Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Tablescape + a DIY Failure

I finally finished my Spring tablescape, just in time for Easter weekend. Actually we won’t even be here for Easter; we’re flying to West Palm Beach, Florida tomorrow morning and staying for the long holiday weekend! But I still wanted to add some spring décor to the house before Easter. Here it is!

Spring Table 6

Spring Table 3

I’ve done a seasonal tablescape for the last two seasons (Fall and Christmas) but I hadn’t done one since December so it was definitely time to add a bit of spring to the house. This season’s table décor consisted of three main parts: a DIY fabric table runner; blue metal baskets filled with Easter grass and candy eggs; and some vintage brass candlesticks with taper candles.

Spring Table 2

Other than the DIY table runner, which I’ll share a tutorial for next week, there’s not very much explanation or instruction needed for my table décor. I found the brass candlesticks at a local thrift store last month and I really wanted to use them as a centerpiece. The blue tins were $1 each at Target, and I made them perfect for Easter by filling each basket with a mix of green and pink plastic Easter grass and then topping them with some Whopper’s Robin Eggs candy. I made the table runner out of two yards of a cute spring green Moroccan print fabric from Hobby Lobby.

Spring Table 1

Spring Table 4

Spring Table 5

Spring Table 8

Cute, right? I love simple and inexpensive décor like this. Here’s a rundown of what I spent:

  • Fabric: $10
  • Straight pins for fabric: $3
  • Candlesticks: $9 for a set of 7 (I only used 5 here)
  • Metal baskets: $2
  • Easter grass: $1
  • Candy eggs: $2
  • Taper candles: $5
  • Total = $32

Not too bad! I have plenty of fabric leftover to use for another project (maybe a spring wreath?!), and I will definitely reuse the candles and candle holders in other areas of the house or other table décor once I’m done with this season’s table.

You might be wondering what the “DIY Failure” mentioned in the title is. Well, the same day I got the brass candlesticks from the thrift store I also got three very ugly Easter bunny figurines for a total of $2. Here’s a “before” pic.

IMG_2885

Not horrible, but definitely not for me. The white bunny was almost ok as-is but it was super dirty and stained. I thought they would look really cute spray painted, so I got some spray paint primer and a pretty buttercream yellow can of spray paint. I thought that the repainted figurines would look nice as party of my Easter tablescape. Easy little DIY project right? You be the judge:

IMG_2891

Yuck! And this is after 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of yellow paint. I think the two brown bunnies were just the completely wrong texture to try to spray paint: they have too many tiny nooks and crannies. The white rabbit could have turned out okay, but instead it just looks like my dog peed all over it. Not so pretty.

So no Easter bunnies for my Spring tablescape this year, oh well. At least I’m not out very much money due to my DIY failure.

Do you decorate your house of Spring and/or Easter? Do stick to traditional décor like bunnies and eggs, or do you do something more unexpected?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Instant Art for $0.99

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I’m sorry I didn’t get to my spring tablescape last week like I said I would. I came down with a nasty cold that pretty much knocked me out from Wednesday to Saturday, so I didn’t get to my crafting like I had planned. So stay tuned this week, as long as I remain healthy I should get it done in the next few days!

While I was sick last week I spent a lot of time on the couch, playing on my iphone and ipad, and I downloaded a new app that I think might be my favorite app of all time. It’s called Waterlogue, have you guys heard of it? It costs $0.99 and while I don’t download very many apps that cost money this one is totally worth it. It will turn any photo into a gorgeous watercolor painting! Check out what I did with some of my pictures from Paris:

Notre Dame Waterlogue

Paris Flowers Waterlogue

Sacre Coeur Waterlogue

Paris Locks Waterlogue

Eiffel Tower Waterlogue

Aren’t they pretty?! I want to frame every one of these! I love that the app gives you a bunch of choices of filters so you can create a print that’s more detailed (like the flowers), or more blurred out (Notre Dame), or one that has heavy outlines (Sacre Couer). These are just a few of the effects available, there are a lot more that I didn’t end up using.

I also created a watercolor of my living room to see what the app would do with a more every day photo:

Living Room Waterlogue

So fun, right! I haven’t printed any of the watercolor prints out because my cheap printer runs through ink like it’s air and I didn’t want to burn through my ink cartridge, but if you do have a good printer you should definitely try printing out some Waterlogue pictures! I would print them on to a nice cardstock so it feels more like a real painting. I’d imagine that they’d also turn out well if you you got them printed through a photo printing service. Just make sure to get a matte finish on your photos.

