1.29.2014

On Blogging :: Blog Tools

I know that I've written posts like this in the past, but I have productivity ADD. I'm always, always looking for a way to streamline my processes and just make my life easier and more efficient. I've probably gone through at least a dozen different programs, project management and task lists and calendars, in the past two years, trying to figure out ways to be as organized as possible, in business and in life. 

I'm finally feeling good about where I am, which is making things a hell of a lot easier in general. It's so much easier to implement processes that are already established, than to build them from the ground up. I guess it's the curse of my background vs. my current position. I used to work in project management and documentation, and I've found that I actually brought a lot of what I learned in that position here. Wedding planning is a type of project management, I suppose, and planning and documenting things for my blog always makes me happy. 

So, here you go. A few of my favorite (current) blog tools and apps that I love to use. 
1 // SMARTSHEET. Sure, at a glance it's just another spreadsheet system, but Smartsheet is the best of the best. Seriously. The functionality available in this program is actually what I need for both my business and my blog. The best part? The forms, which allow clients/customers to enter their information into a web form and it transfers directly to the spreadsheet. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know that Google Docs has this, but Smartsheet is about five steps above Google Docs. I can set reminders on rows, telling me when I should schedule client meetings according to my general wedding spreadsheet, and attach documents (from Google Drive) to specific items. Linking cells between sheets and their easy templates make Smartsheet one of my favorite discoveries of the past year.

2 // CREATIVE MARKET. I have a graphic problem, meaning I like to buy graphics and fonts and patterns, much more than I need. If you've ever wondered where I get these things from, it's all Creative Market. I sell my fonts on the site, and pretty much just use whatever I make from that platform to buy myself pretty things on the site. Warning: it's addicting.

3 // REDBOOTH. I've tried a lot of project and task management applications. Basecamp? Of course. Trello? Duh. Asana? Obviously. Redbooth (previously Teambox) is the only one that I've found that comprehensive enough in both functionality and ease of use. I mainly use Redbooth for wedding planning, since I can assign tasks to my team easily and efficiently, but I also like to use it as a task manager for my blog. They have a free base package that would be perfect for bloggers, so you should probably check it out.

4 // EVERNOTE. I know I'm not the first to claim Evernote as a lifesaver, and I definitely won't be the last. I use Evernote as a place to brain dump; if I have something formal to write, I put it in Word or Google Docs, but Evernote is a way for me to just spill my thoughts without having to worry about formatting or whatnot. I also use it as a note taking app; I pull it up when I have a phone call or meeting, and just tag my notes with clients or topics. It's easy to figure out, and free too!

5 // ELANCE. In my last post on blogging, I wrote how learning Photoshop has been a blogging game changer for me. It's the truth! Learning Photoshop has hands-down been one of the best things that I've done for my blog and my business, but it can also be a curse. When you know how to do design or coding or whatever, it's hard to bring yourself to pay someone else to do it for you. I've realized recently, however, that my time is really valuable. And that's where Elance came in. Sure, I can design my own pretty documents or create vectors out of my calligraphy, but that stuff is really time consuming. It was so easy for me to find someone on Elance that can just churn these projects out like nobody's business. I'm so thankful I took the plunge and started hiring out for small projects like that.

These are just a few of the tools that I use in my blog and in my business. Other programs and apps that I use include Google (gmail, calendar, drive, etc.), Freshbooks, PayPal, Hootsuite, Workflowy, and Pocket. What are your favorite blogging and business tools that you would recommend?

1.28.2014

Product Styling + Photography Services

If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE new projects. Put Emily and I together in a room and we come up with a thousand ideas that we just have to do right now. A few weeks ago we reached out to a few of our favorite stationery designers, asking them to send us a few items that we can style and photograph. It's so much fun for us, and they get some pretty pictures out of it for their portfolios too!
Anyway, I'm here to announce that Emily from Anna Delores Photography and I are now offering product styling and photography services! We love styling and photographing stationery, but we are available for anyone with a small business or handmade product that needs new, pretty pictures of their items. Some ideas include jewelry, wedding or home decor, accessories, or even food! 
If you're interested in working with Emily and I, you can check out more information in Emily's Etsy shop, or contact us. We're excited to hear from you!
Photography :: Anna Delores Photography // Stationery :: Lemon and Lavender // Styling :: A Charming Occasion

