Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My 2015 Word of the Year.

Before I became a blogger, I was an avid blog reader and always thought it was interesting when a blogger would choose a "word of the year." It was something they wanted to live by, the word that would encompass their year.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately, especially considering everything that is going on in my family's life right now. I've been praying about it a lot, because I want it to be something that I really should and need to live by.

This year my word will be Trust. Trust isn't something that comes lightly, or something that necessarily comes easily to me.

Not too terribly long ago, we put a very important part of our lives completely into the hands of God, which was one of the hardest things I have ever done. (A post more about this will be coming next week.)

Trust is so desperately important in my life right now, as I'm looking to go back to work to help supplement our income. I have to trust that I will find the job that works for our family, a babysitter that I will be comfortable with, and that someday we will be at the point that I am either back at home or in the career path that God is calling me to be in.

And most importantly, I feel that God is calling me to put my trust in Him. Sure, that's easy to say and think, but how often do we really do that? That means trusting Him through the trials not just the happy times.  It means trusting that there are reasons that I am going through the trials, and that no matter what, that is where I need to be.

That means that if God is calling me to be away from the home for this season, that I need to embrace it and trust that there is more than just a monetary need behind it.

It means that when I feel stretched too thin and like I cannot get anything done that God will provide; that he will provide me peace and give me the strength to continue.

I know I will be shown even more ways throughout this coming year to use my word, and am excited to share this experience with you.

Want to see another blogger's perspective on the word of the year? You should check out Nina over at Wear Flowers in Your Hair, she's picked a pretty awesome word for her 2015.

If you had a to choose a word for 2015 what would it be?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How to Survive New Year's Eve with a Toddler

I thought about writing a snazzy post with adorable New Year's Eve outfits for all the fabulous parties and fun times that will be happening tomorrow.

Then I realized that it would be pretty hypocritical of me to do so, since the most glamour that I will be a part of will be my fantasies of having a reason to wear a sparkly dress.

Instead, something more in my reality is how to survive the evening with a toddler in 3 easy steps:

1. Wear an outfit you don't mind getting food/snot/"insert something gross here" on. 
There's really no point in putting on anything pretty or remotely expensive because inevitably your toddler will decide that's the perfect moment to use you as their personal napkin.

2. Be prepared to have lots and lots of drinks handy (full of caffeine, of course.) 
Let's be real, by the time you wrangle that sweet little monster into their bed, all you really want to do is sit down and mindlessly watch tv until you crawl into your bed that night. A couple glasses of wine may knock you out before the ball even drops. ( I mean, I'm not the only one, right?)

3. Be ready to party hard, mommy/daddy style. 
That couple you see in the booth, bleary-eyed and nursing the same drink all night, pretty much looking completely out of their element? Yep, that's us. I just don't know how to do that anymore. My idea of having a night out for New Year's now consists of some of my mommy friends, a glass of wine, and probably going to bed not too long after the ball drops.

So, there's my reality folks. And you know what? I'm not upset about it in the slightest.

Do you feel like you're missing out on things with having little ones or do you still partake in the festivities?

Monday, December 29, 2014

When Reality Smacks You in the Face

Guys, my mama heart hurts right now. A big ol' ache right in the middle of my chest.

See, for the past year I have been doing a job I never thought I'd love so much: being a stay at home mommy to my now almost 14 month old. 

When I finally found a full time job right around the time that I also found out I was pregnant, my ultimate goal was to try to make it work to stay home for a year. I had enough for 6 months, but luckily was able to make it stretch and work until now. 

Our reality is that we aren't making the ends meet right now. We are so unbelievably close, but just not quite there. 

We both agreed we would not go into credit card debt for me to stay home. I know that's not a good idea, but my heart doesn't always agree with my head. 

Right now, I'm not even sure that my "dream job" would quite keep away the sting of leaving my little girl. 

Now, I do know that there are things we can cut, stuff we could do that would keep me home. We could sell my car, but then I wouldn't have a vehicle if there was an emergency. 

Yes, I could feed our family processed food that's cheaper and quite frankly easier, but that's one of the few things that I'm not willing to compromise about. Our family needs to eat healthy for all of our sakes, so although I will do my best to keep the grocery bills down, it's not something I can cut back significantly.

