Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

Fabric Rosette

How to Make a DIY Fabric Rosette

Fabric RosetteThese little fabric flowers have been popping up all over Pinterest and DIY blogs of late, no doubt for their simplicity and versatility.

As I’ve become a more frequent Pinterest browser, these sweet little fabric rosettes have caught my attention. I’ve seen them used to accent T-shirts, headbands, picture frames, jewelry and a myriad of other things where they add just the right touch of whimsy.

After I had a new baby girl a couple months ago, I resolved to learn how to make these fabulous florals so I can make her adorable little headbands like I’ve seen on Pinterest. To my surprise, they were super simple, and it didn’t take long to get the hang of them. If you’ve never tried your hand at this rosy DIY, here’s how you can get started.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

What You'll Need to Make a Fabric Rosette

The fabric rosette requires very few supplies.

A strip of fabric 25″ by 3″ for each rose

A circle of fabric about 2″ in diameter for the backing

A glue gun

Glue sticks

Step 1: Fold your strip of fabric in half so that it measures 25″ by 1.5″ and tie a knot near the end of the strip.

Step Two of Making a Fabric Rosette

The knot can be loose, as it forms the center of your rosette.

Step 2: Put a dab of hot glue under your knot and tuck the end of the fabric under your knot. Secure it with the hot glue.

Step two of making a fabric rosette

Just a small dab of hot glue will hold your end securely under the knot.

Step 3: Twist the rest of the strip so that it’s fully twisted but not super tight. This is what you will wrap around to create the petals.

Step two of making a fabric rosette

Twist the fabric into one long strand.

Step 4: Begin to wrap your fabric around the center knot, gluing as you go.

Step four of making a fabric rosette

It's OK if your fabric comes unwound, as seen above. Just twist it as you wrap, gluing as you go.

Step 5: Once you’ve wrapped and glued almost your entire strip, tuck the very end beneath the rosette and glue it in place.

Step 5 of making a fabric rosette

Tuck the end of the fabric under the rosette and glue in place.

Step 6: Glue your 2″ circle to the bottom of the rosette, finishing it off.

step six of making a fabric rosette

The fabric circle finishes off the underside of your rosette.

Finished Product: Now you have a lovely little rosette that you can use to embellish any number of things. Check out our Pinterest board for creative ways to use these flowers.

Finished rosette

Voila - the simple finished product is an adorable rosette you can use in a number of creative ways.

Group rosettes together for a fun look, and then experiment with colors and types of fabrics to get exactly the embellishment you need for your next project.

Three fabric rosettes

Labor Day "Wear Your White" Party

Throw a “Wear Your White” Labor Day Party

Labor Day "Wear Your White" PartyYou’ve always heard that you can’t wear white after Labor Day. And while that may be an arbitrary and oft ignored fashion fable, you can play it up with this creative Labor Day party idea.

Fire up the grill, gather up the family and dress up in all white. Why, you ask? Well, you might as well wear all those blanco blouses, cloud-colored camis and pearly pumps before Labor Day hits and doing so would be deemed a fashion foible. For this pallid party idea, all you need is an assortment of white food, some white decorations and a group of good-humored friends.

For samples of these ideas, browse our accompanying Pinterest Board.

The Invitations: Send stark white invitations in white envelopes. In the center of each card, type in small black (or cream, if you have a color printer) ink – “Please Join Us for a Labor Day ‘Wear Your White’ Party.” Make it as simple as possible, just including the major details like the time and place.

The Decor: Depending on how festive you want to get for your Labor Day party, you can go as white as you want with the decor. One inexpensive decoration that has a big impact is white balloons. Grouped together, they look surprisingly classy in all white. You can also hang white lanterns or decorate with white lights. Use white plates, serving dishes, napkins and even white plastic silverware. Pull out your white milky glass vases and fill them with white flowers–even baby’s breath has a wow factor when bunched all together.

The Food: Again, your choices here will have a lot to do with what kind of party you’re having (inside or outside, fancy or casual) but your options are endless. For appetizers, the options range from Swiss cheese fondue to a veggie plate with light veggies like cauliflower and cucumbers to cucumber sandwiches and crackers and cheese. For your main course, grill chicken or bake white chicken pizzas for the crowd. Dessert is where it gets really fun. Serve vanilla ice cream and white sprinkles or sugar cookies or all-white cupcakes with white frosting. Anything with white chocolate or coconut is a great option as well.

However you approach it, a “Wear Your White” Labor Day party is a great reason to gather some friends, have a little fun and let your creativity take charge.

Tomatoes

4 Steps Toward Eating Seasonally

Nashville Farmer's Market

The Nashville Farmers Market is just one market with a wide selection of locally grown, seasonal produce.