Signature Style :: Bold Lips + Sparkles

I went shopping a few weeks ago (for the first time in a few months, actually) and decided to stop by Nordstrom Rack (always my favorite). I ended up finding the perfect sweater...in one size too big. You know you're supposed to buy something when you're told that somewhere in the store is the same sweater in the right size, and you end up spending an hour hunting for it. I was about to give up, but success. 
Photography :: Anna Delores Photography

1.27.2014

Monday's Mantra

Oh goodness, a week off! Pretty much exactly what I needed these past few days. I've been pretty sick for the past week, which sucks. Thankfully I've had the Vampire Diaries to keep me company, and I only have a few episodes left before I'm caught up. I haven't been this addicted to a show in quite a while - it's kind of a problem. 

Anyway, I'm hoping to get back to life this week, though I know I say that every week. I think I've realized something though...it's all about the baby steps. I have always been one of those all or nothing type people, but that just can't work for me any more. I need to be thankful for the steps that I do take, even if they are small sometimes. I can be sick, that's just part of life, but I can't feel guilty or bad because I can't get things done. And if I want to change something, it doesn't need to be changed at once. Life is a series of baby steps, and we should be proud and thankful for each one we take.

1.22.2014

My Favorite Things Giveaway

Happy Wednesday friends! I've been a little MIA these past few days, probably because I'm a little too hooked on Vampire Diaries and I haven't been feeling all too hot. Every once in a while I just have to take a little hiatus, you know? 

Every once in a while I like doing a little something for all of you, too! So, here you go. It's not a gift card or anything specific. Sometimes it's just fun putting together a little care package for someone, and that's exactly what I want to do now. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1.19.2014

Monday's Mantra

So, you guys. I pretty much spent the entire weekend watching the Vampire Diaries. How I got into a show like that, I will never know. But, I'm hooked. Please tell me I'm not the only one?

It's a three day weekend for most people, but that means that I get to spend my Monday holiday at meetings! Everybody has the day off, and everybody wants to meet me on that day. I don't mind, of course. It means lots and lots of work for me, which I love!

Oh, and do you think I could bother you with a little favor? You see, my husband's grandmother is sick, and she isn't doing too great. We would both appreciate it so much if you could send a few thoughts and prayers our way? Thanks friends. 

As always, here's a pretty little bit of inspiration for you to start your week with. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

1.15.2014

A Dream House with a Blue Room

I've always been a fan of homes that look to be well lived-in rather than sterile, you know? I think that's the problem I have with a lot of bloggers' homes these days; they just don't look comfortable! My home may not be picture perfect, but it's cozy and intimate. I'd rather have that over white couches and glass coffee tables any day!

Anyway, as soon as I saw this house on Architectural Digest, I knew it was my perfect home. The colors are bright but subtle, and there's a lot of texture to keep the rooms warm and comfortable. Don't even get me started on the gorgeous kitchen and bathroom! Absolute perfection.
You can view the original post on Architectural Digest.

1.14.2014

2014 Calendar Freebie

We were on some pretty strict budgets this past Christmas, which meant that we needed to be creative when it came to gift giving. Now, I'm not always the craftiest person in the world (DIY usually means disaster for me), but I knew that if I couldn't spend a lot of money on my family, then I at least wanted to make their gifts meaningful. 

I decided to make some prints for a some, with favorite lyrics or quotes, and I put together a pretty little calendar for my auntie and grandmother. I wanted to share it with you all today, just in case you're interested in a new pretty ditty for your home! It's printable, so just download (as a PDF), and enjoy!

1.13.2014

Color Me Lovely V.4

There are a lot of trends that I'm excited to use in 2014 in my wedding design. Vintage velvet. Lots white. Pattern. Greenery and garland. And lots, and lots, of color.

Though I can't really get behind radiant orchid yet, I am SO excited to start using color again! The past few years have seen a surge in romance; think soft blushes and ivories and gold. While I still love all of these, one of my favorite color palettes these days is stark white contrasted with pops of fuchsia, cherry red, and tangerine. Put a little gold sparkle in there, and I'm sold. 

