Friday, October 31, 2014

It's a Good Week

Well, if this isn't an incredibly accurate statement for my week, I don't know what is.  You might have seen me on Twitter begging for strength to not open the Halloween candy.  I opened it.  And quickly ate seven three pieces.  I then wrapped it in a Target bag and tied it tightly.  All in all, it's under four tightly tied Target bags.  That should keep me from it for the rest of the day.  Until E brings home a bucket full of chocolate, which she refuses to eat.  Why can't I dislike chocolate like her?

Moving on to my favorite posts this week!  You bloggers were on fire this week - I have a lot!  Please take a moment to introduce yourself to my co-host this week, Faith from Life with Mrs. G and the Artist.

"How to Create a Blog Button with Grabbox" by Hey Kerri Blog.  I've been telling myself to figure out how to make my own buttons, and Kerri's step by step tutorial is the best I've seen.  She makes it look so easy!

"Mama's Personal Time" by The Rambling Llama and "Making Time for Momma" by Set Free.  As a mom, it's so hard to make time for myself.  Both Melissa and Amy wrote about how important it is - and convinced me to stop feeling guilty about it!

"That One Halloween I Got a Baby Brother" by Ember Grey.  How sweet this post by Emily was, writing about the day she met her little brother.  The relationship and bond that they have is one that I pray my girls will have. 

"I Must Confess - Part 4" by Wife Mommy Me.  I love, love, love Stephanie's honesty here.  Some days with your children are hard, and that's ok.  And judgemental mommies?  Get over yourselves!

"Simple Moments Last the Longest" by Sew My Soul.  Kaitlin's post reminds us that the unplanned moments are the ones that last a lifetime.  This is true for me - I can plan a perfect night out, at a great restaurant wearing the perfect outfit.  But what do I remember?  The way I caught Tim smiling at me when he thought I wasn't looking.  Love those moments.

So, what were your favorite posts this week?  Share below!  Please be sure to include at least one post by a blogger other than yourself, and check out some of the other faves!

Happy Halloween/Candy Eating Day everyone!
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Love the Here and Now

We all have that one blog that we connected with first, right?  As a reader, or a blogger yourself, can you think of one blog that you keep going back to, and loving every post?  For me, that's Love the Here and Now, written by Anne.  Anne and I first "met" when I started blogging, and she has quickly become my go-to person for all things blog.  She is part of my tribe.  But not only that, I'm happy to call her a real life friend too.  Someday we'll meet!

Anne shares amazing Blogging 101 tips - many of which I've used myself.  Her new Awesome Link-Up is one of my favorites because each link shares things that are awesome, which can instantly boost any day in my opinion.  Outside of blogging, Anne is an inspiration - as she is raising three beautiful daughters and married her high school sweetheart. 

I asked Anne to answer a series of questions to give you a little insight to her and her blog.

Tell us about your "Wednesday Wishes" and "Awesome" link-ups. How did you decide to do them?
I knew I wanted to host a weekly link up and wanted it to be something that a variety of people and blogs could relate to. I chose Wednesday Wishes because who isn't wishing for something? I love that people's wishes range from serious to funny, wishes for themselves and wishes for others. We get it all each week!

I chose to do my Awesome link up once a month because I found that sometimes I get bogged down by the day to day stuff. It was comforting to think that the little things in life could bring a smile to my face. All needed to do was think of those things and my mood brightened. This link up is simply things that you find awesome that make you smile. Who couldn't use a little of that each month?

