4 Year Blog-i-versary and a GIVEAWAY

spotofteadesigns.com turns four! Recap on four years with a special handmade giveaway!

In honor of the 4 year Blog-i-versary of Spotofteadesigns.com, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the highlights that happened over the past four years! To celebrate I’m also offering up a giveaway to my lovely readers.

October 30th, 2010 – The first year of Spotofteadesigns.com

Chinese Lantern Dried Flower Arrangment

  • I launched Spot of Tea Designs on a basic wordpress platform and planned to document my creative projects. The first project was the Pollock inspired painting in our master bathroom. (Yes the first thing I show off was my toilet haha)
  • Fact: during this first year, I chose to only focus my creative projects and graphic designs, so you won’t find any faces or that many names listed on these pages.
  • I put my Thirty Before 30 list out there in blogland in hopes that releasing it to the world would motivate me to complete it! (If you read my recap, you’ll see I didn’t finish it all but did pretty good!)

October 30th, 2011 – Spotofteadesigns.com Turns One!

Wedding Photo as taken by BradRoss.net

October 30th, 2012 – Spotofteadesigns.com Turns Two!

brielle4months

October 30th, 2013 – Spotofteadesigns.com Turns Three!

First time mom advice: dos and don'ts | spotofteadesigns.com

  • My First Time Mom posts began gaining in popularity. In fact, thanks to Pinterest, this dos and don’ts one is still my most popular post EVER by far! (and it’s still one of my favorite pictures of Brielle and I!)
  • With a little one at home and less time to be creative, I welcomed more guests posts from creative friends, even adding a “contributors” section to highlight those who share often.
  • Upgraded to self hosting! This opened up abilities to partner with more brands which included opportunities for reviews and giveaways to my awesome readers! (Thanks again for making that happen, Pauselius!)

October 30th, 2014 – Spotofteadesigns.com Turns Four!

  • This year I hope to bring you more inspiring tutorials and more awesome giveaways with brilliant brands.
  • I want to try some new crafting techniques that I’ve had my eye on, including Freezer Stenciling, Glass Etching, String Art, and a Furniture Makeover.
  • I’d like to create a “Reader’s Feature” post showing projects that were inspired by my tutorials, reviews and posts here on Spotofteadesigns.com. To submit a project, please email me at tara(at)spotofteadesigns(dot)com

Spotofteadesigns.com Giveaway: Set of Handmade cards

To celebrate I thought it was only appropriate to provide a gift for my lovely readers!

Since the basis of the blog was the papercrafted projects I made, I’ve put together an assortment of handmade cards (in this DIY fabric bag) for one lucky winner! You’ll find one of these, these and these in the collection along with a few other goodies not shared online!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter by November 6th via the Raffletopter widget above or mobile users, enter via this link. (Please note: US Residents only!)

Good luck!

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Krylon Mini Mystery Box: Winter Snowman & ebook launch

Disclosure: I was compensated with product by Krylon for this post, but the opinions expressed and project created are all mine. For more information on my disclosure policy, please visit this page.

Wood Crate Snowman: a @KrylonBrand Mini Mystery Box creation | spotofteadesigns.com

You may remember back in August when we FINALLY got the opportunity to try out a spray paint project when we made the monthly photo frames for Brielle’s Pinwheel birthday party.

Pinwheel first birthday party: Monthly Photos displayed on dessert table in frames with @Krylon spray paint #birthdayparty | spotofteadesigns.com

It was our first time using this material and we of course had a bit of a learning curve. I’m happy to report that I got another chance to play around with this fun material when I received a Krylon Mini Mystery Box!

Krylon Mystery Box Contents @KrylonBrand | spotofteadesigns.com

What’s that, you ask? It’s a box of random materials to which I could be creative and make a project! In my box I received: 2 Cans of Kyrlon Short Cuts (aka the cutest little cans of spray paint you ever did see!), 1 Walnut Hollow Mini Crate, 2 White Bandanas, 1 piece of burlap and an assortment of buttons.

@KrylonBrand Short Cuts - the cutest little bottles of spray spray! |spotofteadesigns.com

With a little girl at home who’s room includes an accent of pink, my first thought was to decorate something for her room. But upon further review with the lack of space I had to put anything in there, I decided to brainstorm some more. That’s when it hit me: I need more winter holiday décor! So while most blogs are showing off their awesome pumpkin décor, I’m breaking the mold and showing off my first winter holiday creations: a wood crate snowman!

