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Happy New Year! Well, almost! I cannot imagine a better way to kick start 2015 then with a kick ass giveaway. Most of you know that I am a Lush fanatic. I made my post-Christmas run this week and brought back a surprise for you(my fans). I am humbled and oh so grateful that you take time to come visit Lil' ole me. The giveaway today will consist of an old Lush favorite(The Avobath), a new Lush favorite(From Dusk Til' Dawn), and my personal line of fresh bath salts from Eco Bathhouse(Lavender, Tea Tree, & Thyme).

Here's the nitty-gritty of what one lucky winner will be receiving! From left to right, Dusk Til' Dawn is a massage bar that is meant to be shared. An aphrodisiac scent that smells of citrus. It is quite intoxicating and literally started to melt as I picked it up to place into the bag! You are going to love it<3 The Avobath is a bath bomb that frequents my bath tub. Lemongrass and fresh avocados....need I say more? You will also receive a present from Eco Bathhouse. January's new bath salt creation: Lavender, Tea Tree, and Thyme. Learn more about Eco Bathhouse below!

Eco Bathhouse is my all-natural and Organic ingredients bath company. Every month, I choose a fresh accessory ingredient from my garden and hand dry it to include in my monthly bath salt concoctions. Now that's fresh! January's bath salts feature thyme. Thyme is a magical herb inside and out for your body. It is a fantastic anti-bacterial agent for your skin assisting to heal body acne in a gentle fashion. Thyme is also great during the cold winter seasons as an anti-inflammatory for coughs and colds. Read more about the beneficial properties that thyme has for you skin here.

Happy New Year 2015 my natural bubble lovers!!!
My Christmas party quickly became centralized around Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses for an Epic fondue party. Even the fondue recipe I used was unique utilizing beer instead of wine. Hosting a fondue party is easy, fun, and fairly cost effective. The most expensive part is the cheese{of course}. I thought about buying a fondue pot, but how often would I actually use it? A bottom line fondue pot is an average of $20+ dollars and after a quick Pinterest search I realized that it was possible to create your own fondue pot. Now, the reason I am creating this post is to capture both a practical and aesthetic "do-it-yourself" fondue pot idea. Let's Fondue! 

Step 1.) Find a shallow baking dish and arrange five tea light candles in a circular fashion. Then, start prepping your fondue. The epicurious blog has an amazing Beer Fondue Recipe here.

Step 2.) Find a metal baking sheet with holes. Oxygen is necessary to keep the candles lit and you want something that is tolerant to heat as well. Choose a metal baking sheet that have holes in it. I included a small wooden box to elevate my "do-it-yourself" fondue pot. Elevating the fondue station helps keep small hands away from the hot metal sheet.

Step 3.) Find a wide mouth Ball jar or two. Fill your Ball jar with your hot and bubbly fondue. Then, set your metal sheet over the tea light candles. Voila! You are ready to fondue!

Tips: Be sure to stir your fondue occasionally. The epicurious beer fondue recipe calls for a pilsner beer, but I much preferred a lager. The lager gives the fondue a richer beer flavor, which goes impeccably well with the cheese. Buy the shredded fondue cheese from Switzerland, which is already weighed out too! Also, be sure to keep a gravy ladle next to the the fondue so your guests can ladle extra on their plates.
Rustic Christmas
DIY holiday centerpiece
Do you have the dreaded responsibility of hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family gatherings? I know I do! I cannot help you with scrubbing your toilets, but I can help you compose an elaborate Christmas table that will have your guests complementing your efforts all night long! The most important element(besides the feast) is the Christmas centerpiece. The central element to your Christmas table will have your guests attention all night long. The Christmas centerpiece you see before you was less than $20!!! Let me give you a tour and show you how to compose a fresh and mind-blowing Christmas centerpiece this holiday season.

When composing your centerpiece you want to ensure that it is low lying so that you can see your guests while they are conversing. Next, take a walk with you family to gather some of nature's treasures: like beautiful tree branches, berries, floral, and pine cones. Whatever you cannot find outdoors can easily be substituted with a cheap grocery store bouquet.

holiday centerpiece
Underneath the center piece are three small and shallow bowls, you want to fill them with water and start layering your greens so they cover your bowls. In the middle of your bowls, fill them with your floral. Layer and layer until the centerpiece looks full and lush. Scattering a few pine cones is a nice rustic touch!