Have any of you tried Waterlogue yet? I’d especially love to hear from someone who printed some of their images to see how they turned out!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top 10 Things I Learned at Go Blog Social

Top 10 @ GBS

As I said Monday, I had a blast at this weekend’s Go Blog Social conference here in KC. I learned a ton and I met lots of really awesome fellow bloggers. I would love to share everything I learned at GBS with you but that would be impossible to do in a blog post. Instead, I’ll share my top ten list of things I learned. And so, in no particular order, here are my new nuggets of knowledge:

1.   Define Your Brand and Know Your Purpose. Blogs are not just online diaries anymore, they are serious business. And if you want people to take your blog seriously you need to define your brand. Give your blog a signature style and keep this style consistent throughout everything you do.

Knowing your purpose goes hand in hand with defining your brand. Just like Yogi Berra said, “If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.” To figure out exactly what your purpose is, Amanda recommends that everyone ask themselves these four questions: What are you committed to? What do you stand for? Who do you want to be? What do you want to create?

2.   Find Your Niche, and There’s Room for Everyone. According to Kelly, there are something like 450,000 blogs out there, with 1,000-3,000 new ones being created every day. That is crazy! So finding your niche is a very important step in being seen and heard among the thousands of other bloggers out there.

It may seem like there is a massive amount of competition to contend with in the blogging universe but don’t get discouraged. The blogging community is incredibly supportive and encouraging of each other. If you have something valuable to say there is room for you, no matter how many other blogs there are.

3.   Create Original Content. While there is room for everyone in blogging land, you want your blog to stand out, and one of the best ways to do that is by creating original content. Emily gave a great talk on this, and something she said that really stood out to me is “blog with intention.” You don’t just want to recycle what everyone else is already doing. It will take considerably more time to put together a completely original post but it is worth it.

Emily’s husband Matt also spoke on the subject, but in the context of copywrite laws (he’s an intellectual property lawyer). Of course we all know not to steal another person’s idea or content, but holy cow, there are all sorts of ways to get yourself into serious legal trouble by not following copywrite laws. The best way to avoid trouble is to always get written permission before you share anyone else’s photos, etc, and to create original content of your own.

4.   Foster a Community. One of the best ways to gain and keep followers is to foster a community among your readers. Engage with them, ask questions, tease what’s coming next. Encourage comments and questions but be sure to always respond to them! Knowing that there’s an actual person behind the blog and being able to communicate with her is really important to readers.

5.   The Importance of Photography. I’ve known for a long time that photography is very important to a blog’s success but this was reiterated over and over throughout the weekend. People come to blogs for the pictures first and then stay for the content. If you can’t grab a reader with your images you won’t get them to stay the to read the excellent copy you’ve written. Invest in a good camera if you can afford it, or at least use good editing software or even iphone apps like Afterlight.

Several of the speakers also gave some great photography tips and tricks, such as using a white foam board either as a backdrop or to reflect light to give you a better photograph. I also really loved Erin’s advice about styling your photos. People want to see the pretty pictures, so if you need to bring in props or stage your photos in a different part of your house to get the best light, do so!

6.   Blogs are Big Business. While there are still plenty of people out there that blog just for fun, or to keep in touch with their family and friends, there are thousands of other people that make a living off their blog. There are lots of ways to make money with your blog, whether that be through affiliate links, ads, sponsored posts, or creating and selling your own product such as a book or an online class.

You do want to be careful with how and how much you advertise though. Readers will see right through you if you’re trying to sell something just to make money. Dan gave us a good tip: Don’t look for a product to sell, look to make your audience smarter and find products that can help you achieve that.

7.   Make a Media Kit. Companies big and small are beginning to recognize the value of working with blogs and they are willing to pay bloggers to get the word out about their product or services. Your media kit plays a very important part in getting to work with brands. Kelly said that every blog, no matter how big or how small, needs a media kit, for these three reasons: It makes you a professional; It shows that your blog is important; and It starts the conversation about compensation. Your time and your voice are valuable, make sure brands know that.

8.   Why Networking is So Important. I think networking is kind of a groan-inducing word (at least for me it is), but it is so important. Networking leads to new connections, some of whom might become new followers, or friends, or business partners. You never know who you might be talking to. And in general, it’s not that difficult. To me the hardest part is just getting myself to the meeting/event/whatever; once I’m there I just try to be nice and friendly and the rest seems to take care of itself. As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

I was pretty nervous to attend Go Blog Social by myself since I didn’t really know anyone else that would be there, and while it was a little awkward at first, once I started introducing myself to people I immediately started feeling more at ease. Like I said Monday, I got to know some really fantastic people that I otherwise probably would have never met had I not networked at GBS.

P.S. Nicole posted her Top 10 Networking Tips on her blog today, so if you didn’t get to hear them at the conference check them out here!

