Thursday, December 19, 2013

all about instagram:: hayley of 'the tiny twig' talks analog weekends

As much as I love Instagram, I'm all too aware that social media sometimes plays a much bigger role in my life than I'm comfortable with. When I start seeing every cute or funny moment with my family in little 2x2 squares, or I'm twitchy without my phone nearby, it's time for a break. Today, I've invited my friend, Hayley Morgan, of The Tiny Twig, to share with you about how she began taking weekend breaks from social media, which she calls "analog weekends'. Hayley is one of the sweetest and wisest women you'll ever meet on the internets, so I'm really excited that you get to hear from her today. As we are deep in the holiday season, and about to start a new year, I'm challenging myself, and inviting you to consider joining Hayley every now and then on these 'analog weekends'. 

Read on to learn more! I think you'll be encouraged and inspired to enjoy life the old-fashioned way a little more often!

Hi Hayley! Can you share a little bit about how you came to realize your need for a break from social media?

One day I realized I was mindlessly flipping through what I call the Bermuda Triangle of social media. I was on my phone zipping between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...and then back again. I wasn't really getting anything out of it, but I couldn't tear myself away. The worst part? I was insanely bored if I wasn't tied to my phone. 

What are some practical ways you stay off of social media over the weekend? Do you turn off your phone? Place your icons in a separate folder? 

I have all of my social media stuff in one folder...sometime Friday afternoon/evening I do one last scroll, sometimes post an Instagram with the #analogweekend hashtag, and then promptly delete all of my social media platforms for the weekend. Come Monday morning, I get my oldest off on the school bus and then reinstall the apps. It's the only real way I've found that I really stay off my phone over the weekend. I still use the camera, but otherwise, it's kind of a brick. It's almost like having your laptop without wifi--it's just a really heavy notepad.

How have the analog weekends changed the way you spend time with your family? Has it changed the way you look at and interact with social media during the week?

Analog Weekends have literally changed the way I do weekends. I am more present, more alert, and honestly more creative during the weekend. Plus, my mind just stays away from work and away from what everyone else is doing. Stepping away for the weekend just helps me hold social media with a more open hand overall. I realize that life is great without social media, and so it's easier to view it as just a tool rather than at best a source of entertainment or at worst a zombie-inducing distraction.

What is some encouragement you'd have for an avid IGer (or Twitter fiend, or Pinterest addict) who is considering starting analog weekends?

Just do it. Try it for a weekend. Just walk away. If you fail after 4 hours, no biggie...try again the next weekend. Sometimes my Analog Weekends are shorter than others. Sometimes I'll have something I'm dying to say on Sunday night. Sometimes I'll be on until Saturday morning when my boys wake up. Honestly--it's more about the heart than the rules. Isn't that kind of the way life works? The good things are ALWAYS more about the heart than the rules. :)
Want more of Hayley? (Who wouldn't?) Follow the links below to find her!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

all about instagram series:: a stickygram giveaway!

We're continuing the Instagram series today with a giveaway! I thought this would be a fun way to kick off the Christmas break, and when I contacted StickyGram a few months ago, they hopped right on board!

Sprinkled through this series, I'll be sharing different ways that you can get your Instagram photos off your phone and into your hands. The era of digital photos makes capturing memories super simple and easy, but why let them sit there? 

There are a ton of companies that can help you do that, and one of my very favorites is StickyGram. They turn your Instagram photos into tiny square magnets for your fridge, memo board, or any other creative use you could think of. 

I received some StickyGram magnets to review and was really impressed with the quality. The colors and print quality are spot on and each of my photos was crisp and clear. Silas loves seeing the pictures stuck up on our fridge, and when Chris is gone for work, he gets a kick out of finding Chris' face. I'd love to see the magnets be a little bit stronger for holding up papers and such, but as it is, they're still strong enough to hold up some lighter things, and they serve their main purpose (looking pretty) quite well. 

StickyGram is generously giving away two packs of magnets (that's 18 magnets!) to one winner! Check out the Rafflecopter widget below for all the ways to enter! Don't forget to come back to this blog post and leave a comment. I want to know your favorite part of using Instagram.

Is it the community with other moms, artists, bloggers?

Is it capturing memories for your own records?

Or the artistic part of the editing process?

Or is it something else?

Too impatient to wait? Take $2 off your order with the code HELLOXMAS at checkout! And just so you know, TODAY (the 12th) is the last day to order for Christmas delivery for US residents! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

my little buffalo.

Last month, I shared just a peek at one of the new pieces of art hanging on our living room wall. One of the pieces is a custom illustrated portrait by Lisa of My Little Buffalo. Lisa is one of my oldest online friends and she's got loads of talent.

