Pork Roast & Kale Stew

I got a new Crock Pot yesterday so I had to give it a test run today! It's cool for Florida today and I'm still getting a feel for my new low carb regiment so I decided on a hearty stew.


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 lb pork roast
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled & halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsley chopped
  • 3 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups of raw kale, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Black or cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
 
This recipe is intended to be prepared in a medium sized Crock Pot.
Put the pork roast in the crock pot completely whole. Add in halved onion, raw carrots & celery, and kale. (If you are a kale-lover, you can add an additional cup without affecting the flavor at all.) Pour stock on top. Turn the Crock Pot on high and cook for four (4) hours. After four hours, turn off and shred the pork in the broth. (If you prefer, you can add a pinch of salt and/or black or cayenne pepper at this point.) Stir and then let it sit for half an hour and then serve.

Bag Lady

Maybe it's because they always fit or it's easy to change them out, but I've got a thing for purses! Any size, most colors, whatever materials- as long as I think it's interesting or pretty or just the right size, I will want it. I'll admit that in the past I've spent way to much on bags that caught my eye, but in the last few years, I'm much more restrained- mostly 'cause I'm out of room! I love Etsy because I can use a vintage purse a couple years and then let it find it's next home (unless it was grandma's, most of those I have a hard time parting with). I also love the handmade selection on Etsy. JuneberryStitches, bedeckle, bohoEco, GypsyThread, DesignsByCritelli, GraceDesign are a few of my current favs.

Please enjoy these gorgeous bags, all available on Etsy, at least until I save up and buy them all (wah ha ha ha...)! If you want to beat me to it, click on the shop name and it will take you there.

From Bedeckle
From TimeWarpJunkie
From GypsyThread



From bohoECO
From JuneberryStitches

From DesignsbyCritelli
From TheVintageCurve

From GraceDesign

 This is my drool list, if you share similar tastes, you might like my Pinterest board: Bag Lady
(If you've got a great purse board, post it in the comments!)
So are you also a purse lover or is it just utilitarian to you?

I'm a Winner!

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is  Artsnark's Artifacts. Stacey is an amazing photographer and just a great artist all around. I have a print of the art below hanging on my wall right now.

Hibernate by Stacey Merrill, ACEO available at Artsnark's Artifacts on Etsy.

As a fan, I was thrilled to win her January giveaway. The prize was a Michael's giftcard, a set of inspirational beaded wire words, and an illustrated quote book that features some of Stacey's artwork. She also threw in the crayon rocks for my kiddos just because she's awesome like that! 


Quite a haul! Follow the Artsnark's Artifact blog to get in on future giveaways.

The lovely wire words over one of the book illustrations, Ring of Fire by Jennifer J. Rodriquez.

The Year of the Purge

"Over the Hill" by Roxanne Tobaison, ACEO available in the Watercolors N' More shop on Etsy.


If you follow the Chinese zodiac, then you are aware that 2015 is the Year of the Sheep. However, for me & my family, it is the Year of the Purge! (Now I'm not promoting eating disorders, so purge that thought from your mind!) We are in simplify mode. We need to make a room for Jane (check out the Pinterest board for that) so we're transforming a storage area into that. That means our garage will be our main storage area and it desperately needs cleaning out and organizing. Currently I've got boxes and boxes of vintage inventory for my Etsy shop out there. Purging that is hard because it's my livelihood and a lot of it was my grandparents, so that makes it harder for me to part with. Still, I have to start somewhere, so I'll be trudging through that task, but I'm determined to get it under control and give Jane the space she needs.



Chalkboard finish framed dry erase calendar from  Birchwood Crafts.

Another thing I'm going to be purging is my HUGE load of commitments. I'm over-committed and have been for the last couple years. Mentally, I've become much more forgetful and I'm just stressed out a lot. I'm starting to see physical ramifications from it. When the doctor, my husband, my besties and my heart tell me I'm doing to much, I'd be a fool not to listen. I know I face disappointing  people, but they'll get over it and it's going to make my life better, so it's worth it. I'm still figuring out what is staying and what is going, and there is some second guessing, but if I needed any encouragement to follow through with this, then the tension headache I've had since New Years Day is a constant prodding.


Budget worksheets from Lemon & Lime Printables


The last thing that I'm actively purging is debt! This is something that Jason and I are really excited about. We did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University last fall- with some skepticism and trepidation- but it turned out to be a wonderful experience for both our marriage and our bank account. I don't know how we managed to be married 10+ years and not talk in depth about our finances, but that's how it was. Now we share a vision of where we want to be down the road and we're on the same page as far as how to get there. We paid off all our credit cards last fall and are now tackling the last non-mortgage debt we owe.

So that's the theme/game plan/resolutions for 2015. I think all these things are very doable, it's just going to take some determination and elbow grease!

Merry Christmas from The Richarmes!

With one week until Christmas, I can definitively say that I will not be sending out Christmas cards this year. I've managed to the last couple years, but this year, I just had too much on my plate to even think about getting a family portrait or even ordering thoughtful cards. I'd rather not send anything than to send a generic card with just a signature and no little note or anything. That's just me though. I do feel a little guilty though as I absolutely love all the cards we've received in the mail this year. So here's my compromise- consider this an online Christmas card from us to you!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!



