Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Family Dinners are Important - How to Get Involved

It's no secret that our family has gone through a lot of change over the last few months.  With travelling, living in hotels, living with friends, moving across country, unpacking and starting school, we have had our share of busy days.  The one thing that is so important to us, no matter how hectic or crazy our days have been, is sharing family meals together.

Sure, some days we aren't always at home together during meal times, but sitting down to share a meal is a part of my day that I look forward to.  Of course, leading up to actually sitting down is hectic - and I'd be lying if I said I ever got to actually sit for more than a few minutes (moms, can I get a "yes"! on this?!) but I look forward to it because it's one of the few times that the four of us can take a breather and reconnect.

Billion Family Dinners shares my feelings on the importance of this time together.  Did you know that dinners together can reduce stress and obesity?  It's true.  And "family dinner" does not have to mean a traditional family - friends that are like family can have the same effect.  Just sitting down and reconnecting with those you love brings you many health benefits - including increased happiness!

I, along with Billion Family Dinners, urge you to join the movement of having and tracking family dinners throughout September and October.  You can download an app straight to your iPhone or on Google Play.  I love the app because it gives you conversation starters as well!

Every time you have a family dinner, tag me on social media (@allthejoys on twitter and instagram) as well as @BillionDinners (instagram) or @DinnerCall (twitter) and use the hashtag #BillionDinners.  

The user that tracks the most dinners using the app will be rewarded!  Be sure to tag me so we can keep track. :)

Happy (family dinner style) Eating!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Faves + A New Blog!

We made it through the week - and actually, this one seemed to fly by.  Maybe it was because of Labor Day?  Regardless, I'm not complaining because by now you should know that the weekend is my favorite part of the week.  But really, does anyone not like the weekend?  I didn't think so.

With my revamp of Blogger Love, I've started to realize how many of my daily routines include products and things that I love using.  Here are just a few from this week:

Symphony Bars.  I used to work at a pharmacy in high school, and this was the only chocolate they had.  I ate a lot of them, and forgot how delicious they were until recently.  On a whim I picked one up and devoured every last bite!

Yes to Grapefruit Cleansing wipes.  I keep these in my bedside table for when I forget (or am too lazy) to actually wash my face.

Peach Green Tea Lemonade from Starbucks.  So sad that they have deemed it "fall", and I cannot get this anymore.  Until next summer Starbucks!

Favorite Quote.  If this one doesn't sum up my current life, I don't know what does:

Favorite New Blog: Beauty in the Mess, written by Megan.  Megan has lived in many areas (most fascinating - Mexico!) and writes about "the little things", her adventures with her husband, and has the cutest pug!  Fun fact - it's also her birthday today!!  You can follow along here: Bloglovin' || Instagram || Twitter

Want to share your favorites this week?  Link up below and share your favorite posts, products, tips and tricks!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

Family dinners are so important to us -  it's a time for us all to sit together without any distractions and talk about our days.  Funny things that happened, things we learned, events we are excited for.  Finding a meal that everyone will like?  That's is quite a challenge in our house!

A few months ago, my sister and I were talking about how to get my kids (husband included) to eat more vegetables.  Basically, anything green is off limits according to E - which makes things a bit difficult.  She shared this recipe with me and I've already made it a few times because it's such a hit!

Sweet Potato Casserole

3/4 cup wild rice blend and chicken broth to cook it in 

1T butter
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed (hint: buy a bag of diced sweet potatoes that cook in the microwave)
2 t brown sugar
4 cups spinach

2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1T maple syrup
1 t Dijon mustard
2 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper

 1. Prepare rice according to package directions using chicken broth instead of water.

2. Mix ingredients for vinaigrette, whisk to combine, set aside 

3. Melt butter in skillet (medium high). Add brown sugar and sweet potatoes, season with salt and sauté until tender and carmelized (about 10 minutes). 

4. Turn heat down, add spinach to skillet, cover and steam until wilted.

5. Add rice and vinaigrette, then toss to combine. 

And enjoy!  I usually make some chicken on the side, but this is very filling as is.  Let me know if you make it!
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Friday, September 4, 2015

This Week's Faves

Happy Friday loves!  Another week, another weekend.  I hope to finally get everything unpacked and put away this weekend.  Here's hoping!

We're back today for Blogger Love, episode 2.2.  I still need a new name for this link up - something that encompasses everything that will be shared - and it's a little more difficult than I thought it would be.  Hopefully by next week it will be sorted out and I'll have a new button.  Suggestions still welcomed!

