Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Common Cheese Plate Mistakes

Well, since today is the last day of American Cheese Month, I have partnered up with Whole Foods to share 5 mistakes that you shouldn't make when providing a cheese plate for your guests. I also wanted to show three American made cheeses that don't have anything to do with Kraft Singles :) 

Can you spot them in the photo below before scrolling? 

1. Don't only provide one type of cheese. Venture out with different textures, softness, creaminess, flavor profiles, and even countries of origin if you want. This will ensure that different guests with different taste preferences can all find something they will enjoy. I like to go with three varieties. Chipotle Gouda  is ALWAYS a hit.

2. Don't forget about your pregnant friends! Make sure when you are buying fancy cheese, that you get at least one that is pasteurized for your pregnant friends. Preggos like cheese too! They just need to make sure it's safe for the little one swimming around in their belly.

3. Don't forget to label! You can get cutesy with a cheese board or even a chalkboard cheeseboard to label, or go as simple as putting the label right beside the cheese so guests know what they're eating. Otherwise, if I don't know what it is, I'm usually not brave enough to try it. This will also keep you from having to man the appetizer table and telling people over and over what cheeses are there. These cute chalkboard labels can just be stuck into the cheeses, themselves. 

4. Make sure to have adequate silverware, cutlery, and serving ware out. Do you have some sort of jam or preserves to go along with your baked brie or goat cheese? Make sure to have a little spoon out for it. Have a different cheese knife for each type of cheese if you can, as well. Otherwise, people will use their crackers to dip and/or slice and make a huge, unappetizing mess. 

5. Don't put the cheese out right when guests are starting to arrive. By allowing the cheese to sit out for about half an hour before guests arrive, you will allow for optimal flavor AND easier slicing. 

((items and cheese shown here: coupole aged goat cheese - made in vermont, deliciousness whiskey peach jam - made in denver, whole foods brand plain crackers, finocchiona, avalanche cheese cabra blanca - local award winner - made from goat milk, vella dry jack - made in california)) 

If I can be honest, I think I've made all of these mistakes. Do you have any more cheese plate do's or dont's?


Friday, October 24, 2014

H&M Grand Opening Event ((come see me!))

Hey  y'all! 

This post is specifically for local ladies, or even people who are visiting the Denver area this weekend. I'll be hosting the Grand Opening event for H&M at Southlands Mall and I would LOVE to meet you! There will be an hour or so of meet & greet and then I get to pick TWO people to style. Those random folks will also get a gift card to purchase the items we pick! 

They are giving out gift cards all weekend and it will be a super fun time! More details can be found here

See you there!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

4th Annual Handmade Holidays Gift Guide ((call for applicants))

It's that time of year again, y'all! I can't believe it. 

One of my greatest joys in running Oh, Sweet Joy! is featuring handmade shops, creative businesses and independent boutiques that work so hard to create amazing products. Along those same lines, it's great for me to share these shops with people/readers not necessarily within this "handmade/blogging bubble" to find wonderfully unique gifts for their loved ones. 

The FOURTH ANNUAL Oh, Sweet Joy Handmade Holidays Gift Guide is the perfect solution to help me do both! The Gift Guide Giveaway alone received over 15,000 views last year. My following has grown tremendously since then and that will definitely benefit you during this holiday promotion! Since the gift guide stays up as part of my searchable blog content, your handmade wares can be seen by over 180,000 viewers by the end of year (based on typical blog traffic).

I am opening less spots this year (as in - half of last year's amount), to make it more exclusive, more viewer friendly and mostly - more "do-able" for me. Handmade shops, small businesses, online Boutiques and the like - you WON'T want to miss your chance to be a part of the FOURTH annual Handmade Holidays Gift Guide!

Here's how it works:
This year it will be FIVE straight days (think of it as a baller handmade PARTY!) of featured shops in the following categories:
For the Littles (baby + children)
Jewelry (typically the largest and most shopped category!)
Paper (stationery, printables & frameable prints)
Accessorize (hats, scarves, headbands, handbags, knitted/crocheted items)
Wear (clothing, boutiques, graphic tees, etc)

After that? We will have a GIANT giveaway. Weeee!!

The fee for each participating shop will be $75 (most shops will only have to sell a couple products to make that back!) and will be paid via paypal. Your Gift Guide feature includes more than just a spot in the gift guide (details upon acceptance, but think social media mentions, product pins, ad space, IG shout outs and more!). Shops will also be asked to supply a discount code for the "Handmade Holiday" Gift Guide readers to encourage sales. You can see the general idea of  layout of the Gift Guide posts here. Participation in the finale giveaway is recommended, but not mandatory. 

This is SUCH a great way to drive extra traffic to your shop during peak shopping months. You will be exposing your shop to not only my faithful readers, but also to every other participating shops' "fans" as they tell their customers about "Handmade Holidays!"