Some day I would love to have this blog be my income. Something I love doing and allows me to stay home with my baby girl? Yep, pretty much sounds ideal. 

But I guess for now, I will find a way to help out our family, although my goal will probably always be to get back home until Juliet and any other future children are in school. 

Do you wish you stayed home full time with your kids? How do you deal with having to work? 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

This is the first Christmas that I am really a "Mom" around Christmas time. I mean, yes, Juliet's first Christmas was technically last year, but she was just barely 6 weeks old and had absolutely no idea what was going on. 

We had a super laid back Christmas last year, very little decorating or gift giving. Our gift was our tiny little baby girl. 

This year is a different story. Somehow I got the bright idea that we could save money by making Christmas gifts. Great plan, right? Not so much when you don't start about 6 months before Christmas. We have literally been working every night for weeks to try to get stuff done, and quite honestly I haven't been able to soak in the season that I used to love so much. 

Now it's Christmas Eve. Our gifts are done and I can relax a little. I have gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, and eggnog to drink. Those are the things I  look forward to during this time of year. And of course being surrounded by my family. 

Tonight we celebrate with my parents, and I'm so looking forward to it. Juliet will be excited for Grandma and Grandpa, and I can't wait to get to make cookies with my baby girl for the first time. 

I hope you are letting go of all the stress and ridiculousness that can come this time of year and just enjoy your time with whoever you will be celebrating. What's done is done, and really is all the running that important? 

I won't be around tomorrow, but I may pop back in Friday to share some of my Christmas highlights (including our first year celebrating Santa!) I'm sure there may be some overgramming going on over on Instagram, too! 

I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Swaps Galore!

This was my first year experiencing the Christmas season as a blogger, and it has been so much fun!

I was lucky enough to not only host a very successful mug swap with Katie over at Cup of Tea, but I also participated in an ornament exchange with Della at Della Devoted, and a wonderful card swap with the ladies over at the Sequin Notebook.

The greatest thing about all these swaps? They are open to everyone! I'm sure all of these will be an annual thing (I know the mug swap will be!) so make sure you keep a look out next year to get to participate in all the fun, too.

 M & B are doing a link up for their card swap, which was such a wonderful idea! I thought I would also share with you guys all the other goodies from the other swaps, too.

For M&B's card swap,  I was partnered with the lovely Ashley at Girl Talk. I've loved getting to know her a little better through her blog, and her and her fiancĂ© have such an adorable Christmas card! Seriously, Jay let me know we need to do our Christmas cards like that next year, so that's saying something.

M & B also sent a card to everyone that was a part of the swap, and their card is great! I love the idea of sending cards out for the blog, definitely something I will be doing next year.

I had two partners for our mug swap this year, and each got some super cute mugs. I am in love with the sweater mug my partner Daisy sent me, and Julia sent me the Wizard of Oz, which has always been one of my fave musicals. I foresee both getting a lot of use.

And last, but not least, was the ornament exchange. Amy did a wonderful job, the knitting ornament is so unique but fits so perfectly with my downtime hobbies. Juliet loves it, too, so I mean that alone makes it perfect, right?

Did you participate or would want to participate in a swap in the future? I would highly recommend it!

Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY Christmas Card Holder

4 more days until Christmas! There's a lot of gift making and cookie baking going on around here.

I have to be honest, I'm still a little stressed out. I never feel like I am quite on track to get everything done. (Ahem, just ignore those gifts that still aren't wrapped.) 

As our Christmas cards poured in this year, I knew I didn't want to just tape them to the door like we did last Christmas, but seriously, who spends $30-75 for a card holder you basically only use for a few weeks? Not this lady. 

Then Tif from over at Bright on a Budget came up with the great idea of doing a post about card holders. Exactly what I needed!

I looked through a few ideas for card holders but lack of time and funds for all things crafty, I decided to create a card holder out of some cute polka dot ribbon and a wooden plaque made to look like a gift tag. 

I found the plaque at Joann's at the beginning of December and hadn't decided exactly what to do with it, but for $3 I could pass it up. 