This week, I'm loving...

These Thermos Funtainer water bottles.  Both girls need to take water with them to school, and these stay cold all day long.  Bonus?  There are a lot of colors/patterns to choose from.  Princess for E, plain pink for A!

This liquid eyeliner by NYC.  Lindsay convinced me to try liquid liner, and I finally have the hang of it.  I wish I had tried years ago - it's easier to apply, lasts all day and doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes.  Oh, and it's cheap.  Win win, win and win.

"How to Use the Wordpress Dashboard" by Wetherills Say I Do.  The transition is on, friends, and this post was perfect timing.  Fun fact - Madison is doing my redesign and transfer - watch for it soon!

In case you missed it, be sure to go meet Devra - she's great!

What are you loving this week?  Link up below and share with us!

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Pomeroy Life

Happy Thursday everyone!  Today I have a special blogger to share with you - and she makes me want to be a better person, she is doing amazing things!

The Pomeroy Life is written by Devra, and I am quite certain that you will be clicking over to learn more about her by the end of this post.  

Devra's Five Things She Can't Live Without:
  • the Sun - the first year I lived in KY I really thought I had mistakenly moved to Seattle because it rains a lot more here than it does in KS. I learned that I have to have the sunshine in my life.  I go for a walk on my lunch break pretty much everyday. 
  • My Husband - He's is a faithful example of God's grace and love toward me.  He makes me better than I am by myself. 
  • Snacks - I have a real "hanger" problem.  I never go anywhere without food. 
  • Coffee - Both for the caffeine and the fact that I enjoy it. 
  • Laughter - I love to laugh, and I love it when my house is filled with laughter from my husband and our two roommates.  Laughter is the best medicine, makes for the best memories, and can turn any day into a great day.
Devra's Five Things She Can't Stand:
  • My raging sweet tooth... Will got me a shirt that says "I run because I really really love dessert." #truth 
  • When my house is cluttered.  It's probably a good thing we don't have kiddos yet, lol.  I am not a clean freak by any means, but I am a neat freak. I feel so stressed when the house is cluttered.  For the record, I don't mind clutter in other people's houses, and I don't judge it either because I know how hard it is to keep up with. 
  • How marginalized communities are stuck in cycles of poverty, poor nutrition, broken homes, and low expectations.  People are people.  Everyone deserves education, good nutrition, and also to be loved and believed in. 
  • Unnecessary language, graphic violence, nudity, sex etc.. in movies and tv shows. The story lines would work just as well without those things. And sometimes it can honestly be difficult to find a movie to watch without that stuff. 
  • Convenience foods... there are so many things added to our foods.  But almost more than the additives, I dislike how it caters to our on the go life style and enables our society's neglect of a slow, intentional time together in the evenings. 
These posts need to be checked out!

Want to get to know her better?  Thought so: Facebook || Instagram || Pinterest || Twitter

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For the Love of Fall

Living in the Midwest, I didn't really love fall.  It meant that summer was over and long, hot days were a thing of the past.  Now that I live in Texas, it does not mean those things - as the weather is still pushing 100 degrees (not complaining) which means I get to enjoy all of the fall things without being cold!

To celebrate fall, I am co-hosting this fabulous fall swap with Lindsay and others, and we hope that you'll join us!  You don't have to be a blogger to be a part of it, but we will be hosting a reveal link up in October!

 photo fall swap_zpszs5vqnne.jpg

The details:
-Sign up by September 15
-Get to know your partner and ship your goodies to them by October 1
-There is a $15-20 limit
-Reveal your goodies on October 15 on your blog, Instagram or Facebook!

Fill out this google doc and get ready for fall!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Texas is Not the Midwest

I've been here a whole three weeks now, and one thing is for sure - Texas is nothing like Chicago, or Iowa, where I grew up.  Besides the very obvious "at least twenty five degrees warmer" aspect, I have noticed other things that throw me off every day.

