Ask Away...: 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Losing Myself in Coloring

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In case you haven't noticed lately I've been coloring A LOT!    And I absolutely love it. It's so enjoyable and relaxing.  In a way it's mindless but it still requires a decent amount of concentration and focus.  I wanted to show you some of my favorite books and pages lately....

This first one is sooooo neat! It's the Look Up Coloring Book and inside are such unique and intricate pages to color!

There are some really silly and simple pages which are nice when I don't have much time and don't want to figure out a color scheme.

And then there are unique almost dream-like pages.  I love coloring those types!

The pictures are all inspired by new perspectives on things.  I love the unique patterns mixed in with realistic everyday items or objects. 

On days where I'm feeling fancy I get REALLY INTO coloring in The Little Mermaid Coloring Book (based on the Hans Christian Andersen story). I've always loved mermaids and I enjoy coloring people so this is the best of both worlds.

I love giving each of the mermaid sisters a different look.

This book is one of the most beautiful I've colored in.  It has awesome fish and seashells to color and I love how it tells the story on each page.   I get really into the scales when I color in this book, as you can see!

This one is the Ultimate Coloring Classic Pinups book and I am in love with this new way of adding color.   I wasn't sure what to do at first but quickly realized using two shades of the same color makes it look AMAZING!

It seriously looks like the painting!!!! I can't believe how much I enjoy this book.  It's really cool because I've always loved pinup girls and now I get to color them in!

See how I did more shading in that one?   It's super easy and fun.  

If you need some more gift ideas for people on your list and you know they enjoy coloring - definitely check these coloring books out! I'll share more of my colored pages as I fill them in!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Common Life Situations That Could Leave You Broke (And How To Prevent This Outcome)

Whether you’re a materialistic person or not, the importance of personal finance cannot be ignored for a second.

Money does make the world turn, and there are multiple situations that can hinder your happiness. These can range from entering process with a lack of knowledge to encountering unexpected situations. Here are some of the most frequent situations, along with what can be done to prevent major problems.

Calculator, Count, How To Calculate, Mathematics

Buying a home. Purchasing a property is one of the biggest things you’ll ever do, but it has the potential to ruin your finances too. Many first-time buyers underestimate the impact of taxes, property surveys, and other hidden costs. Experts at Nerdwallet have provided some useful tips for gaining help on the down payment. But you must also speak to advisors about the other expenses. Entering the process with a clear and truthful image of the situation is vital. Otherwise, you could be forced to sell in no time.

Getting married. Finding the love of your life is one of the best feelings in the world, and you should be allowed to enjoy it. While the wedding day is a special occasion, it shouldn’t cause problems for the rest of your life. In truth, it’s likely to be the best day of your lives regardless of the finer details. From personal experience, I can categorically tell you that you needn’t spend the earth to have the perfect day. Besides, sticking to a budget allows you to start married life on the strongest foot.

Divorce. On the other hand, statistics show that a lot of couples will break up too. Adjusting to life as a one-income household is tough enough in itself, but there are plenty of other factors to consider. The harsh reality is that you may need to cut back on luxury items or find ways of living a more modest life. Meanwhile, relinquishing assets that you no longer need or want can enable you to get back on your feet far sooner. Given the emotional challenges faced at this moment, removing the financial problems is a must.

Illness. Everyone suffers minor illnesses from time to time. However, it’s the major physical health concerns that can cause you to face financial problems. Discount cards for cheaper medical prescriptions will serve you well. Sadly, injuries can also impact your earning potential. When you’ve fallen victim to negligent actions, experts at Babcock Partners can help you gain financial compensation. This will at least enable you to focus on getting back to full health. After all, encountering long-term problems due to someone else’s behavior isn’t right.

Home damages. Whether the property is hit by weather damage or the effects of time, putting things right can be very costly. Unfortunately, those issues tend to crop up at the worst times imaginable. Home insurance will keep you protected, and services like State Farm provide great coverage. In the meantime, though, it’s vital that you keep an eye out for possible signs of damp and leaks. Do this while protecting the home with increased security too, and it’ll be a far more comfortable place to live. In truth, those financial rewards are simply a bonus.

These tips won’t suddenly make you rich, but they will give you the best chance of keeping your head afloat even in the most difficult situations. Frankly, that’s all anyone can ask for.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Conservation + Coloring = The Perfect Hobby

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Ever since I was a little girl I have always cared about the environment.  I remember a time when I started my own club called the Earth Savers (I was the only member) and since I wasn't old enough to drive (lol) I wondered how I could do anything to help clean up the Earth.  So I started walking up and down my street picking trash (even cigarette butts!) up off the street and putting them in a brown lunch bag to throw away. Sometimes I see kids doing stuff like this nowadays and it makes me so happy. Conservation of species and natural resources are two very important things that we should make a priority during our lifetime. 