This is one of the easiest projects I've done for Christmas (even easier than the pinecone garland!) because I literally just glued the ribbon to the plaque, used some new clothespins and ended up with the perfect holiday card display!

And make you sure you head on over to Bright on a Budget to check out Tif's DIY, too!

How do you display your Christmas cards during the holiday season? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

High Five for Friday

Annnnd it's officially crunch time! It's the last weekend before Christmas, which means the craziness and cramming of getting the rest of the Christmas projects done commences. Hey, at least it's Friday!

1. Last weekend we got hit with a double whammy, stomach bug AND the regular flu. I had one, Jay had the other but luckily Juliet didn't end up getting sick. It was a long weekend which was filled with a lot of sleeping and Gatorade and thankfully lots of grandparents' love for the little one. The worst thing was that I didn't get nearly as much done on our handmade gifts as I was hoping. Fingers crossed this weekend will go smoother!

2. I had a wonderful time going out with my aunt last night. We had dinner and just talked then walked around Target for a bit. It was a needed break from all the craziness that is going on at home and nice to have a little break from mommy hood, as much as I love my baby girl.

3. Juliet is eating veggies, again. Can I get an amen?! Seriously, who would've thought that I would worry so much about someone's food intake as much as I do now? She's also going through a growth spurt, so we are getting lots of veggies in now. Milk, on the other hand, is a different story. Sigh.

4. I am in love with my sweater mug that I got from our Tis the Season Mug Swap! It's so cute, and big which is perfect for all the coffee I've been needing in the morning. Want to see some more of the mugs from the swap? Head over to Instagram and look at #tistheseasonmug14. There's some awesome ones out there!

5. There's a whole lot of crafting and cleaning going on over here today and this weekend. If I can squeeze it in, I'd love to get some baking in since that's my favorite part of this season! Don't get me wrong, I love crafting, but since almost all of our gifts are handmade this year, it's a little bit overwhelming. But I'm always up for a challenge!

How was your week?

Linking up with 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lovely Blog Award

Happy Hump Day!

We are officially half way through the last full week before Christmas. Have I got you stressed out yet? Let's be real, I've been in varying stages of stress since December 1st. You can read more about that HERE.

We were pretty sick all of last weekend, so I'm even more stressed out and trying to catch up a little more than I had originally planned. That's why I decided to do something fun on the blog today!

Amanda at Kids and Cabernet nominated me earlier this month for the Lovely Blog Award. What exactly is it?

Well, I will share 7 facts about myself, and then tag 7 more wonderful bloggers to keep the award going. Sounds like a grand time, right?

Ok, here it goes!

ONE: I have an addiction to Gilmore Girls. Yes, it has been off air for like seven years. Yes I have seen every episode just about a million times, but it truly never gets old. It may or may not be on Netflix right now as I'm typing.

TWO: I rarely get myself dressed up (aka anything other than sweats) unless I have to run errands during the week. This is partly because I don't see what the point is of looking nice at home, and partly because I have lost enough weight (yay!) and haven't bought new clothes, so I don't have a lot to wear. It's sad really, most of my closet consisted of clothes from high school/beginning of college when I moved into my house.

THREE: I've always wanted to learn another language, but I've never been disciplined enough to actually do it. Spanish in high school was a joke, and although I took 2 years of American Sign Language during college, I feel like I'm really not very fluent. Maybe someday...

FOUR: I am a total sucker for anything romantic, cheesy or otherwise. I really don't care if flowers are cliche, I'll swoon every time. I never get tired of The Notebook and just love Valentine's Day.

FIVE: I love to read. I really haven't had much time since I became a mommy, but when I get a chance I try to read as much as possible. Lately it's been more about blogging or hobbies I'm interested in, but I love nonfiction and fiction alike.

SIX: I'm the textbook definition of a dreamer. I've constantly got ideas and plans swirling in my head. A lot of which never really makes it to reality. It drives my husband nuts because we are exact opposites in that arena.

SEVEN: I always thought that I would move around the country, following my job. I'm pretty sure that we will be staying in the central Ohio area for the long haul and surprisingly I'm pretty content about that.

