Happy New Year!


I love them...especially him.

Happy new year to each and every one of you!  

Here's to an amazing 2012.


Best of {Acute}: Hair Tutorial

I loved this hair tutorial I posted a few months ago.  It is one of my favorite fussy and fancy hairstyles.  I think it is perfect if you are planning on dressing up tonight for New Year's Eve.

Read entire original post here.

Wishing you all a fun and festive New Year's Eve!

Best of {Acute}: Earth Day

I wrote this last April on earth day.  It was a simple and short post, but one of my faves of the year.

My earth motto

      Those that do nothing to help are just as guilty as those who contribute to the problem. 

                 We can't all do everything all the time, but each of us can do something. 

Respect this earth by making conscious decisions. 

The realization that everyone is connected and the choices I make do have an effect on others, is one of the most powerful things I have learned.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. 

That is my motto when it comes to how I care for my bit of this earth.

Best of {Acute}: Resolutions

As 2012 looms I find this post from the start of 2011 to be a perfect remembrance.

I am not sure how to measure my success {or lack of it}.  Is it making so much money that I never worry?  I know people with a lot of money and they still worry....

Maybe one day wen I look back I will be able to pinpoint when I became successful.  

Resolve to succeed

It's January 2nd and I am writing this from my in-laws house in Ireland.  More specifically from the bedroom my husband was born in.  I know... I hope they have bought a new bed in the last 40ish years....

I just read a slew of blog posts about resolutions.  They are fun to read and fun to write . It is scary and exciting to get your resolutions down for the world {or at least your few readers} to read.

It creates accountability.

When I turned 30 last November, I wrote down 30 things I would do this year. And I posted an update here.

Those are my resolutions.  I always make them and just never do anything about them.  Imagine that.

This year is different.  This year I have no excuses and no paycheck . If I don't grow my business, I will be knocking at the temp agency door looking for another paycheck.  And frankly, I would rather be homeless than be back at a j-o-b.

So here's to New Year's resolutions, health, happiness, and everything else.  I hope you all are well and enjoying the first days of 2011!

Best of {Acute}: Snowy Ireland

My favorite part of this "best of" series is reading over all my old posts from 2011.  This one was from New Year's Eve last year.  I was in Ireland and it was the coldest, snowiest winter ever.

This year it is just rainy and windy...the snow was much prettier but it was too cold for me :).

Snowy Ireland + Happy New Year

I just wanted to pop in with a few photos of the snow and to wish you all a very happy, healthy, and safe New Year!  I am excited for 2011 to start.  I have a lot of big plans and am nearly bursting at the seams to get them going.

We had a fun and snowy three days in Dublin, followed by a train ride to Kerry {we had to cancel the rental car due to the snow}, followed by days of eating, drinking, sleeping, and relaxing.  A great holiday and luckily, we still have 6 more days!  I think I might end up gaining 200 pounds, but hey that's what New Year's diets and resolutions are for.

Best of {Acute}: Be Genuine

Hello friends!  While I am away in Ireland + Chicago for three weeks, I will be posting some "Best of {Acute}" posts from 2011.  

This post was one I wrote for Handmadeology last summer.  It is all about being genuine on your blog.  A genuine blogger is my favorite kind.  Enjoy!

Are You Genuine?

image via here

I read a lot of blogs.  And by a lot I mean way too many.  Blog hopping is a big form of entertainment for me.  It is also a way for me to gain fantastic inspiration and useful information.

Through all my blog hopping I have found several blogs that draw me in and make me want to return again and again.  Usually a blog draws me in because I love and relate to either the information, or the style, or the photography, or all three.  All three of these things are important to me, however even if you have all three but aren’t genuine, I probably won’t be back.

I have browsed blogs that on the surface seem so my “type” but they are lacking something.  For a while it was hard for me to grasp what this “something” was – and then it hit me.  They aren’t genuine.  They are trying to hard to fit into a box – a box that has been deemed popular by the masses – and this frustrates me.