1.12.2014

Monday's Mantra

And it's Monday, once again!

Robert and I got back from a trip down to San Diego, and then Tucson on Saturday. It was one long drive, but it was nice to get to spend some uninterrupted time with my husband. I wasn't so sure how I was going to feel about Arizona, but it's nice! A little brown (okay, a lot brown), but I think I could do it for a year...

I'm looking forward to getting back to work after a week on the road. It's most definitely booking season, and I already have the prep meeting on Friday for my first wedding of the year in February. How crazy is that?! I'm so thankful to be getting so many inquiries lately, so here's to hoping they'll turn into bookings!

Anyway, here is your mantra for the week. There are backgrounds for you below as well, so hope you all enjoy!

1.09.2014

Looking Back

On January 2, 2013, I shared my goals for the year. To say that 2013 was eventful is an understatement. It's kind of surreal for me to look back and evaluate how the year was objectively because it really was a roller coaster, like no year I've experienced before. 

Regardless, I always think it's important to look back on your goals; not to judge yourself, but to take pride in all that you've done, even if it isn't exactly what you had hoped for. 
A look back at my goals for 2013...

1 // FINISH MY BOOK. Well, I didn't finish it in 2013, but the first draft of my book is FINISHED. How crazy is that?

2 // MEET TAYLOR SWIFT. Unfortunately this didn't happen, but there's always 2014!

3 // EAT AT HOME 5 DAYS PER WEEK. Pretty much done and done.

4 // READ 52 BOOKS. Yup! I actually finished this one a few weeks early, and now I'm already working on my 75 books for this year!

5 // EXERCISE AT LEAST TWICE PER WEEK. Yeah...no.

6 // GO ON VACATION. San Diego and Las Vegas count, right?

7 // WORK 15 WEDDINGS. 2013 final count: 17 weddings.

8 // HIRE AN INTERN. And how I love her dearly now.

9 // WORK WITH A BLOGGER I ADMIRE. I didn't do much collaboration in 2013, but I'm really hoping to change that this year. 

10 // WORK WITH A BRAND I LOVE. See above. 

11 // COMPLETE TWO MAJOR PROJECTS. I think the problem with this one was that I just never specified what a "major project" was. We'll work on this one. 

12 // WRITE A WEDDING EBOOK. Nope, and I don't feel bad about it. 

13 // CREATE AN INSPIRING, ENGAGING COMMUNITY ON SOMETHING CHARMING. I like to think I have!

Of course, I just have to say THANK YOU to all of you for supporting my crazy dreams and aspirations. I would have been able to finish any of these, if it weren't for you and your constant love. I am so thankful to have found this community of creative individuals to hold me up when I need it. I don't deserve any of you, but know that I appreciate you nonetheless. 

And I'll be back next week with my goals for 2014! I know, you're probably tired of reading posts like this, but I am a big fan of sharing goals and projects for accountability's sake. Love you all!

1.08.2014

What I'm Reading :: Fangirl

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I already have very good things to say about this book.
Now, it's no secret that I have questionable taste in books. I pretty much stick to a standard formula of damaged boy meets damaged girl and they fall in love and save each other and live happily ever after. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm pretty sure that at least half (not not more) of the fifty-two books I read last year were faithful to this story-line, and I can't lie...I've gotten bored. 

But, the thing is, it's hard to let go of something you're used to. I have a goal of seventy-five books this year, and I've already read two. One of those books stuck to that formula (and it was actually really good), but I thought I would venture out of my comfort zone for the next. 

Enter, FANGIRL. Let me just say that it's been a long time since I've given a book five stars, but I didn't think twice about this one. 

FANGIRL was sassy, different, and completely charming in every way possible. There was a quirky girl, an unconventionally handsome boy, and a sweet storyline all wrapped up in a cute little package. If I could think of any more delightful adjectives to use to describe this book, I would, because that really is exactly how much I loved it. 

I think that books that let you escape into an alternate universe have their merits (and no, I'm not talking about the world of Harry Potter). I'm talking about worlds where the protagonist is exceptionally beautiful and her love interest is abnormally sexy and their love is altogether too-hot-to-handle. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE those books.

