Did You Know: Holiday Edition

  • The first Christmas card was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843.
  • In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card.
  • Hallmark estimates that 2.1 billion holiday cards are sent each year.
  • The average American household mails out 28 holiday cards and receives 28 cards in return.
  • In the early 19th century, women’s service groups collected greeting cards, removed pictures and created scrapbooks for children in hospitals, orphanages, kindergartens and missions before picture books became readily available and affordable.
{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Meagan of Defining Motherhood | Photo © Rob Westbrook}


Great Holiday Value-Priced Wines

  With so many reasons to celebrate the season, it's always smart to have a good bottle of wine (or two) on hand. Here are some of my favorite value wines to have around for the holidays.

"Red Wine Grapes" by Christopher Clark Art on Etsy

Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling ($9) - A classic reisling -- it's light and refreshing, with a lightly sweet finish. Pairs well with most food.

Castello del Poggio Moscato ($11) - On its own or paired with a dessert, the wine offers a sweet, lightly sparkling finish to any meal. This wine is also on the wine list at Olive Garden, a great indication that a wine is enjoyed by many people.

Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec ($12) - Has a surprising amount of body for a rosé wine, and beautiful aromas of fresh strawberries. Great for toasting!

Seven Daughters Red Blend ($13) - A great blend of Syrah, Grenache, Merlot and a few other grapes. You taste a lot of blackberries and other fruit up front, but it ends on a spicy  note. Pairs well with a variety of cheeses.

Red Truck Red Blend ($9) - Another great blend with strong fruit flavors and a nice lingering aftertaste.  It's very approachable and food friendly. A nice value wine.

Dynamite Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($11) - Ripe and juicy in currant and chocolate flavors. Favorite food pairings include anything from pepperoni pizza to meats from the grill or oven, especially roasted prime rib or rack of lamb.


Fun Photography Randomness

 These are some fun things I've gathered from around the web lately! Enjoy! :)
  • People continue to push the boundaries of what’s considered photography. Aaron Hobson takes Google Street View photographs and converts them to fine art pieces. Some of them, I have to say, are pretty darn good.
  • They say audio is at least 50% of any motion picture experience. This piece from Oliviatech.com is a useful insight into audio capture. (Have to support the fellow Olivias of the world.) ;)
  • Don’t like your day job? Neither did Ansel Adams, so you’re in good company. He felt his commercial work was cutting into his art too.
  • It really is the photographer, not the camera – and Annie Leibovitz adds to that sentiment. Her favorite snapshot camera – the iPhone.
  • The world’s most expensive photo just sold for $4.33 million. Art critics and observers are baffled.
  • File this one in the “Seriously?” department. A woman got fired for taking cute photographs of euthanized dogs at a shelter.
  • Last, but not least, it's time for the annual sale at BorrowLenses.com !!! Some of the sneak peeks of items for sale include (as stated on their blog):

    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II: This is the newest version of the 70-200mm lens and it’s world-class. On sale now for $1999. New, this lens costs over $2400. (pictured above and on my wish list)

    Canon 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro: My favorite lens of all time, the new ones sell for around $1000. On sale for $850. (also on my wish list, but frequently rented and/or borrowed)


Should I or Shouldn't I? The Christmas Card Conundrum

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you may be wondering if sending cards is worth the time and expense. After all, email, Facebook and the like keep those who are on your list updated throughout the year. So should you still send a snail mail holiday greeting? Absolutely. But you want more of an answer than that, don’t you?

November to December is a whirlwind of activity and the thought of adding one more item to your to-do list is enough to make you head straight for the adult bowl of eggnog. But let’s take a step back. The holidays are the time of year when we are reminded of the incredible people we have in our lives (can we say “Auld Lang Syne”?), and we treat them with our gifts and time. What better way to do that than with a greeting card?

In today’s age of tweets and texts, receiving a heart-felt note in the mail holds special meaning. We’re not talking about a rambling year-in-review novel. But taking the time to put together a simple greeting for those special people in your life will give you the opportunity to stop and consider those near and dear, and will put a smile on their faces when they receive your tidings-filled message.

Now is the time of year to put down the Crackberry, turn on the Bing Crosby, grab a pen and a hot chocolate, and take a few moments to do something special for those you love. It’s a grand gesture with a small price tag. And imagine the looks on your family's faces when they witness your archaic form of communication. They might even be inspired to send a few of their own. . . .

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Meagan of Defining Motherhood | Photo © Meagan Church}


DIY Gift: Hot Chocolate and Chai Drink Mixes

Looking for a great homemade holiday gift? Try these delicious drink mixes. They are perfect for hostess gifts, teachers, friends and even yourself. Make them extra special (and fun) by packaging them in cute containers with creative labels.

Hot Chocolate Mix
4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1½ cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 oz) package instant chocolate fudge pudding
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend together for a smooth consistency. Store in an airtight container. Mix 3 or 4 heaping spoons full to a cup of hot water or milk.
For gift giving, top mix with marshmallows, broken candy canes, white chocolate chips, etc.

