Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hanging Out with HP at Alt!

Experience Boards

Meeting up with the people from HP last week at Alt Summit was lots of fun! Five other bloggers and I were invited to use our new HP desktops to create Experience Boards to be displayed in the HP lounge at the Grand America Hotel. It was so much fun to walk in and see my photos blown up and featured alongside such talented bloggers as Chelsea Costa of Lovely Indeed, Mari Richards of Small for Big, Brittni Mehlhoff of Paper & Stitch, Jenny Batt of Hank and Hunt, and Amanda Brown of Spruce.

Melissa Bahen

The offer to collaborate with HP on this project came at the beginning of January, right in the middle of all of my frantic Alt Summit preparations. I had business cards to finish, outfits to plan, gifts for my roommates to put together, a million projects to do for the Hello Social, and so many other things! So I decided to make the focus of my Experience Board all of this craziness! The final collage included photos of the spoons I hand-dipped to attach to each business card, the coffee cup sleeves, photo booth props, and miles of yarn pom pom garland I made for the party, a couple of key plum-colored pieces from my outfit for the Friday night Clue party, and a few other projects I had in the works. I love how colorful and full of texture my collage was!

HP_ALTDESIGN_INSPIRE_2_V2b

While I own an HP SpectreOne AiO now, I hadn't ever used a touchscreen computer before heading to Alt. Luckily, HP had their new HP Envy 23 TouchSmart AiO on display in the lounge, and it was, in a word, awesome! I loved using the Fresh Paint app to doodle right on the screen. I could seriously spend a lot of time just doing that! And there was a long line of bloggers behind me waiting to do the exact same thing. In the picture below, you can see the lovely and fabulous Amber from Damask Love creating a cute picture using the Fresh Paint app on the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart--pretty cool!

Fresh Paint Envy 23

The HP lounge had tons of cool tech for us to check out, plus a fun photobooth, a smart office set-up, and a cocktail party! Thanks HP!

Alt Photo Booth

Smart Office

HP Lounge PCs
{all photos in this post--aside from the photos in my collage--are courtesy of HP}

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This post was sponsored by HP as part of a campaign with Alt Summit bloggers. I was compensated for my participation.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Paint-dipped Spoons

paint-dipped-spoons

Maybe you didn't know this (even though I talked everyone's ear off about it for months!), but last week I got to attend Altitude Design Summit, the world's leading conference for design and lifestyle bloggers! I've wanted to go for the past few years, since it started, actually, and as I was reading recap after recap last year, I decided that come hell or high water, I was going to Alt 2013. And I made it happen!

About the same time I decided to go to Alt Summit, I got the idea for my business cards. Business cards at Alt Summit aren't your average, ordinary rectangles of cardstock--they are little works of art that people talk about and write blog posts about. I wanted mine to be something hip and kitchen-related and memorable, so I decided over a year ago to hand-dip little wooden condiment spoons in yellow paint and tie them onto my cards.

There are lots of good tutorials out there on dipping things in paint, and lots of different methods you can use. I had over 100 spoons to dip, so I needed something that was fairly quick and didn't take up too much space. After much experimentation, here's what I ended up with:

paint-dipped-spoons-1

Materials & Tools
water
small disposable cup, waxed or styrofoam or something sturdy
craft sticks
empty egg cartons or something to rest the wet spoons on

Steps

1. Squirt a fair amount of paint into the disposable cup. It will likely be too thick right out of the bottle to be good for dipping. Add water a little at a time until it is a better consistency. How can you tell, you ask? I used lots of craft sticks (aka, popsicle sticks or tongue depressors) to test the consistency, and to stir the paint/water. I wanted it to coat smoothly without glooping up (yep, that's a new word), but I also wanted it to give a nice, opaque layer of paint. It took lots of testing, so don't give up.
2. When you finally get your paint the right consistency, pick up a spoon and dip the handle in the paint. Dip however you like. I did some spoons straight across and some at an angle. I like the angled ones best.
3. Let the excess paint drip back into the cup. You might even want to gently whack the spoon handle against the rim of the cup a few times to shake off those last few drips. 
4.  Set the spoon on the egg carton (or whatever you're using) to dry. Set it down so that it is completely horizontal and right-side up, and so the painted part is not touching anything.
5. Allow to dry like this for about 10 minutes, then flip over so that any drips that collected on the underside of the spoon as it was drying can flatten out. Allow to dry overnight before touching.

