August 30, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear friends, I had a very bad week. It sucked and that's putting it very mildly. Sometimes when things are bad or not going our way, we forget to pause for a moment and reflect on the good. For this reason, I'm going to stop and reflect on the good things that happened this week:

1. My husband started back to college after a two year "sabbatical."
2. I got some awesome hugs and love from my babies at work. Something about a hug from a two-year-old makes things a lot better.
3. I've partnered with BlogHer to be a Social Media Influencer - more on that later.
4. Bella is finally big enough to jump up on the couch by herself. We're still trying to finesse it though (sometimes we misjudge and ricochet off...).
5. I'm alive. My loved ones are around me. God is good.

Here's to a brighter future!

In case you missed it....

August 29, 2013

DIY Weekend 8/29

Welcome back to my DIY Weekend LINK PARTY!! Every Thursday, I host this link party to showcase my top three DIY project picks from the last week and give you a chance to show off your latest projects. You can link up to just about any topic and share your tips, tricks, projects and more! If you don’t have a blog to link up with, take a minute to browse the links! There really are some great blogs out there with wonderful ideas. For example, our three showcase projects above:

Just a few house rules for you!

1.) Link up any crafts, recipes, home decor, tips, etc.

2.) PLEASE be sure to link to your specific post not your general blog. 

3.) PLEASE visit and comment on the post before you and after you, on top of any others that catch your eye. Everyone loves comment love!

4.) And most importantly... HAVE FUN!!

August 27, 2013

New Business Cards!

My new business cards arrived last week and I couldn't be more excited to share them. Looking back, it's a little ridiculous how much I stressed over them. Seriously! I even cried at one point because I was so frustrated. For me, it is much more challenging to design something for myself than someone else, because I become more critical for some reason. However, I guess the stressing and the crying episode were worth it in the end because I am in love with them!

I hope you like them as much as I do!

August 23, 2013

Friday's Letters

Bella playing peek-a-boo!

Dear husband, our one year anniversary is creeping up so fast! Can you believe we've already been married almost a year?! Woahhh...Dear blog, I still can't get over how popular our "How To Buy a House in Your 20s" series has been. In the month of August so far, we've had more than 110,000+ blog hits from that series alone! How humbling is that? It's opened up some doors that I'm eager to share with our readers once everything comes into fruition. Dear buffalo chicken sliders, I think you really impressed Nana. We just might make it into the next cookbook after all! Mwahaha! Dear PaperLark, once again, you had another great week. Not to mention, I've got new business cards, a t-shirt with the logo and car magnets. That's pretty legit right there ya'll! If you are in the metro Atlanta area, be on the look out for a black Scion covered in my logo. Ha! Dear Bentley and Bella, you two are getting your Christmas early this year! On Sunday, we are going to start building a fence in the backyard! You lucky dogs

See later alligator!

In case you missed anything this week...

August 22, 2013

DIY Weekend

Hello Thursday!

I'd like to introduce my newest blog feature - DIY Weekend! What is DIY Weekend? Really, it is two things in one. First, it's how I'll share with you three of my favorite DIY projects I ran across this week. Second, it's a way for those of you with blogs to show off some of your latest DIY creations and inspire readers to get crafty this weekend.

Every Thursday, DIY Weekend will debut a new set of featured projects. If you link up below, your project might just make the cut next week!

Without further adieu, let's introduce the top three DIY projects for this week:

What's on your DIY list for this weekend?


August 21, 2013

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sliders

The Unmarried Life: Buffalo Chicken Sliders ... In the Crock Pot!
Photo credit: The Unmarried Life

We're having the family over tonight for dinner. At first, I panicked a little bit, because Nana will be joining us as well. Nana is one of seven sisters who collectively have published two amazing cookbooks. What do you cook and serve a lady who is known around this county for her food?!

Nana's cookbooks get a lot of use in our kitchen!

Not to mention, I don't consider myself much of a cook to begin with. However, I am a self-professed master of the crock pot. It's kind of hard to mess crock pot meals up as long as you follow the recipe. 

