Ankle Boots: Splurge V Save

Boots are my favorite part of Autumn-Winter. I love everything about Winter style. The colors, the textures and the layers! However I quickly learned that here in Georgia, Winter doesn’t show up until the occasional day in January. Kind of like how Summer appears in Ireland one day every July. Although I may not be able to bear the heat from my Winter woolies I cannot give up my beloved boots. I’ve compromised and made the switch to ankle boots, relatively unknown territory for me. I typically am the calf-high boot’s biggest fan. Here are some of my favorite new season booties – hopefully I’ve included something for everyone!

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

The Peep Toe

These peep toe shoe-boots will take you from day to night. Dress up casual jeans during the day and pair with a dress for date night!

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save(1)

Splurge @ Dillards

Save @ Forever 21

 

The Classic Chelsea

Chelsea boots appear to never go out of style which means even if you splurge, you’ll be wearing them for years. The classic equestrian vibe compliments denim perfectly. I love to complete the look with a plaid shirt and padded vest.

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

Splurge @ Nordstrom

Save @ ASOS

The Patent

Dress down a feminine dress with these classic patent booties. Pair with black tights and a leather jacket for an edgy look.

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

Splurge @ Nordstrom

Save @ River Island

 

 

The 80s Revival

These are my favorite! I love the sharp 80’s style pointed toe.  These boots would look fabulous with everything and the pointed toe elongates the leg!

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

Splurge @ Nordstrom

Save @ Old Navy

The Buckle

The perfect day to day boot. The buckled heel is totally on-trend as well as the suede and leather texture mix.

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

Splurge @ Nordstrom

Save @ boohoo.com

 

The Western Twist

Cowboy boots aren’t exactly easy to wear with everything (although here in the South many would argue!) these fringed boots offer a western vibe without going all out!

Ankle Boots Splurge V Save

Splurge @ Nordstrom

Save @ Target

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Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Who loves cinnamon rolls? I do! I’ve been known to eat a whole pan. Not that I condone that sort of behavior! I realized that I hadn’t baked any cupcakes in a long time and as I was humming and hawing over what flavor I was craving, I saw a tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls in the fridge (yes, I cheat sometimes!) and my mind was made up!

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Have you made any Cinnamon Roll variations?

Let me know in the comments!

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Easy Succulent Planter

My love of succulents is not a secret. It couldn’t possibly be, even if I tried. In Succulents for Beginners, I outlined how to plant a succulent and keep it alive. So be sure to check back there for the nitty gritty.  I was at a loss for where to plant my newest cactus (Blue Candle Strawflower) and crassula. A quick trip to the dollar store to buy a birthday balloon for Darby (yes, the dog) solved my conundrum! I picked up this large white coffee mug to serve as my succulent planter and some white stones to decorate. The plants cost around $3 the week prior so for a grand total of $5 I put together this little cactus garden, knocking the socks off the $15-20 pre-made counterparts!

Succulent Planter

Since this mug has no drainage holes, I lined the bottom with a mixture of pea gravel and well draining soil. I then added some soil and planted the cactus. Those suckers will stab you so be careful to grip it in the right place! Once I secured it in place I added the crassula, dispersed around the free space slightly.

Succulent Planter

Succulent Planter

Succulent Planter

Succulent Planter

You can add colorful sand, pebbles or moss to decorate the planter or leave it au natural. That’s the fun part and entirely up to you. You can plant these bad boys in virtually anything so be creative. I have a white container theme going on so this mug was perfect for me.

Succulent Planter

If you are really interested in keeping and propagating succulents then I would advise you to buy the industrial sized bag of pea gravel for drainage. I find the small single-serve bags of pebbles over-priced and gimmicky.

Let me know about your succulent planter ideas!

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5 Times Albus Dumbledore Made You Reevaluate Your Existence

Since I was 11 years old I have been a HUGE Harry Potter fan (who isn’t?). I thought it was the coolest thing to be the same age as Harry each year he returned to Hogwarts to Hagrid, Dumbledore and the crew. I never thought I would get to experience the excitement of waiting for another book to be released again. With the glorious arrival of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and an ode to Harry’s birthday, I’ve been re-reading the series and watching the movies!

Dumbledore Quotes

Harry Potter may be about the wizarding world but the magic experienced when reading them is immeasurable. In fact, I enjoyed HP so much growing up that I am saddened for kids who haven’t read the books and experienced the institution that is the world of Harry Potter.

While reading I am falling in love with the characters, the relationships and the magical world all over again. What strikes me most throughout all the dialogue are the stellar quotes of Albus Dumbledore, beloved headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.