In the spirit of documenting this journey, and because I like lists, I present the nuances of Texas (from a non-Texan point of view):

|| When you are able to turn left, yielding to oncoming traffic, people here don't put themselves into the intersection, waiting for a clear turn.  Nope - they wait behind the pedestrian line and wait.  It leaves you less room to turn and revs up my road rage!

|| In Chicago, there is a McDonald's on just about every corner.  #notkidding.  Here?  Donut shops.

|| There are no on ramps to the tollways.  Instead, there are highways that run perpendicular to said tollways.  You have to turn on those, go a few feet/miles, then merge on to the tollway.

|| There is also always a turn around section on above mentioned highways.  It's basically like a U-turn, but you have your own lane and don't need to yield to any oncoming traffic.

|| There is two year old preschool.  In Chicago, it starts at three, and even then is optional.  Some kids don't go to school until Kindergarten (which is also optional in the state of Illinois), but here it seems like everyone goes to two year old preschool.  And I'm not going to lie, I love having Tuesdays and Thursdays to myself.

|| Every mother wears Kendra Scott earrings and carries a Louis Vuitton bag.  Slight exaggeration, but still.

|| There are more CVS than Walgreens.  Quite the opposite in Chicago, but probably because Wags is headquartered there.

|| I have seen multiple restaurant dedicated solely to wings.  #notcomplaining

|| No basements.  So weird.

Even with all of these new things to get used to, I am still so grateful to have this opportunity.  Even if my driving and eating skills have had to develop a bit, we are settling well in to our new Texan lives.

Have you moved to a new-to-you region?  What sort of things threw you off?  Please share - this is fascinating to me!

~Linking up with Emily for Grateful Heart Monday.

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Blogger Love (with a twist)

It has been ages since I've hosted a Blogger Love link up - which makes me sad because it is one of the highlights of my week.  Thank you to those who kept up with your posts! 

Over my unintentional break, I found myself thinking a lot about how I want this space of mine to look and feel.  One aspect I wanted to switch up a bit was Blogger Love.  I enjoy sharing my favorite posts with you all, but I also wanted to be able to share other "loves" of mine without posting every single day about one thing that catches my attention.  I'm still thinking of a great name (ideas welcomed!) but Fridays from now on will be Blogger Love + everything else.  It might include makeup, tv shows, drinks, recipes - you name it, it will appear during some Friday in the future.  I should also add that nothing that appears here will be sponsored - just purely items or things that I have been loving lately.

This is also still a weekly link up!  Link up your "favorites" posts as well - it's really open ended.  But as always, all I ask is that you check out the other links and spread the love too.

So, let's get to it, shall we?

This week, I'm loving...

This post by Christine Everyday.  Sure, it touches on a "hot topic" - gun control (which I do have strong opinions about), but that's not the main point.  It would be hard to find someone that can't nod along while reading this.

Stiegl Grapefruit Radler.  I mean, yum!  It's the perfect summer beer in my opinion.

Amazon one-day shipping.  I have Prime for the 2-day shipping, but lately I've been noticing that if I spend a certain amount, I can get one day shipping for free!  Is this always the case and I have just been missing out?

What are your loves this week?  Link up below and share with us! 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not Like the Rest of Them

I'm sure you all have had your Facebook feed overloaded with littles all dressed up in their cute back to school outfits - with or  without a sign exclaiming it was the first day of school, right?  I like to see these pictures, and for the third year, E took one herself.

This year, however, was a bit different.  Not only did we move five states away and attending a new school full of new people, but she was going to a "big girl" school - Kindergarten!  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous - but you might be surprised as to why.

A week before school, the PTA hosted a playdate for all incoming kindergarteners.  As E was running around, I started talking to another Mom.  A few minutes in, she said "Isn't it crazy they are going to Kindergarten?  I'm not ready for her to grow up - she still needs me!".  I was a little taken back.  Sure, the thought of my girls growing older hurts a bit, but it doesn't make me sad! 

I am excited for her.  She is making new friends, learning new things, growing independent.  She is learning invaluable social skills - all things I could never teach her at home on my own.  She comes home excited about her day; filled with computer time, coloring, spelling, and of course, recess. 

So, while I witnessed a lot of moms crying while leaving the school Monday, I on the other hand, was smiling. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Stitch Fix - August 2015

My Stitch Fix box was the first piece of real mail I received at our new address and it was the perfect housewarming gift, if I do say so myself.

I had been missing my fixes since I put them on hold two months ago when we moved out of our old house.  Two months doesn't seem like a lot, but when you are craving any sort of "normal", two months is forever.  I was so happy to see this on my (new) front porch, even if it wasn't a "keep-it-all" box.

Please excuse the poor quality of photos.  I am trying to find the perfect spot in the new house to hang the clothes - this wasn't it.  Those aren't stripes you are seeing in every piece, it is the blinds!

 Ivy + Blu Joy Eyelet Dress - $84.  I liked this dress on, it fit well and was longer, which I prefer.  I thought it would look cute with a jean jacket or blazer, but couldn't convince myself that white would stay clean in my house.  Returned.