(Jane was not unhappy, by the way, she just was not going to give up a smile this afternoon. =p)

My Etsy Wishlist!

It's no secret that I'm an Etsy girl. All year long I browse and favorite things, if I was a good girl this year, maybe one or two of these will end up under the Christmas tree! They're all from sellers in the USA so that's pretty "nice", right? ;p

 I am all over the hair stuff this winter. Check out this gorgeous clip:

from Lost Years Vintage

For the home, this awesome bat hook:


from The Tim Woodsman


Here's something else batty I desire:


from Zulasurfing

This trio of cloisonne boxes is just delightful and useful:


from Pollygolightly


This one is a little sad as my dear pekingese is probably not going to be around many more Christmases:


from Confetti Monster


Last, but not least, something very practical!


from King Stitch Studios




Why Should I Bother with Small Business Saturday?

 (or small businesses any day?)

I'll say up front that I am in on planning a Small Business Event with Peacock's Design & Consign (a local business), and my Etsy Crew, so I'm not completely without agenda as I write this. In fact, I want you to come to this event or one like it if you are not in the Tampa Bay area.



Christmas shopping... either you love it or dread it. I get anxiety when I can't find a parking spot or in crowded places so it's natural for me to do all my Christmas shopping online. Cyber Monday is my friend. I'm also pretty thrifty so I love a good Black Friday deal, but with the lines and frenzied pace, it's less tempting to me. So then we come to Small Business Saturday. 

It's relatively new. American Express started it in 2010. Now why would a credit card company care how you spend their money as long as you keep using that card? Well, they don't. However, getting more small businesses to accept American Express may have been a motivation. After all, they send out a sweet Small Business Saturday kit to businesses that register with them. Let's not dismiss it as a ploy though. Even though this began as a credit card thing, small businesses have championed the call to bring holiday shopping to local shops.


So what are we talking about when we use the term "Small Business"? Legally, a small business is defined as a business employing less than 500 people, so there is a great variety in how they can look and operate. My business is a one person operation that provides supplemental income for a stay at home mom. A friend works for a custom bathroom refit company that employs 300 people in three different states. 65% of new jobs are created by small businesses. They currently employ about half of the working population in the US. 


Interesting, right? But why should I venture out and spend my money at a small business?  I am so glad you asked, let me tell you! First of all, it's community. These businesses are run by your friends, your neighbors. Your money is staying local and supporting your town. A lot of businesses purchase supplies locally as well. Small business donate 250% more to local groups than the national retailers do. Our schools, our charities, our economy all fair better when we spend at local businesses. Small businesses also support a town's identity. It's sad how many strip malls with all the same stores can be found in town after town. We have to support the quaint stores and cute shops if we want them to stay open.

My favorite part of the small business experience is the shopping itself. I love to give unique gifts that are regional or just one of a kind. That's hard to find at the larger stores. And let's talk about customer service. When you deal with the creator of an item, they often feel personally responsible to make sure you're happy with their product. Returns, alterations, custom orders- usually not a problem and you get an answer back quickly.

Inevitably cost comes up whenever "hand crafted" is mentioned. This is another reason to get out and come to Small Business events like the TBEC one. When you talk to the maker and understand the quality you are getting and the time put into it, the costs are really reasonable. Sometimes I've found things even cheaper than in larger stores anyway and many sellers will bargain with you if you purchase several items. 

I think the main reason that people might not support small businesses is the convenience factor. It's true, Walmart is the only place open at 3 am when you have to go get toilet paper, but most of the time when we are shopping for other people or for an event, we know pretty well in advance. It just takes a little planning. Thanks to the magic of the internet it's easy to search for local places and even read reviews of them. The Etsy website has a cool feature where you can have it just show items available from your area. A lot of sellers will let you meet up with them locally so that would save shipping costs too. Shipping is one of the drawbacks of shopping online- the expense, the environmental costs, the time, and hoping it gets delivered to the right address undamaged.

I'll admit that I still plan on getting my son's major electronic Christmas present from a bigger chain, but I also plan on spending just as much, if not more, locally. Maybe, like me, you'll be out of town for Small Business Saturday. Any day can and should be a Small Business day so don't let the day or time of year limit you from getting out there and supporting your local small businesses.

What is your favorite small business? What reasons do you have for shopping locally?

Pinterest Community Boards: Being a Great Contributor


So you're thinking about joining a community board on Pinterest. The pins are great and it's a board theme you are totally into. You glance through it- not too many duplicates and you can already think of pins from your boards that would be terrific additions. You ask to join and are welcomed in. Now what?


Well, first off, go through the entire board if you haven't already. Try to notice what's already on there so you don't post duplicates. Nothing drags a board down quicker than seeing the same pins over and over again. Yes, even if you think your caption is better, resist repining.


