Monday, April 30, 2012

the journey to choosing a life of freedom versus being chained to a life I don't want


I think I've told you guys before about my experience with Joy Juice, right? It's 120 lovely prompts designed by Molly over at Stratejoy to help gutsy women get unstuck, boost their confidence, and chase their dreams. Joy Juice is what helped me go from a bleak and boring corporate future to starting my own gutsy wedding photography biz, and I can't thank Molly and the wonderful women who blog for Stratejoy enough for inspiring me to do that.

I'm still on my Joy Juice journey, and today I wanted to share a prompt with you guys that particularly inspired me recently. The theme of one of the months is Freedom, and this prompt comes from that month. In the email, Molly asked us to reflect on:
What am I grateful for today? What am I thankful that I have uncovered about my freedom? 

What seems like the juiciest pieces about freedom for which I'm grateful?
When I first read that I was like "Dude, I don't know. I'm broke. I barely have the 'freedom' to eat good food." But then I started really thinking about what Molly was asking me to reflect on, and came up with this, which I wrote in my journal:
Today, I'm grateful for having the freedom to choose what to do with my day - for being able to pick to go out or stay in or whatever. I'm thankful that I've uncovered that. I'm grateful that just today I've realized that freedom is a choice - that I can choose to be free to do whatever I want or choose to be chained to a life that I don't want.

That's a juicy thing to realize. It's awesome that, in a way, I've already chosen that even without knowing it. I'm already choosing and moving toward that life of freedom through my photography business and choosing art and writing over corporate and blah. It might be hard some times, but it's worth it and I'm grateful for that.
I am the captain of my ship; I fly with my own wings.
God, yes, I do regularly get that cheesy in my own journal. Total cheeseball, right here.

That was actually one of the shorter responses I had to one of Molly's prompts, but it was perspective-changing. Now when I am being annoyed by the tediousness of Google Analytics and marketing my wedding photography biz, I remind myself that this is the freedom I chose, it's the freedom I'm continuing to choose, and even though it's tedious sometimes it's still a life I love.

The inspiration. We all need it, am I right?

*For the sake of legal stuff, yes I am an affiliate with Stratejoy. That means that while Molly didn't pay me to write this post, I would get paid a little if you used any of my links to invest in Joy Juice. I'm an affiliate because I genuinely believe in the power of Joy Juice, and I think you should experience it for yourself.

Friday, April 27, 2012

fill in the _____ friday + a weekly round up.

Fill in some Blanks with Lauren! Go, go, go

1.  When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is,   check the time and debate whether or not I can afford to sleep a little longer, haha   .

2.   I can hardly wait for     the weather to warm back up! It's in the 50s in DC today and I am seriously missing that nice 70/80 degree weather we had a few weeks ago    .

3.  The quickest way to my heart is     buying me coffee      because     there's often too much blood in my caffeine stream  .

4. A little known fact about me is that      when I was little (like 6), a goose attacked me. It bit me, then tried to pull me by my dress into the pond and it took my dad almost choking it to leave me alone. It still stands as one of the most terrifying moments of my childhood, haha  .

5. The best part about my job is      get to hang out with beautiful couples and do something I love! Does it get better than that? .

6. Something I just couldn't live without is      my MacBook Pro and my camera. I know, I know, it's like the most quintessential answer for a Gen Y kid, but I really don't think I'd know how to function without them  .

7.  Something useful that I wish I knew how to do is    sew. Every time I see a pretty dress I think "Psh, I could make that!" and then I laugh at myself, hysterically  .

Ah, the weekly round up. What you missed from me online:

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie:
Things I Did Other Places on the Internet:
Things You Missed in My Shop:
Things I Didn't Come Up With But Love:

So, what are you guys doing this weekend? Anything exciting planned? I'm doing pro-bono photos tomorrow morning at the Run for Shelter 10K, so if you're going to be out there, look for me and say hi! :) I'll be the girl with the camera (as if you could miss me).

P.S. Big congrats to Trish from Everyday Trish who won Amy's giveaway! Can't wait to find out which print you've picked out for your free 8x10! :) If you entered the giveaway, there's one last surprise for you on Amy's blog - enjoy! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

how-to: be a twenty-something.