R.J. and I have been digging this recipe lately for buffalo chicken sliders so hopefully it'll impress our family chef extraordinaire. (Seriously, ya'll haven't lived until you've eaten a dinner at this woman's house. It's uh-mazing!)

This recipe is delicious, easy to prepare and goes in the crock pot which has Miranda written all over it. I hope you like it Nana!

Put it on the menu for next week. You won't regret. Maybe, I'll even end up in the next cookbook.


You'll Need:
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Minced Garlic
Boneless Chicken Breast
1 Bottle of Hot Sauce
1 Bottle of Louisiana Wing Sauce
1 Packet of Dry Ranch Mix

  1. Turn the crock pot on low and add butter and garlic.
  2. Cut raw chicken into cubes and throw into the crock pot as you go.
  3. Add some salt and pepper to your liking. 
  4. Empty that bottle of Louisiana Wing Sauce in the crock pot and half of the bottle of hot sauce. 
  5. Sprinkle the ranch mix on top and stir it up really well.
  6. Put the top on the crock pot and let it cook for two hours stirring occasionally. 
After two hours, slap that stuff on a bun and drizzle it with some ranch dressing. Your diet can wait until tomorrow, right? ;)

August 19, 2013

Grocery Grumbling: Save by Buying Wholesale

Welcome back to our last installment of Grocery Grumbling! If you missed any of our previous posts, you can catch up here and here.

When we moved into our house, I was in awe of all the space we had in comparison to our 600 square foot apartment. Most notably, I was thrilled with the pantry space we know had. I have not one, but two pantries in our new home. I finally had the space to be able to buy in bulk and stockpile some nonperishable goods.

Shortly after we moved in, we got a membership to our local wholesale club, BJ's. After some trial and error not to mention a lot of math, I've compiled a list of the most cost-effective items to purchase at your local wholesale club like BJ's, Costco or Sam's Club.

Best Bang for Your Buck
Dog Food - there is usually always
a coupon for dog food and it'll get you a huge bag of food for a little bag price!
Olive Oil 
Toilet Paper
Potato Chips - I always go for the 50 count Snack Pack.
 It's perfect for lunches and lasts a month!
Snack Items - This includes: fruit snacks, granola bars, etc.
Toiletry Items - This includes: shampoo, conditioner, soap, 
toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Usually always have a coupon for these items.
Only have to buy them 1 or 2 times a year!
Ziploc Baggies: Another thing to get with a coupon that is almost always cheaper 
than the grocery store.
Contacts - Seriously! It's the least expensive place in town (and online) we've found
for the hubby's contacts!

That said, this is not a comprehensive list of the only things you should buy wholesale. These are simply the items that I have found to be most cost-effective. The most important tool to use while shopping wholesale is KNOWING PRICES. You can't spot a good deal without know what its counterpart at the grocery sells for. 

My tips for shopping wholesale? On average, I go to BJ's once a month with a strict budget. Everything is written on the list and typically has an accompanying coupon. Don't stray from the list. I know that stuff in the middle is tempting as is the mega size bag of Reese's on the candy aisle, but resist the dark side. If you don't, you'll have a hefty price tag at checkout. 

Before going, I use a price list to give me an idea of what I'll be spending to make sure it fits in my budget. Looking for a price list? Check them out here:

What are your tips for saving by buying wholesale?

August 16, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear husband, you finally have a weekend off! I am beyond excited and I know you are too. Also, I'm so incredibly proud of you for getting into your degree program at Dakota State University! WOO HOO! It's going to be a long road, but I have no doubt you'll be successful. If I have to be your school secretary in addition to already being your personal secretary, just let me know! Dear Ikea, I'm coming for a visit tomorrow and I've got some money to finally buy my office desk. I hope I'll be able to sleep tonight from the excitement. My makeshift-card-table desk just hasn't been cutting it! Dear beach, I am 23 days away from you. Please. hurry. up. Dear PaperLark, you've kept me busy this week and I loved every second of it. I will take this week as a sign that we are coming out of our summer slump. Dear Bentley and Bella, you two make the best snuggle buddies ever...when you aren't fighting with each other underneath the covers. Bella, I'm pretty sure you are the one who nibbles my toes while you're under there even though you swear it's your brother. Dear blog, you hit a major milestone - going viral on Pinterest. Thanks to our Buy a House in Your 20s series, I've officially crossed over the 100,000+ views mark in a week in an half. WOAH!

