Thoughts on Sleep

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about productivity. I hear that we should be doing 12 certain things before 9am or that the most successful people begin their day before the sun rises. My thoughts? It makes me roll my eyes. We’re all extremely different. Different personality types, different opinions, different talents…why wouldn’t we be all different when it comes to sleep and sleep schedules?

As Margot Harrington said at WMC Fest: “You can’t innovate if you’re exhausted.”

I am not a morning person. That statement usually implies that I’m lazy and don’t wake up before noon (both aren’t true even though I can sleep til noon on weekends). I am, however, an extremely organized and productive person. Instead of focusing on the fact that I don’t do my best analyzing, thinking or working out in the morning…I’ve been trying to focus on when I AM most efficient based on my energy levels.

Even in college, I would get nagged about how late I would sleep in (after I stayed awake until 5am coding a website). Over the years, I’ve been made to feel guilty but now as an adult I’m just trying to own it. I prioritize sleep and I’ve been making some drastic changes to my diet (more on that later). I’m just trying to be the best me.

Is there anything that our society makes you feel guilty about?

3 Simple (And Meaningful!) Art Projects

Each month, Tori (from That Pair of Crutches) guests posts on Show + Tell with her own spin on art in your home. In case you missed last month’s, check it out here!

Art is defined as something that is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance. When I think of art in galleries, art that I want to fill my home, the art that is currently filling my home, the pieces usually fall into the first two categories. But what about the last one? Would you go to a gallery to see old family photos from someone else’s dusty photo albums? Would you want to look at paintings done by another person’s two year old? Probably not. But when I think of the pieces that I want to fill my home, it’s usually the ones that are only significant to my family members that I want to hold the spotlight.

Here are three simple art projects that you already have all the supplies for, can be done in less than an hour (combined!) and will instantly make your house feel more like your home.

1. Get your hands dirty. Grab some paints and a blank sheet of paper and get ready to make a mess. Finger painting is one of the simplest  and most archaic forms of art, but when doen right, can look so great and adds a  nice, sentimental touch to your home. Especially when the piece was created by a child or spouse.

2. Do a little digging. Is your toddler a budding artist? Just discovered your spouse was quite the Picasso in second grade? Choose your favorite piece from your little artist and give it the care and attention you would an image created by any other accomplished artist. Actually, give it a bit more.

3. Who do you love? Look up to your great-grandmother? Have an old photo of your father that you adore? Slip that puppy out of it’s plastic home in your photo album and put it in a frame. Filling your home with art you love and the people you love don’t have to be two separate things.

What are your favorite pieces of art in your home? Have any fun projects you’d like to share? I’d love to hear and see them!


Photos credits: Finger Painting | Displaying Children’s Art | Old Photos

CITY GUIDE: Nashville

Today’s CITY GUIDE is brought to you by Logan Potts, a proud Nashville resident! Enjoy.

What was once known only as Music City & the home of Johnny Cash is now one of the fastest growing cities in America. Creativity has shifted & this town has quickly become known for its cuisine, entrepreneurial spirit & fashion. Don’t worry though, there are still enough cowboy boots to outfit a militia however, you’ll likely find that cowhide beneath a pair of custom Imogene & Willie denim.

Nashville’s favorite denim maker is also Nashville’s favorite Wednesday evening hangout. 3 years ago Imogene & Willie opened its doors inviting everyone over for what they cued as Supper + Song. Favorite taco truck in town Mas Tacos joined the party as well as some of Nashville’s best acts Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, The Civil Wars & Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket have performed.

After you’ve been outfitted in a pair of Imogene’s head over to Cremafor an espresso or cappuccino. The micro-roaster & boutique coffee bar that opened 5 years ago compliments the quality of their coffee with the craftsmanship in their store front. They’ve a professional staff of baristas ready to be asked what’s good, you won’t be disappointed. [Photo by Ben Lehman]

Now that you’re well caffeinated it’s time to get back out on the town. Travel over to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds for our flea market. The South has some of best traveling antique dealers with all sorts of treasures to be found. See here for the monthly schedule.