I'm only 21, but already my friends and family have put their fingers on what they're calling my biggest (only?) success to date: being the quintessential twenty-something. Every time my dad reads another NYT article musing about why it takes twenty-somethings so long to grow up, I am absolutely the first person he emails it to. (Subject line: Well...?")*

Maybe every parent thinks this about their twenty-something child, but as many of my other twenty-something friends also think I'm the quintessential twenty-something, I'm pretty sure my parents are constantly the most perturbed by my "fledgling adult" brain. And since being a twenty-something is so damn interesting and new, I'm here to teach you how. Allow me to be your yoda.

1. Insist on moving to a city far away from where you grew up. You are not a real twenty-something if you don't feel trapped by the city boundaries and "expectations" of your hometown. I grew up in DFW and moved all the way to Washington, DC. Beat that. (Ironically, the only person I know who beat that is my mom, who moved from El Salvador to California to Texas, which is why she doesn't figure prominently in the exasperated parent role in this post.)

2. Watch too much TV filled with characters with unrealistic lifestyles. Don Draper is wildly successful and rich and all the work he does is drink and have sex on his lunch break! I want to do that! Ted Mosby is the youngest architect to build a building in NYC! He does work but he mostly got the job because his friend Barney Stinson, who doesn't do any work yet is wildly successful and rich, got it for him! I want to do that! The Real Housewives of Wherever don't do any work except marry rich and bitch at each other! I want to do that!

3. Be not quite sure what you want to do for the rest of your life. A year ago, I was still thinking I was going to go to law school at UC Berkeley to pursue international human rights. Somewhere, that turned into actually working in the field. That turned into my internship at a sexual violence crisis center, where I answer hotline calls. Around last June while I was in China, I woke up and said "eff all that, I want to do photography," and started my bad ass wedding photography business for bold and gutsy couples. At some point, I started thinking it would be cool to combine my love of photography and non-profits by doing all the photography that you see online that makes you cry and donate money. I would be good at that, but I have no idea how to start doing that. Since coming to DC, I've realized that I still want to take photos, but I also want to do social media for non-profits. Or for-profits. Yes, Dad, I want to do more than tweet for a living. Barely. And yet, for the past week or so, I've found myself turning back to my first love, writing. But here's the catch, and how to really make sure you're the best possible twenty-something: I want to do all of those things. And I want to do them now.
 3.1. Insist that if Michaelangelo could do ALL THE THINGS, you can too. Basically, this is my daily logic. I'm pretty sure Michaelangelo died alone though, so maybe we should all consider that. Let's be comforted by the idea that most twenty-somethings will change jobs seven times during that decade. Let's say it together, "This next job is what I really want to do!"
4. Fall somewhere between 'somewhat nervous about' and 'completely terrified by' commitment. The average age of marriage is skyrocketing to well into our thirties and for the most part I'm okay with that.
4.1 If that doesn't gel with you, you have the alternate option that a lot of kids I knew in high school took: get married AND DIVORCED by ~24, then start insisting that you're going to "wait for the right person" as opposed to "the person I got drunk and had sex at prom with." SORRY NOT SORRY, GUYS. Someone had to say it.**
4.2. Be terrified by diamonds, but okay with co-habiting with a romantic partner. Blame this phenomenon on whatever you want: The addition of "moving in together" on the list of steps toward marriage, societal relaxation toward pre-marital sex, the outrageous cost of actually getting married, etc. Basically, it's much easier to just move out than divorce someone.
5. Live on your parents' dime. Many twenty-somethings will move back home at some point. But it's okay! You're just getting started - your business venture will totally succeed! And until then, it's totally okay to move home/have your parents pay all your bills. Don't worry about it! 

6. Think longingly of backpacking around the world. You read Eat, Pray, Love and now you want a chance to have your own year-long excursion around the world to eat pasta and write a book. I hear ya.

7. Fucking love brunch. I don't think I know anyone over the age of 29 that loves brunch the way twenty-somethings do. It's the perfect meal: It stretches anywhere from 10:30 am - 3 pm, you can have pancakes with a side of pasta, you get to drink before noon, it's perfectly acceptable to go back to sleep after it, AND NO ONE CAN JUDGE YOU FOR ANY OF THESE THINGS! God, why doesn't everyone love brunch? You know what? I swear to love brunch even when I'm thirty.

