31 October 2012

the girl behind the blog :: vlog

hi everybody and hApPy hALLoWeEn!

i just did that color manually and can i just say i'm glad that black is a halloween color? I only had to manually do the orange. amen.

today i'm linking up with ashley from 5 oh wifey and erin from living in yellow (two fellow #influenceconf gals!) for the girl behind the blog.

today's edition is a VLOG, and we're talking about the three things you need to make it through the day.  since this is my second vlog, i'm no longer a beginner.


29 October 2012


1+2 | coffee and chats with my little sister and our go-to eatery.
3 | planning time + thoughts on routine {more later}
4 | fall-favorite "as skinny as possible" salted caramel mocha + blog planning <3

23 October 2012

31 days :: sister

I have three brothers.  They came before my sister.  Actually - one of them even came before me.  Once I got old enough to pray my own prayers, I prayed EVERY night for a sister.  Boys were boring and loud and push-around-ey, and I really just wanted someone whose nails I could paint.

When the younger of my two younger brothers was born, I remember sitting at the top of the steps in our house. I was all of eight years old.  My dad had just come home from the hospital. I think he was coming to pick us up to visit our new sibling.  

I was so ready to be told I had a sister.  That my eight-year-old-sweet-girl prayers had been answered. 

Another hockey player! he said. 

I cried. (hi Ty - sorry. :))

Three years later, my baby sister was born.  Yes. Five kids in my family. It was a crazy place.

I didn't know it then (though I think I kind of knew), but the girl is my soul mate.  God gave her to me because he knew.  He knew I needed someone who can read my mind, who can lay around watching Real Housewives for nearly a whole Saturday even if it's Season 1 and we have the lines memorized.  

She's a special girl, that one.  And she makes MY life better.

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

20 October 2012

I am not a deal blogger

Happy Saturday, all!

I am not a deal blogger, and I don't plan to become one, but I just got word of an incredible deal on high-end beauty items, and had to share.

Coterie is a brand-spankin' new online curator of high-end beauty products, including Stila (and one of my favorite Stila finds - one step bronze), Perricone MD, and others.  

To welcome them to the online world,  REFINERY 29 (R29 Shops) is offering $80 of Coterie goods for just $40.   

The deal is outstanding, and won't last long.

Go ahead... check it out!


* I've included referral links in this post. If you click + buy, I will receive a small credit.

19 October 2012

31 days :: hair magic

kerastase oleo relax
I'm not typically the one who buys salon-only hair care items.  For instance, I use and love Dove shampoo.  I rarely use conditioner (I swear it makes my hair too soft...), but when I do, that's also Dove.  

That being said, I love my stylist, and trust her completely.  She's the only stylist who's  mastered taking-the-weight-out of my very thick hair. Her method is magic, because she does it in such a way that all the weight is taken from the under-area of my hair, and there aren't different lengths of hair where they can be seen.  

Sooooo... when my most-trusted-hair-advisor called kerastase's oleo relax 'liquid gold', I took her pretty seriously.  It only took her using it on my hair once for me to be sold. Quite literally, of course.  

Oleo Relax is a serum that's applied immediately after washing, and left on the hair.  I find that it reduces my dry-time significantly.  Also, once dried and styled, my hair is more manageable and has a much lighter (yet easy to style) texture.  

Because my hair is so thick and has some wave to it, I've really had to master the beast.  I don't recommend hair care items lightly, because I know that hair is so specific to the individual.  

I love my stylist, but I don't love the people who price the merchandise in her salon. :)  Oleo Relax runs $50-$60 when I buy it retail.  On Amazon, however, I typically don't pay more than $35 for the same size bottle (it's HERE for $32.89).  Yowza.  I love a good deal.

Another favorite? Kerastase Nectar Thermique.

Disclosure: Compensated affiliate links.

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read
 the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

17 October 2012

31 days :: birchbox

My first video blog.  In all its glory.  Next time I'll smile more.

Following along in a reader?  Check out the video here

Birchbox is one of my most favorite treats, and is also a great way to say...

Happy Birthday!

Thank you!

Take a little time for YOU!


You're going to love this!

I even gifted [birchbox MAN] to my man for his birthday recently, and although he won't go on and on about it, I think he'd admit he thought it was pretty cool.

Have you used birchbox or another subscription service? What are your favorites? What are your best ideas for using them?

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

Disclosure: Referral links used. 

16 October 2012

31 days :: horizon vanilla milk

mil(k)y vanilli

Some people may not understand the relevancy of this post, but the series is about things that make life better, and I'm just here to spread the news.

Horizon Vanilla Milk.

They carry it in the coolers at Starbucks and at Target.  And probably many other establishments, but since I am addicted to both, that's where I buy it (and everything else).

Over and out.