Who I'm Nominating (if they'd like to participate!):

Tif at Bright on a Budget
Katie at Cup of Tea
Della at Della Devoted
Kat at Lemonade Linings
Carly at Carly Blogs Here
Amanda at Girl Talk 
The ladies at The Sequin Notebook

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DIY Cookies for Santa Plate

When I was a child, we always baked chocolate chip cookies and left them, along with a healthy amount of milk, for Santa for a snack. It was a tradition I looked forward to every year. I'm excited to be able to start that tradition with my own family this year!

We've inherited my special milk glass for Santa, but don't have a special plate for the cookies. Well, of course that calls for a DIY project in my world! 

Now, I did the sharpie mugs for Christmas presents last year, and let me tell ya, they don't last long at all. You will have a lot better luck with the ceramic paint pens rather than regular sharpies. That being said, I didn't have any of those on hand and was having a hard time finding the colors I wanted, so I figured if I don't refilarly wash this, hopefully the markers will hold up! Worst case scenario, I will redo it next year! 

What you Need: 
-ceramic paint markers or Sharpies 
-ceramic plate 

All I did was search around for some different ideas, then got to it! You could do anything from free handing your plate to stenciling on your lettering. I also loved the plates I saw that had large pictures of Santa on them!

My friend Della at Della Devoted made a plate for her son's first Christmas, you should check it out!

**Note: If you do use normal Sharpies or oil based paint markers rather than the ceramic paint markers, you will need to bake your creation. There's varying temperatures out there, I've had luck with 375 degrees for 30 minutes. **

Do you have a special plate and cup for Santa's midnight snack? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

High Five for Friday

Ahhh I've been looking forward to this Friday! This week has been trying, although it did go fast.

1. Juliet started out this week with a cold and has the beginnings of getting some of her molars. Terrible, horrible, no good combination. Top that with the fact that she has now become the world's pickiest eater, and you have the makings of a very long week.

2. The bright spot of her week was going to Stride Rite to get fitted for shoes for the first time! I got her some really adorable shoes at Target, but she just wasn't able to walk in them well. Stride Rite was a great experience. We got a lot of help, sized her and got her some adorable little boots that she is walking in like a pro.

3. I got my Starbucks gold card yesterday! Score! I am mostly excited about the free refills, considering my husband can basically drink his weight in coffee. It's generally one of our go-to places when we get away for a date night now and then. It'll definitely come in handy. Plus, may be a great excuse to get away for a little blog work on the weekends.

4. We are frantically working on Christmas presents, adding to our Christmas decor, and getting the house in good shape for hosting my mom's side the weekend after Christmas. It's been slightly hectic, to say the least. Why is it that you can never find the things you need for projects when there is a deadline? On the plus side, I did get at least one set of my scented pinecone garland done, make sure you check out the tutorial!

5. Tonight I am going to a little Christmas party for my Mommy's group at church, which I have been looking forward to all week. It's so nice just to get out of the house and be around other people that just get it. It's a nice place to relax, unwind, and have quite a bit of fun.

How has your week gone? Has the holiday stress gotten to you or are you soaking up the holiday spirit?

Linking up with 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Very Merry Wardrobe

If you haven't already caught on, I'm kinda ga-ga over Christmas (even when it's a bit stressful.) It's a feel good, family oriented time of the year and I try to soak it up as much as possible.

Cheesy? Count me in. Silly? I'm there. Totally cliche and expected? I'm all over it.

So, this may or may not mean that I would wear cheesy Christmas clothing all of December if I had them. Unfortunately luckily for everyone else I do not. 

Of course, for Christmas parties and for Christmas day, I like to dress up nicely, especially since I usually take pictures with family. Plus, who doesn't like an excuse to get a cute new dress? In those cases, I truly do like the idea of adding a little bit of Christmas spirit into my outfit with my accessories. One of my favorite things to wear this time of year is my little snowflake necklace. It's delicate and pretty, but still in the holiday spirit. 
What's your thoughts on Christmas clothing? Completely tacky but wonderful? Or would you not be caught dead in it? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY Scented Pinecone Garland

If it were up to me, I would have every single inch of my house covered in Christmas decorations. You know those people that have been on the news with obnoxiously bright and gaudy decorated yards? Yep, my dream. Seriously.