8. Work for free, even after graduation. People expect you to be an intern while in college - "You'll learn about the real world!" But the way to be a real twenty-something is to work for free AFTER you graduate, like I do. You're exploring a new field! Really you just don't know what a 401k is but think it sounds like a painfully long race!

9. Have your only 'real' goal be "Make a difference!"/"Change the world!" I'll be honest, I applied to Teach for America. (After reading my blog you're not at all surprised that they didn't pick me, right?) Other options? Peace Corps, City Year (whose tagline is literally "give a year, change the world." DOES IT GET MORE TWENTY-SOMETHING?), etc. Basically, we're all just forestalling "real jobs" and "real commitments" with one or two year projects that will make us warm and fuzzy inside. And that's okay! Go make the world a better place, twenty-something!

10. Blog about it. Put all these things together and blog about them, using a catchy/ironic label like "The Grown Ass Woman." Employ self-deprecating humor. Everyone loves self-deprecating humor.

*Since the NYT article is roughly eleventy billion pages long and full of psychological jargon that made no sense to me without coffee, I didn't read all of it. Naturally, my response to my dad went along the lines of this article.

**I feel not at all bad being the one to say this considering that one of my exes had married and divorced twice by 22. We don't talk, clearly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

sign ups.


Hello, lovelies. 

I hope you're having another nice Monday. Yes? 

It's time for my monthly sponsor call. I've loved the sponsors I've had this month and I can't wait to meet the wonderful people that will join up in May. :) Simply, Valorie is getting 200+ pageviews a day, and is growing more every month.

Rates are great - $5 for a basic package and $8 for the higher end one. I've seen blogs of the same size charging more, but since I like to help a fellow blogger/Etsian out, I decided to keep rates lower. In fact, the higher end package is actually normally $10, but if you email me by April 28th, it's only $8.

For $8: 
You get a 200x200 ad space (obvs), a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight post, and some mentions throughout the month on twitter (where I have 450+ followers) to drive more traffic to your blog/shop.

For $5: 
You get a 200x125 ad space (obvs) and a spot in the monthly sponsor spotlight post.

Spots are rotated throughout the month (big ads with big ads and small with small) to get you a little more visibility. 

I'm also available for product/Etsy shop reviews (fashion/apartment decorations/art prints only, please) and guest posts. Just get in touch - I'd love to hear any ideas you've got! 

Convinced? valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

thoughts on a Saturday morning.

I stayed in bed late today, and between snoozes I thought about where my life is now, and where it's going. For a few minutes, I got really anxious and scared, wondering if my current things were the right things. But then I thought this and went back to sleep.

After I (finally) got up, I made myself this, so that in the future I can remind myself to just be.

Friday, April 20, 2012

so happy it's friday. :)

It's been a few weeks since I last did this, but today I'm linking up with Lauren over at the Little Things We Do for Fill in the Blank Friday.
1.  Today is a great day because,   it is Friday! I got up early to get some writing done, which I love   .

2.   Tomorrow I will   be having dinner with a family friend and seeing a movie with my new friend Liane    . (Like that little remark? I have friends in DC now, guys! Really!)

3.  My favorite time of day is     the morning       because    breakfast is the best of meals (especially when champagne can be involved on the weekend) AND because it's when I can get some peace and quiet before the craziness of life starts  .

4. Sometimes you just have to      have to admit to yourself that what you want is not what's normal. And you have to be okay with that .

5. A song that I just can't get enough of lately is    Adele's Chasing Pavements  .

6. My favorite accessory is    a necklace or a ring  .

7.  My favorite thing about this week was    having time to hang out with good friends around DC  .

So, this past week on the internet:

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie:
Things I Did Other Places on the Internet:
Things You Missed in My Shop:
  • There were 250+ (!!!) entries for this giveaway the last time I checked. I hope one of them is yours.
Things I Didn't Come Up With But Love:

That's a lot of things. Go enjoy them! Go enter the giveaway! You know you want to. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

guest post: avoid stressing over the job search.

