4th of July Craft Ideas

June 30, 2014

I always think about doing something crafty for the 4th of July to decorate around the house or on the front porch. I just don't actually do it. I should start though. There are so many amazing craft ideas out there to choose from! If I were going to get crafty...these are some of the ones I'd try!

I think these would be so pretty scattered along a table as a centerpiece. Or put them all in a glass jar or a big bowl. Also, easy idea with the Washi Tape!

How fun! I love the different ribbons and string. This would be perfect hanging on a porch.

I love this idea. You can really have fun with this one. These would look great on a dining table outdoors or on a coffee table.

Okay. I'm sold. Now this I might actually do! I have a wreath that I leave up from spring to fall, but It's a little more spring than summer...I love that you can easily take this from a regular red and white scheme to red, white and blue with a flag or maybe a few little blue stars. After the holiday, take off the blue and you're back to summer. I think we might just have to do a craft this year!!! 

What do you do to decorate for the 4th? 

It's a New Day

June 29, 2014

Today is the day! After a lot of thought, brainstorming, thought, brainstorming, and some more brainstorming...and some design, layouts, tweaking, photoshopping, a little more thought...here it is! The new Hello Creative Blog! I'm pretty excited about it. You might have seen the post at the old blog address (Sweet & Simple Life Blog)...if not, you can read it here: Changes Comin'.

In a nutshell, I wanted a blog name that was a little more unique. I really liked Sweet & Simple Life, and still do. There were just several other blog names that were similar. I wanted to be a little different.

Let me just say - coming up with a blog name is not an easy task.

I found this great guide online that helped. But honestly, I didn't even use anything I came up with from the exercise. I was trying to think of different variations of the words I had come up with, and suddenly thought Hello Creative. Then I did some searching and saw that Hello Creative Blog didn't exist...yay!

There was still some thinking, and brainstorming, but eventually I just went with it and decided it fit "me" pretty well. I went back and read my about page and thought, you know what, this makes sense. I wanted to start this blog to share my creative interests, even though they may be all over the place, and so something with the word "creative" works.

So, here we are!

I have tried to transfer as much as possible over to the new web address, but there may be some things missing (like my comments...I thought it worked, then I did another tweak and they disappeared...that's what I get for trying to figure out HTML on my own). If you follow me on Bloglovin', it should automatically bring you here. Same with Instagram, Pinterest, and I've created new RSS feeds if you subscribe via email. You'll still see some references to Sweet & Simple Life Blog on previous posts, but that's okay.

There are going to be a few minor adjustments now that the site is officially "live", but hang tight. You may not even notice. :)

As for the design of the blog, well, not much changed. I just adjusted the layout a little and tried to freshen up the look. Hope you like it!!

Thank you so much for following along. I love writing this blog, and it has become such an outlet for my creative whims since recent changes in my job don't allow me to design much. Hope you all enjoy it too!

If you don't already...Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

The BB Battle: Maybelline Dream Fresh

June 25, 2014

I wanted to do a series on BB Creams because I've struggled to find a great one, and it's a little overwhelming with so many options on the shelf. I have tried a few different drugstore brands - some better than others - and decided to share my thoughts!

My first BB Cream in the "BB Battle" is the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB. I've read several other comments that this is a great, must-try product. Overall, I think that's true.

My first impression was that it went on so smooth. The consistency is similar to lotion. It glides over the skin and blends effortlessly. Coverage is light to medium, which is what I would expect from a BB. With five color options it gives more customization for your skin tone. This BB Cream claims to provide 8 benefits:
1. Blur imperfections
2. Brighten
3. Even skin tone
4. Smooth
5. Hydrate
6. Enhance
7. Protect using SPF 30
8. 0% oils or heavy ingredients

For the most part I would agree with the benefits. I found it to be very hydrating, which depending on your skin type can be good or bad. For me, with more oily skin, it was too much. Even with a setting powder I noticed that my face was very shiny at the end of the day. If you have dry skin this is probably a great option for you! 

So, all in all, I think it's a great product for the right skin type. I love the ease of application and the "feel" once it is blended. Because of my oily skin it's just not a good option for me personally.

Have you tried this BB Cream? What was your first impression?

For more in the BB Battle, click below:
Garnier Skin Renew
L'Oreal Magic Skin Beautifier
Revlon Photoready BB

Summer Vacation Recap

June 23, 2014

I had every intention of sharing some photographs from our summer vacation very soon after we got back, buuuut I never got around to it! So, a month later, here we are!