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read
 the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

14 October 2012

birthday girl + afterglow

They say time flies when you're having fun, and I must agree.  It's my birthday today!  It's been a lovely day so far - with much of it spent in the car.  We left Indy and the ladies of Influence early this morning, and headed over to western Michigan to celebrate my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary.  Wowsa. I know.  My aunt was telling me that at the greeting card store, she couldn't find any anniversary cards beyond 60 years.  We've trumped Hallmark!  I'm proud and honored to be part of such a legacy they've left.  Love you g&g!

I'm in full-on afterglow from the Influence Conference.  What a wonderful time of learning and growth and laughs and new ladies.  I can wait to unpack (quite literally from this over-packer!) what I've learned and share my best tidbits with you.  I'm re-writing (typing actually) all my notes, so I'll have lots to share.

11 October 2012

31 days :: influence conference 2012

My first blogger conference. My first stripes party, wearing a one-striped top.  

We made it to Indy, and we made it to the Influence Conference.  It's all very exciting, and I cannot WAIT for the sessions tomorrow.  I'll be tweeting the best content from the sessions I attend both Friday and Saturday, and if you're interested, you can follow me at @pokadottedpeony.

blazer: macy's
sequin top: j. crew
jeans: banana republic (awhile back)
heels: target
necklace: h&m 
iphone case: daninotes on etsy

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

31 days :: inspiration

For creatives (and everyone, really), it's important to know your go-to places for a little inspiration.  As I've mentioned before, I don't have a super-creative day job, so I relish the opportunity to spend a little time getting inspired.

When I look in my closet at the zillions of clothing items and see nothing to wear? I head to J. Crew. For some reason, that's all it takes for me to have outfits in my closet from here 'till Sunday, because I'm reminded of how to put good outfits together.

This one's ridiculous. When I can't remember what weight-lifting things I should do at the gym? I head to Pinterest. Not only is it inspiring (and a little maddening if we're being honest) to see the various levels of six-pack abs that are shown (seriously?! six packs?!), there are a variety of ideas for what to do with the blasted hand-weights.

When my home feels a little stale? My organization lacking? I have a couple go-to bloggers whose ideas I love and find approachable and doable. They're real gals living in real homes with real lives. The Nesting Place is where I go for an idea about how to arrange my bookcase or whether or not I should put a stump in my living room (which I just did - pics later). I Heart Organizing is where I go when I need to clear the organizing cobwebs.  The girl is out of this world organized and I love it.

This morning, I'll head to Indy for The Influence Conference.  I'm so excited, not only because it's a mini-getaway with my mom and sister, or because of all the talented speakers and other ladies who will attend, but because I'm bound to find inspiration.  

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

09 October 2012

Three-ish years ago, I joined a new gym.  It's a fine gym.  Pretty standard, in fact.  Plenty of people of all kinds of everything, and one poor lady who .. um .. yikes those undies are totally showing.

Here's the deal:

help me source this image!

I'm what you call an amateur.  And I have never loved the very large weight room mirrors showing all the bulging-bicep weight lifter men just how little weight I'm having a hard time lifting.  I mean give me a break.  

Enter my favorite feature of my gym:  Ladies-only workout area.  Yes, that's right.  There's a miracle behind those frosted-glass doors. 

Run and flail about.  

Lift 5 pound hand weights and get sweaty.  

Spend a few minutes looking at the instructional graphics on the weight machine before you hop on.  

No one's lookin'.  

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

08 October 2012

31 days :: time out


Sometimes you just need some time.

Whether it be 

Time off

Time away

Time out

Take it, would you? For yourself, for your job, for your family, for yourself.

homemade butternut squash soup yum
I did this weekend.  I was busy most of the time (except for when I was napping on the couch), but I had some time to refresh. Last week had me traveling, which is nice, but all that people-time wears me out.

I made some butternut squash soup* (duh, October).  It's super simple, but warm and good.  I enjoyed some shopping and visiting and laughing with girlfriends.  I had some let's-get-carryout-and-lay-low-time with my man.  

I needed that. Do you?

*Butternut Squash Soup w/ Kilbasa

Saute 1-2 medium yellow onions in olive oil.  
Add one diced kilbasa sausage; saute until brown on some sides (or to your liking). 
Set aside.

Prepare fresh butternut squash by baking for 1 hour (or until very tender) at 350 degrees. 
Remove skin.
Season to your liking with butter, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
Using an immersion blender, blend in 2-3 cans of evaporated milk.
Add salt and pepper (and more brown sugar or cinnamon) to taste.
Simmer until combined and hot.

Add kilbasa / onion mixture.

Serve with warm crusty bread**.

** I toasted some pecans with mine, which is shown in the photo above. Although it looks pretty, it didn't actually complement the soup very well.   

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

05 October 2012

31 days :: change of scenery

original image source unknown. know where this image came from? let me know!

I'm traveling for work this week.  I'm just a short flight away from home, but it's so nice to get away for a couple days, even if I am working and learning and in-taking. A change of scenery for me is like the first breath of air outside the sauna.  It feels different, cool, and it's refreshing.  

