26 November 2013

H A P P Y H E A L T H Y H O L I D A Y Wheat Berry Salad

If you're like me, you're always on the lookout for healthy holiday side dish options that showcase bright and delicious flavor, appealing texture, and requests for second helpings.  As a hostess (or as a guest that's offered to bring an accompanying dish), I hope to provide family and friends with yummy food that leads to happy bellies, and the wonderful thing is we can be thankful there are lots of great alternatives to traditional not-as-healthy holiday dishes.

Enter the beautiful wheat berry.

My mom introduced me to wheat berries several years ago, and like most things, she was exactly right when boasted their nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture.  Yum.

Our family makes her version of the wheat berry salad for various occasions, and it's always a hit.  It's festive and just a little different. It's also dairy-free, so if you have loved ones with dietary restrictions, this could be a really nice option.

I'm a proud supporter of the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation. I'm sharing this family favorite over on their blog today. Click over to read more!

14 November 2013

Introducing Etiquette for the Everyday Girl

I'm an etiquette girl.  

In fact, I buy etiquette books and read them for pleasure. CALL. ME. CRAZY.  I'm drawn to etiquette because I tend to lean traditional, and love knowing the proper way things should occur.  It's fun, and knowing the proper way gives me confidence in uncertain situations.

I'm introducing a new series here on the blog called Etiquette for the Everyday Girl.  You can count on etiquette essentials for this modern world - in business and in life.  YAY!

Here's today's tip:

The proper way to make an introduction:

Here's the gist: Introduce the "more important" person first.  Break it down:

  1. In business, introduce the CEO to the Director of Operations: "Hailey, (CEO), I'd like to introduce you to Taylor (Director of Operations)." Think of it this way: The Director of operations should already know who the CEO is. The CEO, on the other hand, wouldn't necessarily already be acquainted with the Director of Operations). 
  2. In life, introduce the elder person to the younger person: "Grandpa, please meet my friend Carter."
Good stuff, no? 

What are your favorite etiquette tips? What etiquette questions would you like me to cover in this series?

11 November 2013

Drinking from a Firehose

can you help me source this image?
I went to an industry conference last week. It was intense. And awesome. 

There was so much information, I literally felt like I was drinking from a firehose. I took notes furiously, but couldn't get it all on paper. I'm hoping some of the content seeped into my brain even if it didn't make it into my notes.

What do you do in situations like this? How do you make the most of the information even when the quantity is overwhelming?
  • In addition to my notes page, I keep a To Do list for conference-things that require an action on my part.
  • I make note of books that are mentioned, and make a plan to order them for myself. Most great teachers are also great readers. I want to learn from them.
  • I review my notes after each session. The most important things will stick out to you.
  • I'm a doodling listener, and let myself doodle as I listen. Instead of my brain concentrating on getting down every word, I let the information sink into my mind, and doodle along the way.

What are the best ways you've learned to absorb abundant information?

08 November 2013

How-To Hand-Lettering with The Simple City Girl

I'm SO excited to welcome my friend Christine (aka The Simple City Girl) from The Simple City Life today!  I met Christine on our drive to the Influence Conference and subsequent roommate-ness this September, and have loved the girl ever since. She so patiently taught a bunch of PJ-clad conference-going roomies her best hand-lettering techniques in an impromptu tutoring session that has come to be referred to as The Hotel Room Sessions (a name I made up today). From the moment we all eight sat rapt by her talent and patience, I knew I MUST share this with you. How timely with the holidays (hello gift tags and Christmas cards and New Years Eve invitations!), and what fun. And you don't have to be VanGogh to figure it out!

Without further ado… please meet my sweet (and HILARIOUS - gosh I love someone who can make me laugh 'till my side hurts) friend Christine.


Over the past year, I've really fallen in love with hand-lettered everything. I mean, who hasn't really? I realized over time, and also with some time, it was easier than I thought to spiff up my very own handwriting. 

While Cammie and I were at The Influence Conference, I held a late-night impromptu tutorial for all of our roommates. These women caught on so fast and in those moments of laughter, hilariousness, and teaching my friends, I realized it is pretty easy for anyone to make their handwriting into something pretty. Today I am honored to teach you some of the tricks and tips I've learned over time on beautifying the art of the cursive font.