We know you love Fall, but if you could pick one reason, what would it be?
 It's next to impossible to pick one reason. I waiver between the weather and the colors/leaves. If I had to choose though, it would be the leaves. For a month or two each year, the trees take on so many different colors it's breath taking. I could never live somewhere that didn't experience Fall. It's like Mother Nature is decked out in her finest for awhile. Wouldn't miss that for the world!
Do you have any nicknames? 
Hmmm...nicknames.....depends on who I'm talking to. A few people call me Annie. My daughters call me Mama sometimes which I silently chuckle at. It sounds so Southern to me and we are New Yorkers.
You work in a library. What is the best part about that? Have you ever met an author?
The best part of working in a library is also the worst reading list is so long! There are so many books I want to read and I never seem to have the time. I love being able to talk about books at any point in my day though. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies and to be surrounded by books and fellow readers all day is wonderful. I have yet to meet any big authors but we do host local authors and their book signings at times.
Why do you blog? What made you start blogging?
I blog simply because I want to. I loved reading blogs for years and last year I finally decided that I wanted to put myself out there too. I loved that people were opening up their lives and their experiences to others. I loved that there were so many people that I could relate to. Now that I have started I can't see myself stopping. It's my outlet, my source of creativity, and it has provided a great sense of community and so many friends. I don't see myself leaving any of that behind.
What is your favorite app on your phone?
My favorite app on my phone....oh gosh....I have favorites in so many categories. I think I would have to say Instagram though. I love reading blogs but seeing actual snippets from bloggers' lives helps me feel more connected to them. 
You can only pick one type of food for the rest of your life, what do you pick?
Simple choice for me....Italian all the way. I live in a predominantly Italian area so I have it made. Local restaurants have old family recipes. My husband is Italian as well so everything is homemade. Sauces, meatballs, fried dough, Italian greens, tomato pie (a pizza served room temp with fresh tomato sauce and grated cheese, totally different from regular pizza) all from scratch. My mouth is watering now. Yum!

Be sure to check Anne out:
Also linking up with Amanda for Conversations.  An interview counts, right??
Knock on Wood
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Am I Doing this Right?

That's me.  A very sleep deprived me.  It was Mother's Day, 2010, and E was about 3 three weeks old.  She hadn't figured out that nights were for sleeping, and instead would cry all night and sleep all day.  Most of those nights I would woner, what am I doing wrong?  Then self doubt would enter my mind and I'd think Am I doing this right?

There is no handbook for parenting, although most days I wish there was.  It's all about choices.  Undoubtedly, each choice I make comes with a sacrifice of some sort.

I formula fed both children.  I tried with E, and after a few weeks went to the bottle.  I didn't even try with A.  Sometimes, I let the very pro-breastfeeding points of view enter my mind, and I wonder if my kids are at some sort of health or intelligence disadvantage because they were formula fed.  And I wonder, am I doing this right?

Sometimes I lose my patience.  E likes to challenge me, and most days I can handle it.  But every once in awhile I can't.  I wonder on those days if my short temper is something she will learn.  I wonder if she knows that even though I might be mad, I still love her.  And I wonder, am I doing this right?

 When A was a newborn, I let E watch movies and television.  I had to, to survive.  When we'd go to the doctor and he'd say "no more than one hour a day", I would cringe inside.  Sometimes I wonder if, during those three moths, she missed out on some good brain development time.  I still think, did I do that right?

But then, each day when the sun is setting and the girls are getting ready for bed, we cuddle.  And in that moment when A has her head tucked in to the crook of my arm, and looks up at me with her big, grey eyes, I know that I've done something right. 

Every night, when E requests that I sing her a song, we lay on her bed cuddling and singing.  As I run my fingers through her long, blond hair while her eyes get heavy, I know I've done something right.

Being a mother is hard.  Every day there is a new challenge, and every day there is something to worry about.  Something to make you wonder if you've made the right decision.  But in those quiet moments, it becomes clear to me.  My children are fed, clothed, have shelther, and most importantly, are loved.  And that reminds me that I'm doing something right.

Today I wish that mothers wouldn't be so hard on themselves.  To remember that their children are ok - that you are doing something right, even on those days when it doesn't seem like it. 

Love the Here and Now
Linking up with Anne.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween, According to My Husband

Tim and I had so much fun with our last Blogger Men Tell All, we had to join for this month's link up too.  (Ok, I had fun interviewing him, he just played along!)

This month is all about Halloween.  I really hope he shares with you his costume from junior year of college...

Ok, are you ready?
Um, sure. 

Is Halloween your favorite holiday? If not, what is?
No.  Christmas.  Time with family and holiday cocktails.

What do you plan on dressing up as for Halloween this year?
Nothing.  Is that ok to say?

What is your go-to drink (alcoholic, non-alcoholic)?
At home? White Russian.

4. What’s your favorite scary movie?
Ooooh.  Hmmm.  That's kind of a hard one.  (mumbles to himself).  Yea, Halloween I guess.

What is your best Halloween memory?
Dressing up as "Towelie" in college.  It was the best costume ever.  And, we had a ton of fun at Halloween parties and won a few contests too.  (Yes, from South Park):


So there you have it.  The inner thoughts of my other half.  Apparently, Towelie was a big hit in Iowa City that year.  We weren't dating then.... but I'm sure I would have been proud.

