Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rockin the Road: The Quad Cities

  Hi guys! I just got back from an awesome trip through some of the Midwest, to visit family. My aunt I had vague memories of from when I was around three, but I had no memory of my great-grandmother, and I met my Uncle Brent for the first time, with his two youngest kids. New cousins! And they were so adorable. But getting to see people after such a long time of separation, through things that had happened in life, it was certainly a precious blessing.

  We saw plenty of beautiful landscapes while on the road, and doing odd and end things while traveling through the Quad Cities. For those of you who don't know, it's a collection of five cities, including Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island. They straddle the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinios, and what was so interesting was that it took a moment for me to realize we were suddenly in another state. I recognized Davenport as being in Iowa, and realized only then that we had literally passed a bridge and left Illinois. Yes, certainly interesting. And I must say, passing it in the early morning as the sun was coming up was one of the most beautiful things I've seen during our road trips. It was interesting also to be able to see things where so much of my family's history happened.
  And of course, having the road where my mom's dog was run over pointed out like it was very very interesting...was interesting.

  Here are the best of the photos. Hope you enjoy. This trip has given me a taste for the Midwest.

mississippi river, centennial bridge
I had thought this turned out clearer, but still--interesting picture.

old davenport houses

river boat, davenport

centennial bridge, davenport

mississippi river davenport

mississippi river davenport

mississippi river davenport

mississippi river davenport

mississippi river davenport

mississippi river davenport

  I loved these views of the Mississippi river, and the Centennial Bridge in the distance. 

The best food discoveries by far were: Bierstade (in LeClaire, near the Quad Cities) and Whitey's, an icecream store. The first is a German food joint, and BOY WAS IT A SURPRISE. They had incredible food. Sausages, reuben rolls (those are to die for!) cheese sticks made in zesty heaven--gosh. I hadn't expected such a treat, and I would always suggest going with someone else--otherwise you'll end up eating absolutely everything yourself. I got a philly cheese steak and coleslaw. It was so good. I can't wait to go there again someday. Especially for those reuben rolls!!! If you stay in LeClaire, you absolutely must go to Bierstade. I just might get the reuben rolls as my dinner.

  I'll be posting more pictures of our trip to the zoo, the river, and the trip home.

Oh, and I meant to post this a lot earlier, but it kept slipping my mind. You'd think I'd remember, considering how fun it was, but this year Tara over at Penniless Socialite featured one of my African charm bracelets in one of her outfits! And I must say, it looked awesome, and I was so proud! Here's the link to Tara's post!

elephant bohemian braclet

  Catch you later!

  ~Miss Cocoa Latte

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Colorful Celebration

 There's a lot going on, but I want to just give quick update through something worth celebrating--the evidence of spring!!! Around the neighborhood, and in my own garden! And you know what? I'm geared up! I've just got my rose in, my bleeding hearts and what not--and I'm ready for spring to get in full swing!!

I finally got SNAPDRAGONS! They're just gorgeous. I saw them at the store...and I just couldn't help myself.

  Hope you enjoyed that. ;)


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Challenge of My Life's Race

 In the wake of the last giveaway, I'm wondering what everything I'm doing will add up to in the future. Which things proved worthwhile, which things led to a dead end, or even as they gave a little back (or not) they taught me something that helped me keep striving, just in a slightly different direction. Because it's easy to feel like all the time and expense (one and the same, sometimes) isn't going to add up to anything real. Not going to get you anything resembling that which you were striving for. But then, of course, we get some hope again, and the cycle repeats. I do believe it makes us stronger, as long as we continue with the desire to keep on, and learn all we can. It's just that the going is long and tedious when we'd really like the fruit of our labors now. Not the crumbs. It's the blessings along the way that show some promise that there may indeed be a bigger harvest along the road, and it's those times of blessings that make it worthwhile.

 personal inspiration quotes  So, whether with my shop, my writing, or just my plain desire to get out on my own--the little bits along the way help to keep my chin up. And there's no going back, because backwards doesn't promise anything. I know for certain I'll die in the traces before turning back. Actually I'll die in the traces anyway, because I'm one to just keep striving until my life is spent, no matter what I've accomplished. There's always the next thing. Something I know for certain about myself. It's not in my nature to surrender, or to find the satisfaction that makes me kick back and get lazy, even in my times of weakness. I'm always on the run. My fuel is the challenge of the race. I've already given years to things that have not yet quite yielded their fruit, and my stubborn determination is no less lacking. In the down moments I crash harder than I used to, because one does get tired. But we get back up again. I get back up again. Perhaps not very prettily, but the road of life takes grit and guts. We're going to get dirty.

