Two Story Cottage

New Adventures

Dear Friends,

Do you know what I can’t stand?  Cliff hangers.  I don’t enjoy my favorite shows ending for the season with a giant “what the heck?” I feel like my life this fall has been all about jumping off the ledge without knowing what will happen.  For a planner like myself, taking risks doesn’t come easily but it does bring a sense of adventure.

When I started this blog, I specifically pictured myself fully engaged when both kids were in school.  The funny thing is I think I had more time with the kids at home.  School life is a lot of shuffling and running around like a dog chasing its tail.  Regardless, blogging has brought me a new opportunity.

A job that I could not have dreamed up if I’d tried.   Since school started, I’ve eased into my new part-time position as a designer with a small firm here in Charlotte that works on model homes.  There are so many aspects and there is so much to learn.  There are over 100 vendors that we have a relationship with and I’m in the process of getting a feel for each of those.  I’m learning new computer and software things.  I’m trying to keep up and my brain is working overtime all of the time.  For the most part, I work when the kids are in school but I can see that I’ll be walking the fine line of trying to balance my obligations.

high_point_market
L to R: Caracole, Rowe Furniture, Wendover Art

I did get to go to the High Point Market for two full days.  It was eye opening.  And tiring.  No, I didn’t meet Chip or Joanna Gaines but I saw their showroom which really showcased the Magnolia Homes style.  Elsewhere, I saw plenty of fabulous furniture and things I’d classify as hideous but are sure to please someone.  I’m being challenged but am learning every day.  I’m knee deep in all things design which feels like a dream.

highpoint_market_fall_15
Top Three: Miles Talbott Bottom Three: Magnussen Home, Ink + Ivy, Caracole 

It feels like a comic strip where I’m moving in slow motion but the days are in full time fast forward.  I don’t plan to abandon this journey because blogging has done so much for me.  I can’t promise regular posts but I intend to keep you updated.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride.

-Erin

 

 

Welcome, Home.

Dear Friends,
Welcome, Home!  This is my new site and the permanent home for Two Story Cottage.  The change has been in progress for many months so to say that it is exciting to reveal is an understatement.  I know it is a little bit different than what you are used to but I hope you will grow to like the new platform.

heade

I’m ready for an easier time commenting back & forth with readers. I’m also going to be accepting advertisers on the sidebar.  I’d love to help etsy shop owners and crafters promote their businesses.

WordPress is new to me so if you have any experience and/or advice, please let me know.  I know that it opens a lot of new possibilities but I’ll have to work through the learning curve first.

So, welcome to my new home & have a glass of sweet tea on me.  Or a printable anyway.

 

sweet_tea_print_art_sign

Download the high-resolution, watermark-free pdf by clicking the picture.

The printable is sized to 5 by 7.

Thanks for all of your continued support!

Erin

 

Growth & Change {Blogging}

Dear Friends,
    I like to pretend that this blog is not important to me.  It keeps me from stressing over something that is mostly a joy.  I had heart palpatations when I joined an ad network last year.  It required accountability and a transition in thinking.  Hobby or job?  I do better thinking of this as my little side vocation.

Growth has brought the need for something more.  I have a new blog design that will premiering this week.  A whole new website.  The real deal.  I invested in this little venture.  I invested in myself.

As if the website wasn’t enough, I finally bit the bullet and got my big girl camera.  I don’t really know how to use it yet but it feels right.  Some people might spend eight years of credit card points on a vacation. Or airline miles.  I invested mine.

One of the best parts of my new blogging platform will be my ability to engage better with my readers.  If you comment and I reply, you should get it by email (fingers crossed) as opposed to now where my replies disappear into the great blue yonder.

If this blog brings me nothing more than what it has so far, I am satisfied.  Thank you for being my virtual sidekick as I figure out this design journey.  I will make mistakes.   I may only have one good project a month.   But if you stick with me, we can grow together.

Work in progress and all.  Didn’t think I would change that, did you?

Haven Conference Recap

Dear Friends,
      As far as blog conferences go, the third time is the charm for me.  Haven in Atlanta was everything and more than I could ever ask for.  The Haven Mavens really out-did themselves with the preparations, especially considering it was the first year!  I had to pinch myself a few times.  Am I really sitting here in design class with Darlene from Fieldstone Hill?  Am I really getting blog advice from John and Sherry?  Am I really watching Miss Mustard Seed  work her painting magic? 

I don’t want to start listing blogs and people for fear of leaving someone out. I met SO many people. And still felt like I needed another day or two to catch up with some that I never connected with.


The best part of this conference was the warmth & welcoming attitude of the attendees.  If I went into a classroom without a “buddy”, I immediately had new “buddies” at the table where I sat.