*The paint I used said it could air-cure for 21 days, so I dipped my spoons way back in December. Honestly, I think they're fine a lot sooner unless you plan on washing them
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Pink Grapefruit Bath Salts

pink-grapefruit-bath-salts-2

Making homemade bath and body products is ridiculously easy. It's also quick, inexpensive, and fun! And you get to control exactly what goes into them, from luscious fragrances to healthful additives--an added bonus! I'm really into making my own soap, and I've had lots of fun making fizzie bath cubes, lip balm, and lately, bath salts! These cute little homemade bath salts would make great favors for a bridal shower or spa party, or a perfect, easy gift for any occasion! You can find the list of ingredients and steps in my latest post for Celebrations At Home.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sparkling Citrus Floats

sparkling-citrus-float-1

I love how easily a fancy drink can turn up the volume on an event. Juice at a brunch? Totally OK. Juice with sparkling bubbles and creamy vanilla ice cream? You just knocked it outta the park!

These yummy Sparkling Citrus Floats were inspired by a gorgeous font! Which one? You'll find out on my latest post for The Font Feast on Ciera Design. (Oh yeah, and the recipe too!)
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Snowy Lemon Thumbprints

snowy-lemon-thumbprints-1


It has been extra cold and gloomy in our part of the country this month. I think that's why I love citrus at this time of year--it brings some much-needed sunshine into an otherwise stark and barren landscape. These Snowy Lemon Thumbprints are the perfect antidote to the midwinter hum-drums. They are sweet and tart, and taste like sunshine! To get the full recipe, visit my latest post for Best Friends For Frosting.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

5 Things to Love about the new HP SpectreONE AiO

HP Spectre One Left Facing with Keyboard

I was honored recently to have been invited by HP to participate in a brand ambassador program with a few other bloggers. HP sent me their gorgeous new HP SpectreONE AiO to test-drive, and the whole family has been having a blast with it ever since! Here are some of the things we love about this beautiful machine:

#1: It's an all-in-one (with wireless accessories!)
Do you remember your college computer? I remember mine. That thing was a big, old elephant of a computer. It had an enormous, fat monitor, a big, clunky tower, and lots of accessories--and everything had to connect to everything else with cords. If you ever dared to peak behind the desk, you'd see a hideously tangled jumble of dusty cables and computer cords. Thanks to the SpectreONE's all-in-one set-up, that pesky tower that we used to have to shove under the desk is completely gone! And the mouse and keyboard are wireless. There is literally only 1 cable on the whole computer, and it's the power cord.

#2: It's so easy to set up!
This one goes hand-in-hand with reason #1. I think it only took us a minute or two to set the entire computer up, and that includes cutting the tape on the packing box! You lift the computer out of the box, set it on the desk, plug it in, and turn it on. That's it!! Setting up our new SpectreONE took less time than walking out to get the mail!

#3: It's so slim!
At our house, desktop real estate is in high demand, so we absolutely adore how sleek the SpectreONE is. It is literally only 7 inches deep! And since the keyboard and mouse are wireless, they can be picked up and moved when we need to clear off a little extra elbow room.

#4: It's fast. Like, really fast!
I really don't know anything about computers. Whenever I run into a computer problem, I call my brother the rocket scientist (literally, a rocket scientist) in a panic and beg for help. So I can't tell you anything fancy about processors or giga-whatevers. What I do know is that the SpectreONE loads my programs and web pages really quickly, more quickly than any other computer I've worked on. I don't have to wait and watch the little beach ball spin for an hour. I click on a link, and BOOM! there's my program.

#5: It comes with really great software!
More on this in my next HP post! If you're just dying to know before then, you can check out all of the SpectreONE's fantastic features, including the software it comes with, by clicking HERE.

As a brand ambassador for HP, I also got to use the SpectreONE to design an Experience Board that HP will be displaying at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City next week! I'm over the moon with excitement, and can't wait to see my little creation in real life, and really big! I'll get to share my Experience Board with you in the next few weeks!

HP-SpectreONE

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I wrote this review as part of a brand ambassador program with HP. I received the HP SpectreONE AiO as compensation for my participation in the program. All opinions are my own.


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Hello Social: A Sneak Peek!

Hello-Social

Have you heard of Alt Summit? It's the coolest blogging conference around. Every January, hundreds of amazing bloggers gather in Salt Lake City (at a very posh hotel, of course) to party! Oh, and work super hard. My friend Lexy from The Proper Pinwheel and I have the extreme honor and pleasure of hosting a little soiree before the big conference starts--the Hello Social!

West Elm is graciously helping us host this amazing shin-dig at their beautiful new store at City Creek Center. They have been an absolute dream to work with, and we can't wait to have our party surrounded by all of their cute items; it might be hard for me not to do a substantial amount of shopping while I'm supposed to be stringing garland!

Wanna see who else we're working with to make this the party of the year???

&

We'll have delicious treats to nosh on, a SmileBooth to capture those party-perfect moments, fun door prizes to win, and awesome swag bags to take home! Won't you join us?!

