Share the Love: My Top 3s

The Creative Life

So there’s a saying that goes “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and it basically boils down to common elements in life. Now, this post isn’t about enemies, but friends. Namely blog, video, and insta-friends, because if you like and read me, then there’s a good chance that, by virtue of common elements, you might like to read/watch/follow them!

Must Read Blogs

I follow a lot of blogs and websites via Feedly. The last time I checked I had more than 200 feeds on my list, though not all of the update every day and some are quick clicks as opposed to in-depth reads. Picking three that I stop and read (or save as new to read later) is actually a bit of a challenge, but these are pretty high on the list right now.

  • IttyBiz by Naomi Dunford Great for other business-minded readers, Naomi stopped blogging for quite a while but has recently picked up the pace and is back to regular posts. This is not the dry, formal, repetitive business advice that the suit and tie sites offer, though. Naomi is wonderfully irreverent and gets real with her examples, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is just pretty damn awesome. Go. Read. Learn.
  • Brit & Co by Brit Morin and others This is a very high-volume feed and while I ignore some of the more obvious click bait headlines, I keep them in my reader for the recipe round-ups. So many of my menus get a jump start from those posts that its worth rolling my eyes at some of their other content (which, in all fairness, is geared at women 10 years younger than me, on average).
  • The Mary Sue It’s my one-stop “shop” for geeky pop culture updates, new media, and social issues that are relevant to me. Another high-volume feed, I read far more of their articles than I pass on. Plus they post cute videos on Mondays.

I read and enjoy plenty of individual, non-business blogs and enjoy them for different reasons, these three are my most useful at the moment.

Must Watch Channels

I posted my first YouTube video back in 2012 but it wasn’t until a few months ago that YouTube became a daily stop in my Internet routine. Since then the number of channels I subscribe to has grown (along with the number and frequency of videos that I post!). Here are my the ones I check out first right now.

  • My Froggy Stuff & Create Something Fabulous Two channels that are sides of the same coin. Froggy, along with her daughter Little Froggy, make and play with doll rooms, sets, and props and Froggy breaks them down into easy to follow tutorials. Froggy has fabulous energy, gets so excited about their projects and adventures–they’re just a pleasure to watch. And Little Froggy has been taking horseback riding lessons and competing, which shows up on the second channel from time to time.
  • Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo I first encountered Jared Polin through a Creative Live course. He’s an awesome photographer, a great teacher, and very entertaining. He kind of reminds me of my aunt who also was a photographer for a while, so that’s probably a reason I like his delivery and mannerisms, but I think he’s pretty relatable in general. Even before I finally gave in and bough myself a DSLR, I got valuable tips from him on composition and understanding of how digital photography, in general, works.
  • Christina of Pretty Shiny Sparkly She’s one of my newer follows but I just adore her. I first found her when I was browsing planner videos, and just sort of got hooked. She does regular life vlogging, product reviews, and fashion and beauty stuff.

Of course, I hope you’re subscribing to my channel, too 😉 I’ll always try to link my latest video here on the blog, but I’m sure there will be some that are more just-YouTube instead of being an extension of these posts as time goes by.

Must Like Images

Instagram is a little harder to pinpoint favorites on since everything just comes across as one big stream of pretty. But I scrolled through my following list and picked out some highlights that I think you might find just as inspirational or aspirational as I do!

  • Melissa Dinwiddie @A_Creative_Life This is the epitome of creative inspiration. She posts lots of work in progress shots that remind me to get back to creative work.
  • Maggi @JustAddGlitter Fellow former Gauche team member, Maggi’s posts range from geek fun, crochet and art projects, to dolls and family shots. Her feed is bright and colorful.
  • Jennifer Lee @JennLee I’ve been following Jennifer Lee, author the Right Brain Business Plan and Building Your Business the Right Brain Way, for many years in many ways (video summits, classes, etc.) Earlier this year she leased a studio space and her Instagram feed frequently includes pictures of what she’s up to in there.