Orange Pyramid and floral
Tarts and Chocolates
Some additional foodie details to add to your centerpiece include: a tidy orange pyramid and a platter of sweets. Both are sure to keep your guests busy prior to the family dinner. If you would like, substitute the platter of sweets for a savory plate of fine cheeses.

Fabbioli Wines Something White featured.
Here is a toast from my family to yours! Merry Christmas everyone.

Rustic Christmas
Christmas is slowly stalking the horizon! I know many of you have not even finished your shopping yet, so I think it is appropriate to include rustic Christmas wrapping in today's post! This year I got crazy with the boring brown Kraft paper. This year glitter and I are getting down!! Oh...we did. My house will be glittery until Summer 2015 to prove it. I am also mighty proud of my super easy DIY front door Christmas wreath! Let's get to it and I hope that you feel inspired by some of these adorably rustic Christmas décor ideas.

Rustic Christmas Wreath
The wreath! The first thing your guests see when approaching your front door. I do not know about you, but I do not have time to meticulously craft a front door masterpiece! You can see for yourself. I simply added a pretty satin ribbon and below I hung some candy canes with handmade ornaments. I wanted to use the red and green Christmas color palette this year. The only thing that is missing is a sign that says, "Happy Holidays! Please take a candy cane". We are right at street level so I thought that would be a nice touch for patrons passing by.
Rustic Christmas Presents
Have you ever thought about organizing your Christmas presents? Well, perhaps you should. Use a wooden box and fill your wrapped Christmas presents to the brim! This presentation of presents looks absolutely stupendous underneath the glittering tree!! I even added a wooden sign that says, "Don't open until the 25th". Nice touch Santa;-)

Rustic Presents Gift Wrapping
Typically, using a bag instead of wrapping your gift is seen as tacky. However, The method as seen above is both beautiful and delicate. Details are everything! I stumbled across blank wood chip tags with the hole already drilled in them! I knew these would be my name tags for our Christmas presents this year. I used type-writer style stampers to stamp names and initials. It looks amazing! I accessorized the plain Kraft bags with brightly colored bows. Easy and impressive!

Rustic Presents Gift Wrapping
Rustic Presents Gift Wrapping
There were a few gifts I straight up wrapped with Kraft paper or shipping paper. On the top, I used glue and went to work with large amounts of glitter! The little twinkle lights from the tree throw light onto the presents causing them to sparkle! Handcrafted love for your loved ones. You are not just wrapping a gift you are creating Christmas art! XO.

See you tomorrow for day four of DIY Rustic Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Last year, I did a comprehensive DIY Rustic Christmas post. This year, I wanted to explore all the wonderful details that make a Rustic Christmas both shabby and chic! The first stop on our 7 days of Rustic Christmas is my "cheese wheel box" drink caddy creation(say that three times fast). If you do not have a wooden cheese wheel box do not fret....PANIC:) Just kidding. Simply use another chippy container that is round and fairly deep. There are two big reasons this is such a great holiday idea: aesthetics and organizational.
Rustic DIY Drink Caddy
For organizational purposes, it keeps the clutter contained. Drinks are in one small area and easily obtainable for your holiday guests. Let them help themselves to beverages while you are helping yourself to another glass of eggnog....cheers*wink*! For aesthetic purposes, the cheese wheel box is like a holiday collage! I started adding candy canes to the side and put greenery on the edge this morning. I even added my son's little stuffed snowmen and some extra holiday bulbs!

Rustic DIY Beverage Caddy
Lastly, This container fits quite a lot! I had four wine bottles and a dozen seltzer cans with numerous decorations inside about a week ago. I drank most of the wine and started giving away a few as gifts. This set-up could be a great way to store wine and beverages long after the holiday season is through.

Enjoy the cheer and wonder of the season and see you tomorrow for Day 6!