Homemade Chai Mix (my personal favorite)
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
2½ cups white sugar
1½ cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
¼ tsp pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until it creates a fine powder. Add 2 or 3 heaping spoons full to a cup of hot water or milk.

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Meagan of Defining Motherhood | Photos © Meagan Church}


10 Ways to Fight Seasonal Sniffles

Sadly, it's that time of year again. Sniffles, sneezes and sick ones are around every corner, oh no! To stay on top of your health and fight the seasonal sniffles, here are a few winter wellness essentials:

winter wellness essentials

There are several ways to stay well when the odds are against you. Here are a few favorite, tried-and-true methods:
1. Pound the green tea. That’s right, get to steeping! With it’s immune-enhancing boosters, green tea is known to help fight colds and reduce flu symptoms.
2. Neti. Do you use a neti pot? it’s a simple way to irrigate the nasal passages with unbeatable results. It’s safe, easy and soothes the lining of your nose as it removes the excess mucus that lingers in the sinuses as fertile grounds for infections and bacteria.
3. Up your Vitamin C. Consider increasing your Vitamin C intake. Taking an Emergen-C is always a quick and easy way to do this.
4. Hydrate. Simply staying hydrated by drinking lots of water will help you feel better and wash your cold away.
5. Stay warm and rest. Pay attention to your body and rest if you feel tired. A simple ceramic heater can help keep you warm and toasty no matter where you go!
6. Eat lots of garlic. Garlic has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help ward off minor infections.
7. Eat honey. Honey is great for soothing a sore throat. Try adding some to your tea, or melting 2 teaspoons in a mug of hot water to sip on.
8. Avoid phlegmy foods. That is sugar, white flour, wine, dairy and red meat- as these enhance the build up of mucus.
9. Gargle. Gargle with warm salt water to help soothe and heal sore throats.
10. Eat some soup. Eat warming, nourishing foods such as good hearty veggie soup.

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Bonnie of Going Home to Roost | Photo © Untitled by Yvette Inufio}


Rachel & Jeff - 11.05.11

 It was a beautiful, intimate ceremony and reception. And I was honored to have been there to capture it. Congrats to Rachel and Jeff!


Hello, November.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”- Roald Dahl


Feeling Like Fall

With Fall now upon us, what better way to welcome the changing seasons than with these cool weather essentials?!
No. 1 - the perfect coffee mug | No. 2 - an adorable tea towel | No. 3 - creative crock | No. 4 - weekender tote | No. 5 - a scarf for every outfit | No. 6 - tasty tea

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Jessica of Jessica Tierney Designs | Photos © Terrain}



DIY: Making Mozzarella

About a week or two ago, Tim and I thought it would be fun to make our own mozzarella at home. It's really much easier than you think! There was a very simple recipe to follow in this book Home Cheese Making that I would definitely recommend. But I must add, since it was our first attempt "30 Minute Mozzarella" kind of turned into "45 Minute Mozzarella" but I didn't mind because it all worked out in the end. We've made it once more since our trial run (with a few adaptations) and it keeps getting better. It's so gratifying to know we made our own cheese! Another bonus? It's definitely a very fun at-home date night activity. :)


Pics from Pennsylvania

  I can't believe it's already been a month since our trip to PA.  My how time flies.


For The Gardener

For the Gardener

There's just nothing like getting a little bit of dirt under your nails. Use this gardening round-up as a guide for gardening gifts and great tools for your own growing endeavors!

Clockwise: Vintage Silver Garden Marker- $22; Herb Scissors-£13.50; Watering Can Apron- $30; April Showers-  £12; Herb and Flower Dryer- £15.50; Hyacinth Herb Vases- £18.50; Gardener's Soap- $7, Frolic in the Fernwood- $375

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Bonnie of Going Home to Roost | Images © linked sources}


Shoes With a Cause

Did you know your next cute pair of shoes can have a greater purpose than just aesthetics? The following shoe companies have some great selections and even greater causes behind what they do.
1} TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.
2} Civic Duty Shoes designed a special New Orleans themed shoe where each sale goes to benefit the Common Ground Relief effort in New Orleans.
3} CHIPKOS protects 100 square feet of rain forest for each pair of shoes you buy.
4} Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit company that helps women in Uganda earn tuition for higher education, while contributing to the overall economic growth of the country.
{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Meagan of Defining Motherhood | Photos © listed sources}


Chic Upcycled Handmade Leather Handbags

These upcycled handmade handbags by Canadian designer, Andi of Hoakon + Helga, have a lovely nostagic look with classic lines that make them a perfect pair for all kinds of outfits! She uses vintage leather jackets to create these one-of-a-kind bags, each with its own unique color, pockets and shape ~ beautiful and eco-savvy!

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Jessica of Jessica Tierney Designs | Photos © Andi of Hoakon + Helga - bag 1, bag 2, bag 3}


KaVatee Cool

A few weeks ago I was asked to attend the KaVatee launch party and photograph the festivities and fashion show.  At first, I was a little apprehensive because I had little to no experience with fashion/runway photography but they told me "no worries" just bring your camera, capture the moments (and the accessories) and have fun!  And so I did!