Another thing I really enjoy doing these days is coloring.  So recently I had the best of both worlds when I got this You Can Save the Earth Coloring Book!

This coloring book is so cool and it would be great even for kids!  It's very educational, beautiful, and fun.  It does a great job of inspiring environmental appreciation and focusing on the importance of sustainability.  Our planet is so fragile and we need to start caring much more than we currently do. 


The book has two sections.  One section explains 7 reasons why it's so important to take care of the earth, explaining how we are all connected, and how important every aspect of the planet is.  

The second section details the ways in which we can focus on conservation and sustainability in our everyday life.  The pictures combine human things like electric cords with natural things like trees and flowers.  It's so beautiful and educational.  I wish they had kids color in these types of books in elementary school.  I think it would make a major impact at a younger age. 

I love some of the quotes you'll find throughout the coloring book and I plan on tearing some of these pages out and displaying them at my cubicle at work. 

I highly recommend this book (it's only $9.95) for anyone and everyone.  It would be a great stocking stuffer or gift idea for virtually anyone on your list that enjoys coloring and being creative.  You can purchase it here from Hatherleigh Press.

Coloring is such a great hobby for myself now that the weather is cold and it gets dark so early.  I no longer can sit out on my screened in porch or work in the yard so I need something to do to pass the time but also to keep me from mindlessly eating in front of the TV, one of my worst habits!

Coloring has helped me relax after stressful days and it lets me embrace my creative and colorful (literally) side! If you are like me and you want to find an affordable and enjoyably low key hobby, you should definitely try coloring!

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The Kit Every Healthy Kitchen Should Have

Everyone knows that healthy eating starts in the kitchen. If you eat out all the time, then your diet is unlikely to be as healthy as it can be, and if your kitchen isn’t equipped for making healthy homemade meals, then you’re unlikely to keep control of your waistline and feed your family with optimum nutrition either.

So, if you want to ensure that you’re able to cook more healthy meals most of the time, after you’ve banished the junk from your kitchen and vowed to eat at home more often (if you eat out a lot), it is certainly worth investing in the following pieces of kit:

A Set of Chef’s Knives

The most basic tool that every kitchen should have is a good set of chef’s knives, like the ones reviewed at Cut it Fine. If you don’t have a good set of knives, which are diverse and very sharp, then it’ll be much more difficult to prepare all manner of homemade delicacies, especially if they involve meat, than it would be otherwise.

A Food Processor

A lot of people think that food processors have to be expensive because of the popularity of the pretty expensive Magimix, but as you can see at The Spruce, some of the best food processors are affordable, which is really good news because they are essential if you want to create healthy smoothies, guacamoles and dips like hummus, which are healthier alternatives to calorific butters and mayonnaise or sugar-laden ketchups. They can also create juice, help you bake your own bread, and well, do a million other things that will help to make you healthier!

A Good Garlic Press

Not only is garlic great for adding more flavor to a whole range of homemade dishes, but it is also a very healthy ingredient with antibiotic properties. If you have a cold, or you’re feeling sick, eating garlic will really help you to feel better fast, and having a good garlic press like the one from Rösle will make preparing it even easier - you don’t even have to peel, nor do you have to chop - just place the garlic inside and get going!

A Water Filter

Replacing your soda or coffee habit with more water (at least most of the time) is a fantastic way to ensure that you take in less calories, especially those from sugar, throughout the day needlessly, which will help you lose weight if you need to, help to stave off illnesses like diabetes and ensure you’re always well-hydrated and not foggy-headed. Having a water-filter which will make your water safe and tasty to drink, will really help with this. As will adding a little squeeze of lemon or lime juice to your drink.

Digital Kitchen Scales

Being able to correctly weigh the ingredients you use in your food is the only way to guarantee that your recipes (especially if you’re baking) come out right, but more importantly, they enable you to practice proper portion control for optimum health.

Have fun creating healthier meals with these kitchen essentials!

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Get Your Blog’s First Impressions Right With These Tips

What do people see and experience when they visit your blog for the first time? The sight they’re greeted by will dictate whether they stick around and explore or head back where they came from. So if you’re wondering why you have such a high bounce rate, it’s probably because your blog is not giving people the right first impressions when they first visit it.