Wood Crate Snowman: a @KrylonBrand Mini Mystery Box creation | spotofteadesigns.com

First step was to paint the main surfaces. Besides the mini crate, I also covered an old tin I got YEARS ago to make the snowman’s head.

Wood Crate Snowman: a @KrylonBrand Mini Mystery Box creation | spotofteadesigns.com

I covered both pieces with the blue Short Cuts paint and allowed to dry. I was so impressed with the coverage on just a few light coats. In fact I might just have to buy some of those ugly dollar store tins and spray them for a full on cute makeover!

Wood Crate Snowman: a @KrylonBrand Mini Mystery Box creation | spotofteadesigns.com

After the pieces were thoroughly dried, I glued in a piece of scrapbook paper inside the crate, just for a little texture and design.

Wood Crate Snowman: a @KrylonBrand Mini Mystery Box creation | spotofteadesigns.com

After painting the buttons black, I assembled all my parts, which also include a burlap scarf. Now please forgive the basic beauty shot of the project seen here but, as you may realize, my winter décor items are still packed away. Stay tuned as I’m sure you’ll see this guy decked out in a winter vignette in a future winter themed post I’m sure!

For more information on Krylon, including some how to video tutorials, check out their website or visit them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube.

#MakeitYours @KrylonBrand ebook about spray paint inspiration in holiday and home decor

Speaking of Krylon, remember back in August when I entered my monthly photo project in the Make It Yours® with Krylon® contest hosted on FaveCrafts.com? Well they turned some of the entries into an awesome eBook!  You can see spray painted projects for holiday and home décor using Krylon spray in the ebook here! Oh and they’re offering a fun giveaway for a huge assortment of Krylon spray paint in this #MakeitYours Giveaway! Good luck!

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DIY Toddler Strawberry Halloween Costume

#DIY Strawberry #Halloween Costume for a Toddler | spotofteadesigns.com

Last year I made Brielle a tutu for her Christmas card photoshoot. It was so cute!! Ok let’s look at that sweet little face again:

Baby Tutu Tutorial | spotofteadesigns.com

While it wasn’t too hard to time consuming to make, I was sad to see it was only worn for a few minutes of a photoshoot and that was it. I stored it in the closet waiting for another fun time to bring it back out. I decided this Halloween was that fun time!

First off, let’s recap how easy it was to make the tutu:

tutuconstructionsteps.jpg

Yep, you cut the tulle and loop it through the band. I used a stretchy adult’ headband as the main band. Pretty easy, right? The next part wasn’t hard either!

DIY Strawberry #Halloween Costume Supplies | spotofteadesigns.com

Supplies:

  • Red long sleeve t-shirt (bought at Walmart for only $3.88!)
  • Felt (black, green – Hobby Lobby sells it $0.25 a sheet)
  • Needle and Thread
  • Scrap paper

I made a rough template of a seed and a leaf and proceeded to cut out the shapes. This next part is key… make the most use of your time! As a busy mom, trying to juggle my part time work at home, keeping up with the blog, raising my daughter and trying to have time for my husband, I have little time for the actual crafting part of things that I enjoy!

DIY Strawberry Toddler #Halloween Costume: In Progress Shot (working in the car) | spotofteadesigns.com

For this project, I packed myself a little Ziplock bag of all the pieces I needed including the cutest little sewing scissors from Derek’s Great Grandma (Nana). I brought this bag along with me on several car rides where I was a passenger and got to work sewing on my pieces. I apologize for the non DSLR photo here but I wanted to make sure to grab a shot of my “work station” (aka my lap).

DIY Strawberry Toddler #Halloween Costume: In Progress Shot (Neckline incomplete) | spotofteadesigns.com

Here’s a close up shot on my pieces sewn on with my lovely, uneven hand sewn stitching. I’m not the most beautiful, even sewer there is. You better not turn this thing inside out or you’ll see the ugliest stitching ever! But whatever, it works!

#DIY Strawberry #Halloween Costume for a Toddler | spotofteadesigns.com

To finish the piece, I added some green felt around the top neckline. It didn’t look as silly to me when sewn on my lap but once I put it on her it became obvious that this last part was a little large for her small neck. Oh well! It doesn’t seem to bother her and she still looks awfully cute!