5 Times Albus Dumbledore Made You Re-evaluate Your Existence

On Integrity

Dumbledore Quote

On Being Present

Dumbledore Quotes

On Finding Hope

Dumbledore Quotes

On Understanding Why People Do Bad Things

Dumbledore Quotes

On Parenting (from the Cursed Child)

Dumbledore Quotes

Have you picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet?

Happy reading, Muggles!

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Fall Y’all + Must-Have Autumn Decor

My sister-in-law is the biggest Autumn fan or more specifically, Halloween fan! In fact, I was inspired to write this post after she sent me a message. She asked if Halloween decor was in stores in the US yet and since America does seasonal decor like nobody else the answer was of course, YES!

Fall Yall Must Have Autumn Decor

Autumn is simply referred to as ‘Autumn’ in Europe. No fuss and no falling leaves connotations just the plain and direct name of the season. I think the majority of America forgot that the season is called Autumn. When I use the term here, I’m often asked to either repeat myself or people repeat what I say in the Queen’s English and call me ‘proper’. After battling the Americanisms for quite a while now, this year I find myself saying ‘Fall’ quite a lot!

In Ireland, Autumn isn’t so much of a season as a soggy transition into Winter. The colorful, falling leaves are quickly helped along by rain and winds. They become more of a terrifying slip hazard than an aesthetic wonder. Last year we took a trip to Ohio in October and one of the most beautiful Autumn scenes I had ever seen was driving through parts of Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains. Since Europe doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving either, Halloween and Christmas are really the only decorate-able occasions.

Here in Coastal Georgia the kids return to school in early August. With the arrival of the school buses comes the closure of the swimming pools, the shelving of the summer clothes (which is CRAZY considering it’s still hot as heck until around November!) and the emergence of pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. The decor I saw in every store last year became too difficult to resist and I purchased a few pieces. It became a running joke of my husband’s that if it was a leaf or pumpkin it couldn’t come in the door. I cannot wait to decorate our new house this Fall. I already plan a mini pumpkin-patch style feature on our front step. The US has truly reeled me in!

I’ve been perusing the stores and trawling the internet for some of my favorite, affordable pieces and here’s what I found!

Must-Have Fall Decor

 

Fall Pillow
Find this cute burlap style cushion at Etsy
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This rustic Thanksgiving wood block is also from Etsy
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How cute is this tealight holder from Pier 1?!
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Feeling crafty? Get yourself to Joann’s where you can find this leafy garland. If you don’t have a mantle, try it on a banister or weave it through a wreath!
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I love farmhouse decor and this milk canister from Hobby Lobby is super cute!
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I found this pallet sign at Hobby Lobby this weekend and couldn’t leave it behind! It’s also 40% off!

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DIY Table Transformation

My in-kitchen dining area is neither here nor there. The window and light fixture are misaligned which makes my compulsive tendencies twitch. Do I place my table in front of the window or do I center it beneath the light? Woe is me. To the other side of the table is my hallway and beyond, my front door. Which means when I sit down to eat, the world can join us through the side panel. Hi, neighbor!

DIY Table Transformation

We moved into our home 7 months ago now and despite a beautiful furnished dining room, I wanted to fill that gap. I committed the new home owner sin. DO ALL THE DECORATING AT ONCE! BUY ALL THE THINGS NOW! So I bought an inexpensive bar-height dining set for two. Ten minutes later, I hated it. Lesson learned. The decor in a new home is to be collected with patience and love. Not hasty gathering.

Last week, after searching the internet and every store in the world, I ordered a small, round pedestal table and two elegant fabric chairs. I purchased the table unfinished so I could make it my own.

I live in the house of espresso, guys.

Subconsciously, we have been buying dark colored wood furniture. IT’S. EVERYWHERE. It doesn’t help that our floors are also a dark walnut. When the dog lies down, sometimes I can’t even find him. So that’s helpful.

Since the curtains at the dining area window are a grey floral and the area rug is a mix of powder blues and grey, I chose grey chairs also. The leather ones in the dining room are…yes, espresso, so I NEED some color in my life. With this in mind, the last thing I wanted to see was a dark colored table so I grabbed a bottle of antique white wood stain and got down to business! The finish I desired was not overly distressed but not a solid white as I think that would be an eye sore within the coffee cave. I still wanted the piece to fit in with the modern vibe of the chairs and just look a little farm house-y.

The table was already sanded, prepped and ready to go so after giving it a quick, dry wipe down to remove any dust, I painted the surface with two coats. I started staining at the bottom of the table which seems counter-intuitive but it avoids drips from staining the pedestal before you get to it!