We went to South Carolina, which has kind of become our vacation spot of choice. What I enjoy most is that now we're familiar enough with the islands and Charleston that we can relax. You know the first time you go somewhere you're constantly trying to figure it out and navigate? Wondering where to eat, what to do, what you want to see (other than sunshine and sand)...sometimes it's stressful. Then you leave and talk to someone else that's been there and they tell you all the things you should have done that you didn't know to do.

Well, we're past that. We don't feel stressed to do certain things (other than one...go get a piece of cake at Kaminsky's). It's a relaxing vacation.

Shem Creek is one of my favorite places to go eat - there are all sorts of things going on, and that means a lot of observing on my part. I'm a big people watcher. These poor people probably thought I was making fun of their kayaking skills...

This picture...have the same version from last year. It's still pretty every time!

This year I had a goal to get a sunset picture of the Ravenel Bridge. You see, last year I took my camera, but no tripod. I told myself next time don't forget the tripod. So this year I made sure that the tripod was sitting next to the door ready to go (plus I wrote a note to remind me just in case I didn't see it sitting there). Success. Side note: sunsets are hard for me to capture. I want to play with settings some more...if anyone has tips please share!!!

This was also the first year that our doggie went with us. We usually have someone watch her, but since the whole fam went, we took the family pets. Our little Bailee doesn't travel well, so she was well mediated for the trip, but once we got there she did fine (other than the barking at strangers and other dogs that walked by "her" house). It was fun seeing her play in the ocean and jump the little "islands" at low tide.

Another one just because it's cute. Her ears were blowin' in the wind!

There's nothing really special about this picture. It's just a sail boat we passed in the intracoastal waterway. I was taking pictures of everything we passed...so why not? It was the first time we took our boat so it was like seeing the island from a whole new perspective. 

I have a few hundred more pictures, but these give a good summary of the trip and what we saw. Oh, I did forget...

Wind surfers. There were probably 100 that afternoon all along the beach. It was so cool!

And the pretty beach on a sunny morning! I'll leave you with that. :)

Are you taking any trips this summer? Do you go somewhere different each time or back to the same place?

Friday Favorites in Five

June 20, 2014

Thank you Friday!

I really wasn't sure this day was going to come! There have been a few trials this week; as in our dog not feeling well and not sleeping at night unless I was on the floor next to her. I was literally outside on our driveway at 1:00 am Wednesday with little Bailee on a leash running (barefoot and in pj's) to get her to move (get ready for TMI...she had gas). It was a bonding moment, for sure. So now that you have your disturbing mental image for the week...
1. Positive mind. Positive vibes. Positive life. Yes. Favorite quote of the week!

2. These flowers are BEAUTIFUL. I love the colors, the mixture, the arrangement. Makes me want a flower garden strictly for cut flowers. Ooooh, idea...

3. Favorite hairstyle. It's a little shorter than mine right now, but I like the braid and the overall wave/curl texture. Why can't my hair just do this naturally? The natural wave I have is like a frizz ball.

4. Would you believe these are edible cupcakes? I bet if I made a cupcake it would like this. Not.

5. This is my new favorite color for cabinets. The wheels are turning...

I hope you had some nights full of wonderful sleep and no running on driveways with a dog. :) Share your favorites in the comments! Here's to a happy weekend!

{linking up with Lauren Elizabeth}


June 18, 2014

Let's talk about toning...and by that I mean toning the skin. With combination skin, I've found that using a toner daily helps it stay a little more under control. I have used toners that contain large amounts of alcohol, and they tend to be very harsh. When I found this Shine Away Mattifying Toner from Boots Botanics I was excited because it contains natural ingredients, and though there is alcohol listed, it doesn't sting and doesn't feel harsh. 

This toner contains willowbark, which acts as a natural form of salicylic acid aiding in skin cell turnover. Willowbark is also known for having antimicrobial properties. Using a toner consistently helps ensure all of the oil is removed from my skin before applying serums or moisturizer, and it helps minimize pores. I actually think this has helped (with other products) to reduce blackheads.

Notice how the product settles at the bottom...give it a good shake!

Once the "mattifying powders" are combined with the toner liquid, I apply using a cotton pad or cotton ball. I typically use this each morning and night. I've used about half of the bottle, and will definitely repurchase. 

Have you used any other Boots Botanics products? This is my first experience with the line, and I've been impressed so far.

Favorite Go-To Recipes

June 16, 2014

Happy Monday! :) Can we just agree that weekends go by WAY too fast??? Thanks.