Being your true self matters so much more than having the prettiest pictures or discussing the hottest new online magazine.  If you aren’t genuine, it shows.  When I read a blog, I want to feel like I have a sense of the blogger’s personality.

This being said, I know how hard it is to portray your true self through writing.  I struggle with it; I think every blogger and writer struggles with it.  In order to reveal more of my personality and put into words the message I truly want to convey, I always do the following before I hit publish on my blog:

I read my blog posts out loud.  When I am reading I think about how I sound – is it like me or like a caricature?  Would I say these things IRL {in real life} or am I just saying thing I think people want to hear?

 There is no need to be cruel and put people or products down, however using tact and writing what you really feel goes miles further than just rambling off the same thing blogger A.B. and C. said earlier in the week.

Being your true, authentic self will resonate with people in a far more powerful way than trying to be the “it” blogger.  Trust me, readers can tell.  The written word is powerful and it is hard to hide behind.

What exercise {if any} do you practice in order to ensure that your true self is portrayed in your blog posts?

DSW Winner

Congrats Ami!
You are the $50 DSW e-card winner.

Email me for details.

The Lucky One - Best of {Acute}

Good morning friends!  I hope you all enjoyed a lovely Christmas weekend.  

Tonight we are heading away on a 20-ish hour trip to Ireland.  I always love going to Ireland - it is nothing but two weeks of relaxing, enjoying the gorgeous scenery, eating great food, drinking, shopping, and visiting with family and friends.

I will be away from home for three weeks and will be popping in here and there with a few posts.  However in order to keep the blog running while I am gone, I have scheduled several "best of Acute Designs" posts. 

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have enjoyed looking back over the year and choosing my favorites.  It is amazing how much the small changes I have made in my photos and posts have improved this little space.

Up first was a little something I wrote for my first newsletter, which was sent last December.  {What? You don't get my newsletter?  Sad!  But now worries, you can sign up here.}

Enjoy your Monday!

In general I feel like a pretty lucky person.   Really, I have no major complaints.

During this time of year, I feel extra lucky.

When I hear about underprivileged children not getting gifts for Christmas or see all the homeless people on the streets on a cold night, I feel a little “Why me?  Why was I born into an amazing life?”

I understand that a lot of life is what you make of it and some people make better decisions than others, so their good or bad fortune isn’t just luck, it is based on hard work….or lack of it.

I am a firm believer that life is what you make of it, but some things you cannot control.

You cannot control the situation in which you are born into and some people were just born into great situations.  I am one of those people and that makes me feel fortunate.

I started off dealt a good hand and I don’t want to waste it.

We all have an aspect of our lives that is plain and simple luck and some of us have more than others.  If you are one of the lucky ones, be grateful for that luck, and don’t waste it.

In the New Year I intend to work harder than ever before to turn the lucky hand I was dealt into a lucky hand of my own making.

How about you?  What will you do?   How about using all your luck to your advantage and turning your back luck around?  It's possible and it is up to you.

Even though I am a lucky one, I know that the end results {be it my business, my health, or my happiness} are all up to me.

Have a wonderful holiday and until next year I will leave you with the words of the The Pogues {which were my inspiration for this newsletter}:

“Got on the lucky one, came in eighteen to one. I got a feeling, this year’s for me and you.”

Merry Wishes

From my family to yours - wishing you all the best this Christmas!

Ready for a break...

I am so ready for a break.  I feel like I blinked and there went December. This month was non-stop busy with shows, online orders, wholesale orders, blogging and so much more.

I have a few last minute items to deal with today and tomorrow, then Sunday I plan on relaxing all day long.

Monday night we leave for a 2 1/2 week trip to Ireland followed by four days in Chicago.

It will be a great trip with lots of family time, seeing old friends, good food, and fun.

While I am away, I have a "best of the year" series scheduled for the blog.  It will be a collection of posts I wrote here and for other blogs throughout the year.