For party details and RSVP info, visit us HERE.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Recipe Redux: Orange Juice Cookies

orange-juice-cookies

So, I'm guessing no one noticed, but I stayed up late Friday night to update the links to all of my old recipes on the "Recipes" tab at the top of the page. Being a blogger is so exciting! Aside from being a little tedious, it was surprisingly fun to go back through every single post on this blog, to read old intros I wrote, to review old recipes I posted, and to look at the very first photos I took. And to see just how bad some of those photos were! Yikes! While all of the recipes are stellar (would I admit if they weren't?), not all of the old photos measure up. These orange juice cookies are an oldie but a goodie, some of my absolute favorites. My mom made these a lot for us when I was growing up, and all of us still love them and request them often. They are just sweet enough, and deliciously light and tender. And now they have new and improved photos that make them look as good as they taste!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Easy Lemon Napoleons

lemon-napoleon-1

Napoleons fall into that category of things that look fancy and complicated, but are really easy to make. They have lovely layers that make them impressive, and people will think you slaved over them, even if you threw the components together in just a few minutes! These quick and easy little beauties look sweetly elegant, and taste every bit as wonderful as they look. The sugar-coated puff pastry is the best part. No, wait...that'd be the tangy, lemony pudding layer. No, hold on...it's the whipped cream layer. You'd think after eating four of them I'd have this figured out!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In My Kitchen with Stephanie Brubaker

in-my-kitchen-stephmodo
"I use everything from pasta bowls (see limes) and trifle dishes (see bananas!).  Not only do these displays add color and freshness to my kitchen (particularly important during the gray, winter months), but they serve as a daily reminder that something must be done with them!  Like Creamy Lemon CurdMeyer Lemon Bars, or Frozen Key Lime Pie."

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Stephanie Brubaker (@stephmodo) is a Seattle-based lifestyle blogger who enjoys posting about all things practical and pretty on her website, Stephmodo.  When she is not making something special in the kitchen, exploring local hot spots, or dreaming up her next homespun party, Stephanie daydreams of going over to France with her husband and four young children to revisit their recently renovated Medieval cottage--a life-changing project for her family.  Her latest venture is A La Modo, Steph's growing specialty pie-box business.  Stephanie's work has been featured on Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy and the Martha Stewart Weddings blog.

I'm a long-time admirer of Stephanie and her blog, Stephmodo. Everything about her site, from the photography to the recipes to the glimpses into cottage life in the French countryside, is effortless and lovely. xoxo
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Basic Lemon Curd

lemon-curd

Lemon curd is such a delicious treat! It is silky and rich, and tastes like sunshine. I'm always surprised when I make it at how easily and quickly it is ready. You'd think something as indulgent and luxurious as lemon curd would be really finicky and temperamental, and require lots of steps and special tools. But it is ridiculously simple! And ridiculously tasty! And just...special. That's a lot to live up to, right?!

Possibly the best thing of all about lemon curd is how many delightful treats it can be paired with! It can be spread atop a sweet crust to make lemon bars, tucked into buttery cookies, sandwiched between the layers of a tall and luscious cake, covering a creamy cheesecake...the list of delicacies is truly endless. But why are you still reading? You should be out whipping up a batch of lemon curd!
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Avocado & Grapefruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

avocado-grapefruit-salad-1

To kick off our Month of Citrus, I have a luscious, mouth-watering...salad recipe? Yep, you heard me, we're starting off January with a salad. But don't worry--next week, we'll move on to baked goods. Just like your diet!

Michelle from 4 Men 1 Lady was sweet enough to ask me to write a recipe post for her Foodie Friday series, and she specified that it be fresh and good-for-you. Luckily, this delicious salad, full of avocado, grapefruit, and pomegranate seeds, and covered in a sweet and tangy poppyseed dressing, is as yummy as it is healthy! You can find the complete recipe in my post on Michelle's blog. Happy eating!
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A We Love Citrus Give-Away!

The We Love Citrus give-away is now closed and the winner has been contacted. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Happy New Year, Everybody! For 2013, I've decided to have a different theme each month, and January's theme is citrus. I've got a month of lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes for you--fun things to make and tasty things to eat.

To kick off our Month of Citrus, I have a very special treat for you: We Love Citrus, home of adorable fabric ribbonbeautiful glitter twine, and sweet glassine bags filled with confetti, is generously donating two sets of their popular mason jar lids (that's 12 lids total!) and 12 striped paper straws to one lucky Lulu the Baker reader!

welovecitrus giveaway

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite item is in the We Love Citrus shop. You might also want to include your email if it's tricky to find. The give-away will be open until Sunday, January 6th at midnight. I'll choose a winner randomly and notify them by email on Monday morning. If you are the winner, you have 24 hours to respond to my email; if I haven't heard from you by then, I'll choose a new winner.

Many thanks to Ana of We Love Citrus for so generously sponsoring this give-away! Good Luck!

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