Remember when I recently wrote a guest article about dating and keeping your standards high? Well Tonya is the wonderful woman who offered me that article, and now she is over here talking about avoiding stress when searching for jobs after college - some advice I need to listen to right now and I'm applying for a new job! What perfect timing, right? Everyone tell Tonya hi and how much you appreciate her advice. :)


Do you remember your senior year of high school? For many of us, memories of high school are filled with images of bullies, embarrassing moments, struggles and the good friends who helped us through. For whatever reason, nostalgia sits in during that last year causing you to reflect on the past years with something akin to fondness. Perhaps I was ignorant when I assumed my senior year of college would be the same.

After three years of college, full of new ideas, great friends and interesting classes, I figured my last year would be the best year ever. How wrong I was. I am set to graduate in one month. In one month I will have no idea where my life is headed. This unknown is thrilling but terrifying. I work, I go to school, I do homework and somewhere in there I try to apply to jobs. Every time I sat down to do something, be it work, school or otherwise, I felt like I should be doing something else.

I use past tense because I have finally straightened out my priorities and found peace. None of us are super-human. We require time to eat and sleep between the madness of life. As a college senior, the idea of prioritizing your education and job search, among other things, can seem like craziness. They are all important. Take a breather.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that only 24 percent of 2010 college graduates had a job upon graduation. You could cut back the hours that you work and only put partial effort into school all in the name of finding a job and still come up empty handed. Not only that, you will have less money to live on and a lower GPA. As a senior in college, the job search is important, but it is not number one on your list of priorities. You have to graduate first.

Until you have your diploma in hand, your education should be your first priority. Just because you’ve always been an A and B student doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to fail. No matter how pointless a class seems, you have to give it as much effort as all the others. What good will having a job lined up do if you don’t graduate on time?

Second in line is keeping a roof over your head and feeding yourself. The reason this isn’t number one is that studies show students who work too many hours, have a difficult time graduating and many don’t. To get the most out of your education, it must come first. If you are living in a dorm, you’re in luck. All you need is some food. However, most college seniors rent an apartment. Make sure you are working enough to pay your bills and buy food. There are plenty of ways to save money on groceries, like buying off brands or planning out meals. At the end of the day, though, some dollars are going to leave your pocket. Don’t let your worries about the future cloud your immediate responsibilities.

No matter how hectic your life gets, do yourself a favor and get some sleep. You need it for school, for work and for your job search. No employer will even call you back if your cover letter is full of grammatical errors. Getting the usual eight hours may not always be possible, but try to give yourself at least five on any given night. Those five hours will help you write an interview-worthy cover letter.

Way down here at number four is your job search. Yes it’s important, but so are all the things above. The fact is, until you graduate, your job search is going to have to be something you do in your free time. Don’t panic if you don’t get at least one application out every week. Don’t let yourself worry, even as the graduation date draws near, if you have yet to find a job.

After graduation, find a small job that pays enough to keep a roof over your head. This may mean working one or two low paying to pay the rent. When you come home from those jobs, you no longer have excuses. There is no school, no homework and nothing holding you back. Apply until your eyes hurt from starring at the computer screen.

Yes, the thought of graduating with no idea of where you will live or work can be scary. Don’t let this take over. Focus on graduating and enjoying your last semester of college.

Tonya Vrba is a passionate writer. Her work has been published in newspapers and blogs. She writes frequently about health, career and dating issues. Tonya currently writes with Dating Sites Online. Learn more about her work at her personal website.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Monday, everyone. :)

How's everyone doing today? Great? Great. 

If you guys have been around Simply, Valorie long, you know that every month around this time I like to introduce my sponsors to you guys. Why? Because they're really great. Really. :) Check them out.

Hey er'ybody! I'm Alex, a Texan who apparently decided running off to Germany for a year was a good idea and then decided extending it to two was an even better idea? Au pair by day and bar expeditioner by night, these are my adventures in the land of Deutsch. Whether it's adventures learning German, train trips, cooking up a storm to mix up my constant exposure to German cuisine, you can find it all here

 My name is Kaity, and I blog over at adventures of an American girl.  I'm just an average college student battling Alabama's crazy weather and massive piles of homework.  I started blogging last May as I was preparing for a summer spent studying in the south of France; I was originally just writing to keep track of my adventures abroad, but I have since follow in love with this wonderful bloggy-verse and my focus has expanded to include all sorts of randomness.  I love to cook and to write and to take pictures - and of course I love to share about all of the above! 

blog  |  twitter  |  shop
 Kristen is the brilliant and sassy lady behind Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. She's an army wife and hilarious to boot.
Those are the lovely April sponsors. Check them out, friends. :) 
And happy Monday! I hope you all have a good week.  

