Feb 18

Pinterest products: Kikkerland Birch Paper Straws

I just ran across these on Pinterest and it’s SO COOL! They’re Kikkerland paper straws made to look like birch trees!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

SwankyLuv: Pinterest products: Kikkerland Birch Paper Straws

Kikkerland Biodegradable Paper Straws, Birch, Box of 144SwankyLuv: Pinterest products: Kikkerland Birch Paper Straws

They’s $6.49 for a box of 144 wax-coated paper straws, which are great if you’ve never tried them. Before buying them from Meijer, I was skeptical because, how do you drink from a paper straw? I always imagined pixie stick horrors when you accidentally touch the paper with your tongue and it dissolves immediately and covers your tongue in paper, but you can leave these in a glass of water all day and you’re still able to use them at the end of the day.

I was not paid or perked for endorsing this product. I just think it’s awesome.

Jan 30

SwankyLuv reviews: The Notebook

SwankyLuv: SwankyLuv reviews: The NotebookSwankyLuv: SwankyLuv reviews: The Notebook
I really wanted to like this book. I watched the movie on recommendation of a friend a few years ago and loved it, and picked this up at a garage sale over the summer.

Unfortunately, I expected more from it than it was willing to give.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

The Notebook is a story about Noah, who in the first chapter it is made clear that he is reading a story to someone. Noah and Allie meet when they are teenagers and spend a torrid summer together, then are separated by her parents. Sixteen years and the second word war later, the two are reunited three months before Allie is due to be married to a lawyer whom her parents do approve of. They rekindle their love before Allie’s fiance discovers their affair, and Allie must make a decision whether she wants to be with her true love, or the man that her parents approve of.

It is a basic boy meets girl, girl falls in love, girls parents don’t approve story, and while the story itself has bones, the writing is weak, at best. There’s a lot of repetition. In one sequence, the narrator says “the canoe” at least five times, when it could have easily been called a boat, a ship, a vessel, or, god forbid, “it”.

Not to mention, the dialogue is poorly written. Small talk runs rampant, and where the characters could have “agreed to walk down to the river”, Nicholas Sparks INSISTS that they discuss it. Most of the dialogue goes something like this:

“Do you want to go down to the river?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure”
“Because we could stay here”
“No, I think we should go”
“Ok, let’s go down to the river”
“Ok, let’s”

The whole book is basically an excuse for cheating on your fiance, but don’t get me wrong, there were some parts that I enjoyed. There are some really good metaphors in the book, like the lights of Wheel of Fortune and Vanna’s teeth, and the story of finding love after all that time is a good basis, I just wish there had been more meat on the strong bones of the book.

This would be a great book for someone who doesn’t mind reading trite writing and wants to read about their grandparents having sex. Because that happens. And I was left feeling completely creeped out.

4 out of 10

(To purchase a copy of The Notebook, you can click here)

(To purchase a copy of the movie, you can click here)

Jan 28

SwankyLuv reviews: Gossamer

SwankyLuv: SwankyLuv reviews: GossamerSwankyLuv: SwankyLuv reviews: GossamerThis post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive compensation.

Gossamer is Lois Lowry’s 32nd published work. It is a very fast read which follows the stories of three dream-givers, Littlest One, Thin Elderly, and Strapping, and three humans, an unnamed old woman, John an angry foster child in her care, and his mother. When the story begins, Littlest One is under the care and training of Fastidious who is, well, a total bitch.

Littlest One is curious about everything, and Fastidious hates it, so she asks to have littlest one transferred to another dream giver. When John moves in with the old woman, he resist at first, often threatening her and her dog, and saying that he is going to run away. When the sinisteeds, horse-like creatures who give nightmares, come Littlest One and Thin Elderly must work to counteract the nightmares given to John and eventually the old woman. Strapping bestows dreams upon John’s mother, who is a victim of an abusive relationship and learning how to get over her ex and get her son back.

It is a story of transformation, where John and his mother transform through love and hope given to them by the dream givers and the old woman, and Littlest One transforms through her training and caring for John.

At some points I did feel taken out of the book for an explanation that could have been explained in another way or left out altogether. She begins to use parenthesis about halfway through to explain some things, which makes it difficult to stay in the scene. I wish the dream descriptions had been throughout the book instead of just the two at the end, which would have made it more piecey but we could also have seen more dreams, which is important to the story.

I would recommend it to anyone who has two hours to spare, especially older elementary school children, though I would have loved to read more about the mother and her transformation or the relationship between the old woman and the man in the photo. For the length of the book, though, it’s perfect.

7 out of 10

(To purchase a copy, you can click here)

Dec 20

A Very Swanky Wedding: Things That Happen After You Get Engaged

A number of things have happened since Chris and I got engaged, some of them a little more strange than others.

SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Things That Happen After You Get Engaged


1) People, lots of people, will hug you. People you never expected to hug you will hug you.

The night we got engaged, Chris’ best friend hugged me and congratulated us. He is not a sweet, huggy guy. He’s like a brother that I have a huge sibling rivalry with. He and I argue about stupid, little things, so when he hugged me, I was a little taken aback. Then other people started hugging me. Random people at the place we got engaged. People at the dentist’s office. Seriously. Everyone.

2) Everyone will want to know when the wedding is.

Within 10 minutes of getting engaged, I was asked when the wedding was going to be, as though we’d been planning it for months. It kind of gets annoying after a while, but you get over it around the time that it becomes routine to say “we haven’t even thought about it yet” and then set a date like a week later.

3) Everyone will want to see the ring.

This one is fun. You get lots of “oohhhh! Let me see!” and you learn to stand under really good lighting all the time. At the club? Standing under the halogen lights. At the dentist? Hold your hand up under the overhead light. In the grocery store? Near the front windows for the nice ray of daylight. Your ring is sparkly and everyone wants to see it. Enjoy.

4) People will ask to be in your wedding.

I’ve already had people ask to be my bridesmaids, officiants, and just general “I’m going to be in it, right??” Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but I’ve long chosen who’s going to be in my wedding and there’s not going to be 24 people in my wedding party. I usually just laugh and tell them they’ll definitely be invited.

5) Other engaged people will become the most exciting people you know.

A week after getting engaged, I was at work when a girl came in who was planning her wedding. She invited me to go wedding dress shopping with her so I could get a little wedding love in while the engagement was still fresh. She is now a good friend and I love it.

6) Married people will become really irritating.

They’ve already been through this and their logic is incredibly annoying when you’re trying to be engaged and enjoy yourself. Plus they tend to shoot down your outlandish ideas like that $3000 venue.

7) You will go through waves of I LOVE THIS! WHAT AM I DOING? I HATE THIS!

Being engaged is like being bipolar. Something you love one minute is a really bad idea the next. Chris bought me an excellent book (that I’ll talk about in a future post) and I made the suggestion that we cater our own wedding because it sounded like a good idea at the time. Then he liked the idea. Then I realized that that was a horrible idea, and Chris still loved it. I still think it’s a bad idea, and I’m trying to come up with some other catering ideas.

8) You’ll have sticker shock over everything.

Wedding things are really really expensive. Photographers are extremely expensive. Dresses are extremely expensive. Flowers are extremely expensive. Some venues are extremely expensive. Invitations are deceptively expensive (Oh, they say $1.50, but then you need response cards that are $1 and save the dates that are $1 and two way postage for over 100 people). In generally, weddings are extremely expensive, and people will constantly be trying to tell you not to spend too much on your wedding. Which reminds me…

9) People will try to give you advice.

Telling you not to spend too much on your wedding, or that you HAVE to wear a veil, or that you can’t not have flowers in your centerpieces. They’ll tell you how your wedding SHOULD be, and that really isn’t what you need from random strangers on the street.

10) You will scratch yourself in the face with your ring – then you’ll freak out because you’ll stop feeling it.

I can’t count how many times I woke myself up in the first week of being engaged because I smacked myself in the face with my ring. I also scratched Chris one day when I backhanded him while play-fighting. And then about a month later, I started to freak out every now and then because I would think my ring was gone. I realized that I was getting used to wearing it every day and never taking it off, but I still freak out about it sometimes.


My favorite reaction was from the lady at Pottery Barn who I met when I was asking about registry perks. She got extremely excited and told everyone who walked past that I had just gotten engaged and seemed genuinely excited about it. She was very sweet and kind and how I was hoping everyone would react.

Nov 02

Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

Before Pinterest, it was actually fairly difficult to find ideas for centerpieces. Much of what I found before were some not-so-creative ideas that involved sticking some flowers in a vase. And sure, you could get together with your florist and have them put some flowers in some vases, but where’s the fun in that?

Katie Bower over at Bower Power Blog shared these giant vases filled with lemons, limes, and hydrangeas from her friend Jack’s wedding. They were scattered around on tables with square vases filled with cut lemons and limes with more hydrangeas and some lilies. I’m sure your florist would have some ideas on how to achieve this, or something like it. You could fill the vases with strawberries, blueberries, just about any fruit might work, though I would suggest taking a day to test your idea first.

SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

These amazing centerpieces are from Sarah and Jon’s wedding featured on Wedding Row California. I’m in love with the cut wood stands and the simple lidded canning jars filled with wildflowers. The odd little bottles next to some of the pieces give the whole thing a little bit of a historical feel, and the collection of pairs of birds makes me squeal with joy. SO cute! I bet you could put them all together yourself on the cheap if you tried hard enough, too. And of course, anything that incorporates table numbers into the centerpiece is great in my book.

SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

I’ve always been a fan of the tall vases filled with *blank* and water and candles. They had them at my brother’s wedding with calla lilies. So naturally, I’m going to feature them here. I found these over at Centro Garden (including how to do it yourself!) and it might be the prettiest DIY centerpiece I’ve seen. It’s simple, all you need is some vases, twigs, tumbled glass, wire, and floating candles. You just fix the glass to the twigs with wire and then sink them in water, top it with a floating candle, and you’re all set! I already had an idea for centerpieces, but I might switch it up a bit to include these gorgeous vases.

SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas Love and Lavender feature these amazing eclectic book-based centerpieces from Ben and Aileen’s wedding. Aileen collected some old books from local thrift stores, then piled them up on top of paper doilies with vintage keys and paper pinwheels and topped them off with mason jars and milk bottles filled with roses and lavender and other wildflowers. If you love books and vintage everything, aim for something simple and amazing like this. SO cute and unique!

SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

If you head over to Green Wedding Shoes, you can take a peek at Danielle and Jeremy’s barn wedding and their small, simple, rustic collection of bottles and flowers and berries with paper table numbers. I really love this one. Something about a wedding in a barn just screams old fashioned family wedding and starts getting me nostalgic.

SwankyLuv: Wedding Centerpiece Ideas

Your florist might have some ideas for you, but if you’re looking for something amazing to bring to them or even something to do yourself, search Pinterest for “centerpieces”. Not only will you come up with something fun, but you’ll be able to adapt it to fit your wedding (or even mix a few together) and make something uniquely you.


Oct 31

A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged

Chris and I got engaged on Saturday! It was actually really cute. It was at my birthday party at the club where we met. He was working, but he came upstairs to where I was having my party and handed me the outer box that the ring came in. When I opened it, I found this:

SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged Which is adorable. And also an 8 gig flash drive.

SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged

And even better, he loaded all of the pictures of us that he could find onto it. Pretty much the sweetest man alive.

And then he told me he loved me and got down on his knee and asked me to marry him.

SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged

He also got it engraved with our initials and a ruby place into the band.

SwankyLuv: A Very Swanky Wedding: Getting Engaged

It’s gorgeous. I love it. I picked it out, but that’s neither here nor there. I may or may not have also known it was coming because I may or may not have hinted at the time and date that I wanted it to happen. So I’m a little controlling. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, it’s going to be a long, slow process of planning before we get married because of money, but I will be posting all about it as I go. I also have a few blog posts about weddings that I still haven’t put up from when I interned with a wedding planner, so hopefully I’ll be posting more often.

By the way, if you want to stay up to date in real time, you can follow my boards over on Pinterest where I’ll be posting everything I find that looks like a good idea.

Aug 31

Be My Bridesmaid?

So, you’ve gotten engaged, called your parents, and updated your status on facebook. Maybe you’ve even started to get the ball rolling on your plans. Now, it’s time to ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding. Sure, you could just call them ask them, or get together at your favorite restaurant and dish about your wedding and ask them there, or maybe they just already know that they’re going to be in your wedding, but where’s the fun in all of that? Why not go all out and do something really cool for your girls that they’ll remember forever?

If you’re the crafty type, you might head over to Something Turquoise for some instructions on how to build yourself a little box filled with bridesmaid goodies. A bottle of champagne wrapped in a tank top (to wear to your killer bachelorette party that you know they’re going to throw for you after you give them this awesome gift), a personalized champagne glass, bottle opener, and a giant diamond. Because what girl doesn’t love sparkly things?

SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid? Wedding Chicks has another great box idea that will help your girls make it through your day. There’s descriptions of their dresses, the other bridesmaids (given that they don’t know each other), what’s expected of them, and then a whole bunch of examples of your colors and dress ideas for them.

SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid?

There’s some amazing ideas over on the Wedding Bee Boards, like popping the question to them. This could be done over that dinner where you’re dishing about your wedding. And there are some very pretty rings that could be bought on a budget.

SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid?

Another great idea from the Wedding Bee Boards is to get t-shirts made for them. The bride who did this included them in the box with a poem about her relationship with each of the girls.

  SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid?

If you’re more of the baking type, head over to Marry This where you’ll find instructions to make these cupcake jars, including how to make the lids and even the tea towel that goes with it.

  SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid?

These cookies from The Pastry Studio are a simple but adorable way to pop the question. I’d probably do them in the colors you have in mind for their dresses, but they’re still cute in white.

SwankyLuv: Be My Bridesmaid?

When I ask my girls (who already know, but I’m going to ask them anyway) I’m probably going to make the cake jars and put them into boxes with t-shirts and champagne and jewelry and poems that make them cry, because why not put it all together and show them all the love in the world? After all, they’re going to be a major part of the biggest day of your life, and they’re your best friends, anyway.