As I made this list I realized that my favorite feeds are colorful and full of inspirational artwork and life shots. That’s pretty much what Instagram means to me. Scrolling through my own posts I see that I tend to post that same sort of thing. Have you compared your favorites to your own posts to see how they match or differ?

I hope this post helps you find new people to watch, read, or follow! And if you think there’s someone I need to know about, by all means, share in the comments!


Resources for Low-FODMAP Living


April is IBS Awareness Month and, as such, I though it would helpful to share the books and websites that have helped me so very much over the last few months.

My default reaction to a new idea or problem to solve is research. This used to mean hitting the library when I was in school and heading to the bookstore once I was a gainfully employed adult. Of course, the Internet is a fabulous resource, but you have to be able to weed out the truth from the fiction, tested theory from mere supposition. Respected authorities are still respected authorities, right?

image via Monash University

image via Monash University

Monash University, Dept of Gastroenterology These folks literally wrote the book on FODMAPs and are continuing to test and evaluate more ingredients as time goes on to determine just what effects they have on our delicate digestive engines. They recently released an iPhone app that, from all accounts, is quite helpful to its users. I can’t speak to it, personally, as I’m still waiting for the promised Android version (coming out soon, I hope). You can order their information booklet (link is to pdf order form) that goes over the basics of what FODMAPs are and how they can effect us, along with a handful of recipes to get your started. There are also some product information bits, but unless you’re in Australian those won’t help too very much. It doesn’t go into incredible depth on the subject as they believe (and not without good reason) that going through the low-FODMAP elimination diet and challenges should be  overseen by a qualified dietitian. But with FODMAPs stll relatively new in the US, it can be hard for those of us here to find someone who really knows about it and can guest you through the process.

image via the author's Facebook page

image via the author’s Facebook page

Which leads us to IBS: Free at Last! by Patsy Catsos. Catsos is a registered dietitian in Maine who is a great champion of the low-FODMAP diet for IBS sufferers. If you can’t find a local dietitian to work with, Catsos’ book is the next best thing and can gives very detailed information on what FODMAPs are, how they (can) effect us, and how to systematically remove the known high-FODMAP food sources from our diets and gradually test them through specific challenges. Catsos writes in a very approachable style, but also includes a chapter that goes into the nitty-gritty scientific details for those who want to go more in-depth. There’s an extensive Q&A section (in my Kindle version they were actually linked at the end of each chapter, which was pretty convenient) and a couple of recipes for basic bits.

One thing that I really found useful–and this is the only place I’ve found it put so plainly–was the explanation of just why High Fructose Corn Syrup is such a questionable ingredient. Yes, it’s true that HFCS is a combination of glucose and fructose (the “same” as table sugar, according the HFCS lobby, right?), table sugar is always 50/50 fructose and glucose, the glucose making the fructose easily digested by bodies with IBS. HFCS, on the other hand, can come in various ratios, three of which are the most common: 45% fructose/55% glucose, 55%fructose/45% glucose, and 90% fructose/10% glucose; and there’s no knowing which one the manufacturer is using. Fructose that’s not “balanced” by equal amounts of glucose are a problem for many IBS sufferers. I can this the free-range fructose problem 🙂

Catsos maintains both a website and facebook page to support her book and is very good about responding to questions on both.

image via Kate Scarlata

image via Kate Scarlata

Kate Scarlata is a Boston-based dietitian who is another proponent for the low-FODMAP diet. It was her guest post on Fooducate that started this whole journey for me. The author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Well with IBS (I have not read this one, yet, but understand that it has a chapter on FODMAPs, but it’s not the main focus). Her blog, however, is a great source for inventive recipes that are frequently low-FODMAP friendly. Her Homemade BBQ Sauce is really tasty and even includes finely-grated carrots for a bit of extra vegetables. I used it to make BBQ Chicken Pizza one night and it was a big hit.

The easiest way to adjust to a low-FODMAP lifestyle is to cook most of your meals at home. If you’re already comfortable in the kitchen, this isn’t such a big change, but if you previously depended on a host of pre-made convenience foods or eat out for most of your meals, this can be a big adjustment. Finding good sources for recipes, then, is paramount.