Eco Beauty Holiday Gift Guide
Eco beauty is a downright passion of mine. The cosmetics and personal care products we use go directly into our blood streams. Using beauty products with high quality Organic and natural ingredients are important to our health. Not to mention, that the majority of Organic beauty companies are also Eco-conscious when it come to our environment as well as utilizing local ingredients. These small businesses are employers and working to support their families as well as pursuing their passion! You got to love that! Enough jabber...let's get to The Ultimate Holiday Guide by me(The Stache). Every brand mentioned is a product I have either reviewed or one that I use personally.

Oh So Good Organics Soap
Awarded Most likely to be in my Stocking
Sweet Orange Poppy Soap by Oh So Good Organics

I am a soap lover, but this is not just any soap. Oh So Good Organics is a local Northern Virginia artisan who handcrafts small-batches of soap utilizing Organic oils and essential oils. An artisan who painstakingly locates each individual ingredient in search of perfection. Those high quality ingredients result in an "out-of-this world" bar of soap! Seen above is the Sweet Orange Poppy. You will be sorry if you only buy at least six. Available now at Well & Good Studio in Leesburg, VA.

Skincando Miracle Cream
Awarded Most Likely to Cure Winter Face Woes
Miracle Creme by Skincando

It was a miracle to find this "Miracle Creme" by Skincando. My face is very very dry practically all year round, but especially during the winter months. The Miracle Creme is a savior. It is very thick and you only need a finger tips worth to get the job done. If a good facial moisturizer is worth it's weight in gold than this one is worth a fortune;-) Sensitive skin? Then the Miracle Cream is perfect for you. Available at Well & Good Studio in Leesburg, VA.

BrookThere Organic Lingerie
Awarded Most Likely to Be Naughty and Nice
BrookThere Organic Lingerie with photography by Second Ave Photography

Feel sexy and comfortable. BrookThere Organic Lingerie has an Eco fashion designer touch that is feminine, sexy, and smart. Brook's pieces are very well made. Straight from the shores of Maine into your lingerie chest. Here is that elbow nudge reminder to buy something for, I mean for the person you love. Enjoy hot toddies and you are welcome;-)

Woodroze Sunglasses
Awarded Most Likely to Be Floating
Woodroze Ostrich Wooden Sunglasses with photography by Second Ave Photography

The #1 question I get asked when out in public: "Where did you get your sunglasses?" No surprise here. These handcrafted wooden sunglasses are indeed a thing of beauty. The pair I am wearing is wooden and they float! For a water sports enthusiast, this feature is a real sunglasses and money savor. Woodroze sunglasses are worth every penny and like a fine wine they definitely get better with age.

Eco Fashion
Awarded Most Likely to keep you Eco Fashionable 
Tea Dress by Whiskey Dog Wares and Turban Headband by Vietto

Emily Miller creates ultra flattering and very comfortable women's clothing to suite every body type. She is a master with cotton materials and the stun factor is clear upon all who gaze upon you.  The chilly weather has brought sleeves to the adorable Tea Dress and would fit adoringly underneath the Christmas Tree. Another Eco Fashion adoration of mine is Vietto. It all started with the Turban Beanie that she no longer has. Minna, when are you making more of those? I need one. Anyway, I am in love with this Finnish fashion designer. She knits the most beautiful scarves. Perfect for the freezy months ahead.

RMS Beauty
Awarded Most Likely to Keep your Lips and complexion bright
RMS Beauty with photography by Second Ave Photography

May I recommend the Living Luminizer and the "un" cover up. The Living Luminizer brights your complexion and the "un" cover up functions as a foundation/concealer all-in-one. Both products are amazing! I am also a huge fan of the Lip2Cheek. Lip2Cheek is a duel purpose product with Organic Ingredients that nourish and heal the skin. The only make up I own right now is from RMS Beauty. Available now at Well & Good Studio in Leesburg, VA.

Cocoa Coffee Bath Salts
Awarded Most Likely to Relax the Body and the Mind
Eco Bathhouse Cocoa Coffee Lavender Bath Salts with photography by Second Ave Photography

Eco Bathhouse is my baby and I do believe it deserves an honorable mention. These bath salts are named in honor of my wonderful photographer and friend Blaire Ring of Second Ave Photography.  These bath salts are made with Organic Cocoa and Local Coffee from Hopscotch Coffee in Leesburg, VA. The combination of Local Epsom salts and grey sea salts are ultra relaxing, cleansing, and detoxifying. The Organic lavender essential oils deepen your relaxation experience. A perfect stocking stuffer indeed. Available now at Well & Good Studio in Leesburg, VA(not this particular product, but many others).