 Brixon Ivy Pinson Drape Cardigan - $54.  When I first pulled this out, I thought it was definitely going right back in and shipped back.  But I always try everything on, just in case, and I'm so glad I did with this.  It fits perfectly and the second layer gives it something special.  Kept.

 41Hawthorn Breyson Pleated Tab-Sleeve Blouse - $58.  Those aren't lines in the shirt (although they would be cute on this).  I am a sucker for shirts like these, especially when the arms roll up.  I love navy and this fit really well.  Kept.

 Brixon Ivy Bixby Clover Print Blouse - $64.  I really wanted to like this.  It was different, black and white, and the sleeves rolled up.  However, boxy shirts and I don't really get along, and this one was not a great fit.  Returned.

Bay to Baubles Hemway Triple Stone Necklace - $28.  I love the color of the stones on this, but it was an awkward length for me - not long, but tshirt neck length.  I might just request no jewelry from now on because I haven't loved anything they've sent me.  Returned.

I'm still waiting on my "keep the whole box" fix.  But as long as there is at least one piece in each box, I remain a happy customer!

If you are considering trying out Stitch Fix - here is my referral link.  If you do use it, thank you - I receive product credit!  If you get Stitch Fix and blog about your fixes, leave your link in the comments, I'm always looking for new items to pin!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

That Was Unexpected

This past month has been anything but planned.  Sure, we planned on moving out of our old home, staying in a few hotels, and moving to Dallas.  But everything else I didn't really think about.  Unfortunately, that meant that this little space of mine was left feeling quite neglected. 

The important thing is that I'm back!  And I'm coming back with all kinds of ideas for my space.  First off, I'm making the big move to Wordpress - I've finally been convinced!  You might have seen on twitter that I was locked out of my Blogger account for quite some time.  All of my requests were going unanswered, but somehow on my fifth attempt they unlocked my account!  Thank you to everyone that tweeted on my behalf.

Also, I'll be making some changes to my Friday posts.  They will still incorporate Blogger Love, but will have a little extra as well - starting next week!

I have some new ad spots available too!  You can check them out here and use code "DALLAS" to take 50% off any spot!

For now, I'll leave you a list of everything I've been up to over the past month, because, who doesn't love lists?

// Moved out of our old home

// Stayed a week at our friend's house while they were on vacation

// Moved in to a hotel in Chicago for over a week

// Had my last day of work!  Which resulted in me turning in my laptop, which didn't help with my blogging break.

// Had a quick girls trip for some major retail therapy

// Had way too many "goodbye" dinners, drinks and nights out

// Went to Iowa for a week

// Stayed in St. Louis with my sister for a few days

// Had my first flight with both girls by myself to Dallas (we survived!)

// Closed on our new home!

// (Patiently?) waiting our things from IL to arrive so we can begin to make our house a home.

I'm so happy to be back - I've missed you all!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just a Mom

Major life changes are never an easy transition.  Getting engaged, having a baby, changing jobs, or moving, among so many others, always comes with a series of emotions.  Everyone deals differently, and not everyone will react the same way to these changes.  With our upcoming move to Dallas, we are inevitably facing a lot of new things.  By now, I have a good handle on my feelings towards this new life of ours, but I what I wasn't ready to encounter were other people's reactions.

When we (finally) get there, I won't be looking for a job.  That doesn't mean I won't ever work out of the home again, but we are fortunate enough to not have to rely on my income.  While telling coworkers and colleagues about our upcoming move, they of course want to know where I will be working in Dallas.  The shock, and yes, sometimes horror on some of their faces when I say I won't be working has been nothing less than offensive.

Why is it so wrong to be a stay at home mom?  Why shouldn't I be the sole caretaker of my children if we can afford to do so?  E and A are little, and are going through a huge change as well.  We both feel that if I am home it might help with the transition.  And really, isn't this what I have always wanted?

But even more...

Why do I feel like I have to defend myself?  As women, we should each be able to define ourselves.  And we should never be limited in those definitions.  I will never be "just a mom", no mother is.  I am a wife, a friend, a daughter, a professional, and so so much more.  We all are.

Throughout this whole crazy month, I have learned a lot about myself, and those around me.  But the number one lesson is that I can't control others reactions, but I can control how I react to them.  And to those negative reactions - being "just a mom" is the best job I've ever had, and I'm more than grateful for that label.

Linking up with Emily for Grateful Heart Monday.

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Next Chapter

Oh, hello, little blog of mine.  I unintentionally took a small break from this space - but keep reading, it will all be self explanatory by the end of this post!