Hungry yet? Fortunately for you we’ve some of the best chefs in the country moving to Nashville to start their endeavors. Foodies get your cameras out, we’re going to Silly Goose for dinner. Roderick Bailey plates some of the most beautiful plates I’ve ever seen whilst using Tennessee’s freshest local ingredients. The quaint space & decor sets the table while a terrific wait staff takes you through their seasonal menu. [Photo by Silly Goose]

Classic country won’t let you forget most of their drinking happened right here in Tennessee. Nashville has a speakeasy to take you right back to prohibition times minus the fisticuffs & passwords. The Patterson House crafts what will undoubtedly be the best cocktails you’ve had. Like the aforementioned establishments, ask your server what’s good & you’ll have a drink tailored to you.

Featured image by Frank Kehren.

Lakehouse Living

We’ve been at the lake since Friday night and we took today off to continue the fun. Be back with regular posts tomorrow!

Homemade Calendula Oil

Every month, Heather joins us over here to share her knowledge and love of herbs! Last month she shared how to create your own aloe vera gel and this month she’s sharing how to create your own Calendula oil + how to incorporate it into a recipe! Enjoy and be sure to look her up over on Tea With Me.

Known as the pot marigold, Calendula has been growing in pots since ancient Rome.  Originally from Europe and Africa, you can find the golden petals in beautiful gardens around the world.  This herb should be one of your first go to plants when it comes to an herbal first aid kit. With healing properties from anti-inflammatory to antifungal; Calendula is famous for helping with minor cuts and bites, skin rashes, and internal inflammation (lymph nodes).

Most people think of Calendula as a medicinal herb, using calendula oil as a base for salves and lotions. Instead of a DIY for a salve this month, I wanted to introduce you to the spice side of the marigold. Calendula makes a very light floral oil, that is delicious with balsamic vinegar. The smell is divine and if you love dipping crusty bread into oil and vinegar, this combo is the way to go. We’ve been experiencing a heat wave recently and I wanted something light and refreshing – a chicken salad with homemade calendula oil.

There are two ways to make calendula oil – cold or hot infusion. The cold infusion oil steeps the herb/oil in the sun for a minimum of a week, whereas the hot infusion takes four hours over a low heated saucepan.

Cold Infusion

  • Start with a very clean and sanitized jar (especially if you are going to use the oil for medicinal purposes.)
  • Fill with calendula petals up to the top.
  • Pour olive oil (the higher quality the better) over the petals to the top. Secure lid.
  • Place in a well sun light lit area and shake once every other day for a minimum of a week.
  • Drain petals and replace oil in jar.  Secure lid.

Hot Infusion

  • Again start with a clean and sanitized jar.
  • Fill calendula petals and oil to the top.
  • Then pour contents into a small saucepan.
  • Heat on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Let cool. Drain petals from oil. Add oil to jar, secure lid.

Chicken Salad with Calendula Oil Dressing
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Heather Mulholland
  • Calendula oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper
  • Spinach
Raw beets, shredded
  • Raw carrots, shredded
Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • Calendula petals
  1. In the bottom of a large bowl, mix your oil, vinegar, and cracked pepper together.
  2. Place spinach, beets and carrots into the salad bowl and mix to coat.
  3. Sprinkle seeds on top of the salad.
  4. Lay sliced chicken breast on top.
  5. Sprinkle dried calendula petals on top. Serve and enjoy!

Note – The above ingredients have no amounts, use your judgment in how big you wish your salad to be and how much dressing you wish to consume (I like my salad lightly coated.) I use a 1:1 ratio for oil and vinegar.