#DIY Strawberry #Halloween Costume for a Toddler | spotofteadesigns.com

 Can’t wait to take her around the neighborhood on Halloween! :)

Sharing With:

Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Just Us Four, Craft Dictator, Too Much Time On My Hand,

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First Year Parenting: Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Recap on First Year #Parenting: Lessons Learned the Hard way | spotofteadesigns.com

Now that Brielle is over a year old, I’m reflecting on my first year as a mom and sharing some lessons I learned the hard way. Hopefully you or someone you know can learn from my mistakes, be more prepared than I was or just get a chuckle at my missteps!

  • Pack extra clothes for mom. One of the first times I was out doing errands on my own with her, we had a bit of a diaper mishap and both my shirt and our Ergo Baby Carrier were victims. Luckily I wasn’t far from home and was able to get home without too much embarrassment. But had I been further from home, having an extra change of clothes in the car for me would’ve been much appreciated!

First Time Mom #Parenting advice: Don't let them play with the diaper stockpile | spotofteadesigns.com

  • Don’t let them play with the diaper stockpile.  Did I ever tell you about that one time that I washed a diaper because someone loved to “put it in the basket” – it being any object and the basket being the laundry basket? Yeah. She was no longer allowed to play with the diaper stockpile after that. Getting diaper gel out of a washing machine is NOT fun!
  • Pack your nightlight when you travel away from home. In Brielle’s first year, she only slept away from home one night! We went to Allie’s baby shower when she six months (to the day) and had our first experience realizing that some houses are darker than others. We used a nightlight more for me so I can see with those late night feedings/diaper changes her than for being scared of the dark. Having my own nightlight would’ve been easier.
  • Exchange clothing sizes sooner than later. We received SO MANY adorable clothes at Brielle’s baby shower. Too many of the same sizes sometimes. I wanted to exchange sizes, not return the item but sometimes I waited too long and it was out of season by the time I thought of it. No one wants to keep clothes in their closet with the tags still on them that babies outgrow!

First time mom #parenting advice: Colored Icing sometimes stains | spotofteadesigns.com

  • Colored icing sometimes stains their body. I bought a small Carvel ice cream cake for Derek, her and I to enjoy on her actual birthday, knowing that we’d do cupcakes a few days later at her family party. We let her go to town digging into the cake while we ate around the outside. She loved it and I got that sloppy mess photo that everyone craves. But afterwards she had to go straight to the bath due to the blue icing not coming off with a soap and paper towel wash. Luckily she came out non Smurf like and a happy girl!
  • Push up their sleeves and pin back their hair before eating. This piggy backs off the last point but we learned the hard way on how to get her ready for food. Kids are messy so do your best to get everything you can out of the way!

Spotofteadesigns.com reviews Bright Starts Hide n Spin Monkey | spotofteadesigns.com

  • Turn off toys with sounds before going to bed. Before putting her to bed I “set up her room” which included cleaning up all the toys from the floor and putting them in her Rock n Play. Derek did the same in the living room with a basket. We also made sure to hit “off” for any of those toys we know will randomly go on if they aren’t being played with for a while (example: the Vtech Learning Walker we love so much and the Fisher Price Puppy). Otherwise, right when baby is about to be out we’d hear “THE SUN IS SHINING” and who ever wants the sun to shine at 8pm?
  • Recognize when it’s time to plan for baby’s awake time more than their sleep time. When Brielle was really little and I was over the “sleep when the baby sleeps” early newborn phase, I’d use those precious nap sessions to run errands, knowing that she’d sleep the whole time we were out due to the lull of the car/stroller. At a certain point I realized she needed the stimulation of being “out” and we should enjoy those activities with an awake baby. Playdates were needed to occupy her awake states so I could get stuff done at home quietly during her nap times. It took some time before I realized this so recognize it when it’s happening moms!

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6 Tips for Working With Brands: Part II The Pitch

6 MORE tips when working with brands: The Opening Pitch. #blogtips | spotofteadesigns.com

As someone who has worked on several blogger outreach programs for consumer goods companies, I have had many experiences on the other side of blogging – from the company’s perspective. I’ve already shared 6 Tips When Working With Brands based on my experiences which focused on making it easy for them to communicate with you when they hunt you out. Today I want to share 6 more tips on ways you can be more successful when you write to them aka giving them “the pitch.”

1. Make your subject line unique and mention your blog by name.

Start with the general topic you are reaching out about and end with your blog’s name, right there in the subject. It will help categorize you in their inbox and even remind them about you when they see your name in print once you start a relationship. Example: “Holiday Gift Guide 2014 Request from SpotofTeaDesigns.com” or “Product review request from SpotofTeaDesigns.com.”