See ya next week!

August 15, 2013


I figured it was time for a little update on the house.

As for outside projects, I'm still trying to get those shutters done. We've got four windows on the front of the house with two shutters each. We've got the two windows on the right side of the house done and put back up. However, we've got to go back to Lowe's and get some new shutter pins for the left side of the house. I'll post pictures when both sides are done, but the right side already looks so much better!

Last weekend, I gave a little TLC to the window frame display I have on our living room mantle. I had another window frame on the mantle which was identical to this one, but it is sadly falling apart. Both of the frames were found in the back of a barn at my parents' home. We used them at our wedding to display our engagement photos.

One of the window panes in this frame was long gone. I got a small wooden W at Hobby Lobby which was $1.38, but was 30 percent off. I paid a whopping 97 cents for it. Once I got it home, I wrapped it in some jute I have in the craft room and hot glued a ribbon to attach it to the frame. Loving it!

In our living room, I'm trying to incorporate a rustic, burlap theme. What better way to do that then to add a burlap curtain?! It is a terrible picture and doesn't do my curtain justice (not to mention my severely-lacking mantle...), but it'll have to do for now. 

I sewed the curtain myself so it only cost $7 for the burlap to make! It's slowly coming together.

To my joy, PaperLark has taken quite a bit of my time this week. I'm working on some new items and the orders keep rolling in! I even ordered some new promotional goodies this week that I can't wait to share with you when they get here. 

It's almost Friday!

August 14, 2013

Anxiously Awaiting Autumn

I don't know about you, but I've had fall fever this week - especially since August tends to be the hottest month of the year here in Georgia.

I've done a lot of searching on Pinterest for both fall and winter decor this week. Considering I actually have a home to decorate, I'm ready to go all out and busting a button to get started.

Even though autumn doesn't officially start until Sept. 22, it isn't too early to start decorating, right?

Anyway, get fall fever with me by taking a look at my collection of free printables! Just click the pictures to go to the original source to download your free printable. ;)

free halloween printables

August 13, 2013

Couponing Class

I've got the scoop on the couponing class taught by our very own guest couponing blogger, Rebecca Lettelleir! [Missed her excellent couponing post? No problem! Catch up here.

Date: Saturday, August 24
Time: 9 a.m.
Where: Royal Baptist Church Newnan, GA 30263
Cost: $10

If you would like to attend, please send an email to Rebecca at to reserve your spot! 


August 11, 2013

A Letter to College Freshman...

RJ and I at graduation

Dear freshman,

I graduated in May 2008 from Georgia State University in Atlanta with a Bachelor of the Arts in Print Journalism and a Bachelor of the Arts in Pre-Law Political Science. I graduated magna cum laude and had just finished my stint as Editor-in-Chief of the university's student newspaper, The Signal. During my time in college, I had also successfully completed a very beneficial internship with Creative Loafing.

As a bright-eyed freshman, I knew I wanted to be a hardcore, political news reporter. I did everything to position myself to be successful in this pursuit as I'm sure you can tell from the above paragraph.

After I graduated, something odd happened. I landed what I thought was my dream entry-level political reporting job at a small newspaper. Even though there were some other reasons I ended up quitting my so-called dream job, I soon realized being a political reporter was not my dream. Once I reflected for some time, I came to the realization that I had formed my idea of a dream job as a result of what I perceived others wanted me or expected me to do.