Someday my goal is to stop traffic while people gawk at our blazingly bright yard. Step inside, and you wouldn't know where to look first. Coming from apartment living for so long, we are woefully short on decorations in my opinion (although Jay probably disagrees.) 

I've been trying to be creative about how to get the most bang for my buck but still getting my house- and halls- as decked out as possible. 

I've always loved the smell of the cinnamon pinecones that they sell at the grocery and craft stores, but never really knew what I would do with them. Until now! This is seriously the easiest DIY I will probably ever show on the blog. 

All you need is a few bags of the scented pinecones and some twine or yarn. 

Tie around the pinecones, and voila! Instant garland, instant house smelling oh-so-good. I added some of the beaded garland we picked up at Hobby Lobby 50% off to give it a little more oomph. 

Another great idea to spruce this up even more? Add a little sparkle with spray glitter! I may do this next year after the smell is gone. 

What are your favorite easy or go-to DIYs for the holidays? Any good ideas for me to deck the house out even more?

***Edited photos are now up! Thanks for your patience and understanding.***

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why We Aren't Buying Much for Our One Year Old

I love being a mommy. It's really the most fulfilling job that I have had the pleasure to have. If I could, I would give her everything in the world.

But, that's not reality. There's not endless amounts of money in my bank accounts--actually rather more close to the opposite end. So we have to be very particular about how we spend our money.

That's why we decided we aren't buying our one year old very much for Christmas. Sure, we are getting her a few things, and Santa will be visiting our house. But, it's not going to be what most people do for their kids.

Why We Decided not to Spend a lot on Our One Year Old:

1. She isn't old enough to understand that she isn't getting a lot of gifts.
If it's anything like her birthday, she will rip open a few gifts and be done. She may or may not latch on to a toy, and that's about it. She doesn't really understand what we are doing yet, so it wouldn't be something that hurt her feelings.

2. We would rather be financially responsible than go overboard just for the pictures.
I totally get that a lot of people can go all out for Christmas and can more than afford it. That's great! And that's your decision on how to spend your money. We, however, would have to really pinch or cut out other things, like organic food, that aren't necessarily negotiable to me.

3. I want to set a precedent that will help her focus on what this time of year is really about.
Christmas in our household is focused on the birth of Christ. I want to start out early  , even when she doesn't understand yet, making Jesus the priority of this season instead of Santa and presents. I want her to know that she got the ultimate gift during this time of year. Part of that responsibility means that I won't ever ve giving here absolutely everything she wants, as much as I'd like to. I want her to know that we are celebrating His birthday, and that's what's truly important. 

What do you think about giving kids everything they ask for? Do you focus on other things during the holiday season?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Crafty Guide to Christmas Gifts

I love to create. Generally, I have at least 3 projects going on with many others in the works in my mind. I don't feel quite whole unless I'm in the process of making something. 

This leads to me making at least a few of my Christmas gifts, which has always been more of a catharsis for me than anything. In the past year since we've had our daughter and I have since quit my job, it's also now a bit of a necessity. 

I mean, I love a good sale and have always been pretty good at finding unique and price effective things for gifts, but to be honest, I don't have the time or desire to do that. When it comes to handmade, I generally already have supplies on hand so there's very little out of pocket and I can do it during nap time!  

Here's some of the things I've found that I'm loving this year, including quite a few that I will be making for friends and family! 

Wine Glasses
The chalkboard wine glasses are perfect for the wine lover in your life, and it's perfect for holiday parties! I love how easy it is. 

Hot Chocolate Cones
We did the hot chocolate cones for our January wedding favors and they were beyond easy, cute, and cheap! I am planning on making one for everyone this year. 

Knitted/Crocheted Coffee Sleeve
I love the idea of a reusable coffee sleeve and I'm definitely on a crocheting kick. It's small and looks like it would be a quick project. 

Crocheted Slipper Socks
I started making these slipper socks, and they are also very fast. You will have to know your recipient's shoe size, but other than that it's easy even for someone who just started crocheting! 

Manicure in a Jar
The manicure in a jar is such an adorable idea! I love all things put together in mugs, but this is the most creative one yet. 