What you need:
- A fine-tipped pen
{My favorite is the Pilot G-2 with a .38 tip.}
- paper
- and why not make yourself a fresh cup of coffee? I did. 

Step one:
Write a word out in plain ol' cursive.
I chose the word hello. 

Step two:
Take note of all the downstrokes in each letter.
This is key in the spiffing up process.

Step three:
Thicken each downstroke line.

Step four:
Soak in your beautiful hand-written work of art!

Extra fun step:
If you're feeling adventurous, add some swirls or change up the spacing of the letters.

Some encouragement:
- You'll get better over time, promise. 
- Just keep on practicing.
- Don't be afraid to get creative. 
Make big ol' letters.
 Draw outside the lines.
 Make your words into a circle.
...things like that. 

As you journal, or sip your morning cup of coffee, or take a mid-day break, I encourage you to get a little imaginative today. Step outside the box and see what happens! 


You guys. Quit it, right? How cool and easy! 

So try it. Get yourself a pen that makes your handwriting look good (don't even tell me you don't play favorites with pens), a notebook you can feel freedom in, and a fresh cup of coffee. Now give it a go.

What fun! Maybe we can talk her into coming back for another tutorial!

Also - as a side note (Christine didn't tell me to say this!): The Simple City Girl has a hand-lettering business. Now go support what she's doing.  Because she's awesome. And because she's taken time to teach you what she knows. Find out how to contact her here.

Another side note: Christine wanted to let you know she learned this cool skill over at www.jonesdesigncompany.com.

06 November 2013

What are your favorite blogs?

I think because I am a blogger, people often ask me what my favorite blogs are.  

I am a big blog reader, partly because I love the content, and partly because I use other people's blogs for inspiration.  I also follow a handful of "how to be a better blogger" blogs.  I personally use Bloglovin' (which was a fiasco to decide on in the first place), which I transitioned to when Google Reader retired, and it works just great.  

Last week, my life group girls asked me to put together a list of blogs for them to check out, and that's what this list is going to be. Here you go, ladies!

If you're really cool and beautiful on the inside and out - you might like these. Ok, side note: It's REALLY hard to rank blogs by level of favoriteness.  So I'm just going to list these in no order, because trying to determine their actual order is not going to be possible for this Type A.

Shauna Niequest - She's on my short-list of favorite authors right now, and her blog moves me in the same way her books do.  Love this lady.

Nesting Place - She makes me feel like I could be an interior designer. Her motto is It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Need I say more?

Cup of Jo - The woman posts so insanely much, I can barely keep up, but when I have time, I love perusing her posts. 

Be Up & Doing - If you followed along with my Savvy Business Secrets series, you already know I'm obsessed with all things Allie.  Her blog is no exception.

House of Earnest - Love at first sight, here, people.  Beautiful yet still achievable decorating ideas and product recommendations.  Much love to another one of my Savvy Entrepreneurs. AND her new product line launches next week!

Hollywood Housewife - Just the right amount of sassy, and plus the girl lives in Hollywood.

Lara Casey - The founder of Making Things Happen, and all around nutritious lady, her writing will challenge and inspire you.

Emily Ley - Because her products are impeccable and following her blog is the best way to make sure I don't miss a thing!

I Heart Organizing - The best organizing blog in all the land. Not a joke.

And just because we're on the topic, I hope you'll take a moment to follow Polka Dotted Peony on Bloglovin'!

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05 November 2013

Famous Black and White Photos in Color

Have you seen these historic black and white images that have been colorized? 

They're captivating.

Lots more images and all sources found here.

04 November 2013

Savvy Business Review

In October, I wrote for 31 23 days about Savvy Business Secrets for Creative Entrepreneurs.  I absolutely LOVED the topic and the style, and am in the process of brainstorming ways to incorporate the topic and the style into more regular posts here on Polka Dotted Peony.  Since the series took place over a series of days, I thought I'd provide a little review here of my favorite posts in the series, so you can catch any you may have missed. Just click on the graphic to be taken directly to the post.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to change it up a little around here. I felt more at home in this series than I have in awhile. And I love feeling at home.