2. Mention the company or a favorite product in your pitch. 

Companies know that you as a blogger may be reaching out to multiple companies during any given time but they want to feel special too! Address them by name and not “To Whom It May Concern.” It also doesn’t hurt to fluff up their ego a little and talk about a specific product of theirs you love and why. This shows that you are a true fan and not just grabbing at straws to try to get free product. Just make sure you are mentioning the correct company/product in your pitch. You’d be surprised how many people are copying and pasting yet forget to change one part!  Not a great first impression!

3. Follow the company before you make your pitch. 

If you want to work with a company and you want them to follow you, before you reach out and provide your media kit, make sure to follow them on all the channels you want to be followed on. This shows your initiative to work with them socially. Don’t put the work in their hands.

4. Don’t put the work in their hands.

I’ll reiterate it from my last point. You’d be surprised how many people would reach out on Facebook or through email and leave their message with “please email me for details on my rates and availability.” Just NO. Give them the basic information they’d be looking for in a media kit or a brief email and throw in your pitch at the end. It’s ok to say you’re looking forward to connecting but don’t direct them to email you if you want to work with them. It makes it seem like you’re giving them a chore.

5. Don’t be too wordy.

Give a brief introduction on yourself and your readers, stats and propose a way to work together in a somewhat short pitch. Don’t reiterate everything that’s already on your “about page” about the history on why you came to be the awesome blogger that you are. Don’t get too wordy or include too many paragraphs or else your company contact will skim and possibly even skip you. Sorry, but they just don’t have time!

6. Include hyperlinks in your email.

If you want them to check you out, link them to what they should see! Include your blog as a hyperlink in the opening paragraph when you mention it by name or list it and your social media channels in your signature.  Companies will most likely not Google you based on a proposal email alone. Include the links and make it easy for them. (and so they can see that you already follow them – reiteration of point 3!)

I hope that these 6 points will help you make successful connections with the brands you love most! Good luck!

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Quick and Easy Halloween Treats: Monster Pretzel Rods

DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links. Know that I only promote and recommend items I personally use and stand behind. To learn more about my affiliates, please review my disclosure policy here

Quick and Eay #Halloween treat: Monster Pretzel Rods | spotofteadesigns.com

Halloween is quickly approaching! At yet another playdate with my nephews, I took the opportunity to come up with a fun snack for the kids to fit the season. I was eyeing (pun intended) these Wilton Candy Eyeballs and made some monster pretzel rods!

Tip: Store sprinkle containers upside down so you can see what's inside in your supply bin | spotofteadesigns.com

This is pretty simple to do. Just raid your cabinets for melting chocolates and sprinkles and get creative! As you can see, I have quite an assortment of sprinkles, jimmies or whatever you call these candied treats in my collection. Tip: Store containers upside down so you can see what’s inside when raiding through your drawer!

Quick and Eay #Halloween treat: Monster Pretzel Rods | spotofteadesigns.com

I had left over blue and yellow melting chocolate from Brielle’s birthday party. Good old color theory taught me that blue and yellow made green, which was perfect for these monsters!

Quick and Eay #Halloween treat: Monster Pretzel Rods | spotofteadesigns.com

Tip: pour a small splash of vegetable oil and put in the microwave on the defrost setting in 20 second increments until it was well mixed and ready for dipping.
After dipping the end of each pretzel rod in the green chocolate, I got to work mixing and matching my sprinkle collection to make some funny monster characters. Overall, I think they came out really cute and the kids thought they were yummy!

Sharing With:

Just A Girl and Her Blog, Snap, Sowdering About, Creations by Kara, DIY Dreamer, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Craft Dictator, Posed Perfection, Too Much Time On My Hands, Flamingo Toes, The GIrl Creative, Second Chance to Dream, Pink When, Classy Clutter,

Featured On:

Sowdering About, Posed Perfection, Made in A Day, Flamingo Toes,

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Fall Kids Craft: Leaf Sun Catchers

Fall Leaf SunCatcher Kids #Craft | spotofteadesigns.com

I recently shared a family play date we had when my nephews Blake and Logan. Besides enjoying some good old fashion fun with all our toys (aren’t the best toys the ones you don’t own and get to play with at someone else’s house?) and some yummy snacks provided by Happy Family, but I also made sure we’d have some crafty time when we made leaf sun catchers.