DIY Lens Case
I actually would love the lens case for myself! It's perfect for my dad, too. I'm hoping I have time to get to sew this up for him. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No Christmas Spirit Here

This is how I feel. Right now, sitting at my computer, I don't even want to see another thing about Christmas. I'm done, over it--I quit.

Every year I get excited for the holidays because I love what Christmas stands for--a time for family, love, giving, and most importantly celebrating the birth of Christ.

But each year as I've gotten older, this little knot starts developing in my stomach when the calendar hits December 1st. The knot of "What day can you come over?" and the always disapproving "Well...let me know what works for you then, I guess."

You know, that knot created by the passive aggressiveness that underpins every text and conversation about when and where and who will be celebrating this season?  It doesn't matter that you work around everyone's schedule for the big holiday party, you've also got to be available to every beck and call and every little tradition that each family member has ever celebrated in their entire life. Heaven forbid you may have to change the day or--GASP!--cannot make Susie's brother's aunt's Christmas tree lighting.

I'm done with it. I don't want any of it. Not at all. In fact, I may just stay at home with my little girl and refuse to see anyone at all. I mean, that would teach them, right?

See, then I get to that point in my head, and just realize how ridiculous this whole Christmas thing has gotten. It's not about seeing everyone and their brother and buying gifts we can't afford. It's not about pleasing mother-in-laws or worrying about what your family thinks.

It's really not about all the decorations or getting that perfect gift for your kids. It's about Jesus. It's about his birth and really that's all that matters.

I am so worn out and it's only December 3. When I want to throw in the towel, curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out from the stupidity that always seems to follow this time of year, I desperately try to seek Him in all the mess. It's harder than it should be.

This time of year should be all about Him, but it's not. Sure, we put out the nativity scenes and listen to "The Drummer Boy," "Silent Night," and even "Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him" but are we really thinking about what we are listening to? I have to admit I sing along without really thinking about what I am saying half the time.

So, my new goal this Advent season is to take time just to be. To be with Him and to focus on what is truly important this time of year rather than thinking about what person is angry at me right now. I will be purposeful in my mood and in my mindset, trying not to let all this yucky-ness that seems to plague this time of year seep through. I will choose joy over despair.

And I may--just maybe--will lay down, take a nap, and pretend like all this craziness isn't happening.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Planning your Christmas Photos

It's  December 2nd, crunch time. That calendar switches over just after Thanksgiving, and this wonderful time of the year turns into a rush. Suddenly, you need pictures because those Christmas cards need to get out ASAP.

For me, even as a photographer, I tend to stress a bit about our photos. We don't have the extra money right now to buy all new outfits for the family, so that means I have to get creative. I like to keep the clothes in a neutral or similar color palette. (Check out more about this in my post about family photos here.)

I love taking my own Christmas photos because that means that I have them right at my disposal immediately. And by me taking them, I mean my dad. I also have control over how the look because I may, ahem, have a little issue with control.

Need some great options for budget friendly photos at home?

1. Make sure you take photos in front of a window, with diffused lighting but not direct sunlight. 
The biggest thing that can make a difference between looking professional and look like you took snapshots is the lighting. Being in a dark room and using a flash will make the photos often look amateur, but direct sunlight could also be too harsh. The best bet is diffused through blinds or on a slightly cloudy day, my personal choice.

2. A Christmas tree can be cute, even if it is predictable. 
Did you always take a picture in front of the tree like I did as a kid? When we were planning photos this year, I figured if there was no snow what says Christmas more than your tree? I don't mind that it was a "predictable" choice, because let's face it, what isn't predictable during the Christmas season? It's not about being innovative necessarily, it's about creating a Christmas memory for you and your family.

3. Check Target, Hobby Lobby, or something similar for a cute banner. 
These are in abundance this year, and all that I have found have been a great price! Specifically at Target, I scored a few in their $1 and $3 bins and absolutely adore them. Not only can you use them for photos, but then you've got a cute new banner to decorate your home.

4. Search Pinterest for some great backdrop options. 
I'm not sure it's possible for me to go a post without mentioning the love of my life, Pinterest. There's some really great ideas out there for easy photo backdrops. One of my faves is the twinkle lights. You just need lights, a sheet, and a little creativity on where you will take the photos. It's especially good for pictures of kids.