I was lucky to room with my original blog buddies. 
Brittany {Pretty Handy Girl} and Sandra {Sawdust and Paperscraps
Brittany was also my chauffeur again.  I love our travel chats.

Ashley from The Handmade Home is my blogging crush.  We are friends from Blissdom but it was nice to spend more time together.  I might have stalked her a teeny tiny bit.  
That is Jamin, her hubby, who is skulking in the background.
I was happy sitting and soaking in the vibe at this table.  
I was lucky enough to have a lovely lunch with these ladies. 
Two of my favorite people are Julie & Hannah from HGTV.  Julie and I communicate on instagram.  This is our third conference together and I still have not managed to get a picture with her. Our kids are similar ages which is fun.  Hannah was the new kid on the block and so genuine.  
And NO, they cannot get you a show.  
Some of these ladies I didn’t meet until the last day.  There is always next time!
Logan {Life for Dessert}, Joni {Lay Baby Lay},  Michelle {Ten June}
Logan and I went to college together – how crazy is that?

Brittany & Sandra threw a post-conference birthday party on Friday after things wrapped up.  
I love and miss Publix cake.  No Publix here in NC.
Our birthdays are all within 10 days of each other.  Pretty cool!

Mr. C had some business to take care of in Atlanta so we were able to travel together back home.  We spent my birthday night at the Chateau Elan in Georgia.  It was so beautiful.  I’d love to go back for a full tour.

I know that was a lot of naming of people after I said I wasn’t going to name- drop.  Ha!  Well, I felt too guilty to put up pictures without linking to blogs.   There are tons of people that I didn’t get pictures with as well.  Like my friend, Colleen, from The Restarter Home who I managed to end up with at nearly every event despite the fact that we had never met.   Photography FAIL.


What did I learn from the Haven Conference?  Tons of painting techniques, the nitty gritty on advertising, the importance of keywording pictures for SEO (oops), how to pull fabrics together, and where to thrift.   That is just the beginning.  I also learned that there are tons of people just like me.  That is so very reassuring.

There is no doubt I’ll experience a little post-Haven void.   Special thanks to Rhoda & crew for such a fantastic experience.  Until next year…

P.S. Thanks to Ashley for sending a couple of pics my way.  🙂

Busy Times Call for Instagram

Dear Friends,
       Busy comes in waves at our house.  And we have gone from tidal pool to tsunami in the last week.  
My mom had her birthday; she is 59 years young.  A new baby nephew arrived a little ahead of schedule which called for a trip to Greenville, SC.  My friend Melissa (of the unexpected gift) had her daughter’s  3rd birthday at the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC.  We weren’t about to miss strawberry picking with Lacey’s friends from school.  Oh, and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees just to make things interesting.

Instagram is the first bit of social media that I truly enjoy.  I have expressed my hate-hate relationship with Facebook.  I do love blogging but I don’t have a lot to say on Twitter or the accompanying social media outlets.  Instagram allows me to capture little moments without having to say much of anything.  I no longer have to be “that Mom who forgot her camera.” Now, I don’t know if it is worth a billion dollars but the pictures are priceless.

Are you on instagram? Do you have a favorite filter?  Special tricks?

P.S.  I’m twostorycottage if you are an instagrammer.

Road Trippin’ to Blissdom

Dear Friends,
         I’m Blissdom– bound later this week and I thought I’d share a thought or two on going to a blog conference.  I know some of you may be interested in attending one, some of you may have already, and some of you could care less about the subject.   Those that could care less have my permission to bail out of this post!

photo from last year

The first and most important thing is that you don’t have to have a big, established blog to go.  Last year, my blog was less than a year old and I had less than 100 followers.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t belong with all of the mega -bloggers but I quickly realized that I fit in just fine.  In fact, I couldn’t stop feeling that I had found my niche.  The energy buzzing from all of the creative minds there was like an electromagnetic field and it was so much fun to soak it up.

Going to a blog conference, was WAY out of my comfort zone so I made sure to establish relationships with a few fellow home bloggers before going.  That ensured that I had people who would know who I was and could guide me in the right direction.

You don’t have to do it all.  Blissdom is a really big event with a lot of amazing activities.  It is a jam-packed few days.  I had specific goals in mind last year and only went to sessions that applied to me.  I wasn’t ready for monetizing or tax information when I was nowhere near advertising.  I took that time to relax in the room with a book because this was a vacation for me for the first time ever and I wanted to enjoy a little quiet time which is a rare occurrence at home.  I also used some of that time to work on my blog and set goals, outline what I wanted to do, and form a better plan.  I was making the most of the conference in my own way.