Good Goods

Despite being on a spending freeze, I still keep track of some lovely goods that I’ve come across via blogs or Instagram. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a screenshot of something someone has posted because I don’t want to forget it. Sometimes I wish there were better ways to “bookmark” photos in my Instagram feed. More on that later. Here are some of the more recent goods that I’ve either tried or added to my wishlist:

  1. 12oz Keep Cup: I snagged one of these with my Fab credits. If you sync your Fab account with Facebook, you receive $5 of credit per month. That combined with the credits I receive from referral links, I can usually try a few new things per month! It’s a great site and one of my favorites.
  2. Too Faced Eye Shadow Primer: It’s the best I’ve used. I love Candlelight shade and got a sample from my friend Jess awhile ago. Once I’m out, I’ll probably buy a full tube.
  3. GLOSS Moderne High Gloss Masque: This stuff is AMAZING. Makes my hair so, so soft when I decide to blow it out. It makes my hair smell like coconuts. I only have a sample from my Birchbox but I hope to buy a full size with Birchbox points.
  4. Apivita’s Pomegranate Lip Care: I saw this in a magazine and have been wanting to give it a try. Only $7! Anyone try it before?
  5. Gather Journal: Looks beautiful and I can’t wait to get my hands on an issue someday.
  6. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Saw that Elise was reading this and made a note.
  7. Erin Templeton’s Recycled Leather Card Case: I need something to keep all my business cards. This seems perfect.

 Anything on your wishlist lately?

Here We Go: Following Blogs

Here We Go is back (after a bit of a hiatus while I finished up my day job) and I’m excited to be talking about blog following today! There are so many ways in which you can keep tabs on your favorite blogs and, in turn, allow others to follow yours! I don’t claim to know everything about some of these methods but I’m willing to share my thoughts and opinions!

Before I begin, I would like to say that I think everyone should have an RSS feed set up for their own blog. This is a link that you can use to connect to your RSS button on your blog or even use when signing up for sites like HelloCotton. You can create an RSS feed via Feedburner and the nice thing is that if you someday were to move your blog…your RSS feed will transfer and stay the same! Now onto a few methods:


I predominately use Google Reader to keep track of the blogs that I love. I’ve kept the total number of subscriptions to 63 and it’s very manageable. As you can see, I have about 8 categories and try to really only subscribe to blogs that I wouldn’t want to miss.

Pros: Easy way to organize, keeps tabs on all my favorites (starred), simple, attached to my Google account, easy way to search

Cons: Strips the blogs of their style, still sometimes feels clunky, no easy way to share posts


Bloglovin’ has been around for awhile. I wrote a post awhile back about Google Reader vs Bloglovin’ and decided to stick with Google Reader. After signing up for an account, it allows you to follow other blogs (while claiming your own and adding it to their directory). Here are my pros and cons:

Pros: Simple design

Cons: While it allows you to “remove frame,” (screenshot below) which will allow people to click directly to your blog, it sure did take awhile for this setting to click over after I changed it. I don’t like how delayed Bloglovin’ is when updating the “unread” + “read” posts. Overall, I find this interface to be a bit confusing and I don’t enjoy reading blogs when I’m signed in. I also don’t think that my landing page forms a connection with new readers (image above).


I’m new to Hellocotton (I joined last weekend) and so far, I’m pretty impressed! In order to join, you must sign up and essentially create a profile. You can import your own blog information to join the directory and then choose blogs (based on categories) to follow. It reminds me of Bloglovin’ but (in my opinion) it’s better.

Pros: I like that your blog’s landing page is more engaging and allows followers to “like,” “comment,” and “share!” Like Bloglovin’, you can choose to remove their frame so that when someone clicks to read more…the traffic comes directly to your blog (image below). Personally, I find it easier to find popular blogs through Hellocotton and can see myself using it to follow DIY, fitness and fashion blogs that I don’t necessarily want to add to my small curated list on Google Reader.

Cons: It’s targeted (it’s blatantly stated) towards women. I don’t only read blogs by women and I like to branch out of the lifestyle/fashion clique often. If you’re every interested in some other cons, check out this great post by Dolly Rouge.


I love using my  private Twitter list to keep track of blogs that I don’t necessarily subscribe to via Google Reader. I chose not to make it public because I didn’t want the pressure of keeping it updated + accurate. I like that I can add bloggers or remove them without that hanging over my head.

Pros: I always see when a blog post gets tweeted out, I can interact in real time with these bloggers, and it keeps it personal! Twitter crosses that line from following a static blogger to forming real relationships.