personal inspiration quotes  And in the end we'll end up looking like a gladiator. Or a filthy bum, if we took the lazy path. I hope I look like a fighter. Because I have many things to accomplish. Many things I want to do. I want to make my shop successful. I want to create things that people will cherish, that will remind them of things they love. I want to be an author that gives stories that change people's hearts. I want to make movies that make people laugh and cry, and go back to their lives having learned something deep and good. I want to finally reach my fitness goals, and fall in love with the strength of my own body. I want to travel the world, get to know its people, and see what they teach me. The world is so big and life is so unimaginably wide and wondrous, that I want it to use me as a messenger and conductor of that magnificence. I pray to God every night that I will achieve my dreams. I don't want to be on my deathbed, looking back over the years and feel like they had accomplished too little. The waste of a life has to be one of the most horrible crimes. Life is an incredible power.

  So here's to taking on the challenge, and walking the line. May we be the fighters that can hold our heads high in the end.


P.S. I also need to mention that the winner of the giveaway is Sara Hughes. Congrats, Sara!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Bell Bliss and Out My Front Door Giveaway!

  Hey guys! It's giveaway time! Hosted by Mackenzie from Bell Bliss, and yours truly. Share with your friends, connect with new ones--just have a BLAST! Giveaway ends on Sunday!

  African Tigereye and Serpentine Dangle Earrings Collection up for grabs!!

bohemian earrings gift set

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Elora

Thursday, February 27, 2014

LdNaturePhotography~Sharing the Love of the Environment, through a Camera Lens

  Recently I came across Laura from LdNaturePhotography just recently on Etsy, while looking at the members of my etsy team, In Business For Life. When I looked at her shop, I was intrigued by her materials and the crisp beauty of her photos. She uses her photography to make notecards made from 100% recycled card stock. It's both beautiful, and green! How awesome is that? I just love her flower cards. The colors and lighting are just beautiful. I can't stress that enough. So, needless to say, I was thrilled to be able to do an interview with Laura, asking about her process, and what inspired her to begin!

Thanks Laura!


What made you get into photography?

I have been taking pictures since I was a little girl. I didn’t have an actual camera, so any portion of my allowance not spent at the local gas station on treats was spent on disposable cameras. At that time, most of my pictures were of my pets; cats, gerbils, our parrot.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I got my first camera (using film at that time) and really became interested in capturing and preserving all that our earth has to offer. My parents are avid gardeners so I think that is where my original inspiration for photographing nature began. 

What makes you see the potential of a good photo?

Good question! For nature photography, I don’t really have any sort of specific criteria I follow; I usually go with whatever catches my eye at any particular moment. Certain things I tend to notice are the details of subjects; the colors or details of a flower petal, the way the light is shining through a leaf, etc. Once something catches my eye, I make sure to photograph it from many different angles and directions to make sure I don’t miss something. I think that is something I really like about most nature photography – the fact that I don’t have to feel pressured to get the perfect shot, I just let the photography process happen naturally.

Do you have a favorite photographer, someone you try to learn from?

My favorite photographer is Jim Brandenburg ( who is a photographer from Minnesota (my home state). He is probably best known for his nature photography but also does incredible people photography and has done extensive work for National Geographic. Not only is he an amazing photographer, he also has a deep respect for our environment which is something I value. He and his wife started a non-profit called the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation that helps restore native prairie in Minnesota (; a landscape that is very important but that has become increasingly rare. I am in constant awe of his photography and philanthropy. 

What gear do you use? (If you don't mind me asking). ;)

 I have a Nikon D3000, which I really enjoy. I have three lenses, one is the standard lens and I also have a 50mm f/1.4G lens for low light situations and also a telephoto lens. Then I have your typical camera gear/accessories; tripods, camera case, reflectors, a light box, lens cleaning cloths. 

When did you decide to start selling, and how did that come about?

 I started selling homemade photo cards in 2012 at a local co-op and craft shows and on Etsy in November of 2013. I had been photographing nature seriously for a couple years at this point and I wanted a way to be able to share the beautiful things I was lucky enough to capture with others. The reason I settled on cards is because through cards, people can pick out something they find beautiful and either frame it and keep it for themselves or send that beauty to their friends and family. And who doesn’t love receiving an actual card in the mail these days? I know I love it!