DIY Table Transformation

DIY Table Transformation

Once thoroughly dry, I sealed the table with a matte finish sealant. You could use a satin or gloss but I wanted more of a rough finish.

DIY Table Transformation

Alternative Method

An alternate way of finishing this table and achieving more of a distressed look would be to utilize a milk paint. Mix paint with parts water as per instructions and paint one coat.

Once dry, get a damp cloth and rub vigorously in spots you want to achieve the ‘worn’ look. The harder you work, the more distressed it will look (I’m glad I went with a stain because in this Georgia 100 degree and 110% humidity Summer, I would be the distressed one). This one definitely takes some elbow grease so make sure you’re prepared to do it!

It was so fun to do this for a few reasons

  1. It gave me a project of my own, something to do outside the monotony of daily life
  2. I purchased the table a lot more inexpensively than a finished product (you can also do this with hand-me-downs or market finds)
  3. I was able to do exactly what I wanted without settling for something that would simple ‘fit’.

DIY Table Transformation

 

Darby insisted on posing for this one!

Have you up-cycled a piece of furniture or completed a recent DIY project?

Let me know in the comments.

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Why I Try (And You Should Too!)

I tried before to get y’all to love Mondays and guess what? Not all of you bought it. But I tried. I tried to spread the #mondaymotivation and quell the negativity.

Why I Try

I’m kind of a hypocrite though. Not regarding Monday but regarding negativity. It invades my head space an awful lot. It’s hard to shake because loneliness doesn’t exactly breed positivity. I spend a vast quantity of time alone mid-week with no support. It can be very hard to find any motivation to escape the negative thoughts let alone live life to the full. In most cases I view my problems as unsolvable black holes where all hope goes missing but I have come to recognize that depressive attitude and instead stop it in its tracks and try to seek potential solutions.

I have learned to be present in the moment and step back, calm down and approach the situation from a different angle. We cannot solve our problems with the same attitude in which we created them so we must attempt an alternative mindset. Changing ones mind is not an easy task but we must try.

To go all in to whatever you want to do, is one thing. To even attempt it, is another.

Try Quote

I can’t stress enough, the importance of trying. We so often convince ourselves that it won’t be worth our while, or that we will fail, or that it won’t work out so why should we try?

Try Quote

To try is empowerment. To try is freedom. To try is the motivation you need to succeed. To try is the beginning of the momentum that keeps us going. Just beginning something can often change our perspective about how challenging we see a situation and sometimes the second we begin, we lighten the load and gain enough confidence to proceed.

Try Quote

Have you got any Monday Motivation to share?

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3 Ingredient Bounty Bars

Bounty Bars, or Mounds as they are known in the US, are one of my favorite chocolate bars. Growing up, my mother would have them in the house but I thought coconut was the worst thing in the world. What was wrong with me?! I am a huge coconut fan these days.

3 Ingredient Bounty barsInstead of purchasing desserts, I try to bake as many sweet things as I can simply because I can see what’s going into them. I don’t claim to bake healthy versions of these treats but they are an awful lot ‘cleaner’ than the majority of items in America’s candy aisles.

I have said many times before that I’m an advocate of minimal ingredients, steps and clean-up when it comes to kitchen activities. Well this recipe is no different. With just three ingredients and two easy steps you can enjoy a Bounty! This is a great recipe to try with kids!

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How To Optimize Pinterest For Your Blog

How To Optimize Pinterest For Your Blog

PIN FOR THE WIN! If you’re blogging without utilizing a Pinterest account then you are missing out! I get it, you’ve just started blogging and now you’re buried beneath countless social media platforms. My advice would be to optimize one or two (or three) that work best for you and ignore the rest. If you are trying to juggle a thousand accounts to promote your blog but don’t have time to write the blog then the practice is redundant. I focus mainly on Pinterest and Facebook and occasionally I dip my toes in Instagram and Twitter. Facebook is like a moody teenager. Some days she is obliging and sweet as pie, other days she hates your guts and refuses to help you. I will conquer Facebook’s wildly complicated algorithms one day but for now, I’m going to tell you about Pinterest.

When I first started blogging I developed an irrational fear of being away from my laptop. I became a stat stalker. I would see my hard work flatline if I took a day off and it affected me. If I kept this up it would have meant that I had no life outside this blog. Luckily I learned that lesson early on and made myself a blogging schedule. Sometimes this thing called life happens and that schedule changes but I try to adapt as I go along.

Honestly, I was getting bored of hearing bloggers sing the praises of Pinterest. I thought it was worthless and it was doing nothing for me. That was wrong of me. Pinterest is now my biggest traffic driver. For Sass & Shamrocks, it was Succulents For Beginners that took off first. The pin now has over 4000 repins! Of all social media platforms, Pinterest extends the shelf life of your content beyond measure. I now have two pins that sit there and pull in thousands of viewers a week and I don’t have to do a thing!