But.

If those are the only types of books you like to read, then FANGIRL isn't for you. 

From the Goodreads description:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. 
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . 
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. 
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. 
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. 
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. 
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? 
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? 
Writing her own stories? 
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? 
If you like reading about real people and their real-life (or realistic, at least) eccentricities on the other hand, then I think you might love this book

1.07.2014

On Blogging :: Game Changers

As some of you know, I started this little blog here in the fall of 2010 with the name Where We Love is Home. Since then, my blogging journey has taken me places that I honestly never thought possible. Looking back, there are a few distinct steps that I took that took Something Charming to the next level. I was hoping I could share those things with you today.

In no particular order...

1 // I BOUGHT A CAMERA. In the summer of 2012, I decided it was time to upgrade the pictures on my blog from iPhone photos and images I found on Pinterest. I have a basic DSLR (a Canon Rebel T2i), one that isn't really all that impressive, but it's made the biggest different in the quality of images on my blog. Not only that, but I feel a lot more confident pushing out more original content, meaning more tutorials and recipes, since I have a camera to take nicer pictures with.

2 // I FOUND MY PERSONAL STYLE. It was sometime during 2012 that I also realized how much my personal style has evolved over the years. I proceeded to throw out the vast majority of my closet and built my wardrobe from the ground up, focusing on items that were innately me. By doing so I was able to discover my personal style even more, and made changes to my blog that reflected that style. 

3 // I LEARNED PHOTOSHOP. This is probably the single most important thing I did for my blog. I remember it well: it was January 1, 2011, and I wanted a new blog design. Before then I was just using one of the templates that came with Blogger, but I was over it. I sat down at our old desktop, and within a day, I taught myself Photoshop and basic HTML and CSS. Doing so has allowed me to create my own blog designs, as well as collages and graphics I use on Something Charming. 

4 // I JOINED TWITTER. Okay, so I was actually on Twitter long before I started my blog, but it was when I actually started engaging with people on Twitter that I saw my traffic and readership increase. Participating in social media is essential if you want to have a successful blog, but I truly believe that Twitter is the cornerstone to this. Instagram and Pinterest are great, of course, but Twitter is much more engaging. I've met some of my best "blog friends" on the platform, and it's a great way to interact with other people and push out your content. 

5 // I STARTED A CREATIVE BUSINESS. Now, I don't think this is essential to have a successful blog, but I do think that everyone should have some type of creative endeavor that they work toward. What I mean is that a blog isn't self-sustaining. You need content, whether it be outfit collages or book reviews or recipes or tutorials, or any number of things. I like to do a little bit of everything, but it wasn't until I started my creative business that I realized my potential as a creative human being. Every single day I'm challenged to think critically and to come up with new and exciting ideas. Owning a creative business means that I'm never stagnant, and my life is one big creative endeavor. It's pretty awesome.

These are just a few of the things that have helped bring my blog to the next level. I'd love to know what your thoughts are, or what you did to help your blog succeed!

1.06.2014

A Midweek Cheese Plate

My husband and I are cheese nerds. Half the time that we go out on a date, we're going out for cheese and wine, which is perfectly fine by us. I personally grew up thinking that anything other than mild cheddar cheese was weird, so it's been a lot of fun exploring different types of cheeses and how they pair with wines and whatnot. 

Even if we're on a budget, we still find ways to get our cheese and wine fix. Probably once a week we reserve a night for just drinking a nice bottle of wine and creating our own cheese plate. I promise, it isn't as difficult as you would think!
Last week I went to Trader Joe's and put together this delicious platter. Surprisingly enough, it never ceases to fill us up! We usually gorge ourselves on cheese and salami and nuts and fruit, to the point where a more traditional dinner isn't necessary. 
Cheese Plate Components
Note: Everything in this cheese plate is from Trader Joe's. 