Lisa and I worked on this illustration a month or so ago and it was a fun process. I sent her some photos of all of us, and included a few details that I'd love to see (colored tights for me, a bowtie for Chris). She sent me a draft and I sent her a few adjustments. Then, in my inbox pops an email with the cutest little family illustration. It was neat to see how Lisa turned some photos into little drawings of each of us. 

Pop over to Lisa's shop and check out the cute options for custom portraits. She offers everything from custom house portraits (I love this one!), personalized nursery art, and even the sweetest grandkid print. I love the custom iPhone case  too! Lisa isn't taking any more custom orders for Christmas, so this gift certificate option might be a good one.

Find Lisa on Facebook or Instagram!

snow day.

I was giddy over the weekend when I peeked at my Accuweather app and saw that snow was forecasted for yesterday. Just as I was pouring my coffee and praying for Silas to sleep a tad longer, the flurries starting falling. And those big flakes fell through the whole day. Not much stuck until yesterday evening, but that didn't matter a whole lot to us.

I wish you could have seen Silas when I took him to his bedroom window to see the snow falling. It took him a minute to figure out what I was trying to get him to look at, but then for the next six hours, he made me hold him up to every single window to get a look at that 'no. For half the morning, I thought he was just being ornery and saying no to everything I did. He does that anyway, so it wasn't out of the ordinary. That is, until, I realized he was saying 'snow'. Duh. 

After his nap, we dressed up in about 14 layers, I wrestled his new boots on his little feet, and we ventured out into the cold. I mean, I consider myself to have a pretty good foothold on the wonder and awe of things, but seeing the snow through his eyes was magical, you guys. Watching his little tomato -soup-stained face light up, and the snowflakes falling on his lashes. Just about bust me open with the sweetness of the moment.

His excitement actually surprised me a little bit, considering he has a severe abhorrence of bubble baths.  He loves baths, but the bubbles freak him out a lot.

And lest you think it was all gumdrops and snowflakes out there, our little walk in the snow ended with a tantrum. Don't ask me what it was about-- I don't pretend to understand the toddler mind. He recovered quickly, as usual, but let me tell you, it was really difficult to lug a mini StayPuff Marshmallow man down the street. Slippery little fellow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

just a blog post.

It's been a long time since I've written a blog post just for the sake of writing. I was reading over some old posts recently and that always gets me nostalgic. For the days when there was real community in the comments section, for the posts when I wrote about really dumb details about my days and when blogging was simpler. For the times when I didn't care if my pictures were perfect, or if my writing was funny enough. I just posted to share and to remember.

I'd love to get back to writing again. About the everyday stuff. Those are the posts I love to re-read years later. I miss that. 

So here goes. Nothing fancy, just a blog post. 

Last Monday night, we were at a friends' house and Silas fell and bit his tongue. Mouth wounds bleed a lot, and even though I know that-- every time he busts a lip or something, I panic just a little. We determined that we didn't need a hospital trip, but boy, that was a rough night. He screamed in pain for about an hour before going to sleep that night and it broke my heart. With a tongue wound, there's really nothing you can do, and I felt so helpless. He was a wreck all week, which meant, so was I. By Friday, his smile returned and I could tell he was feeling better. Thankfully, it seems to be healing really well, but of course, now he's come down with a cold and he's still working on those four molars. Poor kid can't catch a break. 

Let's pray that we're getting all the bloody incidents and snotty sicknesses out of the way for our Hawaii trip next week. We'll be flying to San Diego to spend a few days with my little sister before hopping over to Oahu for Christmas with Chris' family. The sun, island breezes, and waves are calling my name. I've been hanging out with Jillian Michaels the past few weeks. Not so much because I want a bikini-body again (let's face it, not gonna happen.), but gosh, I miss surfing and at this point, I have my doubts about being able to even carry my board down the beach, much less paddle out and catch a wave. I have dim hopes that a few workouts with Jillian will buy me a wave or two.

PS. Any toddler flying tips you want to share would be awesome. I'm skeered. 

Even though we're leaving next week, I convinced Chris that we should still put up a Christmas tree. Granted, it's three feet tall, (Chris wanted to go even smaller for a tree we'll enjoy for a week) which looks almost comical in our big living room. But Silas is enthralled with it, and the twinkly lights in the corner wake up my inner child. Right now, out the window behind the tree, I can see snow falling. Our first snow fall of the year. If it doesn't get rained on before Silas wakes up, I'll bundle him up Christmas-Story style, and we'll head out to get a closer look. My guess is, he'll either freak out, and want to go inside or want to stay out forever even though his poor old mom has icicle fingers. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

a simple winter outfit and a link list.

