Author Archives: msmeljones01@gmail.com

casual friday

Casual Friday | Vol. 6

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s been the first week without a major holiday or trip thus far this year for us. While I’ve been loving getting back into a routine, there’s something about the rainy weather and cloudy days that has made motivation and knocking out to-do lists challenging. You’ll find me spending these days with a warm drink in hand and rocking my coziest layers. (Today it consisted of oversized denim, sweatshirt, scarf, and messiest of top knots.) 

As the year has come in full force, I’m excited about the fresh projects to tackle, the ability to focus on copy and write better stories, and building out stunning campaigns for clients.

Keep reading for the full post after the jump

casual friday casual friday

Here are a few things I’ve been loving on the Internet lately:

Have you been dreaming of a creative sabbatical? Walking the stone cobbled streets of Europe, perusing cafes and delighting in the best bread you’ve ever tasted? Here’s how to take one while working full time.

Sometimes in life, awesome things happen to the people around you. Your life not so much. Here’s how to avoid envy and celebrate others when life is tough.

What would you pay for wellness in life? Would you be willing to pay the cost? This 5 minute read from Wit & Delight will bring about reflection and clarity in your own life.

This 10 minute tomato soup from A Beautiful Mess is the perfect weeknight meal on the go. With smart substitutions, it remains veggie based and creamy.

Late nights mean great reads. We’ve been reading Play by Dr. Stuart Brown and The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising

Need another healthy soup recipe to have on deck? We love this Vegetarian Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili from What’s Gaby Cookin’.

Instagram announced another rollout of changes to features, the algorithm, and expected decrease in engagement. These 18 hacks for Instagram Stories will set your stories apart and create margin for stronger Instagram engagement.

Just in case you missed it, here are this week’s posts:

5 Ways to Stay Motivated (With Daylight Savings Time)
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Everything You Need To Know About Hygge 

What are you up to this weekend?

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below!

 

hygge

Everything You Need To Know About Hygge

With the winter months in full swing and a weekly forecast of cloudy skies and full rain cover, it is time for us to embrace the Danish and Nordic tradition of Hygge. If you’re anything like us Christmas in our space is magical. Filled with fairy lights, beautiful winter greens, and color, our living space is transformed in a wonderland. Once the tree and bulbs get put away it’s easy for a living space to feel somewhat bland and sterile. No problem Hygge is here to help! Pronounced hue-guh it is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming, or special. It isn’t so much about a lifestyle, but rather a conscious slowing down during given times of the year.

It truly is the art of slow living. With identifiable practices and rituals, find moments to create this cozy feeling throughout your home and space. There are a few things we’ve adapted and allows for the perfect feelings of coziness throughout the space, perfect for nights in bringing a bit of life back into our space.


1. Start with the senses. 

Take time to find a favorite blend of essential oils that feel fresh and cozy. We love some of the pre-bottled blends of Doterra and diffuse them throughout our air, cleaning it, and keeping things fresh. If you’re looking for something that will keep everyone healthy find blends of peppermint for respiratory needs. (We love breathe.) Other blends that are great include citrus and cinnamon (On Guard) or for something simple use a few drops of lemon.

Gluten Free Chocolate Buttercream Cake 2. Embrace a few new cooking techniques.

When it comes to Hygge, take time to make food that are labors of love. Whether it’s a delicious cinnamon rolla chocolate layered cake with stunning winter decorations, or the most delicious soups, take a cue from outside, and experiment with new cooking techniques. We’ve loved cooking our way through cookbooks that were purchased as gifts throughout the holiday season. Another skill we’re hoping to master in 2018? Making our own bread and homemade pasta. These past times are perfect for the winter months.


3. Create the perfect setting.

Light a candle, bring a bit of outdoor greenery, and place books and magazines around your space. These elements come together and create a lovely cozy corner, perfect for reading throughout the winter evenings to come.

4. Embrace cozy textiles.

Knubby wool, crushed velvets, and faux fur are the perfect layers to bring warmth for long winter evenings. Our townhome lacks the architectural details of a fireplace or mantle. In light of this, we keep the ledge of where our television is filled with lanterns, hurricanes, and tealights. If all the candles are lit in our home, it immediately becomes cozy, warm, and similar to a fireplace.


5. Invite others in and host a dinner party.

As the winter months go on, invite friends in for a simple gathering. Whether you end up playing games at the end of the night, enjoying a bottle of red, or savoring a simple dish, allow others to enjoy the cozy space you’ve created. Allow our food and gather archives to serve as inspiration.

What are some of the way you’re embracing the long days of winter?

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

Gluten Free Chocolate Buttercream Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

When it comes to gluten free cake, it takes the right mixture of ingredients to get the proportions and baking just right. With any chocolate cake the importance of a good and moist cake is found in the proper moisture in addition to the cocoa powder. With a touch of espresso and healthy substitutions of applesauce in the place of oil, this cake is delicious and the perfect dessert for any winter occasion.