Linking up with Becca, Samantha and Melissa.

Becoming Adorrable
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Tour Through Blogland + Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, I was asked by Amy to participate in the Tour Through Blogland.  I immediately said yes and was so flattered that Amy asked me to participate.  I "met" Amy through blogging over the summer, but our relationship went to another level when I learned about essential oils from her, and eventually began using them myself.  She is caring, thoughtful, a wonderful mother and someone I am happy to call a friend!

So, here we go on our little tour through All the Joys.  (Note: I wanted to add a fun picture of where I blog, but I don't have a dedicated space.  I blog on the couch, in bed, sometimes at work, and none of those places are picture worthy!)

What am I working on?
I have a long list of blog post ideas that I am constantly adding to.  I also have a series I'm working on.  I have about three posts written, but want to have them all ready to go before publishing.  It's a long process and hard to work on when I'm doing regular posts as well.  There are also some things I need from home (home-home, as in it is packed in my mother's basement) so I need to collect those before publishing as well. 

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Honestly, I think every blog and blogger is different.  Writing from your heart automatically makes you different.  Not that others haven't experienced the same things, or have the same thoughts, but the way you relay them and connect with others is what makes you different from others.  So, in that sense, I am the same.  I write freely and I (hope!) that that comes through.

Why do I write/create what I do?
I've always been a writer.  When I was little, I would write chaper books for fun.  English and Creative Writing classes were always my favorite.  I can tell a story so much better with pen and paper.  At this point, All the Joys is for me.  I write for myself.  But I also love when I get an email from a reader saying that they know exactly how I am feeling!

How does your writing/creative process work?
To be honest, I don't put a lot of time in to my posts.  I write freely, re-read to find errors, and hit publish.  I begin writing when I feel inspired by something - usually a thought, or something I've seen or felt.  If I'm not feeling inspired one day, I won't write.  There is nothing worse than reading a blog post that was published without any feeling behind it.

Your next stops on the Tour:

Love the Here and Now 
You've seen Anne around here a few times.  She is one of the first bloggers I "met", and I truly believe that was on purpose.  Anne is an inspiration to me - she's a wonderful mom to three girls, so I look up to her and how well she has raised them.  Her blogging style is genuine and refreshing!

Knock on Wood Blog
Amanda is one of those people that you could meet, and feel like you've known forever.  Her blog is fun and uplifting.  She recently moved from Georgia to Missouri to be with her now husband.  I love their love story!  Amanda is a busy girl - going to school, keeping up with her blog and all of the fun adventures she and her husband have!
Thanks for stopping by my piece of the internet!  I am so grateful for this space and the people that come back week after week.  Don't go yet, I have a fun giveaway for you...

Enter to WIN a $120 Target Giftcard!
I've teamed up with all of these wonderful ladies to bring you a chance to win $120 Target giftcard!
Target Giftcard
Giveaway runs from 10/27 at 12AM EST to 11/4 at 12AM EST. Available to US Residents 18 years and older. No purchase necessary. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, October 24, 2014

A Celebration of Life + Blogger Love

This morning, I learned that a co-worker I had at my first "real" job after college passed away last night.  She had been fighting brain tumors for a few years and after exhausting all options, she stopped all treatment and focused on living what was left of her life. 

I haven't seen her in about six years, but reflecting on our short time together only makes me incredibly thankful to have ever even met her.  We worked with children that had life-threatening illnesses, and the positivity that she showed every day was contagious.  Not just to me, but to the children and their families.  It was hard to not feel optimistic and happy around her.  The world lost a beautiful person yesterday, but Heaven gained a beautiful soul.  Rest in Peace, sweet, sweet P.

Moving on to this week's favorites...

This week, my co-host is Linda from A Labour of Life.  Check out Linda's blog for daily outfits and adventures!  If you are interested in co-hosting, check out my sponsorship options.

"Our Freaking Budget" by Keeping Up with the Haney's.  Amanda introduces a new series revolving around budgeting.  I love saving money so I am more than excited to follow this series.  Making budgets is my thing - if only I could get my husband to follow one!

"Things I Hate: Stores Being Open on Thanksgiving" by Life According to Steph.  I understand the concept of "Black Friday", although after a horrible experience, I refuse to participate ever again.  What I don't understand is shopping on Thanksgiving.  If people want to shop on this day, and stores want to make a profit, can't we do awesome sales online?  I would be so sad if I had to leave my family on Thanksgiving to go work, even if I was being paid more.