I hope this Merry & Eco Beautiful list helps you finish your last-minute holiday shopping gifts! Happy Holidays from my family to yours. XO.

Organic Soap Sweet Orange Poppy
I am a soap snob. Some women spend money on handbags and shoes....I drop dough on high quality soap. I am talking Organic essential oils, fair trade ingredients, Organic butters, and lovingly handcrafted in small batches just like  Oh So Good Organics! Your one stop shop for high quality soaps and soy candles. Did I mention that Oh So Good Organics is absolutely addictive?!

The Sweet Orange Poppy soap is my absolute favorite. I have stocked away and purchased nearly 6 bars. The Sweet Orange Poppy is exfoliating, moisturizing, cleansing, and very gentle! I am trying to tone down my usage to save some of this delectable Organic soap for Christmas presents. My will power is not holding up very well thus far. I may have to place another order before Christmas:)

Organic Soap Lavender
Another classic scent is the floral/herbal aroma of lavender. Calming, soothing, and healing. Gentle for children and adults alike. A beautiful soap to look at and when the children are bouncing off the walls with Christmas spirit you can sniff your soap for calming relief. You can also bath your children with it for their calming relief. Either way:)

Oh So Good Organics soap stands up to the test of time as well. It will NOT melt into oblivion during the first use. All this soap talk and you would think soap is all they have to offer. Not so. In fact, our natural scented giveaway is for an Oh So Good Organics Lavender 8 oz. Botanical Soy Candle.

Organic Soy Candle Lavender
I did own one of these lovely Lavender Botanical Soy Candles, but I burned it day and night until there was nothing left. Needless to say, I adore lavender and this high quality soy candle. A beautiful and natural gift for any candle lover! Christmas gifts anyone? Happy Holidays and enter for your chance to win one below!

Top Blogger 
What is a blogger and how do you become the biggest baddest blogger of them all? My partner Carin Kilby Clark of Memoirs of a Clueless Woman and I are exploring every detail of what it take to become a Top Blogger. No longer do you have to wander "the Google" searching for the answers you seek. Follow along during our YouTube and Podcast series to see if you have what it takes to climb the mountain to influential stardom.

Why are we starting the Top Blogger series? To help young aspiring bloggers and to bring attention to the NEW Virginia Bloggers Club. Carin and I want to help connect local and national brands with the perfect dedicated blogger for their campaign. Also, we want to bring awareness to blogger equality. Some small businesses will attempt to pay bloggers with paperclips and sticks of bubble gum. That is not okay. Likewise, bloggers must insist on being compensated(as any trained professional should be) for their time and efforts.

The Virginia Bloggers Club is helping to connect businesses that know the value that bloggers bring to their businesses, products, and services. Bloggers have an established audience of online friends that trust their opinions and feedback. Most bloggers(even when paid) speak honestly without a filter when reviewing a product and/or service. They cherish the bond they have with their audience. The Virginia Bloggers Club is getting quality and motivated DMV bloggers the financial compensation they deserve and small businesses are getting high-end promotions as a result.

Stay Tuned as Top Blogger picks up speed for tips and tricks of the trade. Also, please leave us questions and feedback. We will be doing special Q&A sessions with your questions and feedback. Thank you for joining us and good luck on your blog endeavors! Cheers to the influencers of the world!
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
My question above is merely a philosophical search for the best chalk paint. An on-going quest if you will. I discovered Shabby Paints last week after a trip to Weathered Elegance where my friend and stockist Scottie started telling me about this zero-VOC arcylic based chalk paint. No buffing and No waxing? Intrigued, I purchased a Shabby Paints shimmer paint in Sapphire Sea to use in my son's bedroom. I though it would be a nice contrast to the matte Van Gogh brick red color of Bole. I am going to tell you in detail my experience with Shabby Paints shimmer paint from start to finish and maybe you will want to experience this acrylic-chalk paint journey that is Shabby Paints!