Cons: Sometimes you’ll miss posts if you’re away from Twitter for awhile. There’s only so much you can read days later. Also, sometimes when I’m sifting through this list, it’s harder to comment on posts since I’m on my phone.

Some other options that I didn’t go into detail about: subscribe via email and Google Friend Connect.

  • Subscribe via email: Here’s a great article about how to set it up for your blog. I have a link in my sidebar for those that want posts sent directly to their inbox!
  • Google Friend Connect: This service has been expired since March 2012 for all non-Blogger blogs so I’m not really going to go into any details. If you’re interested in an alternative, check out this post by Google.

I hope this post helps clear up any differences about each service. Like I mentioned above, I don’t know all so please comment below with any other “pros” and “cons” or other services that I didn’t mention! How do you subscribe to blogs? What do you wish you saw more? What do you wish you saw less?

Follow my blog via Hellocotton | Bloglovin’ | RSS | Email | Twitter

Spending Freeze Update

Oops. Totally not a real excuse but I had to admit it. I tweeted it last week while I was in Chicago and I take full responsibility. For what it’s worth…it was only $30 and so I don’t feel quite as bad. The lamest part? I didn’t even try it on so I don’t even know if it fits. Hmm…I need to do that.

Besides that, it hasn’t been TOO tough. It’s the most difficult when I physically go into stores. I bought a few birthday presents for friends a few weeks ago and it sort of helped that I could still purchase something before I left. Here are some tips and ways around those spending cravings:

1. Round up all those clothes you never wear and take them into Plato’s Closet. I took some stuff I never wore and got $10 and then bought a pair of gold knock-off Sperry’s there for $6! Walked out with $4 cash (don’t laugh…I plan on buying a magazine with that!)

2. Sign up through and get all your friends & family to sign up and purchase stuff! You get credit when they make their first purchase of $25 or more. I also just got a $10 credit recently because an old order was delayed in shipping. Combined with my $5 credit/month for connecting my Fab account to Facebook…I snagged this laptop case for free! (I’ve been on Fab for a year and have received $245 in credits. FREE STUFF PEOPLE! Sign up here.)

3. Cold brew your coffee. Seriously. If you’re tempted to stop at a Starbucks during these summer mornings…you need to do this. We cold brew now and each have a cold drink tumbler that we take with us if we’re on the go. Spending $2-4 daily on drinks is dumb. (We use this recipe.)

4. Be realistic and budget. Just because I’m on a spending freeze doesn’t mean I sit in my house and drink water all day. We are realistic with our budget and know to allot a realistic amount of money when we have trips, birthday parties, events or weddings to attend! If you budget $0 because you’re “on a spending freeze” you’ll just force yourself into a situation where you will spend money but without a cap.

Well there’s my little update. I’m still 48 days out so I’ll be updating you all again next month! Any other tips from you who have mastered these freezes? 


Relish: Salmon Pita with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Caprese Salad

There’s something about eating one of these salmon pitas that just tastes like summer. These recipes for the salmon and sauce were inspired by this salmon burger recipe on the Eating Well website. The caprese salad is a long-time favorite for my wife and me, and it’s so easy to make. Plus, it really does add to the summery feel of the dish.

I bought packaged salmon with skin from Trader Joe’s, so I had to cut off the skin. This is no easy task, so I definitely recommend having it done for you if possible. I found that if you can get your knife a little ways in right along the skin, you can hold the skin against the cutting board with your fingers and then push outward and slightly upward with the knife while maintaining a slightly downward angle of the blade. I know, it sounds tricky, but this is probably a good skill to have anyway, right?

Caprese salad can be different depending on what you love most. If you’re a mozzarella superfan, then you might have giant slices of mozzarella with a tiny tomato slice and a tiny basil leaf. If you can’t get enough of tomatoes, then perhaps yours will look like a mound of tomato slices over a bit of mozzarella with a sprinkling of basil. My personal recommendation is a 1-to-1 ratio in overall amount of mozzarella and tomato, plus a medium-sized basil leaf and about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of olive oil per portion. Some people add salt and pepper, but I really don’t think they’re necessary. And while this is called a salad, I definitely think fingers are acceptable utensils.