Pinterest has changed its algorithms and it has a drastic affect on your reach. Prior to the recent changes, you could join group boards (more on those later) and reach masses with your one little pin. Now, more than ever, Pinterest will reward the growth and popularity of your own personal boards. This of course means success takes longer but what’s the harm in a bit of hard work?

I started my blog in February 2016 and decided to take Pinterest seriously at the end of April. Here’s just a small sample of the growth I achieved by using a social media platform I used all along for fun anyway!

Sass & Shamrocks Pin Stats

Sass & Shamrocks Pin Stats

12 Steps To Optimize Your Pinterest Account

Get A Business Account

Firstly, how do I have Pinterest analytics as seen above? I switched my personal account to a business account. It’s free and can be done without losing the pins/followers on your original account. After a couple of days you will be able to see the behavior of your followers and pins. This is a very handy tool for determining what your followers like to pin.

Enable Rich Pins

What’s a rich pin? Necessary! Rich pins look more professional, stand out and they are also a nifty tool to prevent anyone claiming your content as their own. They contain more embedded information such as where the pin has been shared from, direct links and for small businesses, pricing. Get them now!

Sass & Shamrocks Rich Pins

Give Your Account Your Blog Name

Remove the bells and whistles. The new algorithms will do nothing for aesthetically pleasing characters and wide spacing between letters. Give your account your blog name – plain and simple. If you want to include your own name then put it after the blog title or in parentheses.

Simple Descriptive Board Labels

The name game applies to your boards too. Give your boards clean, simple and applicable labels. No characters, no spacing. I have entitled mine in upper case letters.

Niche Boards

Pin to boards that fit your niche. If you have other boards you cannot part with then make them secret and continue pinning to them. I totally have a board dedicated to giant, fluffy Old English Sheepdogs but you can’t see it!. Analyze the demographics of your followers. Maybe you don’t have kids but have a lot of ‘mom blog’ followers who enjoy your DIY and Food boards – create a board they may like related to kids/parenting/family vacation ideas etc. Of course pin to the board the things YOU like. It is your account after all.

Join Group Boards

Group boards are open boards belonging to somebody else that you can pin to. Some of these boards have thousands of followers and can be a good place to get your content seen. You will need to be invited to the board before you can pin. Often, the owner of the board will leave an email address in the board description so you can send a request to join. If you are struggling to find boards in your niche, search for some on PinGroupie.

Spring Clean Old Content

This was the kick starter for me. Stale pins are hurting your reach and engagement Regularly (once a month/two months) go through your pins and remove the ones with less than four repins. Pinterest rewards popularity. You need to repin and like pins that have a good repin record. This means your followers will engage with them also.

Choose Your Timing

Pinterest is typically the most active between 8pm and 1am and saturday mornings are also popular. Pin during these times as there will be more pinners available to save your pins.

Follow Accounts In Your Niche

I started in April with 45 followers and at present I have over 700. I gained organic followers by following in my niche, liking/pinning/commenting their content and pinning more of what my followers want (thanks, analytics!). It started slow but now I gain between 10 and 20 followers daily and even more if I get involved in Pinterest threads.

Pin Often

I also gain followers so consistently because I pin often. I don’t mean time-sucking dedication to the site or the type of obsession that means you abandon your family and friends for that little red button. No, I mean picking up your phone and pinning 2/3 things when standing in line at the bank or waiting on a friend for coffee. If you absent minded-ly pin throughout the day it doesn’t even feel like a task. This is something I would do anyway before I even started the blog.

Create Pin Friendly Images

Pinterest likes vertical images with some white space and lots of color. Ensure you are creating images of the correct dimensions. Horizontal images are not eye-catching and get buried. Be as creative as you wish but make sure your brand isn’t overly fussy or glaringly busy. This will turn people off. Pinterest is a visual place and images catch the eye more than content, initially.

Add Descriptions

Make sure your pin descriptions contain key words related to the content. Some people say with the new algorithm changes you don’t need to include hashtags but I still use one or two that I think fits best along with a short description.

I now have a number of pins that keep my blog alive when I am busy living my real life and you can too. Let me know in the comments how you find Pinterest.

Happy pinning!

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Car Essentials For A Long Road Trip

Ah the days of living in Ireland when I was blissfully unaware of the great American road trip and all it entails! When I would climb into the car and hit the road from Waterford to Mayo and think that 5 hours on the road was FOREVER. Now a five hour road trip is like a brief Sunday spin to me.