"Nashville Musings" by A Short Blonde.  Yep, still obsessed with my weekend in Nashville.  This is spot on - comparing Chicago and Nashville, and how incredibly different, yet amazing they both are.  I feel an immediate need to get back asap.

"Saving Elephants and Eating Mexican Food" by The Nashvillian.  How awesome would it be to help out at an elephant sanctuary?  And then stay in an adorable cottage?  Ashley writes all about it.  I also love how she included pictures that aren't completely staged and in the moment. 

Please link up below!  Remember to share at least one post by another blogger from this week.  Link up, visit your co-host and another new-to -you blogger!

All The Joys Friday Favorites
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where's Puppy?

Did any of you have (or maybe still have) a childhood stuffed animal that meant the world to you?  I did.  He was an elephant that my aunt made for me.  When I got him, I couldn't say "elephant" so his name became Ellie.  Ellie went everywhere with me, the entire time I lived at home, up until college.  He saw me through childhood, my parent's divorce, my sister leaving for college, boy issues and my first real love and subsequent break up.  In fact, I contemplated taking Ellie to college with me, but then decided he should stay home.  For the record, he is now in my daughter's closet, watching over her.

My daughter, E, has a similar stuffed animal.  Hers is a stuffed dalmation, named "Puppy".  (She did inherit my dog-naming skills).  Puppy is her security blanket. 

Let's set the scene of this past Saturday.  Tim was out of town for work, and E woke up with a cough she had had since Wednesday.  That morning, however, it was accompanied with a fever.  Luckily, one of my best girlfriends had stayed over the night before (we may or may not have had a lot of drinks together), so she quickly offered to stay with A while I took E to urgent care, Puppy in hand.

After a few hours, we were given a few prescriptions and the clear to go home.  E, Puppy and I loaded back in to the car and went to Target to have them filled.  After waiting for another half an hour, we finally went home.  At this point I am exhausted, feeling gross from being in urgent care all that time, and feeling bad that my friend had to stay with A for so many hours.

But, E says to me with tears in her eyes, "Mommy?  Where's Puppy?"  He was not inside the house.  He was not in the car, under the seats, next to her carseat.  He had not fallen in the driveway.  A call to Target Pharmacy told us he wasn't there.  He was gone.  The way that she looked at me seriously broke my heart.  How was I going to explain to her that he was gone?  That she should have held on to him, or not taken him with her?  She was trying to be so grown up and not completely lose it, but I could see it on her face.  She was devastated.  So I did what any mom would do... I drove back to Target.

Like a crazed woman, I looked under the car that had taken my spot.  I went to customer service and left my phone number.  I went to the pharmacy, retraced our steps through the ice cream and candy aisles (What?  We were hungry.  She did inherit my sweet tooth!).  I asked people if they had seen a stuffed dog.  (For the record, only one woman even seemed concerned.  She must have been in my situation before!)  I had given up - Puppy was gone.

Until... he wasn't.

I saw him after I had given up and was on my way out.  He was just sitting there, placed by someone who knew a child's heart would be broken for losing him.  Someone that saved my day, and E's too.

We now have a strict "Puppy stays in the house" rule, because I cannot bear to see that face of such sadness again!

Today is Wednesday Wishes with Anne.  I'm wishing that the person who found and saved Puppy knows just how much of a lifesaver he/she is.  I wish I knew who it was so I could properly thank them!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Currently... Round Two

It's been awhile since I've done a Currently post.  Whenever another blogger posts one of these, they are the first I read.  I love getting a small glimpse in to their lives.  Creepy?  Maybe, but it makes me feel like I really know them.

Reading: The Storyteller by Jodi Piccoult.  I love all of her books, and this one has not disappointed.  I need to kick up my reading if I'm going to get through all 20 books on my 101 in 1001 list!

Writing: In my last Currently post, I said I was working on a series.  This is still true - I just hit some major writer's block.  I also write every day for work, so I have a lot of writing going on!

Listening: To Sunday Night Football - not by choice.  Football rules our home on Sundays.

Thinking: About Christmas, more specifically, Christmas shopping.  I love giving gifts and already have my lists made.

Wishing: It wasn't getting cold.  I thrive on extreme temperatures - really hot or really cold.  This in between business is not my favorite.  Snow already!