Meeting people in real life really makes a lasting impression.  I had probably commented on the sites of “famous” bloggers hundreds of times but once you meet in person they have a face to go with a name and you become a part of a network that is so integral in blogland.   Sometimes, I felt like the conference was a three -day cocktail party because of all the talking and hobnobbing.  Whenever I started to feel overwhelmed I took a little break or a step back.

Be yourself.  Not everyone wears homemade, vintage ensembles to a blog conference.  Stick with your style and don’t try to emulate everyone else.  Last year, I was really nervous about clothes because after two babies I hadn’t done a lot of wardrobe updating.  I put a lot of effort into my outfits beforehand.  This year I’m going to stick with what is in my closet.  I love to accessorize but I don’t plan on doing any desperate shopping.

The surprise element for me after the conference was the relationships that I cultivated in only two days time!  I talk with blogging friends regularly now and we all have a special little bond.  In fact, Brittany (Pretty Handy Girl) and I are stopping at Sandra’s (Sawdust & Paperscraps) on the way to Nashville.  I would have never dreamed I’d be doing that last year!

I honestly didn’t think I’d be going to Blissdom this year but the stars aligned and it ended up working out.  I bought one of the very last tickets and the way that things have fallen into places makes me feel like I was meant to go.  I do get really nervous about leaving the little ones. Last year I struggled with being away from them which is part of the reason I was reluctant to go this time around. I know in my heart that it will be good for all of us.  They can’t wait to spend special time with both sets of grandparents & Mr. C too.

Wish me luck!  I’m getting a little overwhelmed with all of the stuff I have to do before leaving. The big, stinky stomach bug wreaking havoc on our family certainly put a wrench in all my plans last week. I’m really thankful that it wasn’t this week though!

Are any of you guys going?  I sure hope so!

Oh, and if you want to read about last year’s conference, I wrote about it here and here.

Interested in Pinterest?

Dear Friends,

 Well, I guess by now you have probably heard that Blogger was not working at the end of the week. So, no Friday post for me.  My Wednesday post was scheduled and never published.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  Honestly, this was my first real experience with technical difficulty on Blogger and I’ve been blogging for a year now so I guess that is pretty lucky actually.  
How many of you have joined Pinterest?  I finally caved to the peer pressure and requested my invitation.  For those of you that don’t know, Pinterest is a place where you can clip & store beautiful images from all over the web.  Sort of an online version of an inspiration file.  Other members can “follow” your pinterest boards which is a neat way of sharing more house awesomeness online.  
See what I mean?
Image from Pinterest via designspongeonline.com
I was seriously worried that Pinterest would be a time-suck and it is.  But like blogging & everything else you have to put limits on yourself.  🙂  I think it is fun & it could eventually be a time saver to have images you find drool-worthy all in one place. 
If you are interested in joining Pinterest, Beth from The Stories of A to Z has a great tutorial here.   

Happy Pinning!

Freshman Year Recap

Dear Friends,
   Today is an exciting day!  William & Kate’s wedding?  Sure that is pretty exciting.  But it is also my first blogiversary! My very first post was one year ago today.  So much has happened in a year.  In honor of my blogiversary I have my very first giveaway on Monday.  Woo to the hoo!  Today though I’m talking about blogging now that I am 186 posts in.

Go ahead.  Have a cupcake on me.

Blogging Hobby-Style 
     I have learned so much about blogging, blogworld, and myself during the last year.  Going into blogging I had a 4 year plan.  This year was freshman year.  Just like any freshman I experienced a wealth of emotions ranging from uncertainty and wide-eyed excitement to inadequacy, angst,  joy and contentment.   I have my feet under me now and I know where I’m going. Well, which direction I’m headed anyway.  I have slowed down and I’m not looking to hang with the seniors just yet.  There is a reason that the senior lounge is for those with some experience.


     My goal for my first year of blogging?  100 followers.  I am really humbled by the 250 I have.  Like any blogger I do the happy dance every time someone joins but I also am no longer too worried about numbers.  I did not plan on doing any ads or making my blog a business when I started out.  I really just wanted to join in the fun.  I did start adsense through Google and I may contemplate the ad thing further during my sophomore year.  


I want people to know that it is possible to blog as a hobby. You can choose to do that and not have it take all your time & energy.  I am only posting three times a week (average) right now.  I just can’t churn out projects as fast as many home bloggers out there.   When I first started blogging Reid was almost two months old.   I was housebound and looking for naptime projects.  Now he is a super busy one year old who has to be watched every second.  There are different seasons of life and right now mine is in a crazy phase.  I also know though that in no time flat I’ll have two kids in preschool (sniff) and more time for projects, etc.

What a difference a year makes!