9.   Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover, and Everyone Judges a Book by its Cover. These were two of Nicole’s networking tips, and while they’re not exactly groundbreaking, they are so, so true. More than 100 people attended Go Blog Social this weekend and I knew almost none of them. There were some girls there that looked like they could become my new best friend, but there were plenty of others I was initially turned off by, often because I was intimidated by them. I kind of regressed to my high school self, worried that the pretty girls wouldn’t like me because they were thin, tan, super stylish, wore expensive jewelry and shoes, etc…and I did not have those certain qualities or things. But it turned out that some of the girls I was initially really intimidated to talk to or thought I would have nothing in common with turned out to be some of the best people I met! It really pays to not write people off based on your first impression.

On the same note, it’s just human nature to make a snap judgment based on how someone looks and presents themselves, so be sure to always put your best foot forward.

10.   The Sky’s the Limit. Blogging is still a very new industry, and while that might mean that everyone may not understand what you do, it also means that the opportunities to be had with blogging are endless. You can make it into whatever you want it to be! The bloggers I met are doing amazing things: starting their own products lines, writing books, becoming consultants, working with national magazines and brands, even going to the Academy of Country Music awards as part of Kohl’s social media team (so jealous of you Sarah!). I think Conan O’Brien summed it up best when he said, “If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen.”

Print by Etsy retailer I Screen You Screen

 

Thank you for reading my rather lengthy recap above! I hope I adequately conveyed the amazing tips and advice I learned at Go Blog Social. I’d also like to give a very heartfelt THANK YOU! to all of our speakers. I learned so much from each and every one of you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Go Blog Social 2014 Recap

Oh my goodness, this weekend was just wonderful. I attended my very first blogging conference, Go Blog Social, on Friday and Saturday. It was so much more than I was expecting! Not only did I learn a lot from the speakers, I also met some really wonderful fellow bloggers.

The conference took place at the Berg Event Space in the heart of downtown Kansas City. What a beautiful space! It was in a great location too, about a block away from the Sprint Center and right across the street from the KC Star building.

GBS 2014 collage

downton KC

Sprint Center

KC star building

I tried to put together two of my cutest outfits to wear to the event since I knew it would be packed with fashionable ladies. I definitely didn’t win the best dressed award (seriously, you should have seen how well dressed this group of women was!), but I did like what I wore.GBS 2014 Day 1GBS Day 2 Outfit

Like I said earlier, I got to meet and talk with some amazing fellow bloggers. I think my favorite part of the whole weekend was lunch on Saturday when I joined a few other ladies at Bristol during our lunch break. I had such a great time getting to know them and hearing their stories!

Bristol Lunch

Pictured above, starting on the left and going around the table, are: Sarah from B8sics, Laura Probasco, Jordan from This Blonde Bee, Erin from House of Earnest, Emily from Mrs. Kansas Mommy, and me. 

I met tons of other awesome girls that I didn’t get to spend as much one-on-one time with, but who were wonderful nonetheless. Just look at all these pretty business cards I collected!

GBS business cards

Another perk of attending a blogger conference like this is all the goodies you get to take home! Look at all this stuff: makeup from Stila, Better Homes & Garden magazine compliments of our keynote speaker, Kaelin Zawilinski, the Editorial Manager at BHG.com, granola from Nola, a gift card from Tieks shoes, and more. How cool!

GBS freebies

There were also tons of giveaways during the conference and I was lucky enough to win one of them! I got this cute and perfect-for-spring infinity scarf from Tulip boutique in KC. I can’t wait to wear it!

Tulip scarf

I had such an amazing time at Go Blog Social! Thanks so much to all of our speakers and to the GBS for putting together this incredible event! For lots more pictures of Go Blog Social check out the GBS team’s instagram account here.

And for all my new friends I met at GBS, make sure to keep in contact! You can connect with me here: facebook, bloglovin’, instagram, pinterest, and twitter.

Also, make sure to come back later this week to read about the top 10 things I learned from Go Blog Social and to see the really cute and thrifty Easter tablescape I’m working on!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Favorites

I know I usually do my “favorites” post on Fridays but I’m sharing it early this week because I am going to Go Blog Social tomorrow! I will be at this blogging conference in downtown KC all day Friday and Saturday. I am so excited to meet lots of amazing bloggers and hopefully learn a ton of valuable information.

Anyway, here I few things that I really loved this week. Enjoy!

This Quiz

For decorating nerds like me, Pop Sugar’s “Which Celebrity Decorator Gets You” quiz is the ultimate personality test. Although I love all the potential designers I was thrilled to get my favorite: Emily Henderson!

Emily Henderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Article

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably heard that the long running TV series How I Met Your Mother ended this Monday. I watched it and yes, I cried a little a lot; I was a big ball of emotions after it ended. I’m not going to write any spoilers here but there were definitely some shockers in the finale and I know a lot of fans were not so happy with the show’s creators. I thought it was pretty great though; Donna Bowman’s summary on A.V. Club reflects most of my feelings on the episode quite well. Read it here.

