March 27, 2015

Earth Fare Grand Opening in Morrisville, NC + $50 GIVEAWAY!

Good morning! Happy Friday.  Ah, something about a Friday just puts a smile on my face.  :) I am so glad it is almost the weekend.  I have no plans but to sit around in pj's, watch basketball, and try a few new recipes I've had on my mind lately.

Today I am very excited to share with you a new supermarket that is opening up in the Triangle area.   Earth Fare opened its doors this past Wednesday morning in Morrisville, NC at Park West Village.  Seriously, if you live in the Triangle and haven't been over to that neck of the woods, you totally should.  Boy has it grown in the last decade!  There are SO many neat shops and delicious looking restaurants.

Earth Fare opened up in Asheville, NC in 1975 as a small restaurant but over the years it became a chain supermarket in the South Eastern United States. 

Earth Fare prides itself in having "real food for everyone!!!"  

Meaning, their products contain:
NO high fructose corn syrup
NO trans fats
NO artificial colors and sweeteners
NO synthetic growth hormones in fresh meat and dairy 
No Bleached or Bromated Flour

They sell real foods and frequently reassess their food labels and ingredients and if it doesn't 100% meet these standards, they pull it.  Such a great philosophy in my opinion!

Buy in Bulk! Nuts, grains, seeds, granola, etc

Nut Butter Station: Almond Butter, Honey Roasted Peanut Butter, and more!!
This past Monday me and 5 other local food bloggers were invited on a private tour of the new Earth Fare Supermarket.  What a treat.  It was such a fun experience and an honor to be invited to participate in the launch of their newest store.

I had never been to an Earth Fare before so I am very glad I was given this opportunity to try out a new supermarket because they offer SO many unique things that other local supermarkets just do not have.   Case in point: Nut Butter Station!!!! I got to sample some of this delicious goodness and O-M-G! That was the best thing I have ever had.  Amazing flavors and textures.  Wow!! I would drive the 20 minutes JUST to get me some nut butter.  Hehe.

One thing I really appreciate about Earth Fare is their loyalty and recognition of the hard working local farmers and entrepreneurs around Our State.  This honey is grown locally in NC.  

There is no designated Gluten Free section, but they do have red markers like these to indicate where you can go to find Gluten Free items in a given aisle.

Tons of cheeses to choose from!

They also have candy in bulk.  The M&M's are made with real vegetable and fruit juices which give the added color.  They taste EXACTLY like a real M&M without all the crap in it! So cool.

Supporting local!

They offer homemade organic bath soaps and bath salts.  They smell amazing!

Organic Wine- yes please!

You can also order party sized platters if you need a lot of food for a specific event like a Cookout or a Birthday Party.  Just punch what you need into this kiosk and bam, your order is placed!

There is a small cafe where you can sit down and eat your lunch or snack if you need a break.  Free Wi-Fi is also available.

Smoothies are made to order at the Smoothie Bar located beside the Cafe.  I sampled 2 different kinds of fruit smoothies and they were out of this world.  So yummy.  I suck at making smoothies so I will definitely be going back for these this summer!

A big thanks to Earth Fare for sponsoring this post and giveaway!

Enter to win a $50 Gift Card to Earth Fare.  Click here to see if there is an Earth Fare near you!

Contest runs until next Friday, April 3rd, 2015.  

 Entry Rules:
1. Follow me on Twitter OR Facebook 
2. You must leave a blog post comment telling me what you would buy if you won! (mandatory)

Winner will be announced on Saturday, April 4th!

 Disclosure: Open to US Residents. Please check the list of Earth Fare locations to make sure one is available near you before entering. Giveaway ends Friday, April 3rd, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. Earth Fare is providing one Buttergirl Diaries reader a $50 gift card. In exchange for my review I was also given a $50 gift card. All opinions expressed in the above post are 100% my own.

March 25, 2015

10 Do's for New Bloggers

Hey everyone! Today we are going to talk about blogging.  If you are someone who is considering starting your own blog there are some really important things I think you should know before you begin.  It will help you out a LOT!  I have been blogging for a few years now and have learned so much along the way.  Today I am sharing the first of a 2 part series: The 10 Do's and Dont's for New Bloggers. 