Shabby Paints shimmer paint. Let it be known that I have never worked with metallic paints before last week. Shabby shimmer paints are very thick and super fun. You will want a separate container to glob out and stir in a little water for a workable paint. The shimmer paints or metallic paints should be applied thinly for the best results. I did start to get carried away and caked it on at one point. Heavily applied metallic paint does not adhere very easily and is easy stripped off with subsequent brush strokes.
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
What I love about Shabby Paints. They are Made in the USA, Non-Toxic, 100% Vegan Friendly, and Zero-VOC. VOC's are essentially chemical compounds that are released into the air over time. Some of which are dangerous to humans. Shabby Paints have ZERO of these potentially harmful VOC's. Also, once applied Shabby Paints are tough.

Shabby Paints <3 continued...You can also apply a VAX to achieve a matte like finish, which is the reverse of Annie Sloan chalk paint. Annie Sloan applies matte and then you use a clear wax and buff to achieve a sheen finished look. Shabby Paints dry with a glossy sheen due to their acrylic base. I did not use the VAX last week. We will save that for another day.

 A duel-chalk paint discovery. I applied a thin coat of Shabby Paints Sapphire Sea on top of my Annie Sloan chalk painted table in Coco. That table is a favorite play table for the boys and after they got it all dirty I washed it. The Sapphire Sea started peeling right off. Perhaps a bit of VAX would keep that from happening in the future. I will keep you posted. However, the end result is shabby chic adorable!
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaintShabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shabby Paints better than Annie Sloan? #chalkpaint
Shimmery Blue Bedroom. My son loves the Sapphire Sea color of the trim, fire place, and his bed! Shabby Paints stays put and have a finished look even with the use of VAX. VAX is a varnish and acrylic resin combination. Again, I have not used VAX....yet. The trim was difficult to paint in bright shimmery blue, but after a few touch ups it will be perfection. This bright shimmery color is perfectly suited to a vibrant young boy. The paint stretched very far. One 16 oz. jar painted nearly the entire room. Great coverage Shabby Paints!

You should consider Shabby Paints for your next home improvement painting project! Eco-friendly paints with an exceptional user experience. I am impressed and will be exploring their line more extensively in the coming months. If you are looking for additional information Scottie generously supplied more with a Shabby Paints Shimmer Paints Guide. Until next time chalk paint lovers. Be bold and create something! XO.
Herban Lifestyle Soap Giftset   
*I was monetarily compensated for this post. All words and thoughts are mine.

The sudden arctic weather shift is making me antsy for Christmas AND getting all my Christmas shopping done. Lucky for all of us, Herban Lifestyle is hosting a trunk show on Saturday, November 29th to help us get a head start on preparing for Christmas while supporting local businesses at the same time. A win-win. 

Small businesses DO make a difference. Shop local. Shop small. Spend a day to shop with small business owners that make a difference in their community and local economy. You are sure to find beautiful, handcrafted, artisan, and 100% local items for every special person on your gift list this holiday season!   In addition to Herban Lifestyle products, there will be blown glass objects d'art by Beth Hess of WunderAround and a variety of Etsy artisan products by: EHL Creations, Healing Touch Pottery, Herban Luxe, Karmalades, Naked Botanicals, Pine Branch Designs, Sarah Winter Clothwork, Sprout Bottle, Vita Pulita.
Did I mention the Herban Lifestyle Trunk Show is FREE?! Be sure to view the event details below and RSVP...It's FREE!!:) 
Who: Herban Lifestyle Trunk Show  
When: Saturday November 29th from 11-4  
What: Start the holidays off right with free Herban Lifestyle product samples, delicious food, exquisite glass art, a build-your-own terrarium demo, giveaways, vegan soap, natural bath and body gifts and much more!  Plus, receive 10% off your purchase in celebration of Small Business Saturday!  
Where: Herban Lifestyle Shop located @ 2931-C Eskridge Road, Merrifield, VA 22031—adjacent to the Mosaic District See you there. Heather Paulding Founder of The Virginia Blogger's Club

 *I was compensated for the composition of this post. All words, thoughts, and feelings are my own. Second Ave Photography is responsible for the gorgeous photography.