A year and a half after my graduation, I have realized my new, true dream: to own and operate my own paper goods business. Do I regret the four years I spent at Georgia State? Heck no! Those four years were some of the best and most rewarding of my entire life. In all honesty, I wouldn't know how to design the invitations and prints I sell. It was in one of my journalism classes and in my work with The Signal that I learned how to use the software.

You won't know exactly what you'll be doing with this degree you are about to earn when you graduate. Do you have to have it all figured out now? No! That is what college is for! No matter what degree you end up with, you'll be able to use it to get a job somewhere. At the end of the day, the time you spent in college earning your degree will prepare you for what's next. Is it still worth it? Yes! No one can take away the knowledge you will gain in these coming years. You cannot put a price tag on a meaningful education.

To sum it all up, relax. You don't have to have it all figured out right now. I still don't and I'd like to think I'm doing just fine. Never forget: you are the captain of your own ship.

You got this!

August 8, 2013

Announcing our newest line of prints...

I've been really excited to launch my latest line of typography prints. With school getting back in session and rush coming up soon, I couldn't think of a better time to release these little cuties!

Introducing PaperLark Studio's latest product line:


Here's a list of the ones I currently have for sale in my Etsy shop:

**To see them in the shop, click your sorority above. I linked them up for you!

I know I only have a handful of the sororities right now, but here's a list of those coming to PaperLark Studio soon!

  • Alpha Xi Delta
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha
  • Delta Phi Lambda
  • Delta Phi Omega
  • Delta Sigma Theta
  • Delta Zeta
  • Gamma Sigma Sigma
  • Lambda Theta Alpha
  • Sigma Gamma Rho
  • Sigma Lambda Upsilon
  • Sigma Sigma Rho
  • Theta Nu Xi
  • Zeta Phi Beta
  • Zeta Tau Alpha
  • Delta Pi Epsilon
  • Gamma Eta
  • Alpha Sigma Rho

If I missed your sorority, please let me know! I'd be happy to create a print for it. I anticipate to have these all in the shop before rush is in full swing this fall so be sure to check back.

I hope you enjoy them!

August 7, 2013

A Trip to the Big Easy

Jackson Square

I thought I'd share some snapshots from our trip to New Orleans. If you are planning your own trip, you might find some information that could be helpful. Fair warning to those who aren't planning a trip: you'll want to after this post!

For most people, New Orleans conjures thoughts of loose moral standards, booze and Bourbon Street. However, I don't think we give enough credit to the other goodies New Orleans has to offer. Founded in 1718 by the French, New Orleans has a rich history. It is also a city filled with many vibrant cultures as a result of its past. As one of our tour guides said, New Orleans is like a big pot of gumbo - you can put just about anything (or anyone in this case) in it and it's still amazing. The city reflects influences from the French, Spanish and the Caribbean. Heck, the city even gave birth to its own groups of people: Cajuns and Creoles. (And yes, they are two different groups as we were reminded several times on our trip!)

Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square was my absolute favorite place in New Orleans. It is the original town square and is still the center of the French Quarter today. It's also home to the famous St. Louis Cathedral. (Fun Fact: St. Louis Cathedral is actually a basilica! Seeing as it has been known for most of its existence as a cathedral, the name has stuck with it.) Like with any cathedral, the inside is absolutely beautiful and worth going inside.

Next to St. Louis Cathedral, sits the Louisiana State Museum. It hosts an exhibit on Hurricane Katrina which you can see for $6. Beware though, the museum closes at 4:30 p.m. We learned this the hard way and didn't get to see it!

Street artists line the wrought iron fence that encompasses the park in Jackson Square. The artwork ranges anywhere from $20 to $500. We snagged a drawing of the St. Louis Cathedral from a street artist as our souvenir.

Street artists at Jackson Square

Among the street artists, are street performers who paint themselves completely and pose like a statue - until they jump out and scare you that is. Lastly, musicians sit on the benches in front of the cathedral and play the jazz music that New Orleans made famous.

To me, Jackson Square is the quintessential New Orleans experience. Throw in a bowl of gumbo or jambalaya and there you have it! Speaking of food...