I hope it gives some of you new readers a chance to get to know me and my blog a bit better and for all of you long time readers - maybe you will catch something you missed the first time around!

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.  

xoxo, Gina

12 Days of Merry: Day 12 - Tiny Succulent Hostess Gift

Looking for a last minute hostess gift?  These little succulents are super easy, cute, and hard to kill {I should know - I kill most plants, but I have yet to kill a succulent}.

Buy a few tiny jars or cups at the thrift store {all of mine cost $1 or less} and a few tiny succulents at Home Depot or a garden store. Take the plants out of their plastic containers and re-plant in the glass cups.  Add a little moss {bought at the craft store}, tie a bow around it and you're finished!

Such a cute little gift.  You could also do this with a tiny cactus...I hear they are also hard to kill.

This was my final 12 Days of Merry Post - thanks for following along!  I hope this series provided you with some holiday inspiration.

In case you missed anything.....

Day 1: Pet Sketch Giveaway {this giveaway has ended}
Day 4: 2Market2 Giveaway {this one is closed...but you can still shop!}
Day 8: DSW E-Card Giveaway {you can still enter!}

12 Days of Merry: Day 11 - Holiday Treats

One of my favorite things about the holidays is eating!  And cooking/baking, but mostly eating.

This year I had grand plans to make several different cookie recipes, but alas my busy online business took over {not complaining} and I ended up with just two batches of cookies.  

In addition to the cookies, I made my parents spiced nuts.  I had no idea how easy it was to make spiced nuts.  I am not a nut fan...but if you are a fan, you have to try my recipe.  It takes about 5 minutes and I will admit - I tasted one cashew and it was so much better drenched in butter, sugar, and spice!

Easy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Recipe on my food blog, taste

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip - Recipe from my food blog, taste // Jam filled cookie - recipe and photo via here

Gingerbread cookies - recipe and photo via here // Christmas sandwich cookies - recipe and photo via here

Simple Spiced Nuts
Recipe: Heat 2 lbs of salted nuts in a dry pan for about 3 minutes - until they are lightly toasted.  Remove from pan and set aside.  In the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  

Stir all together until it becomes like a glaze {this will take about 30 seconds}.  Add the nuts back to the pan and toss all to combine.  Spread the nuts out on a sheet pan lined with foil to cool.  

Package up in a cute tin and give them away as gifts....or eat them if nuts are your thing.

What are your favorite holiday treats to make?

Easy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Like many of you out there, I have become a Pinterest addict.  A few weeks ago, I spent hours pinning holiday cookie recipes.  One that kept popping up on my radar was a chocolate cookie made with devil's food cake mix.  It looked super easy -  so I made up my own variation.


Easy Chocolate Peppermint Cookies {makes about 4 dozen cookies}
-1 box of devil's food cake mix 
-2 tablespoons of melted butter
-2 eggs
-1/4 cup water
-crushed up candy canes...or you could use mint chocolate baking chips
-sprinkles {optional}

1. Put everything {but the candy canes} in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.  The dough becomes very stiff, so be prepared to get an arm workout in.
2. Once all is combined, fold in the candy cane pieces.
3. Spread parchment paper out on baking sheets and spray with a little non-stick cooking spray.
4. This dough is stiff, but also very sticky.  To avoid making a mess of everything, I used two small spoons to spoon the dough out onto the baking sheets.  I filled one spoon up with dough and used the other to push it onto the baking sheet.  These cookies will spread, so only use about a quarter sized amount for each cookie.
5. Sprinkle with red and white sprinkles {optional} and bake for about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
6. Remove pans from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before removing.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

This soup is low maintenance, full of flavor, and low fat.  You can't go wrong!