Jewelry is more than a fashion trend. Jewelry is an extension of ourselves: sentimental and timeless. In fact, we are so attached to our jewels that sometimes we choose to take them with us to the Earth. There are very few artists that can actually achieve the making of a timeless piece of jewelry. Artists that create jewelry that make you feel the attachment from the moment you try it on. Debbie Love from Love Soul Style has achieved this emotional attachment with special "aura stones" for her bracelets.

Aura Stones? Yes, Debbie is very persnickety about the stones she selects for her bracelets. They must have feelings and meaning behind their use. Some stones are chosen for their strength, wellness, tranquility, wealth, etc... It was so much fun to pick up a Love Soul Style bracelet that I was drawn to and ask Debbie, "What do these stones mean?". Of course, I picked up a bracelet that was entirely strength topped with strength...Hercules?:)

Love Soul Style bracelets are stack-able and heavy. I love how weighty these bracelets are! The stones are incredibly unique in color and shape. Some stones are shiny, others are matte, variant in colors, and textures too! Debbie has a true Manhattan vibe. Edgy and modern. I have fallen deep in love with these bracelets and even Debbie herself.

Debbie is a positive vibrant soul that directly impacts the souls of other deserving women. For every bracelet bought, Debbie sends one to a woman in need of compassion and encouragement. Love Soul Style(for me) really translates into love in your soul for others.

Watch out now! Debbie is expanding her line in the near future for little girls! How adorable is that?! I am so excited to see the finished product and purchase one for my gorgeous little niece.

The beautiful green stone is a facet cut Aventurine stone which is packed with intention. Aventurine is said to benefit one in all areas of creativity, imagination, intellect, and mental clarity. Lore says that it enhances prosperity and brings career success. It is a gentle stone that gives a sense of calm and balance to enhance happiness. It also helps one to see alternatives and potentials in all situations, giving a positive outlook, courage and inner strength.  Green Aventurine is also a mystical stone of prosperity, friendship, and is a stone of protection energies. The center stone is a smooth cut of brown Agate. It is said to supply courage and increase the creativity of students and artists. The boost of energy from this stone always comes in waves, therefore, it can help whenever it is necessary to overcome a situation. ~Debbie Love, Founder of Love Soul Style

Who is ready for a "positive aura" Love Soul Style Giveaway? 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How to become Instagram Famous

Instagram is one of my very favorite social media platforms for one important reason: Easy visual sharing. Images are incredibly powerful. Often times it is hard to convey or invoke an emotion through mere words alone. Nothing is quite like imagery to really encourage the imagination to flourish. You MUST use the "visual" that is Instagram to your audience engagement advantage. Here are 11 bullet proof steps to guide you on your way to Instagram fame.

1.) Create a cohesive theme. *Sigh* Alas, the animal accounts of fido licking his derrière day after day get far more likes than my daily selfies. Consistency works. Be consistent with your account. The best feeds have a common theme, filter, look, and feel. That being said, creativity in your postings goe a long way. If you are not artsy or creative, I highly suggest that you find someone who is OR rely on a different form of social media. Play to your strengths. Twitter is great for the practical and uncreative types(most men).

2.) Make it perdy. Terrible photos translate to poor likes and interactions. What is a terrible photo? Blurred photos(generally) and poor lighting. Think about how quickly people scan your feed as they are looking at photos. It must "pop" at a distance or simply do not post it at all.

3.) Do not post at 3 PM(gosh I did this today). I am not sure if it is the school time or work thang, but interaction definitely drops off from 3 PM to 5 PM. The Best time to post is early 7 am to 11 am or early evening 6 pm to 10 pm.

4.) Interact with your followers. You can NEVER be instagram famous if you do not talk to anyone. If someone compliments your hair or photo you need to respond even if it was 2 months ago since you noticed. Your followers will get their online social needs met by someone else if you do not show them some love.

5.) Post at least once a day during the most frequently trafficked hours(see #3). Once a day is enough if it is a really solid post, but more is better. Do not ever force your posts. Post genuine and altered photos. I use the Snapseed app. It is easy and the results are amazing.

6.) What types of photos get the most interaction? Selfies, animals, scenery, beautiful people, beautiful imagery, and quotes.