If I'm in a bind for a good recipe, whether it be dinner on a weeknight or a pot-luck party, I always go to Pinterest. It's so easy to search for something, find the ingredient list, print the recipe (or take a screenshot), and be done! Well, other than the actual cooking...that's a different story.

source (so cute)

There have been a few that were fails, but for the most part they've all been pretty good! I compiled a list of some of the favorites that are definite repeats!

This Nutty Bacon Cheese Ball is very, very good. One problem I had was actually making it into a ball. It was too soupy to form, so I ended up combining the ingredients in a dish and called it a dip. :) It worked just as good, and probably easier! 

I can't even tell you how good these Bacon Appetizers are. They sound odd. A club cracker with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top then wrapped in bacon. On second thought, I do love those ingredients! When they cooked and the bacon sizzled in the oven, magic. Tip - make double if you're taking them to a party. 

I really like to make soup. It's so easy to throw together in a slow cooker and let it do it's thang. When I get home from work....dinner's ready! Sweet! This Lasagna Soup is a favorite of mine. I think my husband likes it to, but he's not as into soup (sorry). The flavors in this dish are amazing together. 

Another slow cooker meal (trend?) that's super easy is the Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore. It is delicious! The sauce had so much flavor. If you look at the recipe it shows a "quick method" and a "better method with more prep" - I chose the quick method and it was amazing. Granted, the more prep option might be out of this world, but I'm not a chef. I don't have to knock people's socks off or anything.

When it comes to dessert, I usually like things on the lighter side. If it's too chocolatey I have to follow up with a potato chip (preferably with a dip). Or pop corn. Or a french fry. Okay, stop. I don't really mind it being rich. It's usually just chocolate that leaves me wanting something more. Anyway, I love this Fresh Strawberry Upside Down Cake. It might be my favorite kind of dessert. It's light, has a little fruit. Yum. I did have an issue when I made it last though...there was WAY too much strawberry juice when I took it out of the oven and it was soggy. I haven't figured that one out. It's only done that to me once.

Now, for you chocolate people. I do love a good brownie, and this Brownie Pie is perfection. Especially if you purposely under-cook it just a little so it's still gooey in the middle. Ahhhh!!! Top it with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream (or mint chocolate chip). Done.

What recipes have you found that are a go-to? Please share. I'm always hunting for more (especially if they're easy!).

Friday Favorites in Five

June 13, 2014

Today is Friday! It's not just any Friday though...it's Friday the 13th. The 13th of June, which also happens to be my birthday. I'm 29 today, which is weird, but I actually stopped having birthdays at age 26. So it doesn't really count. :)

Because it's my birthday, and I think that means I should be able to do just about whatever I want to do on this day, I'm going to "pretend plan" my birthday and share the top five things I'd do. It involves a destination...

1. At the moment I'm thinking I'd take a trip to San Antonio, Texas. I've been there before, but I was a little one so I have a hard time remembering much about it. The Riverwalk seems like a cool place to shop, eat, and people watch (my favorite).

2. There has to be some site-seeing involved. I really enjoy museums, art, history...all that. I'd take a trip to the San Antonio Museum of Art. (source)

3. Speaking of history, a visit to the Alamo is a must.

4. I'd obviously need some good food. Best part about Texas, I'm pretty sure. That and the boots. Which leads me to...

5. BOOTS! I'd have to get me a new pair of boots for the trip. Since it's my birthday and all, I'd get a fun pair like these. But I also like these, and these, and these, oh goodness, and these

There would be tons of picture taking involved at every stop, as always, but that's just part of traveling!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? My picks change daily...I guess I just need to start packing!!!

{linking up with Lauren Elizabeth / A. Liz Adventures}

DIY Lip Scrub

June 11, 2014

I have purchased lip scrubs before, but honestly didn't think they had enough scrubbing power. The scrubbers were far and few between. I also wasn't too fond of using a product that I felt would be harmful if swallowed. It's just too easy to lick my lips as a natural reaction. So, I decided to try my own out of ingredients that I knew would be good enough to eat (if I so desired), and that had the right amount of exfoliation to satisfy my chapped lips. You may remember that I mentioned this lip scrub in this post about rejuvenating skincare...here's the recipe!

DIY Lip Scrub

  • 1/4 tsp coconut oil (in solid form) benefit: natural antifungal and antibacterial properties
  • 1 tsp honey benefit: natural antioxidant
  • 1-2 drops pure almond extract benefit: proteins, vitamins, and seals in moisture
  • 2 tsp sugar benefit: natural source of glycolic acid and natural exfoliant

Melt coconut oil in small container, add honey and stir until the coconut oil cools and the consistency changes. I don't know how to describe this, but you'll be able to tell. Just keep stirring together. The coconut oil and honey will suddenly combine and the color changes slightly. It takes about 15-20 seconds.