Aug 29

Detroit Zoo

On Thursday, we decided to take a visit to the Detroit Zoo. It’s been about 8 years since I’d been, and I’ve been wanting to do something (Zoo, Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Museum) so we decided that since we’re about 15 minutes away from the zoo, it would be an easy little day trip.

And it was amazing.

SwankyLuv: Detroit Zoo

The last time I was at the zoo was my junior year of high school with my photography class, which was fun, but when you’re with a group, you can’t stand at the gorilla enclosure for half an hour until you take this photo:

SwankyLuv: Detroit Zoo

You can read more about the hairbrained idea that I had when I got home from the zoo up in the The Zoo Project tab above, because it really is a crazy idea, and I just want to share a gratuitous amount of photos with you right now. So here:

You can actually purchase any of the photos in the blog post here. If there are any photos on Swanky Luv that you would also like to purchase prints of (given that they were taken by me), please let me know and I will do my best to get that done. Any purchase of the zoo photos will go to fund The Zoo Project.

Aug 28

Excuses, Excuses

Before the Pinterest app came out, my last post here was the day after Mother’s day. The past 3 months have just flown by, and I owe it to you to explain where I’ve been. So here goes:

1. At the end of April, Swanky Luv exploded. It was the same day that my guest post on Profitable Organizer was posted (story of my life). I lost a lot of traffic that I would have gotten from that post, and I got discouraged. Then, I had to completely reset everything. Even after backing up, I lost all of the images and had to re-upload them, and all of my plugins were gone. Which brings me to my second point.

2. I was tired. At the time, I was working 40 hours at the home improvement store. On my feet. Outside. The prospect of coming home, coming up with an idea, doing said idea, then WRITING about said idea was less than appealing. I’ve since left the home improvement store, and actually got my real estate license and am selling real estate, which means working from home and more time to spread my time between the things that I want to do (the blog, getting my cake business started) and my job.

3. I got discouraged. I wasn’t trying hard enough to get traffic to the site, and when I did, all I was getting was spam comments (I know why now). I also had a huge blowup with google that I won’t discuss here. Let’s just say I won’t be using adsense anymore.

4. I needed to get my life back on track. Some of you may remember my Life Limbo post where I said I had no idea what was going on with my life. I still mostly don’t, but I do know that I am going to try. I got the photos into all of the posts (though the website is still not 100%. There’s a few things that I have to figure out and then there’s the cakes tab…) and I set an amazing goal that I want to succeed at. I started a real profession instead of waiting for someone to give me a job, and I made some decisions that I’ll hopefully be able to follow through on.

Swanky Luv will not be back to 5 days a week yet. I don’t have that much in my brain or the capital to work on that many projects. I have a number of things that are ready to go up, but I’ll be pacing those out. I will be trying to post at least once a week.

Aug 15

Pinterest Apps

I originally expected my return to blogging to be an explanation of where I’ve been for the past 3 months, then a rant about plus size clothing, then a return to your regularly scheduled programming. bus life doesn’t always work out the way you plan.

Yesterday, Pinterest announced the release of an Android app, an iPad app, and an update of their iPhone app. And I never would have known if I hadn’t woken up this morning and logged right on to Pinterest for some unknown reason. That is not part of my morning routine at all.

So, I went to Google Play in search of the app that I’ve been waiting for for MONTHS, which I found about halfway down the search results (the downfall of a brand new app). I’M IN LOVE.

SwankyLuv: Pinterest Apps

It’s very similar in layout to the mobile site, with a few obvious exceptions. Instead of one pin per line, the photos are side by side, which makes for faster scrolling. The list of categories is really convenient, and not having to wait for everything to load, which is especially convenient for someone like me who is uploading a thousand photos to their blog while they download 2 gigs of programs and write a blog, eating up ALL of the bandwidth in the house (pro tip: don’t get DSL if you’re anything like me). There are some really convenient features like the support tab with a lot of FAQs and info on bugs, and a quick “Invite Friends” button.

But of course, the MOST important feature is not IN the app at all.Installing the Pinterest App adds a Pin It button to all of you Share menus.

SwankyLuv: Pinterest Apps

The button acts very similar to the Pin It plug in on Chrome. You hit it, and it brings up a list of the images on the site and you just click on and you can pin it to any board you want. This is the best news ever. I’ve already pinned something from a blog that was in my Google Reader on my phone this morning. Perfection.

The iPad app is very similar, though obviously bigger. It also has some cool features like swiping to get back to where you were, and this cute little menu for choosing a category.

SwankyLuv: Pinterest Apps

Needless to say, I’m extremely happy with this new app. I’ve been waiting for it forever, and it’s going to make pinning so much easier. Not to mention filling up all of those little -ahem- moments when I find myself bored out of my mind. Did you download the Pinterest App yet? Are you as much of a fan of it as I am?

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