If the idea of seasonal eating conjures up thoughts of boiled squash and plain cabbage, it’s time to open up your mind to the diversity and delectability of eating what’s ripe right now.

It can be tough to think about eating seasonally when what we see in the produce aisle so rarely changes. Sure, we’re more likely to score good strawberries and sweet corn in the middle of summer than in the dead of winter, but that’s about the extent of the average American’s seasonal eating.

While it’s certainly convenient to enjoy fresh tomatoes on Christmas Eve, we may be missing out on the benefits of eating seasonally — benefits to our bodies, the environment and our local economy just for starters. Plus, cooking with foods that were picked when they were ripe makes for richer, more flavorful dishes.

What does it actually entail to start eating seasonally? It might not be realistic to expect to eat 100 percent seasonal, local produce, but it’s definitely realistic to start taking some steps in that direction. The benefits are immense, but some basics are that you’re supporting your local growers, you’re eating food that wasn’t shipped across the world at a cost to the environment and you’re also avoiding foods like ethylene-ripened tomatoes, which are picked green and made to ripen quickly with ethylene gas.

Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how enjoyable (and, yes, even delicious) seasonal eating can be. Here are four simple steps you can take:

1. Visit Your Local Farmers Market: If there’s one place to find seasonal food, it’s at the farmers market, where local farmers sell their produce directly to consumers. This supports local growers, cuts out the middle men and ensures that you get the freshest produce available. Use Local Harvest to find a market near you.

2. Join a CSA: A CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, is basically a subscription to fresh produce from a local grower. You pay an up-front fee for a specified period of time, and then each week during that time you’ll receive a huge box full of fresh, local produce. This way, you can plan recipes based on what you have rather than what you see on the shelves at the grocery store. Find a CSA near you at Local Harvest.

3. Find Delicious Seasonal Recipes: If you’re not sure what’s in season, several magazines offer great recipe resources on their websites. Whole Living Magazine offers a seasonal foods tab; the Real Simple Magazine website features a seasonal food guide; Cooking Light Magazine gives great in-season recipes and Clean Eating Magazine has a wonderful seasonal recipe resource as well.

4. Try Something New: One of the most fun parts of eating what’s in season is that you often get to try new fruits and veggies you’ve never prepared or even tasted before. If you’re willing to try new flavors and enjoy them when they’re harvested, you’ll get the benefits of deliciously fresh and locally grown food.

The Homework War: Creative Ways to Approach it with Your Kids

The Homework War: Creative Ways to Approach It with Your Kids

The Homework War: Creative Ways to Approach it with Your KidsGetting kids to sit down and do their homework can be a battle repeated evening after evening. But before you wave the white flag, try one or more of these creative approaches.

Perhaps one of the biggest struggles every parent encounters with the beginning of the school year is the homework battle. Kids who have spent all day cooped up inside aren’t always excited about the prospect of coming home and sitting down (inside, again) to do homework. And while it’s hard to blame them, homework does have to get done, and most kids need some reminding in order to make that happen. Here are a few ways you can stay on top of the homework war before it gets out of hand in your home this year.

Be Proactive:

A recent article from Parents Magazine laid out a few positive steps you can take to set your child up for homework success. Rather than spending your time nagging your child or correcting her when she isn’t doing her homework, Parents Magazine’s article “5 Steps to Homework Success” suggests that you teach consistency, dial down distractions, aim for independence, discourage perfectionism and investigate any resistance. By taking these steps you’re being proactive rather than reactive, and your child will see that getting homework done is a priority in your home.

Create a Conducive Homework Space:

This goes hand-in-hand with setting up a routine. If your child has a comfortable space in which to do his homework, he’ll be more excited about getting it done. Let your child help in the process of choosing a few things he likes and then incorporate those things into a space (a desk, a corner of his room, etc.) where he knows he can sit and do his homework.

Give Your Child a Break:

It’s all too easy to jump on your kids about homework as soon as they’re through the door. But kids need a break, too. Imagine coming home from work and having someone immediately reminding you of the laundry piling up or the emails you need to answer–not the most motivating thought, right? Kids are likely to feel the same way if the nagging begins as soon as they walk in the door. Instead, let your child have an hour or two to unwind, get a snack and be a kid before the study time begins.

Start a Family Study Time:

One way to get involved in your child’s homework schedule is to create a family “study time,” especially if you have multiple school-aged children. Set aside an hour each night for homework, reading and studying, and then take part in it with your kids. Sit down and read a book yourself or catch up on some work you need to do. Not only does this keep your kids accountable to their homework, but it also gives you some focused time to work while also being readily available to answer questions as they arise.

Reward Good Behavior:

While you shouldn’t have to bribe your children to do their homework, some kids (think elementary school-aged) do better with a little positive reinforcement. Create a homework chart or write a list of days on a chalkboard or poster board. Then, let your young child put a sticker on each day she does her homework without complaining or without too much prodding from you. Pick a goal together, and when she has accomplished that goal–say, five stickers in a row, for example–let her pick from a number of rewards.