 Important P.S. If you're here because you're trying to enter Amy's giveaway and subscribe to my blog, it has just come to my attention that the RSS feed link wasn't working all weekend. It IS up and working now, so you can finally subscribe by RSS or email and earn another entry. :) After you do that, you should definitely check out the lovely ladies I was just talking about.

Friday, April 13, 2012

sexy blog make over + a really awesome giveaway. basically, you want to read this post!

I know that yesterday I said there would only be one surprise, but apparently I'm a dirty little liar. Why? Because there are two!

The first is that I did a little blog make over last night. Look how pretty and green and pretty everything is! If you're just reading this in your RSS feed, this is the moment when I tell you click here and see how sexified the blog is. 

Okay, so that wasn't a huge deal to you, probably. But I was excited so I had to tell you, and I figured that it was a perfect makes-no-sense segue into the actual more exciting surprise I have for you today.

My lovely friend Amy is hosting a giveaway over on her blog starting rightthissecond. And I'm giving something away! From right now until next Friday, you can win a FREE 8x10 from my shop, which is a 100% discount from what they normally cost. (hardy, har, har.) You don't even have to pay for shipping! There is no losing in this situation. This print is probably my personal favorite, but that doesn't matter because all that matters is which one is your personal favorite when you win.

And guess what else? If you win, you won't just be winning something from me. You'll be winning a very cool headband from the Bloom Bright Shop by Sarah Joy. All of the proceeds from her shop go to the Koshe Project, which supports the people of Garbage City in Ethiopia. Also? Those headbands are beautiful.

You know what else you'll win? (This just keeps getting better doesn't it?) A month of free advertising on Amy's blog, PLUS a new/updated badge for your blog. I've seen Amy's design work and let me tell you, she is phenomenal. She will take care of you. :)

Why are you still even here? Seriously. Go enter this giveaway. There are 10 ways to win and you should do all 10 of them.  Because you want to win. Logic, right? Then you can come back and tell me how sexy the blog looks now. But mostly, go enter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

suprises tomorrow mean weekly recaps today.

Hey friends. :) I'm doing my weekly recap a little early this week. Why you ask? Because, as you can probably tell by the title, I have a little surprise for you guys tomorrow. No I can't tell you what, that would ruin the surprise. But let's just say that you should definitely be stopping by the blog tomorrow. Get excited.

So. This past week on the internet:

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie:

Things I Did Other Places On The Internet:

Things You Missed In My Shop:
  • I added five new prints from Hong Kong, the Great Wall, and Washington DC. They're approximately AWESOME. Check them out. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Things I Didn't Come Up With But Love:
  • 13 Steps to Get You Through a Rough Day - bookmark this for future reference. 
  • Filed under news that surprised no one: Drunk Russian Bro Claims He Has Knife-Proof Abs, Ends Up In The Hospital. We've all wanted to be on the stabbing end of that situation, am I right?
  • Are you a young female entrepreneur? Then you should be a part of YFE, which I just discovered yesterday and love.
  • Top 5 Panda Cheese Commercials. Basically, people who say no to panda cheese learn they do so at a price; namely, a rude panda shows up and ruins their day.

    My favorite is the fourth one, what about you?

Have a great weekend! And seriously, don't forget to come back by tomorrow! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

dude. come celebrate with me.

As you guys probably know by now, I'm trying my very hardest to make it as a wedding and portrait photographer here in DC. So when I committed myself to scheduling a wedding sometime during the month of March, little did I know that just a few days later I'd not only do just that, but that the wedding would come up so quickly.

Paige and Paul got married on March 14th. It was a beautiful, simple court house wedding, and I was so thrilled that they asked me to be a part of it.