Which is why I’m happy to see that Scarlata has put together 2 pdf ebooks: Low FODMAP Cooking with Kate Scarlata and a 21 Day FODMAP Friendly Meal Plan. I have purchased these but have only glanced at them so far. Still, they look like good resources, especially for Todd when he needs ideas when it’s his week to cook.

image via

image via

Finally, on the book front at least, I picked up a copy of this 3-in-1 Gluten Free Cookbook at Homegoods just before the holidays. Since it was an overstock-style store it was only $8 and I figured it was a low-risk investment in the event I didn’t need to continue wheat-free after the Elimination Phase, but would give me some pointers in the mean time.

Turned out to be the best $8 I’ve spent in a while! The cookies and cake I made over the holidays were well-received by my family and Todd and I continue to cook out of the book for dinner ideas. Because the focus is one gluten-free cooking, there are still plenty of recipes that won’t work for low-FODMAP living, but the bread and dessert chapters really are huge helps.

Of course, once I was out of research mode and into the day-to-day, I needed to stay on top of what was going on and the best way I’ve found to do that is by banding together with others of the same purpose. There’s a Low-FODMAP for Foodies facebook group that works both for inspiration and support, and a Pinterest board of Low-FODMAP Products and Recipes created by a fellow member of that group.

Then there are three recipe blogs I follow that focus on FODMAP or similar issues:

Granted, not all of the recipes available on those sites (or any other, for that matter) will be perfect for every IBS patient that responds well to a low-FODMAP lifestyle because everyone’s individual tolerances are different. It’s perfectly possible to be sensitive to only one or two of the five FODMAP groups or (like me) to be sensitive to all of them. It’s also possible, over time, to increase tolerance to certain foods over time.

It’s also entirely possible to be in that 25% or so of IBS sufferers that do not respond to a low-FODMAP lifestyle, which can be incredibly frustrating.

Products and tactics for eating out (fast food and fine dining, both) deserve their own posts in due time. For now, I think this is a pretty good start, don’t you?

Inspiration for Change

64 Arts

Have you gotten the itch, yet, to make your bedroom into a true sanctuary? To make it lush and inviting? Relaxing or invigorating?

If I didn’t have quite a bit of work still to do on our living room (namely custom slipcovers for 2 sofas and a love seat, throw pillows* and art for the walls) I’d be heading to the hardware store to pick up just the right shade of antique gold paint and a few spare curtain rods (closet doors bug me, especially the hanging roller-track things of the 70s that are in our home; solution: take ’em down and hang curtains!)–that and a nice picture frame or two would go far to making our room that more cozy.

But where do the ideas come from? If you’re looking for a change, where do you go for inspiration?

I found the inspiration for our living room while wandering the aisles of a Tuesday Morning (overstock housewares store for those unfamiliar) where I came upon a small box in a blue and black pattern. We had some blue lamps and brown walls–tadaa!

Other places I like to browse for ideas: Better Homes & Gardens’ website, Apartment Therapy, and IKEA showrooms (they have the power to make me believe I could actually live in 700 square feet if it was laid out correctly). Sometimes it’s a complete room image that seizes my imagination, other times it’s just a single thing or piece of fabric. Touring open houses is also a good way to get ideas; even if you’re not in the market for a new home, professionally staged homes are a fount of inspiration.

A couple of blogs that come to mind are The Cottage Nest and Making it Lovely. I learned about both of these blogs through a BHG competition a while back and have remained a fan and subscriber since then. The former in is in the midst of a move right now but has, in the past, posted great pictures of cottage-style decorating and her own transformation of her (now former) home in the charming cottage style. The latter, though, not only runs her own stationery & more store, pink loves brown, but she is also is in the process of transforming her home. In addition to her own progress pictures and stories, she frequently puts together series taking one or more key pieces and takes them through various rooms and living situations giving a host of options for using investment pieces in your decorating.

What are your favorite spots for interior decoration inspiration?

*I’m not a devotee of shabby chic but I do like some of the elements of it. I created a technique I call “shabby applique” for my living room throw pillows and show the complete how-to in one of my articles for