Hoping: That we have a great time at the pumpkin patch this weekend.  Ever since E was a baby, it's been a tradition to go with my sister and her now husband.  I hope the girls cooperate and we have a good time!

Loving:  That my husband bought cowboy boots this week while in Texas for work!  He usually goes once a month, and has been talking about getting some for years.  He finally came home this time with some.  And I'm loving it.

Wanting: Still wanting a house.  And a Diet Coke.  But since I can't have either, I'd love some ankle boots.  I'm still on the hunt for the perfect pair.

Needing:  E to feel better.  A trip to Urgent Care Saturday gave us chest xrays, a little girl that wouldn't wear the required face mask, two hours of waiting, and finally some cough medicine and an antibiotic.  I also need A to not catch this yuck!

Eating/Drinking: Tim is making a frozen Home Run Inn pizza - if you've never had it, you are missing out.  I'm drinking water with my Lemon essential oil.

Today is Grateful Heart Monday.  Today I'm grateful for good friends.  Tim was gone for work and my good friend stayed with A so I could take E to get checked out.  She stayed for three hours - with her own daughter - so I wouldn't have to take A and risk her getting sick at Urgent Care.  I've said it before, and I'll say it always - good friends are one of life's biggest blessings.

What are you grateful for?
Ember Grey

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Friday, October 17, 2014

What Happened to My Week?

I know that my week didn't start until Tuesday, but I can't believe it's Friday again already.  (Don't I say this every week?  Time really needs to slow down for me!)

This week, one of my amazing sponsors, Anne from Love the Here and Now is co-hosting #bloggerlove with me.  We will be doing an entire highlight post at another date, but if you haven't met her yet, you need to.  She is open, genuine and just a great person all around!

I have just a couple of faves this week, as I am still playing catch up on all things blog!  These two won't disappoint:

"Who Am I Now...?" by The Adventures of Bug and Boo.  Oh, how I love this post.  I felt like I could have written it.  Rebecca writes about finding out who she really is, other than the relationship labels such as mom, friend, wife, etc.  It's so easy for me to label myself as those, but is that really who I am?  Loved this post, please go read it!

"The Newest Member of Our Family" by The Grits Blog.  I mean really, how adorably sweet is Captain?  And even sweeter?  Ashley and her husband for finding, falling in love with, and adopting him.  His little life has been through the ringer and is just starting to turn around in to something wonderful.

Link up with Anne and I!  All we ask is that you share at least one post by a blogger other than yourself, then check out the other links below.  If we tweet, include us so we can retweet you!  (@allthejoys and @aduross5)

An InLinkz Link-up

If you are interested in co-hosting #bloggerlove with me, check out my sponsor options and let's get to it!

All The Joys Friday Favorites
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Husband Is Iowa-Famous

When I first started dating Tim, ten years ago, I knew three things about him almost instantly - He almost never went to class, but had a better GPA than I did, he was a people person, and he could make friends with anyone around him.  Seriously, we can be out to dinner, sitting at an isolated table in the corner, and by the end of the meal we are making plans with strangers about where to go next.  This guy has the gift of gab - which I normally really adore.

In Iowa, we don't have any pro teams, for any sports.  People like Chicago, Minnesota or St. Louis teams (generally), but almost everyone loves the Iowa Hawkeyes.  Every Saturday, people all over the state sit down to watch them play football.

Tim's personality traits all meshed together when one day in 2004 I started getting a lot of calls about "the boy I was dating" and if he was the one in the Iowa commercial.

My Mom was calling.  My friends from high school were calling.  Friends at college were calling.  Tim had landed a spot on the newest University of Iowa commercial and it was making it's debut.

This all happened because of a random conversation he was having with someone while at work.  They were looking for people to fill spots and he asked Tim to be in it.  It was also the only time that semester that he went on campus, and definitely the only time he wore a backpack. 

The commercial ran for at least four years.  We'd see it during every football game even after we graduated.  After they made a new one, his was lost for awhile.  Until last weekend when it was discovered that his mom had recorded it while it was still on tv!  And, here it is for your viewing pleasure.  (He is at the very end)

His line, "I found my personal best at the University of Iowa" is one I like to quote often, because let's be honest, I am his personal best. :)
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nashville Livin'

This past weekend, four of my besties and I were lucky enough to spend three days on a fabulous Girls Weekend.  Our husbands were left with the children and we took off.  We do a short weekend every year, but this was the first that we all were able to go.  And it did not disappoint!