Keep reading for the full post after the jump!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Serves 8, 2 layers

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1 C dark cocoa
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 2/3 c applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 C coffee, extra for moistening cake prior to frosting
  • 2 t organic vanilla extract

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 1/3 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1 T unsweetened almond milk

For decoration:

    • 1 pt organic blueberries
    • 2 sprigs rosemary buttercream
    • powdered sugar, extra


Directions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 8″ round pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Place eggs, coffee, vanilla, and applesauce into mixing bowl. Beat well. Blend in the dry ingredients 1 C at a time, beating for one minute and scraping the bottom and the side of the bowl after each addition. Once all ingredients have been added, beat on medium-high for 2 minutes to make an extra smooth batter. Pour batter into pans. Bake the cakes for 30 to 33 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, prior to turning out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.

While cakes are cooling, mix together frosting. Begin by creaming butter and adding powdered sugar. Add salt, vanilla extract and almond milk. Mix on medium high until a thick consistency for icing.

To assemble cake, remove parchment from each round. Using a serrated knife, trim the top of your first round so it is level rather than doomed in the center. Place round on large plate, cake plate, or a wooden round. (With winter themed decorations, we used a thick wooden round slab.) Using a pastry brush, brush on coffee to add any needed moisture to the cake. Spoon on buttercream icing and spread with flat rounded spatula. Add the second round of cake. Brush on additional coffee and allow to soak in for 10 minutes. Spoon icing on top and spread with an even layer. Using the excess icing, complete a skim coat of buttercream on the sides allowing the chocolate cake to peek through, offering the perfect naked cake appearance. Top with three rounds of blueberries in a thin crescent and sprigs of rosemary. Using a mesh tea ball, dust with powdered sugar giving this winter cake the perfect flocked look.

 

 

5 Ways to Stay Motivated Daylight Savings Time

5 Ways to Stay Motivated (With Daylight Savings Time)

As we move into the days of late winter, the nights are overwhelmingly long. If you’re anything like me, I frequently look outside and all I long to do is sleep. Last night my motivation was looking at the window and longing for my bed at 7:30, thinking it was far later than the actual time. With shrouding darkness at 4:00 due to surrounding snow capped mountains, it’s easy to feel pushed and feeling that more should be done. (This means in our world all shoots must be completed by 3pm.) How do we stay motivated and stay awake with the surrounding darkness?

Keep reading for our 5 Ways to Stay Motivated after the jump!

1.  Replace coffee with another experience of warmth for a boost.

While it’s all too tempting to grab a second cup of joe during the afternoon slump or while preparing dinner for the night, make a point to grab a cup of tea or warm water. If carbonation is your thing, pick up a sparkling water. (Our favorite is the cranberry orange liter bottles from Trader Joe’s.)

2. Skip a nap and head to the gym.

Believe or not, your body might be feeling tired because it’s been somewhat sedentary during the day. If you’re like me, a desk job keeps you to a desk for majority of the day. Prep ahead, by packing a gym bag, and head to the gym right after work. We love doing this! Another option is scheduling time to go to the gym when you find you’re entering your afternoon slump or choosing to gym during your lunch break.

3. Shut off Netflix and choose another option.

By simply choosing to shut off Netflix and pour into your hobbies, you’ll be amazed at the time that is freed up. Pursue creativity, enjoy a good book, and find fresh forms of inspiration. (Find 10 Things to Do Tonight Other than Watching Netflix post here.) Discover the beauty of cooking a new recipe at home for yourself, going for a walk in the rain, and pairing together fresh looks in your closet. Do a bit of spring and deep cleaning, get organized, or refresh your space. Dive into your reading list. Spend your time with purpose and meaning rather than a Netflix binge.

4. Know your goals.

Don’t take on projects and work solely for the sake of being busy. Take on projects that have life, bring a bit of joy to your world, and move you forward. Whether this is a side hustle, moments to find creative freedom, or just going after wellness, get specific, measurable and have check-in points, either weekly or monthly for moments of accountability. (Find previous posts on Intentionality, Crushing Goals, and Dreaming Again here.)

5. Have a tending list or bullet journal.

Where do you have long-term goals set before you? With a simple bullet system or paper planner, find a way to have goals and ideas of what you’re currently working on. This helps me develop true priorities and a knowing of what I need to respond to in a given time. There’s loads of articles on bullet journaling and it isn’t something I’ve completely adopted yet. (I’m not one to take the time to make a journal quite so quite and deliberate; however, this sweet episode by Refinery29, shows you great first steps to get started.)

How are you staying motivated during the long gray days of winter?

Let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

birthday wishlist 30

Hello 30. (And The Birthday Wishlist)

Every year as my birthday rolls around, the Christmas season has come to a close and the few weeks of dreams has awakened. This year is no different and as I look forward to a few items to purchase in 2018, here’s the list of items on my birthday wish list for the year. Some are adventures and others are major life moments, but either way they are equally valuable. More than anything during my 20s I learned the value of running after my dreams and passions wholeheartedly. That’s why I’m choosing honesty when it comes to the heart part of the list because this year is one where I truly long for certain pieces of the puzzle to be added. It’s real, true, and feels right. I have a feeling 30 is going to be a tremendous year.

Keep reading for the true wants and wishes for this, my 30th birthday.

autocamp-getaway
daniel wellington watch-01 knollwood-leather-tote
heat stuff 30 wishlist

Have you ever made a heart wish list for a given year? Whether at the beginning of the year or your birthday, there’s truly no better time.

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.