Luckily for you, it’s more than possible for you to change those first impressions; you just need to give it some thought and put some effort into the changes you make. Speaking of which, here are the key changes to consider.

Ensure It Loads Quickly

First of all, you need to make sure that your website loads up quickly when people try to visit it. These days, people don’t have much patience for blogs that are slow to load, so you could lose out on visitors who leave before the page even loads. Test the speed of your blog and take steps to improve it if you notice any problems. Switching to a new hosting service might be the best thing to do if you need to make it faster.

Work On Your Landing Page

The landing page of your website is clearly one of the most important parts of your website because it’s the first thing people will usually see of your blog. If they don’t like it, they won’t stick around for very long at all. If you have a WordPress landing page, there are lots of ways in which you can improve it, including hiring an external company to fix it up for you. It’s the aspect of your blog that you should spend the most time on.

Make it Clear Where Visitors Should Click

Calls to action are meant to make it clear to visitors where they should click and how they can get to the stuff they're most interested in reading. The best way to do this is to provide clear categories that divide up the blog into its various sections and subjects. This will provide users with a clear route to what they’re looking for, and that has to be a good thing for them. Remove any confusion or messiness that obscures the important content of the blog.

Image Source

The Text Needs to be Clear and Easy to Read

Readability is another important factor to consider when you’re looking to improve the first impressions of your blog. No one wants to be greeted by text that blends into the background or is too small. Anything that makes the words harder to read than they should be will detract from the content of your website and give people very negative first impressions of the blog as a whole. Analyse the blog’s text and make changes if you have any doubts at all about it.

Keep it Fresh and Updated

If someone visits your website and the first thing they see is some content that’s old and out of date, they’re clearly not going to be impressed by that. They will probably assume that your blog is inactive and they won’t bother checking back to see if that’s changed in the future. In the world of blogging, few things are worse than inactivity. Once your blog becomes inactive, it’s dead and that’s that. You should make sure that your homepage always contains fresh content.

Make it Responsive

Your blog definitely needs to have a design that’s fully responsive; people expect this from the websites they visit these days. A responsive design basically means that the blog is able to respond and readjust to the screen on which the user is viewing it. It means that visitors can visit and read your blog whenever and however they want to. That’s important because the control should always be in the hands of your readers. They’re the people who matter most.

Avoid Pop-Up Adverts

People definitely don’t want to be bombarded with a barrage of adverts when they first visit your website. It’s a sure-fire way to turn visitors against your blog, and they might even cause those people to turn away and leave your blog right away. Of course, you might want to add some small ads such as banner ads, and that’s fine. But resist the temptation to add pop-up adverts because people really don’t like those. That’s not too hard to understand.

First impressions matter because if they’re bad, you’re going to lose a visitor right away and they won’t come back for a second visit. So start working how you can improve the first impressions people get of your blog today.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Coloring & Fashion (+ A Giveaway!)

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Recently I started coloring.  Yes, that's right. Adult coloring books are all the rage the last few years and I think it's a great way to relax and unwind plus it keeps me occupied and I don't mindlessly stuff my face anymore in front of the TV.  Sometimes I use markers and sometimes I choose colored pencils.  Sometimes I even mix both.  That's the beauty of coloring - you can do whatever you want.    And who would have thought that you could combine a love of fashion AND coloring until now!   I recently got Color in Fashion from Alecia Blake Studios. It's available on Amazon and man does it have some beautiful pictures to color!

Alecia Blake is an amazing illustrator whose work includes fashion art, children's books, and whimsical and humorous cartoons.  I love her style!! What a genius idea to offer a coloring book! Here's some of my work.  I used Crayola markers for now since I don't have the money to get anything fancies. Still, I'm pretty satisfied with how it all turned out. 

I love coloring people when I'm really in the mood to get creative.  And getting to color an outfit is even better. This is my favorite page in the whole book and I love how it turned out!

This is a work in progress but I love the details in the blouse on this person!

This one isn't colored yet but I wanted you to see what some of the options are throughout Alecia's book.  I love all the detail and if you feel overwhelmed you can leave some of it unfinished or even leave some of it white so that there's less for you to have to color.

The mix of style and patterns is just so impressive.   And the illustrations are very creative and fun!

This was another favorite.  I love the adorable bathing suit but also love the mixture of animals and seashells!  See how I left the ocean white AND blue? That way I don't have to color in a large area but you still see what it is.

I loved this page because I love Fall and the fashion during this time of year so it was perfect for me to color. It's actually the first one I did. 