These Shoes

Bright Yellow Jonathan Adler for TOMS Women's Classics hero

TOMS are my daily go to shoe, and Jonathan Adler is one of my favorite home designers, so of course I’m in love with the JA/TOMS collaboration! There are several pairs of shoes that I love but I think these yellow ones are my favorites. I want them, I need them, oh baby oh baby.

And These Shoes

BM shoes

One of my closest friends is getting married this summer and I’m going to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I already have the dress and now we’re trying to decide on the shoes and this stunning Bagdley Mischka evening shoe is in the running. I don’t have a lot of occasions to wear fancy shoes like this but I really think I need these heels in my life.

This Video

Jimmy Fallon has been killing it as the new host of The Tonight Show and there are a hundred segments that I would love to share with you, but this bit by Samuel L. Jackson is really special. He performs a flawless slam poem about one my favorite 90’s TV shows, Boy Meets World and it is everything you could imagine a slam poem by SLJ could be. Watch it, love it, share it.

 

This House Tour

There are so many beautiful moments in Apartment Therapy’s Maureen’s Classic & Comfy Austin Abode. I’m really impressed at how she was able to successfully keep the same color scheme (black and white with pops of green and gold) throughout the whole house. She also mixes traditional style with hollywood regency glamor and rustic flea market finds very well. Check out the rest of the tour here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New Spring Finds at Target

Even though it hasn’t felt like it the past few days, Spring is officially here. We all know that Target is a great place to find new furniture and home accessories at affordable prices, so why not get a few things to update your home for spring? Target’s spring collections dip into several different trends, including nautical, floral, brass/gold, kilims and world prints, spring hues, and natural textures. There are tons of good pieces but below are a few of my favorites. I’ll take one of everything, please!

"Spring Target Home Finds" by blue11interiors on Polyvore

Threshold 9.4” Urchin Sculpture, $20 / Threshold X-base Ottoman in Mango Berry, $60 / Threshold Kilim Square Poof, $56* / Threshold Floral Lamp Shade (Large), $25 / Threshold Woven Diamond Patterned Pillow, $20 / Threshold Brass Cage Accent Table, $70 / Threshold Round Rope Mirror, $40 / Nate Berkus Accent Table – White Washed, $80 / Threshold Striped Storage Bin, $20

* current sale price

I’m also really loving this metal patio bench. The back is reminiscent of the Chinese Chippendale style, which I’m obsessed with, and it’s currently on sale for only $155. That’s a great price considering it also includes the cushion. It could be the perfect piece to dress up our front porch!

Threshold™ Harper Metal Patio Garden Bench with Cushions

Are any of the above items on your wish list now? Or have you found any other great pieces at Target lately?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Favorites: The Mark of the Dragonfly

Hello friends! I know that Blue 11 Interiors is primarily a decorating blog but I have a wonderful book to share with you today: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

The Mark of the Dragonfly is a children’s fantasy-adventure novel. Though its intended audience is readers in grades 4-8 I absolutely loved it! I haven’t read a children’s book in a long time but I am a big fan of young adult fiction (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, etc.), and I think the Dragonfly is a great read for YA fans. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Fans of The City of Ember will love The Mark of the Dragonfly, an adventure story set in a magical world that is both exciting and dangerous.
   Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.
   The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.
   The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.
   Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

"This magnetic middle-grade debut...[is] a page-turner that defies easy categorization and ought to have broad appeal."-Publishers Weekly, starred
"Heart, brains, and courage find a home in a steampunk fantasy worthy of a nod from Baum."-Kirkus Reviews, starred

Now, in the interest of full disclosure (ok, also because I’m really proud of it), the author of the book, Jaleigh Johnson, is my sister-in-law, but I don’t love the book just because I’m related to its creator. Jaleigh has created a beautiful fantasy world called “Solace” to serve as the setting for her story. Her descriptive imagery is fantastic and her main characters are very likeable. Piper is incredibly brave and strong in the same vein as Katniss from Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent.

The steampunk theme is another wonderful element of the book. The inventive steam-engine train setting and Piper’s special abilities to fix machines is a great introduction to steampunk for kids. It blends wonderfully with the fantasy world and the dystopian feel.

The Mark of the Dragonfly was officially release yesterday and I came home to attend the book release party at the Barnes & Noble in Champaign, IL. It was a huge success; in fact, I had intended to buy several copies to bring back for some friends but they ran out of books before I got there! I still waited in the (long) signing line to get to say hi to Jaleigh though.

IMG_2694

IMG_2696

I highly recommend The Mark of the Dragonfly for yourself or your kids if they’re at a middle grades reading level. Buy it, read it, love it Smile

Here are a few links about the book if you’re interested in reading more: