last minute holiday gifts: for foodies & bloggers

Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet? I'm not...in fact, I'm headed out to buy a few last minute items today so I can watch football tomorrow (Go Broncos!)

If you still need some last minute gifts, here are a few ideas for the foodies and bloggers in your life.

Cookies

Instead of heading to the mall, why not stop by the grocery store and  make some holiday sweets for your friends and family.

Melt in the Mouth Cookies are a Christmas favorite in my family. The best part about these is that they're so easy to make and you probably already have all the ingredients you need in your pantry.

mitm

Cranberry Lemon Sconeswould be the perfect treat with some coffee on Christmas morning. These scones have the perfect blend of tangy and sweet.

20091229_0928
20091229_0928

If you're in the mood for something fancier and festive, make some Christmas Sugar Cookies

Blogging / Online Tools

Do you have someone in your life that loves to blog? Are they still using a wordpress.com or blogspot blog? Why not buy them their own personal URL and hosting so they can own their own space on the web?

Bluehost(affiliate link) makes hosting and domain purchasing easy. It’s especially easy for those of you who want to create WordPress websites. The installation couldn’t be easier. They also have amazing support and live chat for questions you have.

bluehost
bluehost

Once you buy them a domain name, they'll need an easy Wordpress theme to customize the look and feel of their blog. My favorite premium theme is Headway Themes (affiliate link). I have tried many premium themes and Headway surpasses them all. I use it on this site and a few others that I own.

If you want to design your own theme with minimal coding, this is the theme for you. It takes a little bit of time to become familiar with the interface, but once you do the possibilities for website design are endless.

headway
headway

Good luck to everyone as you finish up last minute details for the holidays! I'm off to tackle my to-do list!

a redesign, a giveaway, and a very happy blog birthday

Happy Birthday

UPDATE:

Thanks to everyone who entered the birthday giveaway! I'm excited for the next year ahead of blogging with all of you.

The winners of the free pattern are: Jennifer, Marie, Diane Baldwin, Lynn and Diane.

The winner of the KnitPicks certificate is: Alice

The winner of the book is: Camilla

(Winners have been notified via email)

Two years ago, on September 1, 2009, Painting Lilies was born. Today is my blog's 2 year anniversary!

As a birthday present, I gave the site a make-over and new design. What do you think? I had been wanting to change the design for some time and its 2 year birthday was a perfect reason for me to finally stop procrastinating and write some HTML. (In case you're curious, I use the amazing Headway Theme)

Since I gave my blog a present, it's only fair that I also give my loyal readers a present. So today (and for the next week) you can enter to win a variety of prizes. But I'm going to make you read the rest of the post before I tell you how to enter! (It's my birthday...indulge me for a minute.)

I first created the blog's concept in April 2009 and took my time learning to create Wordpress sites, HTML and all the other fun aspects of blogging. The name Painting Lilies comes from Shakespeare's King Lear (Didn't you know I was a nerd? Well, you do now...) On September 1, 2009 I finally bit the bullet and published my first post, a crocheted blanket for Quirk.

Some notable statistics:

  • This is my 80th post
  • I have at least 1 post in each month, except December 2009
  • The posts have been published from 3 countries (United States, the Dominican Republic and Japan)
  • During the life of this blog, I have lived in 4 cities (Seattle, Santo Domingo, Denver and Boston)
  • Readership has grown steadily over time with the most unique visitors coming in August 2011. Thank you to all 13,895 readers out there who stopped by in August!

Enough with the statistics...what are the prizes and how do I qualify?

I'm glad you asked.

The prizes are....drum roll....

  • 5 copies of my yet-to-be-released baby blanket pattern. This pattern is still on the needles, but will be finished soon (I promise) and the PDF pattern will be yours for free as soon as the PDF is created. The pattern is called the Sand Cable Baby Blanket. And I think you'll like it!
  • $25 gift certificate to Knit Picks
  • A copy of one of my favorite cooking books. Your choice of: Supper of the Lamb or Garlic and Sapphires

To enter:

Leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite Painting Lilies post has been over the last 2 years. If you've been with me from the beginning, you have 80 posts to choose from. If you're a new reader, then maybe this is your favorite post! (Be sure to include your email so I know how to contact you.)

Bonus points:

You can receive additional entries into the contest by sharing about it on:

Twitter

Make sure when you Tweet to include my handle @paintthelily, so I see your Tweet!

Facebook

Add me as a friend and tag me when you share the link!

Google+

Are you on the newest social media network? If so, mention me and share this post with your circles!

Next Thursday, September 8th, I'll put all the entries (maximum of 4 per person) into a spreadsheet and use a Random Number Generator to select the winners.

Thanks everyone for reading! When I started this blog 2 years ago, the 75 visitors I had in my first month were probably all my close friends and family. Two years later, I had over 13,000 people visit. Thanks for reading, for returning, for sharing and for being a part of the blogging community here with me!

 (awesome picture by Omer Wazir)

this week I...

1. Made Strawberry Leek Quesadillas (with goat cheese) They are delicious and a great summer meal. You should make them.

2. Had the staples removed from my foot! And my burns are healing nicely...finally!

3. Learned that glass must be heated slowly or it explodes. Apparently thick glass is worse than thin glass since it heats unevenly, causing it to break. Pyrex is specifically designed not to break. Glass can withstand high temperatures when heated slowly and evenly.

4. Was reminded that visits to the ER are not only painful, but also expensive.

5. Dog sat the most adorable little dog in the world. Meet Rascal. I miss him already...reminded me so much of the little Bichon I had growing up named Peaches.

Rascal the Bichon Frise
Rascal the Bichon Frise

6. Went to Dillon, Colorado

7. And read by the lake...

happy 2011!

2010 was a whirlwind of a year.  I lived in the Dominican Republic, Colorado and Boston.  Besides traveling all around the DR, I went to Japan, Philadelphia (twice), San Diego, Seattle (twice), Nashville, Chattanooga, Austin (twice) and drove from Denver to Boston. I cooked, knitted, and took pictures.  A year ago, my new year's goals were:

  • To not let a full month go by without posting on the blog.  Accomplished! (though I'm still not quite as regular as I would like to be)
  • To read lots of books. Accomplished!  I read 42 books this year.
  • To knit a pair of socks that fit.  Accomplished!  (Although I didn't use the two circular needle technique, I made a pair and gave them to my mom for Christmas)
  • To take a picture every day. Accomplished!  This was a huge undertaking, but I love going back and reviewing my year in pictures. It challenged me to look at my days in a new way.  I love how it captures my travels, the mundane, the exciting, the little things and the big things.  I'm planning to print the photos and put them together in a scrapbook.  I'm still on the fence about whether I'm going to do this again in 2011.  I loved the project, but I might be a little burned out on it.  In July, I posted my favorite photos from the first six months.  My full 365 days of photos are on Flickr. Below are my favorite pics from July - December.

July

August

September

October

November

December