Held at a pin-up girl-themed loft bar in downtown Cincinnati called the Betty Bar, I had so much fun people-watching and mingling that it hardly seemed like work. Plus, I got an up-close view of` the newest accessory on the market, the "Neckalina." Pretty cool.


Knock Knock

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts." ~ K.T. Jong
What a fabulous way to welcome opportunity when it comes knocking! These ornate vintage door knockers are ubiquitous in France, Italy and Spain.

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Holly of Salutations | Photos available under a Creative Commons license by {clockwise from top left} Jose Angel; Ekinez Sortu; Brianna Privett; Carlos Fernandez; David Bally}


See you soon!

Sorry it's been crickets around here guys. I got slammed with a bunch of work that I wanted to wrap up for before our trip but I didn't know it would be so involved! My apologies. I'm sure that I'll come back to the blogging realm next year -- I mean, um, next week -- with a ton of photos and posts to share. ;) And, PS -- what happened to Summer and how is it September 1st already??


Finding Happiness in the Journey

"Someone has well said, 'Success is a journey, not a destination.' Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late. Today, this hour, this minute is the day, the hour, the minute for each of us to sense the fact that life is good, with all of its trials and troubles, and perhaps more interesting because of them." ~ Robert R. Updegraff


Looks to Love: Coastal Casual

Summer keeps the coast close in the back of our minds. The warm ocean air, the peaceful and awe-inspiring landscape and, of course, the perfect outfit to wear while enjoying the sweet surroundings!
Shop this look:
1. Scout & Catalogue tie-dye scarf, $1182. Madewell oversized tee, $1053. Squint Topshop aviator shades, $454. Madewell fedora hat, $585. Madewell Chambray shirt $686. Gigi Chic hippie bracelet, $1357. Sperry shoes, $758. Madewell leather bag, $2459. J Crew denim shorts, $80
10. Madewell brass chain necklace, $35

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Jessica of Jessica Tierney Designs | Photos © Jessica Tierney and listed sources created via Polyvore}


Feel Good Art

Feel Good Art

Sometimes we all just need a good pick-me-up, don't we? Turning to inspirational artwork like these beautiful finds usually does the trick.

Finding new artists and inspiring work always seems to be a good refresher for any creative soul. Today, let these artists uplift you and inspire you.

Clockwise :: Be Kind, All is Well, Make Something Good Today, You Fill Me With Sunshine, Be Present Every Day, Find a Beautiful Place and Get Lost, You Make it Happen, Make Time for your Yoga

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Bonnie of Going Home to Roost | Images © listed sources}


I hate Trojans.

"Your Virus Database" print via Parachute425 on Etsy
I'm not talking about condoms or USC. I'm talking about Trojan viruses that have unfortunately attacked my laptop and made it inoperable. (And, by the way, my "virus database" had been updated but it was no match for this weasel of a virus.) Hence, my lack of blogging for about a week.

Right now, my dear little laptop is with a knowledgeable computer guy for the next few days who is doing his very best to remove said virus. Pretty please with sugar on top, keep your fingers crossed that my laptop (and all of its pictures, documents and other "life stuff") comes back in one piece.  Because, you see, I was a very bad laptop mom for the past two months and haven't backed up my "stuff" to the external hard drive since, like, June (maybe even May).  SO, the thought of losing all those pictures and everything, makes me sick to my stomach. Therefore, we need this to happen in a major way.

I'll keep you guys posted on the progress. In the meantime, blogging will be on the slim side for the next week or so, until things get back to normal around here.  Also in the meantime?  I'll probably be dreaming of Apple computers until I can afford one because I heard they don't get these sort of things.


Looks to Love: Backyard Bliss

Summer is here and that means sun, fun and backyard barbecue time. To celebrate the season in style, there is no better color palette to incorporate into your next backyard bash than this festive feast for the eyes. Bright pops of red, cooling, crisp shades of blue and turquoise topped of with a bold splash of sunshine yellow to liven things up! It works from the casual backyard get-together to a fun and funky beachside wedding and everything in-between!
Shop this look:
1. shirt- Old Navy
2. shorts- AE
3. sunglasses- Burberry
4. earrings- Alexis Bittar
5. bag- Kate Spade
6. nail polish- Essie
7. shoes- Zara
8. chair- Ikea
9. bowls- Anthropologie
10. grill- Kugelgrill
{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Jessica of Jessica Tierney Designs | Photos from listed sources}


Food Envy

Have you seen Celine's work before? It's hard to look away! Not only does her food look delicious but her photos are equally as delectable! The angles, the styling, the colors, the food! She seriously can do no wrong. Talk about serious food envy....

{© 2011 Blog Boutique | Jessica of Jessica Tierney Designs | Photos © Celine}



I am officially in love with this macro lens. It has helped to push me creatively and re-inspired me in so many ways. You can see more here on the Facebook page and I will be taking many more photos this week and posting here on the blog as well. Feel free to follow along.


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