10 Do's for New Bloggers

1. Create a unique and easy to spell blog name.  This is a very important one- that's why it's first ;) (This is also discussed further in my post about Blog Inc.) Your blog name should be unique (nobody else has it), easy to spell, and should hopefully give the reader some idea of what the blog is about.  It should be catchy,  not too long, and fairly easy to remember. 

2. Write great content.  A blog isn't a blog without content.  The content should be a reflection of you and your personality.  Write content that you are good at and know a lot about.  Be genuine in your writing and give your readers something to take away.  You don't always have to 'write for the reader', but do keep it in mind.

3. Have a minimal layout.  Don't get crazy with the look of your blog.  The successful blogs these days are modern, fresh, and easy to navigate! Simple, classy, clean lines, and 2-3 colors tops.  Keep sidebars clean of clutter and ads to a minimum.  This isn't MySpace so don't go crazy.

4. Be active on social media:  This will bring people to your blog! You don't need to be on every single social media platform- I sure as heck am not.  There are way too many and nobody has the time to network on social media all day long.  Just pick a few and stick to it regularly.   I hardly post to Facebook because it's boring.  I get the most engagement and enjoyment on Twitter and Flickr.  

5. Take good quality photos. You do NOT need to have a DSLR camera and 10 lenses to be a successful blogger.  Seriously.  But I would recommend a good point and shoot camera over a cell phone camera any day.  I don't know about you but my Iphone does not take good pictures...anymore.  It's old.  The camera is terrible.  You can get a great point and shoot camera for $50-$100 at Target.  They take good quality pictures.  It will last you a LONG time and you don't have to buy any lenses.  Score. 

6. Tag your photos.  When you upload your pictures to each post, be sure to tag them.  It's really important for search engine optimization (SEO).  It's a lot better having a picture read, TealDress.jpg than DCS0012.jpg.  Search engines will pick it up, and over time, it will bring more organic readers to your site.   

7. Stick to a regular posting schedule.  Some bloggers post Monday through Friday.  Some post Tuesday and Thursday.  Some post 1 day a week.  It doesn't really matter but *try* to be consistent.  Your readers crave it.  Keeping a regular posting schedule will keep you from burning out.  In the beginning I was posting 4-5 days a week for the first few months.  I got extremely burnt out (ask my husband) and took a long break after my wedding.  I felt really guilty but I think I put too many eggs in my basket and in the end, my blog suffered.  Don't make this mistake.  Take it little by little until you find a good schedule that works for you.   

8. Be unique.  Don't copy others.  It's easy to get sucked into that world.  Be bold.  Be daring.  Be different.  Don't be afraid to step outside the box and try something new.  Always be your genuine self.  Your readers love that the most.

9. Monitor your Stats.  Over time you will notice you stats improving.  Pay attention to the 'keywords' stat- ie. how people are finding you on Google.  It will let you know what posts are the most popular and what information people are searching for every day.  This helps me go, "Okay, people are really liking the posts pertaining to flower photography.  Cool.  I will keep delivering those types of posts!"  This is super helpful.  

10. Take breaks and enjoy life.  I saved the best for last.  Everyone needs "me time!"  Take a break and go outside.  Take trips and do fun things to get the most out of life.  Doing this will not only clear your mind and set you free but it will inspire other blog posts down the road.  What is the point of writing a blog about life if you don't experience life?  :)    

March 23, 2015

spring is in the air

Spring is officially here! I am very excited about this change.   After the last of the snow melted here in Raleigh, I was immediately ready for Spring!  Nothing tops warm temps, riding in your car with the sunroof open and windows down, and all the gorgeous Spring blooms.  And dresses! Love wearing dresses.  It's the best part. 

The bradford pear trees (above) are my favorite.  They make for a great backdrop for a photoshoot.  Trust me.  They are stunning for portrait photography.  Take advantage while you can!

After a long Winter I am always antsy to get out and photograph nature, especially the little elements like flower petals and bugs.  If I don't have time to go somewhere, I will just step outside my door and see what I can find to photograph.  It forces me to be creative with my immediate surrounding.  You don't always have to go to an arboretum full of flowers to find beauty in nature.   Beauty is everywhere!

Spring also means the pets get to enjoy our porch a lot more often.  Mr. Truck love to sit outside and get fresh air as he watches the birds and squirrels play around.  The best part about where we live is that there is a nice size stream behind our house that feeds into the nearby lake.  It's awesome to have that in our own back yard.  In the summer, the sound puts me right to sleep on nights when we leave our windows down.   

Spring time also means lighter colors and Spring-y smells all over the home.  I love peonies.  They smell so good and are absolutely beautiful.  No matter what, I always have a candle (sometimes two!) burning in my home.  They add such a great ambiance to the room and the right ones will leave your home smelling divine.

This Pink Peony candle from Signature Soy is my current favorite candle brand.  It's super girly and yummy smelling.  I really want to try Sugar Blossom too.  You can get these soy candles at Target for $10.

Have a great Monday <3

March 16, 2015

On Getting your First Photography Publication

Hey everyone! Happy Monday. It's almost Spring so turn that frown upside down. :)

Today I'm excited to share some recent news with you.  My husband Matthew continues to amaze and inspire me with his fine art photography.  He is a perfect example of how following your dreams and never giving up on your passion will eventually pay off and bring you success.

2015 has started off with a bang.  Matt Williams Photography's first photography publication was this past January followed by a second photography publication in March.  Yay!  For any photographer (wedding, fine art, portrait, architecture, etc.) a publication in any media outlet, ever, is a huge honor and something that all photographers aspire to throughout their careers.

Matt's first publication was in the January/February issue of North Carolina Wildlife Magazine.  He placed third in the 'Plants' category of their Annual Wildlife contest.  Not only was his photo, 'Mimosa Bloom', published in the magazine itself, it was also showcased at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC along with all of the other talented winners.

Below are some pictures of the publication:

Original Photo: "Mimosa Bloom"

 Cover of the Magazine with Grand Prize Winner.

 'Mimosa Bloom' with Photographer credit and short description of photo.

We took a Saturday morning trip to the museum to see the gallery.  Matt's photo looked so beautiful among all of the other winners.  We were so thrilled and that afternoon we shared the good news with our friends, family, Facebook fans! :)

The next publication occurred a few months later.  4 photos were used in an article about Umstead State Park in the March/April issue of Cary Living Magazine.  He landed cover (Wahoo! So exciting!) of the magazine, a two page spread, and 2 other photos were used throughout the magazine.

 Cover Photo.

 I'm so in love with his blue hour photo of Big Lake. Absolutely stunning. 

Inside of Magazine.

This is such an exciting time for Matt and I am so proud of his accomplishments.  I will keep you all updated on all of the great things to come in the future.

March 13, 2015

Great Picture Frame Sale Going on Now at Michael's!

Today I want to fill you in on a great sale going on.  I'm always looking for beautiful picture frames that don't cost an arm and a leg.  I have had a bunch of wedding pictures that I have been meaning to frame for a while now but I had some trouble finding the "perfect frames."

I went to Target to see what they had but most of their frames were out of my budget for this particular project.  They were all lovely of course but not really what I was looking for.  I needed some basic white matted frames for under 10 dollars each.  

So I took a trip to Michael's and found exactly what I was looking for- before I even stepped foot in the store.  Outside of the store they have a huge display of their lovely Studio Decor picture frames that are 50-60% off.  I purchased about 9 frames, varying in sizes, and only spent around $45.  That is a steal!  Most of the frames I bought were between $6 and $7.  Color selections include teal, rustic light brown (this one has great texture too), classic white, and a maroon color.

They are really great quality frames!

When I got home I put my wedding pictures in the frames and hung them on my wall in my office next to my desk.  They look beautiful and I am so happy that I was able to save a lot of money in the process. :)

If you are looking for some awesome frames for a great price head on over to Michael's and check out their picture frame sale currently going on.