Syrah soaked toscano
Gouda
Double cream brie
Almonds
Dried figs
Dried apricots
Dried cranberries
Honey
Pita bite crackers

This is a pretty safe cheese platter, for those of you who aren't so sure about what you like or dislike about cheese. The syrah soaked toscano is by far the stinkiest, most daring cheese on this plate, though it's also our favorite. We almost always pick this one out, because you really can't go wrong! Gouda is always a safe bet, though the longer it ages, the stinkier and more distinct the flavor is. Brie is also safe, but we like to heat it up and pour honey and dried cranberries on top. 

As for meat, Trader Joe's has an awesome selection of salamis, and we usually grab one of their packages that includes three different types. This one has calabrese salame, Del Duca prosciutto, and capocollo, all three of which are relatively mild, but still have a bit of spice. 

Just add a few crackers to your plate, along with your dried or fresh fruit and nuts, and you have a delicious and fancy midweek date night meal!

1.05.2014

Monday's Mantra

Did you all have a lovely weekend? Ours was pretty relaxing and laid back, which is exactly what I need these days. Though I've been unofficially working for the past two weeks (meaning, working from my couch), this week is my first official day back at the office (whatever that means). I'm still really excited about all the new prospects that the new year might bring, making the thought of working all week not such a terrible thing! My husband is also going on some internship interviews this week, so I'll be spending the later part of the week down with family in Orange County. It'll be nice to spend some quality time with my parents and my brother, for sure. 

Well, here is the first mantra of the year for all of you! I thought it aligned perfectly with this year's word, don't you think? Oh, and I've made it into both a desktop and iPhone wallpaper for all of you. Enjoy!

1.02.2014

Happy Hour :: Rosemary Champagne Cocktail

And it's the first Friday of the new year! It was technically a short week, but it was a good one. Lazy, but good. I got a lot of work done updating my site and my portfolio, creating a new digital brochure, and ordering some print brochures for potential clients that I meet with. I'm so excited to put it all together and start signing more brides and grooms for 2014!

Anyway, this weekend we're just hanging out with friends and I'm dragging Robert to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (we've never been!). Cheers to an awesome weekend friends!
Rosemary Champagne Cocktail Ingredients:
Sprig of rosemary
Dash of bitters
One ounce gin
Simple syrup to taste
Top with champagne

Place rosemary and dash of bitters at the bottom of your glass and pour in gin. Top with champagne, to about the middle of the glass, and simple syrup to taste. 

1.01.2014

2014 Word of the Year :: Nurture

I've been thinking about what I want my word for 2014 to be for a while now. I didn't designate an official word last year (so weird to say that), but looking back, I think it would have to be PERSEVERANCE. 

I've been powering through a workbook I found on Susannah Conway's site, and she's been asking some tough questions about last year. One of the things that I realized is how much I really got done. That being said, it's because I just. kept. going. despite my own reservations or other things that could have held me back. I definitely flourished, in some ways, but I also learned the importance of just letting go and getting it done. It can't always be amazing, no matter what anybody tells you. Sometimes you just have to persevere, and get the bare minimum done. We can all be extraordinary, for sure, but we also need to be a little bit more gentle with ourselves, I think. 

Now, onto 2014! Like I said, I've been thinking about this year's word for a while now, but it actually came relatively easy to me. After these past few weeks, and looking at what I had to give up last year in order to flourish professionally, I've decided to take another approach to life.
Photography :: Anna Delores Photography

My marriage went through a lot in 2013. Just believe me when I say that I really don't put everything on this little blog here, and I shouldn't. A few days ago, however, I realized that I need to let a lot go. Holding it all inside is really just holding me back from the potential that my marriage has. I want to nurture my relationship with my husband, and create a home and family that we can add to with only happiness and love. 

It's not only my marriage that I want to nurture. I think that when you focus on one area of your life, other areas inevitably start to suffer. This past year I'm sad to say that my friendships suffered a bit, and I really don't want that anymore. I definitely learned the value and importance of BALANCE in 2013, and I think it's completely possible to find that perfect balance between my professional and personal life.

If I focus on anything in 2014, I want it to be on my relationships with others. I want to nurture my friendships and my marriage; I want to focus on my home and my family. And, I think, in the process of nurturing this value in my life, my clients and my business will prosper as well. Because if I value anything in my business, and in my life, it's authenticity and love and kindness.