Car Essentials For A Long Road Trip

In the last 18 months we have driven over 11,000 miles (props to my husband who did ALL of that as I waited for my license!). From Georgia to Alabama and Florida multiple times and to Missouri and Ohio for special occasions. Soon we embark on a 21 hour journey from Northern Wisconsin to Georgia. I am now a seasoned veteran of the great state-wide road trip!

Aside from the back aching pain from sitting in car seats for extended periods of time, there are many obstacles you could run into on a long road trip. I’ve compiled this guide of essentials to make your journey as comfortable and seemingly quick as possible!

For Kids

  • If you’re fancy, seat back entertainment systems loaded with animated movies
  • Tablets or iPods. Even for the anti-technology parent, it will keep them relatively quiet and save your sanity
  • Travel versions of their favorite classic board games
  • Activites (coloring, Etch-A-Sketch, mess free markers etc.)
  • Books (stories, puzzles, quiz etc.)
  • Favorite comfort item whether it be a toy, blanket or pillow
  • A map of where you are traveling to point out locations and educate them along the way (unless you don’t want to hear, “where are we NOW?” every 5 minutes!)
  • Stomach friendly snacks
  • Water
  • Sick bags (sorry for the TMI but it’s that or spend ages cleaning up at the roadside)
  • Small washcloth to dampen and place on forehead if they feel ill

For Pets

  • Front seat barrier or hammock to keep Fido from clambering in on top of the driver
  • A canvas/mesh travel bag for a small dog or pet safety belt clip for a larger dog’s harness to keep him secure
  • Blankets
  • Water bowl with enough bottled water for the length of the journey
  • Food
  • Waste bags
  • Towel
  • Dog cologne (yes, it may sound weird but if you make a pit stop and pup gets wet then you’re completing the rest of your journey with the strong aroma of wet dog – fabulous!)

For The Car

  • Get a service and have your oil changed in advance
  • Jump Cables
  • Contact numbers for roadside assistance
  • Satellite Navigation System
  • I like the WAZE app for checking on potential upcoming hazards/traffic delays
  • Cigarette lighter USB adapter for charging your devices
  • Power bank for your phone
  • Car freshener. Road smells, farm smells, in-car smells…just have one!
  • Car seat organizer to hang on the back of the front seats and contain all the kids activities. No more “Where’s myyyyyy….?”
  • A map. A good old fashioned paper map!
  • An emergency kit in the back stocked with a first aid kit, towel, wet wipes, sun screen, umbrella, snacks and lots of bottled water

For Your Sanity

  • Dress comfortably but appropriately. You may leave in snow and arrive in the tropics or vice versa.
  • Your choice of entertainment (books, audio books, magazines, mobile devices loaded with movies/e-books/music playlists etc.)
  • Camera/Video camera. It might be fun to vlog your drive. Unless tensions are running high then it will at least provide evidence afterwards…
  • A blanket. Unless you have dual control heating then one may be hotter/colder than the other and the driver gets to be most comfortable in my eyes
  • A pillow. I keep a small one to place behind my back, to sleep against or to put under my feet when my legs get restless
  • Fluffy socks. You know the fuzzy bed ones? They keep cold feet toasty and are super comfy!
  • Snacks that won’t cause any discomfort
  • Gum (chewing it will take your mind off a sick stomach if you don’t follow the above!)
  • Gallons of hand sanitizer. I don’t even need to tell you about the condition of some of the restrooms you will stop at along the way.
  • Wet wipes to freshen your face/body throughout the drive
  • A cooler stocked with water/iced coffee (for that good caffeine!). Take a flask full of hot coffee/tea if iced isn’t your style. Avoid carbonated drinks.
  • Sunglasses and lip balm are two small things I often forget but make my journey very uncomfortable – don’t make the same mistake.

 

My greatest tip of all would be to just relax. So many times I have been anxious over arrival and hotel check-in times that I have found  those are the journeys where you run into 2 hour stand-stills on the Interstate. Certainly plan ahead places for pit-stops and places to sleep that night but be flexible in the fact that although you may leave at 6am for a 10 hour drive, an arrival time of 6pm is not out of the realms of possibility. Allow for traffic, roadworks, extended stops etc. Life happens. Go with it! Play old school games like eye spy and count license plates. One of my favorite past times in the car is to read ridiculous billboards aloud to my husband and destroy every country music lyric there ever was by speaking it and analyzing the ridiculousness.

For example,

“First thing we make you feel better. Next stop we pull it all together. I’ll keep you warm like a sweater. Hold on forever”

WHAT?!

If you have a long road trip soon, happy travels my lovelies!

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