Want to be included in the fun? 
CLICK HERE to fill out a form to apply. Applications will be closed October 30th
You will be emailed upon acceptance((I wish I could accept everyone, there's just not time for that. womp womp))

There are limited spots available in each category, so please apply pronto. Not everyone will be chosen, unfortunately, but my goal is to help promote as many shops as possible. I'm more than excited to highlight and feature so many talented shops...and help you get your Christmas shopping done early! I'm so excited to feature you :)


NOTE: this is not a giveaway, but simply a gift guide in the form of a highlight and feature. The giveaway is optional for participants. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Favorite Fall Treats

What are your favorite things to enjoy during these weeks of crisp weather and falling leaves? I know most people go to Whole Foods for healthy things, and I do too most of the time - but this time of year I just want Fall-inspired treats. Anything Apple or Pumpkin inspired will do. Just in case you find yourself in the mecca of kale and dansko wearing health nuts, here are a few things you should pick up that may not be what you think of when you think Whole Foods ;)

1. Apple Cinnamon Cookies - These precious little seasonal cookies can be found in the bulk cookie section or pre-packaged. It's a spiced play on a typical sugar cookie. They're by Gianna's which are my favorite cookies to splurge on. They're just so pretty and delicious, to boot.
2.  Autumnal Leaf Cookies - Same as above. I just love the marbled icing :) Take a look at all her seasonal options!
*TIP: package these in cute little glassine bags to leave on friends and neighbor's doorsteps or for those pesky cute little trick-or-treaters. 
3.  Pumpkins - I mean, why not? You can eat them, carve them, paint them, or just put them on your front porch for the squirrels to eat decoration. 
4.  R.W. Knudsen's Cider & Spice - SO good warmed up in your favorite mug while you wind down from a long day. 
5.  Justin's Peanut Butter Cups - Okay, so I devour eat these year round but it's whatever. You can buy them in hopes to hand them out to trick-or-treaters but we all know better ;) Plus, they're local (for me). Hashtag Winning.

Oh, and for the record... don't buy a ton of these treats if you don't have time in the first few days to photograph them for a blog post. Your husband may or may not eat the majority of them. 

BONUS DEAL: all purchases made on the whole foods e-store will be 10% OFF from October 17-29. This is great to order appetizers, desserts, and such for parties!  You just select your store and find what's available in your area. 

So, please please tell me your kryptonite when it comes to Fall treats and eats! Is it a pumpkin spice latte? Butternut squash soup? COOKIES? :)


Monday, October 20, 2014

the tough questions

There are seasons when the words simply don't come and motivation is hard to come by.  You haven't put on make up or real clothes in far too long and you don't particularly care. Inspiration is out there somewhere, but you'd rather take a nap or go explore an old homestead with your family than research Spring trends or look for Holiday fabrics, even though you "should have" done that weeks ago.  

There are days when you question everything you are putting your efforts into and wonder if you are making a difference in people's lives in the work you are doing...or if it's worthless.  If it is worthless - then why are you striving? What are you striving for? And if it isn't worthless - then how do you know if you're in it all for the right reasons? Is it pointing to Jesus or do you just want it to point to Jesus? ((Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice. A.W. Tozer, 1948))

There are weeks when you get a glimpse of what it would look like to not have so many obligations. When you realize no one actually cares if you go three days without instagramming or if you go a month without blogging. When you actually s l o w   d o w n  because your body simply demands you to and to your dismay and delight, all at the same time, you ((gasp)) enjoy the pace. 

Or maybe that's just me. 

I'm going to embrace it either way, but I have a feeling I'm not the only one in a season such as this, wrestling with these types of questions. It's good for us, I think. To be honest with ourselves and not get caught up in progress or "success" for a bit. It's good for us to ask ourselves tough questions and be willing to take action when we come to a conclusion that's not ideal or the easy road. It's okay to be frustrated with all the "let's be brave!" fluff or "tell people they're awesome!" overkill. Because life is about more than just passing out candy to strangers or building up an already self-absorbed generation. It's about getting the gospel - REALLY getting it - and letting it transform you from the inside out. It's about pointing people to Jesus rather than yourself. 

That's a difficult thing to live out, though, isn't it? How do we live our lives intentionally and pursue our passions - that are sometimes worldly - boldly to ultimately reflect our Creator? The reality is that we'll mess it up and Jesus has already paid for that. But we have to be able to call a spade a spade and be self-aware enough to know when we're striving for things we have no business striving for, don't we? We have to be willing to say, "Oh, shoot. I got this one wrong. This was all about me..." and humbly take a step back, right? 

I'm just worried I see too many gals (myself often included) working hard to prove themselves to...well, who knows. Their peers? Their instagram followers? Themselves? Their dads? God? Well, that's garbage.  I just want to take them all to coffee one by one and sit close to them. I want to hear them out and put my hand on their shoulder and look them in the eye and say, "Sweet girl. You are trying too hard. He already delights in you. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone."  

So I guess this is my way of telling you that, in case you need to hear it. And if you don't? Well, then I'm preaching to myself. Sorry you had to see all the stuff I have to tell myself ;)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with singing. ((Zephaniah 3:17))

Wowzers. That got a bit deeper than I was planning for on a Monday morning. I'll lighten the mood before I sign off. I'm good at lightening the mood, but it usually involves a fart joke and there's just no way to tie that in at the some photos of the first time I got dressed in too many days to count will have to do. Knox steals the show, anyways. 

vest* (sold out but try this one or this one) // lace tee - old f21 - similar here // skinnies // booties* // cross body bag