 

Know yourself.  I am person who really likes a balanced scale.  I have a passion for decorating but I also love to read and work-out.  I realized over the winter that I missed reading and working out so I made the decision to put the blog back in the hobby category.  After Blissdom, I really wanted to apply all the things that I learned but I just wasn’t in a place where I could take the time to do a lot of those things.  I am the tortoise and slow & steady seems to be working okay for me.  


I’d love to create more blogging relationships and really hone the ones I do have.  I hope to continue to do so but this is another area that will take time.   Multitasking is not my forte so things like Twitter and Facebook have to be pretty limited for me to stay sane.   I was SO impressed by some of the ladies at Blissdom who are able to get the most out of every second of the day.  I feel stressed by chaos and immobilized by too many tasks so I am definitely not in that category!  However, I am work in progress  and I will hopefully get better in this area.

Goals for the next year
*Learn more about photography.  I do edit most of my photos now with Picasa but I have a lot of learning to do about Photoshop, etc.  I still have a point & shoot but I’m hoping to change that one of these days.
*More giveaways (maybe once a month?)
*Improve my blog design.
*Comment more on other blogs.  
*Let my guard down a little more so you can get to know me a little better.  This is a hard one!  I’m a private person so I get nervous about putting myself out there.

I’d love to do a little more DIY and I have some furniture makeovers in mind.  I have my playroom to share with you as well… I hope we can be friends sophomore year!  I’m not a real decorator.  I’m just a mom who is a designer wannabe.  I hope you’ll stick with me as I continue on this journey…

P.S.  If you’d sign my yearbook below I’d be so honored.  🙂  (You know- the comments section).  
 

I’m joining Amanda!
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Blissdom Recap


Have you even come home from summer camp and felt a big giant let-down? Wait- I hated summer camp.  I was completely homesick the whole 48 hours I was there.  Anyway, that is how I feel now that I am back at the Two Story Cottage.  The song verse “back to life ..back to reality” is on repeat in my head and boy does that ring true on this chilly Monday.   I am joyful because I am back with my family but a little sad because I miss the fun that is Blissdom.

My trip to Tennessee was a complete whirlwind.  I met so many genuinely fantastic people.  There were famous bloggers and newbies like myself.  I was really apprehensive about going alone but I am so glad I took the risk.  Everyone was so warm and accepting!  
By a twist of fate Rhoda from Southern Hospitality (wow) ended up staying with me for a couple nights.  She was kind enough to include me in all of the goings on with the home bloggers before the conference got started.  I tried to act cool as I met my idols (Layla & Kate) who are just as down to earth and friendly as you expect them to be.

Meeting Ashley was like getting together with an old friend even though I had never read her blog. I must say I am hooked!  Shaunna has an ebook coming out soon – I can’t wait to read it.
I also met TONS of other home bloggers.  The Nester and Melissa were in charge of the home tribe- what great mentors! There was an inclusive, fun spirit.   I only took a handful of pictures.  I felt a little funny busting out my Canon Powershot when everyone else had their big, fancy cameras.  Note to self – study photography!


Megan has a list of all these ladies on her site.  She is as cute in real life as she is on her blog.

I was lucky to have a room near Sandra & Brittany, my new bloggy buddies.  Those ladies know how to make a girl feel welcome. I know who to turn to if I ever need help with a DIY project! I am hoping to Skype with them soon. Kristi drove 23 hours from Maine – I was so glad to meet her.

The conference gave me an opportunity to evaluate my blog and decided where I want it to go from here.  You may see small changes here and there. I’m still in the stages of figuring out my style and what works for me.  Heck, I’m like that when it come to my home too. I’m guessing many of you are the same way so I’m hoping that you’ll continue with me on this journey and we will see where it takes us!   (Work in progress, remember?)
 🙂

Blissdom Update



Day One 

Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee.  I am sitting by a roaring fireplace with a group of fabulous home bloggers.  I can see snow on the trees through the big glass window and there is an American flag waving in the background.  This is my bliss.

My little ol’ blog & I don’t really belong in this group of well-established blog aficionodos.  However, I am feeling at home in my niche.   This is a huge leap for me as I am not particularly outgoing or one to break out of my comfort zone at all.  What a relief to know that all these home bloggers are just as they appear online:  welcoming, friendly, open, and embracing.  I probably have the smallest blog here. I am not “established” and I don’t own an etsy shop.  It doesn’t seem to matter.

My daughter sent her “buddy” and giraffe with me so I wouldn’t be scared. 
Mr. C gave me my Blissdom ticket for Christmas.  I was thrilled and petrified at the same time.  If you are reading this and are here at Blissdom I can’t wait to meet you.  If you are at home on the couch with your computer wishing you were here please think about coming next year.  I read all about Blissdom last year and wished I could come. I didn’t even have a blog.  A lot can happen in a year.

More details to come…

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