7.) Create the perfect profile. How do you want people to perceive you. Are you a lawyer, blogger, small business owner, etc... What angle are you working? Keep your words short and witty. For example, allow people to connect with you via your profession, favorite football team, color, AND location. Put your relative location and business URL(at the very least) in your profile. Your URL can be your YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc... Also, if you have other Instagram accounts then you should also put your handles in your profile too. Think about your audience. Think. Think. Think. Light bulb.

8.) Who is your audience? You absolutely must know without a doubt who loves you and how to make them love you. Let me give you a tip. Be you. Check out google analytics and ad words. The statistics from these sites will help you understand your audience better.

9.) Which hashtags should you use? I am using the photo above as an example, but you should always keep your audience in mind. #greatoutdoors #naturalbeauty #scenery #openskies #country #WV #WestVirginia #beautiful #gorgeous #breathtaking #contrast #mountains #travel #trip #vacation #cabin #blue #green #stunning #rollinghills #photography. I choose hashtags based on the photo visually, the emotion it invokes, colors, and location.

10.) Translate your Instagram post to Twitter. Easier said then done. You can share to Twitter and Facebook when you post. Do both. For good Twitter engagement, your words must be short and to the point. For example(for the photo above), I would use the caption "West Virginia. Wild and Wonderful". To increase interaction tag a person(s) associated with your photo. Allow people to be swept up in the post of the moment while simultaneously increasing your visibility.

11.) Videos are for YouTube. Folks are impatient and many times it simply takes too long for a video to load. Next profile. Keep video postings to a minimum. They simply do not get the likes and interaction that photos do.

Now who's ready to become Instagram famous? Go Get'em Tigers!!!
Scary Pumpkin Carving

BOO! Did I scare you? If not, maybe our pumpkins will do the trick. Halloween is my family's favorite holiday by far. This Halloween we finally broke down and spent the extra monies for a fog machine. I also bought a creepy talking doll from Party City to complement my living doll Halloween costume. The baby doll is totally creepy-awesome. But....before the Halloween festivities can begin we must carve our 800 pumpkins a strewn in our yard. 800 pumpkins is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did go overboard with the pumpkin buying this year. Now, it is time to get down to slimy pumpkin-pulp scooping business! Roll up those sleeves and let's do this!

Step 1.) Cut off the top and scoop out the innards. I always rinse and save some pumpkin seeds to bake in the oven for the kiddos.

Step 2.) Use a few drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil to wash out the pumpkin to keep it looking fresh for up to 2 weeks. Turn up side down and let dry.

Step 3.) Decide on a theme. Zombie, classic, scary, painted, etc...and try to go overboard! I heard on TV from a master pumpkin carver that you should work with the pumpkin not against it. Meaning...use the shape or form the pumpkin has. Sometimes you can see the pumpkin face before you carve it. I never use pencil. You are never gonna get it perfect....this is pumpkin art. Every pumpkin is beautiful!

Step 4.) Use props. I heavily believe in adding fake blood, limbs, organs, floral, candy, or whatever else is necessary to achieve your desired look.

Zombie Pumpkin Carving
To achieve this look, chisel many gashes or scars on the pumpkin face. Use a plastic brain instead of the traditional stem top. Paint red paint around the jagged mouth. Wa-lah! You have yourself a zombie pumpkin! This guy looks really cool in our front window.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pumpkin
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(TMNT)! This is the coolest pumpkin EVA! However, I cannot take full creative credit. Here is the pin on Pinterest that sparked the creative eb and flow. This TMNT pumpkin is very easy. You paint the pumpkin green. Cut two almond shape eye holes. Cut a light mouth shape that does not go the whole way through the pumpkin. After you have your outline, take the edge of your knife and scrape the orange part off. Then, use your knife to create gaps for the teeth. Finally, paint a face mask going over the eyes and around the head. BOOM! Coolest pumpkin EVA.

Flower pumpkin centerpiece
The most bizarre pumpkin came from my own brain(of course)! Cut oval-esque shaped eyes and a sizable hole for the mouth. Buy a zombie hand from party city and shove it inside the mouth. I also included roses and placed a wet paper towel over the edge of the stems before shoving them inside. It kinda looks like the dismembered zombie hand is handing you flowers. Sorta sweet right?

 Happy Halloween!
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