Add the almond extract - this is mostly for flavor. I'm not huge on honey so I wanted something extra.

Stir in the sugar, 1 tsp at a time. 

Apply using the fingers and gently scrub the lips or rub your lips together. I use it for a few seconds and rinse with water. I have been storing it in a small sample jar of some other beauty product. Save those things - they can come in handy!

Have you tried any lip scrubs of your own?

{linking up with Liz Marie / Your Homebased Mom / Delineate Your Dwelling}

June Julep Maven Box

June 9, 2014

Late last week I got a pretty sweet box in the mail...my first Julep Maven box!

I signed up for a Julep Maven subscription, which was fun because you had to go through these quiz questions about your personal style, color preferences, etc. It matched me to Classic with a Twist. I think that's pretty accurate. My intro box was filled with fun color. Two polishes, a blush, little nail buffers, and a small sample pack of gel eye gliders. Love!

I tested the nail color already - they're the perfect colors for summer. I used the "Maddy" (pink), and it went on so smooth and covered with just one coat. The other color is "Madison."

The Eyes All Aglow gel eye gliders...oh my goodness, they go on SO smooth. I love this little sample pack. It came with grey, teal, purple, brown, and black. They are a perfect deep, rich color. 

I've used the Glow Pore Minimizing Blush over the weekend, and it has amazing color payoff. I was stunned. My Julep box came with the "peach bellini" shade. It's a beautiful coral pink color. 

What to find out what your maven match is? Take the Maven Style Quiz. I think I'm going to enjoy this subscription...I'll let you know what next month's box has in store.

Post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Friday Favorites in Five

June 6, 2014

Has anyone else felt like this week has been long? I'm so ready for the weekend! It seems like we have gone non-stop all week, but I honestly can't think about what we actually did. Ever have those? So, I'm excited that it's Friday and excited that it's time to share favorites! 

1. Favorite idea for a 'wet hair' day. I can remember several times when my hair was long that I couldn't dry and style it before running out the door...this idea is brilliant. Looks totally polished! Missy Sue = genius.

2. This room is probably one of my favorite color pallets. I love the soft blues and cream. The light...ahhhh!!!

3. I have never heard of lemon poppy-seed cupcakes with strawberry frosting, but I'm game! I also love the fun yellow and pink. Perfect for summer!

4. This handbag. Amaze. Dream on.

5. Ready for summer? These BBQ chicken bites look oh so good. I'll take one, or two...

What are you favorites this week? Share below in the comments! 

{Linking up with Liz and Lauren Elizabeth}

Brow Power

June 4, 2014

Thanks to my dark hair it's pretty noticeable when my eye brows are out of place. I also have thinner brows, and not from over-plucking because I try not to pluck too much. Unless of course I'm closing in on a unibrow. Then I pluck. 

I have been setting my brows with clear mascara for about 10 years. It works okay, but I would usually have to check myself every so often and make sure I didn't have a stray. I just dealt with it because I didn't think any other product would be better.


The Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel. I never thought that I'd spend more than $5.00 on something to keep my brows put. But I did, and I may not ever go back. It's like a strong-hold hairspray! No joke. The best part is that it doesn't look wet once it sets (a problem that I had with the clear mascara). It looks completely natural.

I'm truly amazed at the staying power of this product. It may not be for everyone, but if you have brows that are difficult to manage, or darker brows, I would highly recommend making the investment. You can find it at Sephora or Ulta.

What products have you used to set your brows? Any good tips? 

Peach-Strawberry Smoothie

June 2, 2014

I've been so into smoothies lately. I want ice cream in the summer all the time, and I have found that a fruit smoothie is a great alternative...and MUCH more healthy. It's a quick and easy option when the craving for something sweet hits. 

Peach-Strawberry Smoothie
sweetandsimplelifeblog.com - inspired by kraftrecipes.com

1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp Jell-O White Chocolate flavor sugar free/fat free instant pudding

Combine all ingredients in a blender (I use a Magic Bullet). Blend until smooth. This makes a single 2 cup serving, or two smaller 1 cup servings...but who would want just 1 cup of this stuff???

The white chocolate flavor makes it sweet, and the fruit adds just the right amount of tart. I honestly think it takes like the push-pops that were around when I was a kid. Ahhhh, summer. :)

{linking up with Liz Marie}