We left early Friday morning, because somewhere along the planning process we decided it would be a good idea to drive.  Not that it wasn't - any roadtrip without screaming children is fine by me - but it was a long drive.  It provided for a lot of fun conversations though!  At our first gas stop, this happened:

A large bottle of Costco vodka.  Shattered.  Very tragic - but don't worry, it was quickly replaced.  Once we got there we checked in to the amazing condo we rented.  I found it on HouseAway, and it did not disappoint. 

Upon check in, we were given lists of restaurants and bars to check out, including National Underground, which had "the best burgers in town.", and we were told was owned by the owner of the condo we were renting.  We added it to our mental list of places to check out.
Friday night we drove to Martin's BBQ for dinner, suggested by Samantha.  It did not disappoint!  I had a beef brisket sandwich, mac and cheese and hushpuppies.  #yumdoesntdescribeit
After that, we had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry.  It poured on us, and by the time we got inside we were drenched.  But, #yolo, so off to our seats we went.  We originally went because Lady Antebellum was there.  I've said before that I'm not a fan of country music, so basically I agreed to go because my friends wanted to.  And because they served booze.  Well imagine to my surprise when I actually enjoyed the music, and even cried during one of the songs!  My perspective has changed.  I now like country music.

After the show, we went out.  We hit up Honky Tonk and stayed there for the night.  So much fun!  I love how every bar has live music.  

Saturday morning we nursed our headaches a little, bought some umbrellas, hit up The Frothy Monkey for breakfast and headed out for our Bike Tavern tour.  This was so much fun!  It's basically a bar with bikes all around it.  You bike around town, drink, and stop at bars.  We had a blast but were sore for the rest of the trip.  Definitely worth it though!

My fave picture of the weekend!
At our second stop, our guide was telling us some bars to check out.  He mentioned the National Underground - remember that from above?  Imagine our surprise when he told us that Gavin DeGraw owned it.  I blurted out - "That's weird, we were told the owner of our unit owns it!".  Then it all clicked.... we were staying in Gavin DeGraw's condo.  #starstruck.  (We knew this to be true because we investigated when we got back - the person I had been corresponding with is related to him!)

Saturday night we went to dinner at Puckett's, which was right across the street from where we were staying.  I had the best cocktail - a spiked peach tea, along with fried green tomatoes as an appetizer.  My entree was Piggy Mac - pulled pork topped with gouda mac and cheese and roasted peppers.  A-ma-zing.

Sunday we left for Louisville to break up the trip home.  We shopped at the outlets, went out for a great dinner (Martini's Italian Grille) and saw Gone Girl.

We had the best time - doing all of the things we like best.  Eating, drinking, shopping, movies, and just being together.  I officially need a food and booze detox, but I am incredibly grateful for these girls and so lucky to have them.  I wish we could do this more often!  Until next year, ladies!  (Suggestions on where to go welcomed!)

Linking up with Emily for Grateful Heart Monday and Anne for Wednesday Wishes.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stitch Fix - October 2014

I had such a great time in Nashville this past weekend!  I am working on a post but in the meantime, I wanted to share my most recent Stitch Fix with you.  Have you seen their new policy?  There have been some people saying that they are overpriced, that their prices were much higher than what you could buy the same piece for at another store, and then there was the blogger that discovered a Nordstrom Rack price tag on her shorts from Stitch Fix.  So, they responded:  If you purchase something from Stitch Fix, and find the exact item cheaper elsewhere, they will reimburse you the difference.  I haven't gotten a fix since this new policy was announced - but I'm excited to!  I don't really mind the prices of the pieces - I set them in the first place - but I'm a bargain hunter, so you bet I'll be researching!

On to what I got...

Market and Spruce Marko Coloreblocked Tie-Back Sweater - $68.  I liked the back of this sweater, but the rest of it hung a little awkwardly.  Loved the colors and colorblocking, but it was sent back.

Skies Are Blue Farley Swiss Dot Ruffle Front Blouse - $58.  This shirt had potential, but was overall way too big and boxy.  Sent Back.


 41Hawthorn Jace Textured Mixed Chevron Print Fit & Flare Dress - $68.  Love the colors on this, and the pattern.  I was convinced it wouldn't fit - as it always takes me at least three stores to find a dress when I'm searching - but it fit perfectly.  So cute and fun.  Not sure when I'll wear this, but I Kept It.