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper {makes 4 small servings}
-1 pound of tomatoes {I used a pack of Trader Joe's heirloom tomatoes}
-1 large red bell pepper
-1 large onion
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon dry oregano {fresh or dry}
-1 teaspoon basil {fresh or dry.....if you use fresh, use a small handful}
-a little olive oil
-salt and pepper
-1/4 cup low fat evaporated milk
-about 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1. Cut the tomatoes, red pepper, and onion into large pieces and spread out on a baking pan that is lined with foil.  Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and the garlic powder on top.  Toss the veggies so all are well coated and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes {until everything is tender}.
2. Remove pan from oven and set aside so that it can cool for about 20 minutes.
3. Spoon the roasted veggies into a blender and add about a cup of broth - just enough to get the blender going.  Blend until smooth {be careful if the vegetables are still hot}.
4. Pour the blended mixture into a large pot and add the evaporated milk and another cup of broth {or however much you need to achieve you desired thickness}.  Also stir in the oregano, basil, and some salt and pepper.  Bring the pot to a simmer, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary.

I ate mine with a mozzarella and goat cheese grilled cheese on a thin bagel - yum!

12 Days of Merry: Day 10 - Tinsel + Bauble Wreath

I have seen a million different bauble wreathes on Pinterest.  But before I had Pinterest, I had my mom and she has been making bauble wreathes for years.  So, I took a little from her idea and switched it up.

**metal round wreath form {I got this one at Michaels for $3}
**a cheesy tinsel garland, wire {I bought a $2 pack of floral wire at the craft store} 
**a few bauble ornaments

Be sure to have your little helpers ready.  Kidding, their paws don't help at all.

First wrap the tinsel garland around the wreath form and tie at both ends to secure it into place.

see? they are not much help...

Add a few ornaments.  I strung the floral wire through a few at a time and twisted them in place on the wire frame.  I grouped mine all to one spot - but you could do a few groupings in different spots.

Hang on your front door and wow all your neighbors.  Or at least the mailman.

12 Days of Merry: Day 9 - The Mad Men Lovers Gift Guide

If you have been hanging around this blog long, you will know about my Mad Men obsession.  Last October, I was bored and decided to watch an episode of Mad Men on Netflix.  

All I had ever heard about this show was positive - but I was skeptical.  The show had been so built up by everyone I know that I was afraid I would be let down.

Let down I was not.  I was hooked and spent just about every moment of the next two weeks watching Mad Men.  I would sit in my studio and work with the episodes streaming on Netlix.com.  

Once I was done, I felt a void - what was I supposed to do all day?!   #champagneproblems

I am really excited for the new season to start. I miss my friends.  

In the meantime, I pulled together a Mad Men Lovers Gift Guide.  Enjoy!

12 Days of Merry Day 8: DSW Giveaway

Whenever I need or want new shoes I put myself on a $50 budget.  Luckily - $50 goes pretty far at DSW.  They always have amazing sale prices and their selection is so big that it can get a little overwhelming.

I am currently on the hunt for a pair of flat {or low heel} ankles boots.   I "need" them for my trip to Ireland because they will be perfect for an everyday shoe and they will take up very little room in my carry on luggage {we never check bags}.

I also "need" a pair of oxford style booties.  They are really cute and can be worn for an everyday look or dressed up at night.

These are my current faves - all available at DSW.

For my final giveaway of the year....I am giving away a $50 gift card to DSW.com!

All you have to to do is be a follower via GFC or Bloglovin and leave a comment telling me what style of shoes you need right now.

Extra Entries {leave a separate comment for each please!}:
*Follow Acute Designs on Facebook
*Sign up for the {Acute} Deals newsletter
*Follow Acute Designs on Twitter
*Tweet this Giveaway: 
Stop by @AcuteDesigns blog for a chance to win $50 @DSWShoeLovers - http://tinyurl.com/8a9gora

I will choose a winner Monday December 26th and announce it here - gooooood luck and have a merry week!

Winner - 2Market2 Giveaway

Congrats!  Lucky #7 is the winner of last week's 2Market2 Giveaway!

Please email me for details.

And...stop back later today for my final giveaway of the year.  It includes new shoes :).
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