I'll be traveling again next week, too, to head to the Influence Conference.  It will be a completely different feeling, and I just can't wait.

Even with all the change-of-scenery hype, I can't wait to get home.  Do you ever have that feeling? You itch to get away, and when you get there, you itch for home.  Grass-is-always-greener, I suppose.

What are your favorite ways to get a change of scenery?

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

04 October 2012

31 days :: favorite things

anthropologie farmers market basket via

Last Fall, I read over at the Nesting Place about The Tiny Twig and her Favorite Things party.  The idea is SO very wonderful, the timing was perfect (directly pre-Christmas), and I had to find a way to make it mine.  

My mom, sister, sisters in law, niece, and grandmother started a new Christmas tradition.  

Favorite Things gift exchange

It was so fantastic.  

We left the boys men at home.  I don't know what they did. Probably some sort of violent wrestling activity.

My mom treated us gals to manicures, then we headed to one of our most favorite local lunch spots for food and the gift exchange.  We'd started planning six-or-so weeks in advance, so there was plenty of time to come up with something wonderful.  There were hand-made mittens, stella & dot bracelets, hand-made journals, custom-chosen makeup samples, and a ring-pop for four year old niece.  For my favorite thing, I chose the Anthropologie treasure pictured above.  

Why I love it:

Time together - It's not often that the ladies get to go out without having to worry about nap times or eat times.  We were freed to be together and enjoy one another.  Wonderful.

Favorites - It was an opportunity for each of us to choose something unique to gift to one another.  There was time put in, and each of our unique personalities and styles had an opportunity to shine!  

Tradition - I love a good tradition.  Memories are made, laughter is had, stories are told. 

If you have ladies in your life - give the idea a try.  Customize it, make it your own.  

Have you ever had a Favorite Things-type party? Did you LOVE it?!

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 1100 other topics here. +

03 October 2012

City Guide :: Madison @ Be Up & Doing

Madison is a wonderfully unique town –  in many ways because  we are a fusion town – both the capitol of the state, and home to a Big Ten university.  We are also situated on an isthmus, which simply refers to...  

Read more at Be Up & Doing.  I'm guest posting over there today.  Thanks, Miss Allie, for having me!

31 days :: getting up early

I've always considered myself a *not* morning person.  

I love bed.  
I love my memory foam pillow. 
I love the duvet cover my mom made for me.  
And I used to love waking up late - or at least as late as I possibly could without missing whatever I needed to be ready for that day - or at least as late as I could without getting a caffeine headache.  How's that for ridiculous?

You may remember awhile back when I decided to start getting up early.  I kid you not - it's changed my life.  I know, right? It sounds a little over the top, and I might be a total outlier, but it's making a big difference for me.  The little bit of time before the day begins allows me to have some quiet time, and to think over the day.  It allows me to leave for work in a non-chaotic fashion, which is quite lovely, in fact.  Overall - it helps me feel like I'm getting a head start on the day - not the other way around.

How I'm making it work: 

1. I use an app on my phone called Sleep Cycle.  The thing is miraculous.  Before going to sleep, you tell the app the latest time in the morning you need to wake up.  During the night, the app remains open, and lives near your head, in bed.  As you sleep, it tracks the depth of your sleep, and as your desired wake time approaches, it wakes you (with the most wonderfully pleasant music) at the time your body is most ready to be awoken, based upon your movements.  IT IS WONDERFUL, and I swear it works.  Since it tracks your depth of sleep, you can also check out how you slept on any given night.  Here's how I slept last night:

not so much the model sleeper

2. I may have mentioned... The light next to my bed turns on automatically (thanks to my best waking-up trick, which is to set a timer to my lamp - yes, think Christmas lights - having it turn on before I wake up so my brain is fooled into thinking it's actually light out when I wake up). 

3. My coffee maker is set on timer. When my alarm gets turned off, I can hear my Pikes Place perking away.  It's full-on Pavlov.

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 800 other topics here. +

02 October 2012

31 Days :: Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Today is the day!  My first of 31 blog posts about things that make life better.  I wrote about Nester's great concept a few weeks back and I have been anxiously awaiting October so I can get started.  I have my lists made and it really is a bit tempting to blurt out all of my ideas in one grand post today, but I will pace myself and start with just one.  

image credit.
Thanks to my friend L for inspiring this post!

Aren't these baby cakey pumpkins just too much?!  I love a good project that keeps our hands busy and gives our brains a break!  

I am looking forward to making these adorable mini-pumpkin cakes with my small friend, Jack, a toddler who likes baking projects.  We are going to use Kit Kat bars for the stems and he wants to only make orange pumpkins, but I may mix things up with some white and may even get crazy with some brown.  What fall projects do you have planned at your house?

+ This post is part of a 31 Day Series. Read the first post here. Check out over 800 other topics here. +