Level 99 Giovanni Straight Leg Jean - $98.  The price first deterred me a bit, but I decided to try them on.  They fit really well and were very soft, but I just kept picturing my girls grabbing at me with dirty hands and ruining them.  Sent Back.

Pomelo Missy Polka Dot Tab-Sleeve Blouse - $58.  I loved this shirt upon first glance.  The color was bright, but muted enough for fall/winter.  And we've already established how much I love polka dots, so I thought this was a winner.  However, when I tried it on the sleeves were a little funny when rolled up, and keeping them down were way to long on my arms.  Major bummer, but Sent Back.
Thoughts on the dress?  What can I wear with it now that it's cold?  I'm thinking boots and a leather jacket.  What did you keep from your Stitch Fix?  Please share - I love seeing other's fixes!
If you are interested in getting your own fix - here is my referral link.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You Ready For This?

Another week over - I feel like time is flying by me.  Which was good this week because by the time you are reading this, I am on my way to Nashville with my besties! 

As always, this week didn't disappoint with good posts.  The more blogs I find - mostly from this link up - the more I find myself saving each week!

"But You Don't Look Sick: An Open Letter" by Seriously, Sarah?  Sarah has been open and honest with her readers about medical conditions that she faces every day.  Her transparency about her day to day struggles is something that I admire and respect.  Sarah writes this letter to all of us - in regards to anyone living with medical conditions. 

"A Piece of Chicago in Nashville" by The Nashvillian.  My two worlds this week collide with Ashley's post!  I'd have to say that one of the biggest things I'd miss from Chicago (besides friends and family) would be our delicious pizza.  It's rare to find (good) Chicago pizza outside of here!  Plus, the photos of her trying to wiggle her ears are hilarious and cute at the same time!

"Walmart in China" by The Rachael Way.  Oh, the memories this post brought back.  I lived in Japan for a summer while I was a teenager and would often be confused at the English translation of things.  I also vividly remember my host family taking me to the grocery store and I would only shop in the "America Aisle".  Oreos and Pringles made up my diet that summer.

"End the Mommy Wars" by Dancin' with a Dolly.  Jenny hits the nail on the head.  No mother has it "easy", regardless if she works full time, part time, stays home, works from home, or does a combination of any of those things.  It's time to just support one another!

"Going Natural: Bath, Hair and Skin Care" by Notes from a Newlywed and "Go Natural: Beauty, Skin and Hair" by the Florkens.  I've said it before, but I'm really trying to change the way our family uses products.  I want to provide them the best possible products without dangerous ingredients, so I really really love this series. 

I hope you link up with me for #bloggerlove!  If you do, please include at least one post from a blogger other than yourself.  If you tweet, tag me so I can retweet!

Don't forget - all ad spots are 50% off until Monday with code NASHVILLE!  See them here.

An InLinkz Link-up

All The Joys Friday Favorites
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cash In Your Pockets (or PayPal account!)

It's no secret that having a blog can be expensive.  There are sponsorships to buy, designs to be done, giveaways to do, not to mention all of the fun products that other creative bloggers make and sell.  When I first started this adventure, I told myself that I didn't want to take any money out of our monthly budget to spend on my new hobby.  I have other hobbies that do enough spending on their own - namely going out to eat and shopping.  That meant I needed to get creative about how I was going to pay for All the Joys.  I've put together some resources that you might find intriguing to use for yourself.  These can be used by anyone, not just bloggers!

1.  ThredUp.  ThredUp is an online consignment store for women's and children's clothing.  It's easy - you order a "clean out bag", (for free), they send it, you fill it, send it back (for free).  After they go through your items, they'll pay you for what they know they can resell, and donate the rest to local charities.  There is an option to pay a fee to get your items back that they don't want.  I've sent in about three bags - mostly of clothes that don't fit or I never wear - and have gotten just under $100 total.  They pay via PayPal too!
You can shop here too.  I've bought the girls brand new clothing (new with tags!) for a fraction of the retail price.  Using this link will give you a $10 credit.
2.  Twice.  Same general idea as ThredUp - but they accept more expensive brands - and pay more for them, too.  They send a list of brands they love with your clean out bag, which makes it easy to fill.  I sell my higher end things here (Anthropologie, J.Crew, Coach, Kate Spade, etc).  I've only done one bag so far, but got almost $50 for it!
You can also shop here.  Use this link to get $10 shopping credit as well as $10 clean out credit!
3.  Groupon Snap.  This is so easy, it's crazy.  Download Groupon's new app - Groupon Snap to get cash back on normal things you buy at the grocery store every day.  Some examples include $1 on milk, $.50 on bananas, $.75 on apples, etc.  After you purchase said items, all you do is upload a picture of your receipt.  I've used it once and already made $3.25.  That can pay for a whole sponsorship!
4.  Ibotta.  This is another app available in the app store.  It works in a similar way to Groupon Snap, but you need to choose your rebates based on what store you are shopping at.  Walgreen's has different rebates than Costco.  There are also retail and entertainment rebates!  I've made over $9 just doing my regular shopping.  If you sign up, use my referral code: 9bu5g

