't so my mom made a donut out of felt.  You don't have to get that crazy, though!  A simple color would be fine.

Step Four:  Decorate!
If your tree is not pre-lit, you'll have to start with the lights.  White lights are always a winner, but we threw on some pink this year in addition to our tree's pre-lit white.  But like, if I was doing a Candyland tree, I'd probably use the multi-colored light strands!  My color scheme would obviously be different though, that's why!

We like to put the tree topper on first, just to know where we can start hanging ornaments.  But that's up to you!

Next, ribbon that baby all up!  I start at the top and then tuck in loops all the way down.  Maybe I'll make a video of how I do this once we take our tree apart!  I would say that each strand of ribbon is about 10 feet long.  I will usually string 10-11 strands on one tree, pretty close together.  You can overlap them too like I did on the hunt, fish, camp tree!  Depending on the tree, you may have to use ornament hooks to keep some parts of the ribbon in place, especially if the tree is sparse in branches in certain areas.  

Next, I'll hang the "anchor" ornaments, which are the novelty ones like the cake, cupcakes, and cookies.  These are your specialty ornaments.  Focus the majority of those ornaments where they will be seen the most on the tree.  Once you've done that, hang up all your filler glass bulb ornaments in your chosen color scheme.

Throw on your tree skirt and surround it with gifts, you're finished!
Congrats, you were really on top of things this year, hey?!

Once you start doing this type of tree decorating, you'll probably end up with a lot of things to use in years to come.  I use a few of the same spools of ribbon every year, especially the metallics.  Same goes for the plain colored glass ornaments!

I hope I've inspired you to get started TODAY on your themed tree for next year!
If you have any questions about the specifics of any of my trees, feel free to ask!


OOTD: A kate spade Winter-Wear Look/Fall Faves Part 5!

Friday, December 22, 2017

-Earmuff with Satin Bow (or there's a less expensive option on SALE here): kate spade
-Dorothy Coat (mine's from last year, but this Bow Tweed Coat is on sale here): kate spade
-Leopard-Print Velvet Bow Sweater (on sale): kate spade
-Black Skater Skirt (mine's old, but this one from Asos is only $19, here!): Target
-Black Cat Eye Deandra Sunglasses (mine are old, but these from Urban Outfitters are the exact shape, only $10, here!): kate spade
-Bow Earrings (VERY old, similar here):  Charlotte Russe

In case it wasn't already obvious, I really like bows.

I like them in my hair, on my clothes, and low and behold...on my earmuffs.

You could make the argument that you CAN be wearing too many bows, but it's not an argument I'm very interested in having with you.  And by the looks of this particular outfit, I clearly don't care.

Another rule of thumb of mine - leopard is a neutral.  I will defend this notion until the very end!  I've been known to mix polka dots and leopard on occasion, because I really do look at them both as neutral patterns.  Same with gingham.  Call me cray.  
Or don't and c'mon, just have some fun with it!

This is one outfit I am willing to bring into the winter with me!  I might throw on some tights underneath, but with these thigh-high boots, you don't really need them.  The boots are from Target, and are surprisingly comfortable!  I especially love wearing them with jeans because they don't fall down at all.  But they stay up pretty well with bare legs too, like I'm wearing them with this outfit.  

Essentially everything else is from kate spade, and right now you can shop with 30% off sale styles with the code EXTRATREAT.  I'm not sure how long that extra percentage will last, so I would advise using it soon if you have your eye on something!  Many of the items I have linked are part of this sale, and the 30% off can really save you a decent amount of money.

You can check out the rest of my kate spade looks from the fall below.
Most of the items included in these outfits are on sale + 30% off (with code EXTRATREAT):

This post contains affiliate links.

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