Since you guys have been so supportive of this dream and of Valorie Clark Photography (have I said thank you enough? I don't think so. Thank you.), I want to take a second to personally invite you guys to come view the photos of the first DC wedding I ever photographed. You can see the photos from Paul and Paige's wedding here. (I've also disabled comment on this post, so leave them there if you can.)

All the love and all the excitement. Live free and do epic shit, right? :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

yes, this is another post about Rupert. A.L. Grint. See also, HI RUPERT A.L. GRINT!


It's been a long time since I last blogged about Rupert A.L. Grint. And since I eventually want to meet and hug Rupert A.L. Grint, I'm pretty sure this is a travesty. After all, one of these days, Rupert A.L. Grint is going to google search his own name (shut up, you do that too), he's going to find my blog and see that "Hug Rupert A.L. Grint" is on my Life List. And when he sees that, he's going to think "You know what? I'm Rupert A.L. Grint. I'm the kind of nice guy that serves all my cast and crew members ice cream on the last day of filming Harry Potter. I'm also the kind of nice guy that would totally hug a stranger because I love my fans and love to make people happy. Especially since when you google 'Rupert A.L. Grint,' this blog ranks second. But mostly because I, Rupert A.L. Grint, am a nice guy."

I know you are, Rupert A.L. Grint. I know. 

See also, how cool is this? (!!!)
My blog literally comes up second only to wikipedia (and images, but I don't count that). !!!!!!!!

The question is, Rupert A.L. Grint, are you also the kind of nice guy that would see that "Meet JK Rowling" is also on my life list and introduce me to her? Because that would be cool But I totally understand if you can't because we shouldn't infringe on her life now. See, I'm a very understanding person.

Anyway. I was thinking, Rupert A.L. Grint. It would be really awkward if I flew all the way to the UK to meet you, only to hug you and then peace out. "See ya later, Rupert A.L. Grint! Thanks for the hug! Tell JK I said hi!" I mean, obviously I would do other things in the UK, but our meeting should probably last more than 30 seconds. So I thought I'd ask you some quick questions. In fact, I'll put them here so you can start thinking about your answers now - I know people like to be prepared for these kinds of high-minded interviews.

"So, Rupert A.L. Grint, some time has passed since Harry Potter ended. While I'm sure you're loving the time to relax, what are your plans for the future? Continue working in film or will you go full time as an ice cream truck driver?"

"Now, I hate to ask you this but, Rupert A.L. Grint, have you ever used color-enhancing dye for your hair?"

"On a scale of 1-10, how absolutely outrageous do you think this whole blog is, Rupert A.L. Grint?"

Those questions aren't too invasive, are they?

Do you guys have questions for Rupert A.L. Grint? Or maybe JK Rowling? Leave them in the comments and if/when I ever meet Rupert A.L. Grint (or perhaps JK Rowling), I'll try to ask them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

High Five for Friday!

I decided to change things up a little this week. Instead of filling in some blanks, I decided to jump on board with high five for Friday, from a different Lauren's blog. All the Lauren's have all the good Friday link-ups, don't they? So everyone stopping by from there, hi! I hope you stick around. :)

1. This little pup came to visit me a lot - isn't she precious? She's my upstairs' neighbors dog. We always leave the kitchen window open and we're cooking dinner, so she's always coming and visiting us.

I can't not talk like a baby to her.

2. My boyfriend's cousin came to visit us for the week, so we did a lot of eating out. DC people - have you tried Boundary Stone yet? If not, what the hell are you waiting for? Go tonight!

3. This print is hung up in my bedroom now. Isn't it cute? Guess what: It's free! Go, go, go!

4. In conjunction with three, our apartment is finally starting to come together. We got rid of a lot of junk and have really started decorating. I'm so happy. :)

5. I'm getting to visit my parents today! I'm actually going to be home in DFW from tonight until Wednesday (easy, since I don't work Tuesday/Wednesday ever), and I'm so excited! High five!

Now, my weekly internet round-up (a little shortened this time).

Things You Missed Here:

Things I Did Elsewhere On the Internet:
Things I Didn't Come Up With, But Love:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

how to make the best ice coffee you've ever had at home

I love iced coffee. I really do. I even drink it during the winter when it's freezing out just because I love it that much. But I also can't afford to drink iced coffee from Starbucks every day, so I've had to learn how to make it at home. After years, I've perfected how to do it. And now, I'm going to stop being greedy and share it with you.