The Food

You can't talk about New Orleans without talking about the food. The cultures that made their home in New Orleans have all left an impression on the city's cuisine landscape. 

Besides the obvious famous entrees like jambalaya and gumbo, New Orleans is known for its coffee. I've never seen so many coffee shops in one city. Seriously! There is one on every corner. 

What sets New Orleans coffee apart? Chicory - the root of the endive plant which is mixed into the coffee. You can't go to New Orleans without stopping in at Cafe Du Monde for one of their famous Coffee Au Lait which is half coffee, half hot milk. Oh! Don't forget to order some beignets to accompany your coffee.

Coffee Au Lait and beignets
Looking for the best po-boy in New Orleans? Go straight to Verti Marte on Royal Street. It's a hole-in-the-wall mini-mart with a deli in the back. When we asked the locals where to get a po-boy, Verti Marte was the answer every single time. I'm not a po-boy eater, but my husband says it was the best thing he ever put in his mouth. He is a pretty tough food critic so I'd trust his word!

Also, if you are looking for a muffaletta which were made famous by the Italian immigrants, go to Cafe Maspero on Decatur Street. It is HUGE and equally delicious!

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Lastly, if you are looking for some 21 and over fun, be sure to grab a famous New Orleans Hurricane. If you are on Bourbon Street, don't stop in at any ole bar you see. Keep walking down until you hit Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Phillip Street. Named after the pirate turned war hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Jean Lafitte, the bar serves up the best Hurricane in the city as far as we were concerned. 

The Sights

During our time in New Orleans, we went on two tours. The first was a historical tour of the French Quarter from La Vie Orleans Tours. I would highly recommend this tour. It was my personal favorite out of the two. We learned so much about the history, culture and architecture of the Crescent City that it was worth every penny. It also was a great introduction to the city in terms of learning our way around. 

The Lalaurie House is said to be the most haunted home in the French Quarter 
Also, a tip for anytime you take a trip anywhere, always check for Groupons in that city. The only reason we went on the two tours is because we got some excellent deals on the tickets. For both tours for the two of us, I paid $35. I've already been hawking Groupon for our upcoming trip in September.

The courtyard of the Beauregard-Keyes House
Another interesting sight in New Orleans is the cemeteries simply because they are very unique to the region. Because the city is below sea level and has a three foot water table, the dead are put to rest above ground in mausoleums. The most famous and oldest of these cemeteries is St. Louis Cemetery #1 where the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is believed to be entombed. 

St. Louis Cemetery #1
 A word to the wise: The temperature inside the cemetery is approximately 10 degrees hotter. Take a bottle of water in with you and some sunscreen so you don't get burnt like I did!

Mausoleum where Marie Laveau is believed to be entombed
Lastly, after walking your feet to death, save your change and pay the $1.50 to ride the historic streetcar. It's a staple to the New Orlean's landscape and one of those things you just got to do. 

New Orleans is a vibrant city worth visiting. Its culture is irreplaceable and its architecture is beautiful. I absolutely fell in love with the colors in this city. It is so different on so many levels from the other cities we have in the United States. At times, it did feel like we were in a totally different country. However, it does foster that Southern hospitality which will always make it feel like home. 

The end!

August 4, 2013

Grocery Grumblings: Confessions of a Couponer

Today, I'm very excited to introduce Rebecca Lettelleir, conquerer of the couponing world. Becca will navigate us through her couponing process and will provide you with some excellent tips to get you started saving big as well. Also, a little birdie told me Becca will be teaching a couponing class here soon in the south Atlanta area. Once details are confirmed, I'll pass along the information. Seriously, I envy her coupon expertise. I'll be quiet now and let Becca take over...  

I love, love, love couponing! Once you figure out what you are doing, it is so much fun. It truly is addicting. Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am a couponer. I am sure somewhere in the world, they are starting a couponers annonymous.

I began couponing, not too long after I got married four years ago. I took a couponing class from a friend which jump-started my addiction. I mean, who doesn't love free stuff and spending less on groceries? Couponing quickly becomes a game of finding the best deals every week.