5. Have fun and make it simple. 
A lot of photographers have adorable setups for the holidays that are completely decked out. Although they may be adorable, if you are doing it yourself, keep it simple and easy on both you and your wallet. The focus is you and your family. The props are great but shouldn't be the main focus. Have fun and keep it light and you're guaranteed to get some great photos.

When do you start taking your Christmas photos?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why It's Good to Take a Break from Social Media

If you noticed last week, after Wednesday I was a little MIA in the blogosphere, but also from my social media. The break was only intended for Thanksgiving Day, but as the Friday went on and this weekend came, it felt more and more needed.

Sometimes I think we get too caught up with what is on our phones that we miss out on what is going on right in front of us. This time of the year is the one time I get together with all of my family, when Jay, Juliet and I have time that is solely focused on us, and I don't want to look back and regret that I didn't live in the moment. 

I try to be intentional about my time on the computer and on my social media, but it's so easy to get sucked into scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and not even realize how long you've been sitting there staring at it. 

When Friday came around, I had planned on writing a blog post and posting on my social media, but decided not to. I was spending time taking family portraits, putting up some Christmas decorations, and getting to spend time together with my husband and daughter. That time is more important in the big picture than getting a few more readers onto my blog. 

Those few days I got to really focus on the people around me, rather than thinking about what I needed to do, or making sure that I was checking and posting on social media. 

It's something I am going to plan on doing around other important times for my family and I encourage you to try it also. It's amazing how putting your phone down and closing your computer can free you.

How do you make intentional time with your family during the holidays? Or every day? 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Time for Thanks

Tomorrow is a family day that I look forward to all year, so I will be taking the day off from the blog and I hope that you will be, too! I thought I'd share with you the reasons I have to be thankful this year. My hope is that I will keep my mind on these blessings throughout this next year. 

1. I am thankful for our second Thanksgiving as a family. 
This will be Juliet's second Thanksgiving, so our second as our little family. Last year we spent it together on the couch eating leftovers and it was perfect. I'm excited to see what this year has in store for us. 

2. I am thankful for having a year of being a stay at home mom. 
I am so very aware that this is such a blessing for me and our family. I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to make it work this long, and I will cherish all the time I have left getting to spend every moment with my baby girl. 

3.  I am thankful for a husband that works so hard,  comes home, then works even more. 
Jay really is amazing. He works so hard and picks up any extra hours he can so we can make this whole staying home situation work. He comes home and always helps out. Not to mention that he basically redid half of our house recently. He probably will never know just how much I appreciate and love him. 

4. I am thankful for such supportive parents. 
I know no matter what my parents will be there for me. Not everyone has this type of support, and I don't know where I would be without them. 

5. I am thankful for a family that still gets together for holidays. 
My dad is one of 12 siblings and they all still get together for the holidays. This also includes nearly all of my cousins, and now their kids. I feel like I would be missing out on so much if we didn't do this, and I'm very grateful that I get to spend this time with all of my family. 

There's so many other things I know that I have to be thankful for, but these are the big ones that are really pressing on my mind right now. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Lovely New Coffee

I have a new love affair, and it goes by the name of Shuffle Bean Coffee.

I recently received this coffee to try, and let me tell you, there was no disappointment here! The Trader Joe's coffee that I recently purchased, although very good, is a very bold blend. I love bold, but honestly, it's not something I want to drink every single day and sometimes in the mornings it's just too much.

This blend is perfect! It's what I would consider a medium roast, not too bold but not watery tasting like so many breakfast blends seem to be. It has a more acidic flavor because it is from Costa Rica. The soils in Latin and South America tend to make the beans slightly more acidic, which gives it a good almost crisp taste. (Coffee nerd, I know!)

The acidity isn't overpowering, and there isn't a bitter aftertaste like some coffees, so it's really a well rounded flavor.

At $10 a bag, you really won't be able to buy decent coffee for cheaper. And, bonus! They also have k-cups if that's more your thing.