[Side bar: Why is it that a tall iced anything costs more at Starbucks when you actually get less coffee because the ice is all up in the way?]

My main issue with Starbucks iced coffee is that it gets watery. I nurse my drinks*, so I need them to last an hour or more. With that in mind, I started making my iced coffee at home. Now, it's way cheaper and way more delicious.

You will need: your favorite creamer, an ice tray, coffee, and to remember to do this the night before. Simple, right? 

1. Brew your coffee like you always do.

2. Break out the ice tray!
There are twelve hearts in my ice tray, so I fill four with pure creamer, four with a creamer and coffee mix (roughly half and half), and the last four with just coffee. Your tray should look something like this now. (Except I apparently forgot to take a picture after I filled the last four hearts with coffee. Sorry!)

So cute, right? Bonus points if you knew immediately that my ice tray is from IKEA. 99 cents, yo!
Tip: If you're using plastic ice trays, it's best to let the coffee cool before you pour it in!

3. Be patient. 
Depending on the creaminess of your creamer, it will take a while to set. I know that I'm always sort of "on my way" to wanting iced coffee, so I always refill each little heart as I empty them. That way I've always got creamer and coffee cubes ready.

Just so you guys know, these won't float, but they will still be delicious!

4. Make your coffee!
Let's skip ahead to when your creamer cubes are ready. (Someone else come up with a better name for those already, please.) 
Brew your coffee the way you normally would.  When it's done, mix it with slightly more creamer than you would normally use (a tablespoon more is plenty). This helps create the creamy iced coffee flavor everyone loves. Let your coffee cool a little, then drop your earlier concoctions in.

Done! Now when they melt, your iced coffee won't get watery! THE ACTUAL BEST!

*Unrelated: Any How I Met Your Mother fans out there? All I could think of when writing this sentence was the scene when some girl is trying to steal Robyn and Lily's booth at McLaren's and Robyn says, "I hope these drinks aren't teething because they're about to get nursed!" The best.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Oh, how I *love* April...


 Maybe it's just the blooming flowers and all the cute baby animals, but spring always makes me think warm and fuzzies, growth and progress. It's such a nice time of change, a time to grow and relax and hang out and appreciate what you've got and what you're getting.

Spring makes me wax philosophical, I know. But I just love it. I can't help it!

And with spring, I'm making some changes in life. Some very personal (mostly of a financial nature, eh hem), some internet-y (new blog design coming? who knows? well, now you do), some appearance-wise. Spring is just a good time for this kind of thing, you know? And of course, I'm setting goals. Because, how could I not be setting goals and being intentional about things? That would just be weird, right?

In March, my posting three times a week goal went well, but any sort of financial restraint went out the window (oh hello, J Crew outlet that is way too close to my apartment). That's going to have to change in April. I left this job, which while meaning I now have less of an income outside VCP, it also means I save money by not eating out every day, a bonus. Losing weight didn't happen, but I'm getting a bike soon so it will, and I did practice making my handwriting cute but did not write creatively or study Spanish even once. Yeah.

I'm also still looking for a blog conference to go to this year, so if you know of any good ones near DC that still have registration open, let me know!

In April, I Will...

(Creativity Bucket)
Do one DIY project
Finish Uncle Tom's Cabin

(Health + Exercise Bucket)
Lose two pounds
Work out three times a week

(Photography Bucket)
Enjoy that bluebonnet photo session I'm doing on Saturday (I still have a few open spots, Texans!)
Set up a staged wedding shoot (I'm looking for a couple to model if you're interested, email me!)

(Self-Improvement Bucket)
Study Spanish three times a week.
Stop biting my lips (the worst habit).

(Internet Everything Bucket)
Get my new site up & running (I can't wait to reveal it to y'all!)
Do that little redesign I mentioned. (I'm sneaky with this one, aren't I?)
Meet another blog friend in real life.

(Do Uncomfortable Things Bucket)
Find a blog conference to attend. (Are you guys going to any good ones?)
Sign up for a 5k.

(No idea why these are buckets? You need to read this.)