Where To Shop

Photo: Couponing Publix: -7 cents. Yes, they paid me 7 cents to take this from the store. My overage covered tax and then some extra pocket change.
-7 cents. Yes, they paid me 7 cents to take this from the store. My overage covered tax and then some extra pocket change.
Ninety percent of all my grocery deals come from Publix. Many of my friends refuse to shop at Publix because they think it's too expensive. Most of my great deals come from Publix and for $1 or less. I have had experiences where they actually paid me cash money to take items from the store. Who can pass that up? 

One little tip: even if you have overage at other grocery stores, they will not pay you cash, but good ole Publix will. 

Now that you know my favorite grocery store, let's talk drug stores. All the major drugstores like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, all have good deals from time to time. Up until recently, I did not coupon drugstores very much until I realized what all I was missing out on. You can find cosmetics, paper products, household cleaners and occasionally grocery deals at the drugstores. My favorite out of all three is CVS. To me, it is the easiest to learn if our just starting out.

Where To Get Coupons

21 cents!
Approximately 50 percent of my coupons come from printable links online while the other 50 percent come from newspaper inserts. If anyone has ever attempted to coupon, they know what kind of junk comes in the inserts. Three coupons you can use and 75 that you can't. I use to buy two double papers that way I got four of every insert which cost me on average about $8 a week. I couldn't tell you the last time I actually bought a newspaper for coupons.

I now purchase my coupons from Coupon Dede's, a clipping agency online. There is a small handling fee for each coupon and you pay a small amount to ship the coupons. There is a $5 minimum to order so with shipping I spend about $6.15 a week on coupons. I get what I want, how many I want and spend less than the buying the newspaper. Occasionally, there is a limit per household per week on new coupons so you may not be able to buy as many as you want. Even with a limit, it's a better deal than newspapers.

How I Coupon

I use Southern Savers to find my deals for me. This website lists all major grocery stores in the south along with the drug stores. The lady who runs this website is all sorts of awesome. There are a bazillion couponing websites out there, but this is by far my favorite. She breaks down each sale ad every week, pairs up the coupons available, tells you prices and what you will end up paying. Occasionally, her store prices will vary from mine, but the majority of the time she’s right on the money.

Publix changes their sales on Wednesday or Thursday depending on what county you live in. My Publix changes on Wednesday. Somehow, she gets the sale information Monday or Tuesday and posts all the coupon match ups. I like to look at Southern Savers, see what's on sale, find the best deals and make my list from there. Then, I go to the coupon clipping website to find my coupons. If I order before noon on Tuesday, my coupons will arrive Friday.

Lastly, I like to add everything up so I know what I am spending before I go to the store. Occasionally, things do not turn out like I planned, but for the most part things usually work out in my favor.

My Parting Advice

Start small. Try out one grocery store before you try to tackle the drugstores. Like I said earlier, I am just now really learning to work the drugstore system. Drug stores are a totally different ball game compared to grocery stores.


August 2, 2013

Friday's Letters

The artwork we bought from a street artist on Jackson Square in New Orleans!

Dear husband, thank you for veering into Racetrack at the very last second to quench my Coke thirst. Also, it really stinks I had to work a double on your only day off this week. Better luck next week! Dear work, between working doubles and our trip to New Orleans last weekend, my butt is officially kicked. I will be trying my best to recoup this weekend. Dear PaperLark, I cannot wait to launch our new line of typography prints next week! I AM PUMPED! Dear mountain of laundry, I will conquer you...eventually. Dear September, hurry up and come so I can go to the beach!

The end.

August 1, 2013

And the winner is...

Congratulations to the winner of my Happy Birthday to Me Giveaway, Cassie Price!

What's on tap for next week:

  • Grocery Grumblings: Couponing
  • Another giveaway to celebrate the launching of PaperLark's new typography print line
  • Project Life update
  • Friday's Letters (of course!)
See ya then!
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