The salmon pita is really pretty simple to make, and it’s a good lunch to bring to work. If you bring a pita and little tupperware containers of salmon and sauce and microwave the salmon a bit, then you’ve got a tasty sandwich with which to make your coworkers jealous. Plus, there’s the major benefit of salmon being so good for you, and if you use low-fat or fat-free sour cream and Greek yogurt, this whole meal is excellent.

Relish: Salmon Pita with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Caprese Salad
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Jon Schelander-Pugh
Serves: 2-3
  • Salmon (about 1 lb. Salmon fillet, skinned)
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • optional splash of beer (no more than 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Creamy Mustard Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon capers, strained
  1. If your salmon still has skin on it, remove it now. This can be done by inserting a long sharp knife between the meat and skin starting on the tail side, holding the skin against the cutting board, and moving the knife along at a very slightly downward angle while maintaining a slightly upward force. Really, the best thing to do is to get your salmon fresh from the seller and ask them to remove the skin when you buy it.
  2. Cut your salmon into cubes of about 1/4 inch. Try using as little back-and-forth motion as possible to avoid making the salmon mushy. Place the salmon in a medium bowl
  3. Finely chop your garlic and shallots. Add to the salmon and carefully mix.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and lemon juice and carefully mix. I find that I occasionally enjoy drinking a beer while cooking, and this is a recipe that works to just splash a little beer in while mixing. So if this works for you, give it a try. Use no more than a tablespoon of beer.
  5. Place salmon mixture in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour
  6. While salmon is chilling, mix together the Greek yogurt, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, paprika, and ground mustard in another medium bowl. Add the dried parsley and dried dill and mix in. Finally, add the strained capers and mix in. I prefer my capers whole, but if you want them to be blended in, pulse the whole mixture a few times in a food processor.
  7. In a large skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to coat the bottom. Place over medium heat and add the salmon. When you hear it begin to sizzle, stir for about 4 minutes. After that, let it sit for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the salmon starts to slightly brown, remove it from the heat.
  8. Cut a pita in half and place a little bed of lettuce in the pocket of each. Stuff with salmon and then drizzle in the sauce.
  9. For a truly summery dish experience, make a side of caprese salad by thinly slicing fresh mozzarella, then topping the mozzarella slices with tomato slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper to taste.


Chicago, Chicago

A mini trip to Chicago had been in the works since last November when we bought tickets to see Coldplay at the United Center. Obviously when you plan THAT far in advance, you have no idea that you’d be just starting out freelancing full-time or that your husband would only be in his 4th full week at his new job. Nevertheless, we jumped in the car and headed off to Illinois on Tuesday night, picked up my siblings and headed up to the city! I absolutely love Chicago and hate that we’re six hours away.

We stayed downtown, went shopping (oops I cheated on my spending freeze! I bought a $30 dress for a wedding!) and went to the Coldplay concert on Wednesday night. IT WAS AMAZING. I’ve been to 8 Coldplay concerts now and I must say that it was the most entertaining of them all. A lot of people hate on Coldplay but I’ve loved them since 2001 and will never stop. I’ve been to almost every Coldplay concert with my friend Megan and it was so great to add another one to our list. Every single person got a free wristband before it started and at various times throughout the concert they would all light up at the same time, flashing and blinking. It felt like I was in outer space surrounded by a 30,000 stars.

I walked away from the experience and spending time in Chicago with a few thoughts:

  1. Spend more time in Chicago (professionally and personally). Most of my family lives there and some of my best friends. It’s very near and dear to my heart.
  2. Create amazing experiences through my business and what I do. Johnny Cupcakes focused on this when I saw him speak at WMC Fest earlier this year. Spending the extra money and creating something memorable is always worth it. That concert was exactly that.
  3. My siblings are amazing. I’m 10 years older than my sister and six years older than my brother but they are two of my most favorite people on this earth and it’s so fun to spend time with them.

Now it’s Friday and since I essentially just HAD a weekend, I foresee a bit of working in my future this weekend. Do you have any fun plans?