Notice the tone of the pins. Is it a humor board? Are the pins primarily rated G or NC-17? Strictly one thing? If you ask to join a board you are telling the person that made that board that you wish to contribute within the parameters and topic they have set up. Stick with that. The board "owner" has the power to kick you off if you stray, but even if they choose not to, pinning off topic or inappropriate pins is rude to every other contributor and follower of that board. Don't do it.

Try to add pins that are linked to their creator or original site. Make sure the pin is not linked to a spam website. If necessary, change the caption to fit the pin. If you're not sure the pin fits the board, use the caption to state why it might. Pins should be of great quality- clear photos, proper spelling and punctuation, working links.


Part of the fun of community boards is that you're able to interact with each other. Leave (appropriate) comments. Like and repin freely. When someone comments on a pin you've added, it can start a great conversation when you reply back.


 Lastly, feel free to leave if the board doesn't live up to your expectations. It only takes one discourteous pinner to change the atmosphere of a board. You don't have to stick around. You can start your own community board! 


Hope this helps. There are so many social media outlets and the "rules" are often unspoken and vary greatly from site to site. Best rule of thumb though- treat others how you want to be treated!

What to do with all those pins!

I've got a fairly decent amount of vintage pins. Some I inherited, some are lucky thrift finds and a few were hard won on eBay. I hardly ever think to use them though. When I do remember though, I don't always want to put a hole in my clothing and sometimes I just can't figure out where to put it so it looks right. Occasionally I'll get it right, but mostly I just don't have the time to mess with it. 

My hair is super long right now and I find myself "bunning" it a lot. It's not my best look, but it's easy and cool and surprisingly in style this summer. I get a little bored with this look though, so I've been utilizing my pin collection to add a little interest to the look. 


Photo from my Instagram account, follow at http://instagram.com/thericharmedlife

So what do you think? Is this something you'd try out? If so, my only advice is to make sure the brooch is attached to both a pinch of hair and the hair tie, otherwise, it can slide out.

Here are some of my favorite pins on Etsy that I think would work well for this. All are under $50! (Just click the shop name in the caption and it will take you to the shop each brooch is in.)

Available at Neatstuff Antiques

Available at Moddities

Available at Lorenzo Mele

Available at Richarme

Available at The Vintage Curve

Available at Zeppola

Available at Sanibelsands Jewelry
Available at Jeanies Place

Online Group Etiquette


Congrats, how fun, you've decided to join a new online group! You have similar interests, you're networking, you're learning new things- the internet is amazing and full of new friends. Maybe the last group didn't work out so well or you've never joined a group before. Here are some tips for being a polite and considerate group member while you're jumping in.

1. Look before you speak. Scroll through the threads, see what topics have already been covered. If it's on Facebook, look at the Files tab. A lot of groups will have their page policies posted in there. It's good to know up front what the expectations of group members are. It's not a good first impression to start with a post that's not allowed in the group.

2. Notice the tone of the board. Is it playful? Is it strictly business? Take that into account when you start posting. Often posts that are not in step with the rest of the page get ignored. No matter what the tone, when you are new, you must be careful not to come on too strong. A first impression is hard to break, especially online. I'm not saying don't be yourself, just be your best self. In time, when you've made connections and aren't just a random poster, you'll know what's appropriate and how accepting the group will be of your inner freak. Give it a little time though!

3. Introduce yourself! We all lurk a bit, but don't go too long without introducing yourself. When you comment, people want to know who you are and if you know what you are talking about. A nice introduction will help with that. You want to include the name you like to go by and what has brought you to the group. People will not read more than  4-5 sentences, so keep it short. No one cares about your life story... yet. Here's an example:

 Hey all, newbie here! My name is Julia and I'm really excited to be part of this group. I have an Etsy shop that I sell vintage in. I've been dealing in antiques for almost a decade so I hope I can help others who have questions and also learn more about selling on Etsy.

Friendly, informative, readable- that's all you need.

4. Don't drop and run. I'm in a handful of Facebook groups and a moderator for two. It's really annoying when people only post when they want or need something. If you want the group to help you, you have to be around and an active part of the group. Even if you have nothing to say, you can like posts and comments. 

5. Look before you plan. So you've got a great idea- a project or an event. Look around, look at the event tab, and then ask if something's being, or been, done. It really steps on people's toes if they've been working on something and a newbie comes in and tries to take over or get people to jump to their idea instead. Most group leaders are thrilled when people take the initiative to plan things, but just check to see if it's not already being done.

6. Be nice and be positive. In my favorite group, we vent. It's sales and that can be frustrating. Our closed group is a supportive place to vent. However, if it was all venting, the negativity would be overwhelming, so we also use a lot of humor and encouragement as well as useful tools. It works. When you are new to a group, don't post only negative posts and definitely don't make antagonistic comments on other people's posts. You don't have to be Suzy Sunshine if you are naturally more of a Debbie Downer, just think before you post and try to imagine how it will come across to other group members. It's a great practice in diplomacy and self control. Later, once you've proven you are not a whack job, you'll be able to make more off the cuff comments, but in general, the internet would be a better place if we all used a little more tact anyway.

So what are some other helpful tips you'd give a group newbie? Made any rookie errors that are funny or that we can learn from?

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