You don’t have to use food or money as rewards, either. Get creative here. Let your child choose a favorite outing or go for a bike ride with you or get a toy he has been asking about. Only you know your child and how to best motivate him to accomplish his goals, so be creative and make the first move in the homework battle this year. You will be glad you did.

 

 

Nashville, Tennessee

Destination Nashville: Why Music City has Something for Everyone

Nashville, TennesseeBlogger and Nashvillian Brittany Cooper unpacks the local haunts that make Nashville, Tenn. a great vacation spot for people of all tastes — yes, even those who can’t stomach country music.

What do you think of when you hear the word “Nashville”? One, two, three … go. It’s almost humorous, right? Of course you think of country music, and who wouldn’t? Growing up in Indiana, I always envisioned Nashville as the land of honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys, but after a few years in Music City, I’m a diehard fan of this place that has proven to be a large small town full of rich local culture, musical diversity and hospitable people.

Now when friends tell me they’re coming to Nashville for a visit, I point them toward the local restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques that make this city so unique. And I have to admit I cringe a little when I get the occasional phone call from a friend who’s already made his or her way to Broadway–the one strip in this town where honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys still reign supreme. But even that touristy strip adds to Nashville’s charm.

If you’re thinking of making the jaunt to Music City, here are some of the can’t-miss threads that make up the fabric of this remarkable place:

Please Your Palate:

Silly Goose Food

Enjoy delicious sandwiches, couscous and more at The Silly Goose. (Photo courtesy of The Silly Goose).

The Silly Goose: Fresh and delicious sandwiches, couscous, salads and more made right in the heart of East Nashville.

The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden: Artisan burgers and beer with sweet potato fries and milk shakes to die for. Enjoy your food inside or relax with the whole family in the beautiful beer garden out back.

Pancake Pantry: You’ll have to wait in line, but that’s all part of the experience at this Nashville mainstay. And, believe me, the pancakes are well worth it!

Loveless Cafe: For a more historic, down-home spot, Loveless Cafe offers a homecooked country meal fit for the heartiest appetite. Don’t miss out on the biscuits.

Marché Artisan Foods: You’ll feel like you’re stepping into the French countryside when you enjoy any one of Marche’s innovative culinary creations. After your meal, buy fresh local bread, bacon, eggs, chocolates and more in the little market.

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth:

Dulce Desserts Cupcakes

Pop into Dulce Desserts for any number of scrumptious cupcake flavors. (Photo courtesy of Dulce Desserts).

Dulce Desserts: Even if you’re not ordering one of their custom cakes, you can stop by Dulce for succulent cupcakes, cookies and more.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles: Fresh fruit popsicles made in flavors ranging from lime to hibiscus.

Sweet 16th: East Nashville’s local bakery that offers up some of the most incredible breakfast sandwiches and scones imaginable. Get there early for the best selection.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Though technically a chain, Jeni’s is ice cream on an entirely new scale. Test any number of their gourmet flavors before landing on the perfect pick.

Fox’s Donut Den: With its iconic sign hanging out front of the Green Hills shop, Fox’s Donut Den is a Nashville mainstay with confections that have kept people coming back for decades.

Curb Your Caffeine Cravings:

Crema Coffee

For to-die-for espresso drinks and lovely latte art, try Crema, Nashville's coffee "brewtique." (Photo courtesy of Crema)

Crema: A coffee “brewtique,” Crema roasts and brews an incredible cup of coffee. Try one of their perfectly crafted espresso drinks and you won’t ever want to return to a certain mega-chain coffee shop (which will remain unnamed) again.

Ugly Mugs: Essentially the family room of East Nashville, Ugly Mugs is the place to take the whole family for a latte or a cup of unforgettable tea. (Oh, and my friend recently stood in line behind Robert Plant here. Need I say more?)

Fido/Bongo Java: Both under the same ownership, Fido and Bongo Java offer great coffee as well as fresh, tasty food.

Frothy Monkey: A favorite of people from all parts of Nashville, Frothy Monkey is a great spot to get some work done, catch up with friends and enjoy the laid-back vibe while getting your caffeine fix. Their food is quite impressive as well.

Edgehill Cafe: Nestled in the heart of the quaint Edgehill Village, Edgehill Cafe makes you feel like you’re sipping coffee in West Elm. The decor and ambiance alone are worth the trip.

The Barista Parlor: If you have ever referred to yourself as a coffee snob, you will love the Barista Parlor. The purest of the pure, the Barista Parlor serves up espresso made by the cup in a variety of brewing methods. (And don’t worry, they’re friendly).