Supplies:

  • Contact Paper (bought a big roll of it at Walmart in the home section)
  • Ripped up pieces of Tissue Paper (AC Moore 50% coupon my friends!)
  • Scissors
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Construction Paper

Fall Leaf SunCatcher Kids #Craft | spotofteadesigns.com

To prepare, I cut two of the same size pieces of contact paper per child. Peel away the adhesive cover to one piece and use painter’s tape to stick it to the wall, sticky side out. Save the matching piece for later. Next, cut out leaf outlines from construction paper and add to the sticky panels.

Fall Leaf SunCatcher Kids #Craft | spotofteadesigns.com

The kids took the tissue paper pieces and stuck them to the paper any which way they pleased.  They started to make a game out of it, applying them as fast as they could to all the sticky parts.

Fall Leaf SunCatcher Kids #Craft | spotofteadesigns.com

Once they were thoroughly covered, we stuck the other piece of contact paper to the sheet to sandwich our tissue paper creations inside. With one rough cut and a little exposed area of contact paper later, we stuck them up on the sliding glass doors to let the sun shine through.

Koala Crate >>
 

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A Classy Take on the Man Cave Basement Bar

Classy take on the man cave basement bar with before and after photos #mancave | spotofteadesigns.com

The top photo was my brother-in-law’s unfinished basement when they moved in. Cement blocks, open wood frames in the ceiling, visible insulation and pipes — you know, the typical unfinished basement.  After a year of hard work, Frank’s basement was finally a functional place for his family!

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

Besides a large family room space (hopefully a future blog post) and the space that will eventually be his home office, there was also room for a new bar. This wasn’t going to be just any old man cave with tacky signs, alcohol paraphernalia and beer cans. Nope, Frank proved that there is a classy way to have a beer in your man cave. He “wanted it to have a true pub feel and make you feel like you were in the corner of a small pub” and I think he hit the nail on the head.

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

This high class bar sits 6 friends on these black metal stools. The best part is that they spin to be raised or lowered, as Frank tends to have a mix of shorter dudes and above average height regulars so they all have a comfortable spot to sit.

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

The large counter space allows for plenty of room to make some mixed drinks or have a spot for snacks for the big game. Instead of an ultra smooth finish, Frank requested a distressed look on the custom countertop.

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

Don’t forget about the drinks! Besides the two taps of cold beer from his under the counter kegerator, there is also a wine rack in the back and a Grey Goose station for those wild nights!

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

A few weeks before he hosted the “opening” he asked if I would design a logo for his bar. It was probably one of the easiest logos I’ve ever done since he already had a name picked out and a font style he preferred. I put them together in a traditional pub style shape to come up with the design seen here.

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal: custom mason jars with bar's name #mancave | spotofteadesigns.com

Why “The Too Far Bar” you ask? Umm did you see this bar? Frank’s nickname is “Too Far Frank” since he always has big ideas and the guts to pull it off!

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal: custom frosted mirror and mason jars #mancave | spotofteadesigns.com

Not only did he get the logo printed on mason jar style mugs but he also had it etched on a mirror to hang behind the bar!

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal: custom frosted mirror and mason jars with bar's name #mancave| spotofteadesigns.com

Pull up a seat and have a cold brew!

Beautiful Basement Bar Reveal | spotofteadesigns.com

Resources:

  • Cabinetry: Medallion (brand) in Carriage Black with a rustic finish, purchased at Dyers Cabinet Shop
  • Countertop: Custom 2 inch Walnut stained with Minwax Dark Walnut Color and finished with Waterlox Sealer.
  • Sink: Antiqued Copper, purchased at Lowes
  • Brick Wall: Old Mill Thin Bricks in Boston Mill, purchased on Lowes.com
  • Stools: Christopher Knight Furniture, purchased on Overstock.com
  • Chalkboard: purchased at Home Goods
  • Kegerator: Single under counter kegerator from Summit Appliances. Dual Tap Tower (Stainless) from BeverageFactory.com
  • Beverage refrigerator: Purchased at Summit Appliances
  • Custom printed mason jar mugs: Purchased from discountmugs.com
  • Custom Etched Bar Mirror: Purchased from Etched-Glass.com

Sharing With:

Thrifty Décor Chick, Cherished Bliss, Ella Inspired, Creations By Kara,

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