The great thing about this coffee is that it buys from Rainforest Alliance certified farms, which means they practice environmental sustainability and actually help pay their farmers livable wages. That is important to me when picking a new bean. I try to be as sustainable as possible on our budget, so this definitely makes me a happy camper when I see it.

Want to know a little bit more about the Rainforest Alliance? Click here.

Totally sold and want to get some of this yummy coffee? Check out their website here and order some beans for yourself! Let me know how you like them!

*I received these coffee beans for free, however I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all my own.*

Monday, November 24, 2014

Collage Wall & Free Thanksgiving Printable

 I have a collage wall that we started before Juliet was born but is still woefully bare. It's kind of pathetic, really.

Oh, I've had excuses. We didn't have enough frames, money for nice frames, I'm going to buy something besides photos for it, etc. But the truth of the matter is, I'm just not positive what exactly I want hung there!

We've now collected and made enough things that there's really only one spot that needs filled to make it look more complete, but yet again I've been putting it off. Well no more!

I created a wonderful little Thanksgiving quote to place in that area until we decide what else we would like to do with it. Honestly? I'll probably also have a New Years one before I make that decision. Am I indecisive? Well, I don't know...

The best part about this adorable little print is that you guys get one too! I've made a free 8x10 printable version available to all my lovely readers.

I hung mine with some pretty thumbtacks but I love the idea of washi tape also!

Don't forget the wonderful mug swap that ends today! Click here for more information and to sign up!

Friday, November 21, 2014

High Five for Friday

Well, this week took a little bit of a turn that I wasn't expecting. I haven't been feeling the greatest, and my throat has felt pretty swollen and almost like there was a lump when I swallowed. I chalked it up to allergies and possibly getting a cold, but yesterday as I was finishing up what was supposed to be yesterday's post, I go extremely lightheaded and dizzy to the point of nearly passing out.

That, coupled with the now very large lump I felt when swallowing sent me to the doctor, then the ER. Thankfully, they found nothing life threatening, but the lump was an extremely swollen lymph node, over an inch in size.

I'm taking it a little easy today, trying to get plenty of rest and hoping whatever my body is fighting will be better in the next few days. I'm also hoping to get up the post that was intended for yesterday that includes a great freebie!

And after a very lengthy intro, here's my wonderful five on Friday!

1. It's been a negative temperature this week with the wind chill, so sadly even though we got a decent amount of snow here in Ohio, I wasn't able to take Juliet out for her first snowy adventure. Probably for the best anyways, she can barely move in her new winter coat, I'm sure the same will be true of the snow pants. Hopefully she'll grow into them before the snow is gone!

2. This is the last weekend to sign up for the 'Tis the Season Mug Swap 2014 that I am hosting with my blogger friend Katie over at Cup of Tea. It'll be so much fun and all you have to do is sign up! We will email out partners next week on November 26. Then you get to chat a little bit with them, pick out a cute little mug and send it to them by December 10. You will also receive a new mug, just in time for the colder weather and warm beverages. Want more information or just dying to sign up? Click here for all the details. And don't forget to check out some of my fave mug choices here.

3.  I've been trying to cut down on my caffeine intake because I was realizing that I was drinking a little too much coffee, not quite enough water. It's been pretty difficult when I found some great coffee at Trader Joe's over the weekend. It's organic, fair trade, and only $6.99 for a large canister of beans. Pretty much coffee heaven. If you're a coffee lover like me and like your coffee strong, you need to check it out!

4. We've started having major temper tantrums with Juliet. It's kind of crazy how much she has changed just from her birthday a few weeks ago. She's walking so well now and doing all kinds of new things, but with that comes the frustration that she isn't able to do everything she wants yet. She can't communicate with me like she wants, so asking her questions has seemed to help diffuse the situation. Fingers crossed that will continue working, because it's pretty exhausting right now.
1st Christmas in Our House

5. I'm officially dragging out all my Christmas decorations starting this weekend! I'm seriously so excited about it, I can't even explain to you. This will be the first year I will be decorating the entire house, since we took it easy with a small baby last year. I know I don't have enough to decorate really how I want to, so keep an eye out for some DIY Christmas decorations and other goodies coming soon.

How has your week been going? Are you ready for Christmas, too?

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