Don’t Miss the Music:

The Bluebird Cafe

Nashville's iconic Bluebird Cafe is the best place to hear Nashville's songwriters perform their hits.

The Bluebird Cafe: The place where songwriters perform and artists are discovered, The Bluebird offers an intimate, in-the-round live music setting you won’t find anywhere else.

Bridgestone Arena: For the biggest bills, Bridgestone Arena is Nashville’s largest concert venue where you can catch a show from any number of touring bands and performers.

Mercy Lounge/The Cannery Ballroom: These two venues, located at the same place, constantly bring in great talent and showcase some of Nashville’s best emerging acts while also serving as a tour stop for others.

3rd and Lindsley: This recently remodeled venue is a great place to catch a live show and enjoy a comfortable setting.

The Ryman Auditorium: One of the most historic sites in Nashville, The Ryman stage, which was constructed in 1901, has played host to the most prolific stars of the past century.

Top off your Trip:

Nashville Farmer's Market

Nashville Farmers' Market offers a wide variety of produce from local growers.

Nashville Farmers’ Market: Take an afternoon to walk through the vast selection of produce from local growers and grab lunch at any one of the many restaurants in the indoor food court.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel: If you get the chance to stay here on your trip, definitely take it. If not, it’s still worth a visit to walk through the seemingly endless expanse of lush gardens, rivers and restaurants within the walls of this massive hotel.

Centennial Park: On a nice day, walk Centennial Park downtown Nashville, where you can also take a peek at Nashville’s Parthenon. The structure is a full-scale representation of the original Parthenon in Athens, complete with a 42-foot statue of Athena.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: If you enjoy country music, you can’t go wrong at the Hall of Fame, which also features a museum full of historic relics from country greats.

Grand Ole Opry: A fun night out for the entire family, the Grand Ole Opry will keep your attention with a steady rotation of talent and a down-home country feel. And you don’t have to be a fan of twangy country music to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Nashville, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Brittany’s picks!

Get Designer Looks Secondhand

The Gift of Thrift: Tips for Getting Designer Looks Secondhand

The Gift of Thrift: Get Designer Looks Secondhand

Take an image like this one (from Real Simple), pick out the elements you like and then try to find similar pieces at a thrift store. You'll be surprised what you can find!

Some people love the hunt. For others, sifting through secondhand stores is plain overwhelming. Wherever you fall, here are some tips for getting great looks at a great price.

I’ll come right out and admit it: I love thrift stores … OK, I adore them. There’s just something about the feeling of cheating the system that makes all the digging worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong; I love a designer store as well as the next gal. I just prefer visiting them to see what I like so I can find that look elsewhere.

I know I’m not alone in this. There are others like me out there — those who end up with (whoops!) three sets of dishes because Goodwill had a sale, and they look just like something I saw at Anthropologie last week. OK, so we have flaws. But the positive side of possessing what I like to call the “gift of thrift” is that you get the satisfaction of scoring great finds for almost nothing. So, what are the secrets that make the hunt worthwhile? I’m so glad you asked:

1. Know what you like: Before you ever set foot in that thrift store, you have to know a thing or two about your personal style when it comes to your clothes and accessories as well as your home. It helps to browse magazines (I love Real Simple) or websites and intentionally pick out styles you like. Then, you can either mimic those styles with things you find at the thrift store, or you will just be more apt to know something good when you find it.

2. Have an idea of what you’d like to find: Of course you can’t walk into your local Goodwill with a set of specifications on exactly what you want to find (“I’m looking for a silver lamp with a square black shade …”), but you can have an idea about what you want (“I’m looking for a new lamp for my nightstand that wille complement my room.”) Holding loosely to your specifications allows you to see what’s there and let something jump out at you.

3. Look for the potential in everything: This is one of the tricks of the trade. When you’re shopping, surroundings are everything, and this is why expensive stores spend so much time and money on staging. When you see a colorful, vintage dish at a high-end store, it’s surrounded by other beautiful dishes and perhaps set on a tablecloth with a to-die-for pattern. When you see that same dish at your local thrift dive, it will be surrounded by a myriad of old and chipped dishes, and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks and see what it could be.

4. Don’t buy it unless it has a purpose: This is the downfall of every avid thrifter. It might be the most beautiful, amazing and inexpensive find, but if you don’t have a place for it, it will become the most beautiful, amazing and inexpensive piece of clutter sitting in your basement. Exhibit self-control and only buy those things you can actually use.

5. Be realistic: This is another trap of the thrifter. Sometimes we see too much potential in something and we’re not realistic. It’s when I buy a hipster top that I just know is in style … it’s just not my style. With clothes, ask yourself if it’s something you would want to wear today, right now. If not, do what’s tantamount to treason in the thrifting world and simply walk away.