How is your progress with that? 

I’ve been happy with the progress at the co-op and craft shows. I’m still pretty new to Etsy but I have joined teams to become more involved and have had fun so far interacting with other Etsy members and sellers!

Anything new that you're planning? Ways of branching out?
Yes! A lot of things!
I started a blog after the first of the year and have been having a ton of fun creating posts for that. My blog posts consist of photography tips, tricks and tutorials, stories behind some of my photos, and also a weekly post with a list of free or $0.99 photography Ebooks. Within the next month, I plan to start interviewing other photographers for the blog, and also to create a photography contest calendar. I find it frustrating to find a central location to look for photography contests, so I am hoping to create something to fill that void.
I also am looking into joining Instagram and Google+ to see if that is something that makes sense for my business and photography.
Finally, I currently only sell blank cards, but I am planning on creating specific cards for birthdays, thank-yous, holidays and much more!

Have you considered doing wholesale to shops?

Yes! I sell my cards wholesale to the local co-op, and am looking to expand to other shops!

Are there other things that you're considering doing? Other venues of artistry to add to your repertoire?

One thing I am planning on doing is incorporating educational components into my photography and photo cards. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in environmental science and environmental education, so I really enjoy learning about and educating others about the environment. Whether that includes educational blog posts or fun facts on the back of my cards for example, I don’t know yet. It is something that is still in progress!
I am always looking for new things to get involved in, and new ways to expand. I love learning about new sites, forums, techniques, etc., so I enjoy researching these things and it is something I don’t ever think I’ll stop doing.

Where else might we find you?
You can find me at the sites or my email address below.

Thank you so much! 


  Thanks for joining us, Laura! I really appreciate your love for the environment, and sharing it through this medium. There is so much beauty out there, and cards are a definitely way of sharing it with people in a certain way. Can't wait to look into your other venues! And I can't wait to see how it all turns out for you, and what new things come along. God bless, and best of luck!


Tomorrow Mackenzie from Bell Bliss and I are having a giveaway for my Nomadic Earrings collection, the African Tigereye and Serpentine Dangle Earrings set. I have a lot of collections available, and I'm running a 50% off sale! Just use coupon code  TRANSCLEARANCE2013 at the checkout! I have many items that are perfect for gifts, especially for those with an eclectic taste, and a love of travel. I always love hearing that the one who got the present was very happy! 

bohemian earrings gift set

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Giveaway Winner, and Crystal Beauties~And post 100!

  First off I want to announce that the Round Robin giveaway is over! The lucky winner is Amanda Pierce! Thank you to everyone for participating. Hopefully another giveaway can be done soon!

  A few days ago we got a heavy frost that was just beautiful. It is at times like this that makes winter worthwhile--at least to those who don't appreciate the cold, only the natural preparation for the coming spring season. And I have some special pictures at the end. ;) I will say this though:

Winter is not a winter wonderland, but sometimes it turns over and shows you its gems. At those times it does feel worthwhile; speaking from the point of personal enjoyment anyway.

  And now for the surprise photos that I was so gleeful to catch (not that it was hard, only in that I realized it was there to be taken)!

Spring is on its way!!

spring buds
I believe this tree is a western beech. I looked up, saw them, and was just SO happy! Any sign of spring and I'm ecstatic!

spring buds

apricot tree buds
This is the apricot tree that had those blooms I took such a lot of pics of last year. I can't wait for it to bloom!!!

apricot tree buds
  So that was the surprise. Not sure if you're as thrilled as I am--but I'm a warm-weather oriented girl, and I'm a ravening gardener to boot. Speaking of which, my neighbor gave me a big bag of glads to plant!! One of my favorite flowers! I just fawn over them. So beautiful. So not only do I have a big bag, I have an order of them coming in with my rose too! Whoohoo! I'm going to have a ton of glads this year. I'm going to be one happy girl. 

  Well, that's all for now. Very soon I'll be posting more interviews, especially with Laura from LDNaturePhotography! She sells notecards featuring her beautiful photos, ranging from alpacas to seasons, to flowers and insects. She has some really stunning photography. I can't wait to introduce you!

  Oh, last note--I just realized something fantastic. This is post number 100!! Whoohoo! Wonder what number I'll hit by the end of the year? 

In case you're wondering, the 50% sale is ongoing! I must warn you though, some items are about to run out so you must be fast!