Seriously this is my favorite type of coloring book because I feel like a fashion designed selecting colors for my clothing line.   I love being creative with that type of stuff and it actually gives me inspiration for my own wardrobe and what to pair with a certain style or color.   This is one of my favorite coloring books ever and I'm so excited to show off more colored pages with you guys!

And today, I've teamed up with Alecia to host a giveaway for one of you to win the Color in Fashion coloring book! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Staying Organized and Stress Free During the Holidays

The chaos of Christmas has begun! For the next few weeks the roads will be heavy with traffic, the stores will have long lines, and everyone everywhere will be rushing around to get at least one of the things on their list this month done. 

But there's good news.  With a little planning and organization you can enjoy this holiday season a bit more without having to rush around and worry that you forgot something.  Here are a few ways that I always master this time of year.

[#1] Make a list of everything that needs done.
The best way to start this month is by making a list of everything that you'll have to do over the next few weeks. You can go back and put it in chronological order later but for now just jot down everything you can think of.  Buy gifts, wrap gifts, decorate house (if you haven't already), finalize Christmas Day menu, finalize plans for Christmas, mail Christmas cards, get Santa photos, etc.  Not only does this help you organize your month but it gets those things out of your brain and down on paper.  Sometimes all those things just floating around in your head can stress you out.

You'll also want to go through and order your list by week or day.  It makes it so much easier to plan everything out.

[#2] Shop strategically.
If you're like me, crowds will make you go nutty.  So make sure you shop strategically.  Grocery shop several days before Christmas Day so you don't have to fight over food and parking spaces.  Shop for gifts on weeknights rather than weekends when everyone's out.  Also, don't be afraid to take an entire weekday off work just to get all of your gift shopping done.  Make a list for every store and every errand and stick to it so you don't get distracted and fall for impulse buys. 

[#3] Determine plans a week or two beforehand.
Contact your family members and determine the plans and a tentative time for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  This will help you know what should be on your to do list and when you should do it.  This also helps you know who you need to buy gifts for since you pretty much know who you will be seeing for the holidays. 

[#4] Meal plan and make a shopping list before the big meal.
I always finalize my Christmas Day menu (if I'm hosting) 2 weeks before that way I can let guests know what they should bring.  If I'm a guest at someone else's meal I usually contact them a week and a half before and ask what I can bring.  This gives me time to prepare any food and include the ingredients in my regular weekly shopping list. The week before your big meal if you're hosting, make sure you go over all of your recipes and check stock in your pantry so you can make a complete shopping list. Nothing is worse than realizing ON CHRISTMAS DAY that you're out of something and all the stores are closed. 

[#5] Make reservations way ahead of time.
Some families go out to eat on Christmas Eve with relatives they won't see on Christmas Day.  If that's the case, make those plans ASAP and make reservations as soon as possible.  Restaurants fill up and you don't want to be stuck waiting two hours to get a table. 

Also, if you go out to dinner on New Year's Eve like we do, make sure you decide on a place as early as possible and make your reservations. New Year's Eve can be chaotic and busy at almost any restaurant.

[#6] Plan every activity on your list on your calendar.
So when you go through your to do list for the month choose weekends or dates for the items like mailing Christmas Cards, getting photos with Santa, etc. This way your weekends are planned out and more enjoyable.  Try to get some of the stuff on your list done on weeknights too.  And make sure to schedule some time to just relax.

I hope you all have an organized, stress free, and lovely holiday season!

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Monday, December 4, 2017

My Christmas Decor Home Tour 2017

Tis the season! And it's time to show off my Christmas decorations. Enjoy!

 This is the centerpiece on my dining room table.  I got the antlers from JoAnn Fabrics as well as the little battery operated lights I wrapped around it. Then I placed an existing faux pine ring and a faux candle inside and put it all on top of a mirror I have.  Voila!

 Check out this gorgeous wrapping paper from JoAnn too!   I am stocked for years now!
 Here's our tree. I see so many people that have a theme for their tree but I guess I take after my own family. Ever since I was a kid my mom has put all types of ornaments on it so it's basically a reflection of the family. So I take after that and I have a variety of ornaments. The tree is always so full!
 I got some adorable faux poinsettia garland for the TV stand.

We put lights up outside as well!

 Our neighbors followed suit right away and now there's a whole cluster of us all lit up on our street.

In our living room I always decorate our bookshelf. 

And here are some of the adorable wrapped gifts that I put under the tree.   Are you decorated for Christmas yet?

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