5.  Ebates.  If you haven't signed up for this already, go do it.  I'll wait.  Ok, so anytime you are shopping online, go to ebates first.  Find the store you are shopping from, click, and ebates will send you to their website.  Anything you buy will you give a rebate, which is paid out four times a year.  I signed up three years ago and have gotten back over $700 (don't do the math, I shop online a lot!).  They pay via check or sometimes Amazon credit.  Even better, before taking you to your store's website, Ebates lists all of the coupons available at that time.
6.  If you haven't already, start selling sponsorships on your blog if you are ready for the commitment.  (Shameless plug - I set mine up yesterday!)  You can then turn around and use those funds to sponsor other blogs.  Win-win.
There are many other ways to support your hobby - blogging or other.  Garage sales, online sales on Facebook, Craigslist.  Of course, always be careful about who you are selling to and meet in a public place.  Also, use coupons whenever possible.  Check out these other money saving apps too!
Today is Wednesday Wishes with Anne.  Today I'm wishing for you to try one of the above ways to get a little extra cash in your pocket.  I love cleaning out my closets - and making cash while doing so is always a plus.  Also, getting money for things I am already buying is a no-brainer for me.  Are there any other things you use to help pay for your blog/hobbies?
Love the Here and Now

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This Is Awesome

I'm a big fan of taking a moment and counting my blessings. On walks, in the morning, driving around town. There are so many amazing things happening all around me that taking the time to actually write them down helps me focus on what really matters in life.

Last week, my bloggy friend Anne wrote a list of things that are just awesome based on The Book of (even More) Awesome by Neil Pasricha.  After some wonderful feedback, she has made this in to a linkup - where we can share our lists of awesome on the first Tuesday of every month.

Sleeping with the windows open, while being comfy and warm under numerous blankets.

Not craving Diet Coke anymore.

Retail therapy - especially while there are great sales going on.

Cuddling with toddlers just before they fall asleep.

An unexpected hug from your spouse.

The smell of freshly cut grass.

Baking a dessert from scratch.

Watching your children accomplish something they have been working on.

Putting together a puzzle.

Finishing a good book.

What are some things in your life that are awesome?  I'd love to hear them. 

Love the Here and Now
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Monday, October 6, 2014

A Little Help From My Friends

Last week, it felt like everything that could go wrong, did.  All of a sudden I needed a new nanny, I had to work after Tim got home every night, I lost a 23 page document I had written for work, a loved one went through a tough time, all on top of normal every day stresses.

Thankfully, my wonderful friends were there for me.


My nanny issues have been temporarily solved by my good friend Jess!  She has a friend, whom I have met before, that is a stay at home mom.  She came over last week and agreed to stay with my girls twice a week.  A-ma-zing.  I'm forever indebted to Jess and my new, temporary nanny!

I wasn't able to recover the document I lost, but since I spent so much time on it, I am finding myself remembering pieces of it.  That's better than nothing, right?  I have to find the good in every situation, so although small, at least I remember some of the document.

Through it all, my friends were there for me.  Texts to see how I was doing, driving me out to dinner so I could enjoy cocktails, staying with the girls so I could attend a very important meeting, and retail therapy all lifted my spirits. 

For this Grateful Heart Monday, I am more than grateful for my friends - all of which are more like family.  These girls have seen me at worst and celebrated with me at my finest.  They get me.  And for that I will be forever grateful.

This upcoming weekend is perfect timing - as five of us are off to Nashville!  Girls Weekend without kids or husbands.  I can't even wait to shop, sleep in, go out, and maybe learn a country song or two. ;)

Ember Grey's Grateful Heart Linkup

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