Chris took these photos for me a few weeks ago, when the trees lining our street were still a bright fiery orange. The outfit isn't anything exhilarating, but I love simplicity of a good outfit and the colors in these pictures and thought they might make you smile too.

peacoat:: forever21
gray tee:: target
jeans:: american eagle
boots:: c/o lulu's

Here are a few of my favorite links from the week. 

Jessi wrote a great post today on her December goals. My favorite part is that they aren't lofty, unachievable goals. In fact, you might call them 'un-goals'. 

We bought this dining room table from West Elm over the weekend (thank you, Black Friday sale!!) and I can't wait to pick it up this weekend! Anyone wanna come over for dinner?

In case you didn't see the link in Wednesday's post, I want to make sure you know that this beer bread recipe is SO delicious and incredibly easy. A fresh loaf of bread in under an hour? Yes, please. 

I really liked Sydney's blog post today. She highlights a whole slew of things that she wishes her readers would know about her as a blogger. My favorite line? "I hope you don't compare real life to an edited one." Isn't that the truth?

(I'm gonna sneak this one in...) Today is the last day to order from my shop for Christmas delivery. I'll be open until the 12th, but no guarantee on deliveries after today! There are some new magnets in there as of this morning! 

It's been a busy, hectic, stressful week and I have barely been able to sit and think alone, but I'm looking forward to catching up on the She Reads Truth advent reading plan this weekend. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

16 month silas and his new hat.

Silas is almost 16 months old and all boy. It's been really fun to see him transition from a baby into a toddler and I'm not really sure where that change happened. All of the sudden, he's enraptured with trucks, dogs and balls, says a million words (or his version of words, anyway) and gets into everything. He just started saying "hello" (more like "wah-woh") yesterday and I try to get him to say it every chance I get, because holy cow, the cuteness. 

Beyond the adorable factor, we're definitely wading into the discipline territory. Thankfully, he's generally a good listener, but he's also got a stubborn streak and loves to test us. Time-out is hit or miss, since most of the time he just thinks it's a fun, new game. I've had to hide my face a few times when he has me cracking up at his silly antics. 

He just started building towers with his blocks instead of only knocking them down, and he can hear a dog bark from a mile away. He loves people and definitely has inherited the extroverted nature that both Chris and I have. 

As soon as I tell him that we are going outside, he runs to grab his shoes and plops down on the ground for me to put them on his little feet. I'm a little worried about this winter since he seems oblivious to the cold, and wants to go play outside no matter what the temperature. Mama, on the other hand, wouldn't mind staying cozy inside. 

I took these pictures on our walk around the block yesterday. He loves going for walks, and it takes us about 4 hours to walk half a mile since he stops to stare at every single car, truck, bike or other mobile object. 

Emily from Blue Corduroy sent Silas this beautiful knit beanie, and he loves it. I love it too-- the design is adorable, and it keeps his noggin pretty warm on chilly days. If you are in the market for a cozy hat for yourself or your toddler, check out Emily's sweet shop. Her shop is filled with all kinds of great knits--  ear warmers, scarves, granny square pillows! She's offering a 15% discount to HelloHue readers with the code HELLOHUE15 at checkout. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

from our recipe box:: curried cider soup (the perfect way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers!)

Yesterday afternoon, I ate a turkey sandwich with cheese, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Oh, and stuffing. For some reason, the week after Thanksgiving, it always seems like the best idea to add bread to my sandwich. It was delicious, but I felt a tiny bit ashamed after eating it. Bread on top of my sandwich? Who does that?!

Anyway, that's why I'm excited to post this recipe for you today. It's the perfect way to use up all that leftover turkey (we cooked a 21 lb turkey on Friday-- we'll be eating turkey for weeks.) without feeling like a complete glutton. 

I tore this recipe out of a Rachael Ray magazine a few years ago and it continues to be one of our favorites. The perfect fall soup that pairs perfectly with a cold night and steaming hot beer bread. 

(serves 4-6) 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup apple cider
1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1/2 rotisserie chicken, OR leftover Thanksgiving turkey, sliced into bite sizes bits


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the cider, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add 4 cups of water and the sweet potato and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower, lower the heat and simmer until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. 

This is where we differ from Rachael Ray's directions. She says, 

"Using a blender, and working in batches, puree the soup, and return to saucepan. Stir in the chicken (or turkey) and warm over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper."

We have found that using the blender is pretty tedious and can get messy. We use our Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender and blend the whole batch up right in the pot in about 2 minutes. (We mostly use it to make smoothies each morning-- also way easier and less cleanup than a true blender.)

We love eating it with King's Hawaiian Bread, or most recently, I've been making this buttery honey beer bread constantly.