If you haven't heard, we sold and moved out of our old house.  We put it on the market in March, knowing that we wanted to move to another Chicago community this summer to get E in to a different school district.  When we were under contract, we started house hunting here and quickly found our perfect next home.  We negotiated back and forth, came to a deal, and signed the paperwork - excited to move on to our next home.

God had other plans.

Two days after coming out of attorney review (in Illinois you can leave a contract any time during attorney review), Tim was promoted.  Yay, right?!  Yes... except we were in this contract for a new house, here.  And with this promotion came a regional move for us.

I panicked.  We were expecting to have to move in to this new house, Tim would have to travel, and I would be home all week without him.  I didn't want that for my girls, or myself if I'm being honest.  The other option was to break the contract and potentially be sued by the sellers, which is what we were expecting.

God had other plans.  Again.

We were able to get out of our contract and received all of our earnest money back!  His timing was perfect, and makes the next step of our lives feel like it was meant to be.

We are moving to...... DALLAS, Texas y'all!

We have had a whirlwind of a few weeks, finding places to live here in Chicago, traveling to Dallas to find a new home, visiting my family in Iowa, and somewhere in there me finding time to finish up work here.  

The stars really aligned for us this past month.  Everything has seemed to work out pretty perfectly thus far, and it just reinforces our decision to make this move.  We are excited for the next chapter - which includes so many changes for us, not just geographically, but we are ready to take them head-on and make the best of it.  Life is a journey, and we are most certainly enjoying the ride.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Blogger Love v.48

It's Friday again, YES.  I need this Friday so badly.  So badly, friends!  Since selling and moving out of our old house, we have been "homeless" - living with friends, my in-laws, and now in Iowa with my parents.  I can't wait to share with you all our next step - and what has been making me so scattered lately.

Until then, how about some Blogger Love?  Through the chaos, I managed to read and fall in love with a few posts this week:

"20 Common Beauty Mistakes (You Might Be Making)" by But First, Coffee.  Oops.  I definitely fall in to some of these mistakes.  There are some good tips here too!

"Happiness Update" by Sincerely, Brianna Leigh.  I sincerely loved reading how happy this blogger has been after a rough year last year.

"Release Your Expectation of Happiness" by Hey Kerri.  I needed to read this at that very moment.  And if nothing else, go for the picture :)

Do you have any posts that really stood out for your this week, written by others?  Please link up below and share with us!  I'll need some reading material - as I don't currently have cable while in between homes.  (The horror!!)

All the Joys - Blogger Love
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Free Ad Space - Giveaway!

It's the best time of the blogging year - it's a free ad space giveaway!  Now, technically, this happens a few times a year, but if you are a blogger you'll want in on this action.

This time, I am teaming up with 17 other bloggers to giveaway a total of twenty-three (that's right, TWENTY-THREE) ad spaces!  That means that 23 lucky readers will walk away with FREE ad space, no strings attached!  The spaces being given away range from 200x200 spots to in-post ads, and are from bloggers you've all heard of and love!  

Ad Space Giveaway - The So-Called Homemaker
The rules are pretty simple: 1. Open to everyone, including our out-of-country friends! 2. All entries will be verified. Although we are saving you some time by not asking for your username for Instagram, Bloglovin', etc., your entry will be verified before you can be declared a winner. If one of your entries cannot be verified, you will be disqualified completely! 3. One ad space per winner...that means there will be a total of 23 unique winners from this giveaway! Enter below and best of luck to you all!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The End of an Era

Remember when I wrote about how we were putting our house on the market?  Shortly after doing so, we realized that our plan wasn't the plan, and although it took a lot of inner turmoil, I finally learned to trust in that.  

I didn't mention anything, because I still believe in jinxing things, but in early June we accepted an offer on our house.  We actually had another offer, from this man that kind of stuck around.  He went way under asking, and we just said "no".  Having that on the table helped with the second offer, and it was extremely close to our asking price!

I can say now that we have closed on our old house, and it's a done deal. 

Good, right?  Mostly.  I was in such a hurry to sell that house, that when it came time to actually pack up, all of the emotions that I had hidden away started to come out.  On the last day before closing, the house was empty.  I was there waiting for the final meter reading by myself (mistake #1).  I just walked around, room by room, (mistake #2), and all kinds of memories came flooding in.  

|| Moving in, while seven months pregnant with E

|| Having a painting party with my girlfriends (the whole house was wallpapered when we bought it!)

|| Bringing E home from the hospital

|| Bringing A home from the hospital

|| Sleepless nights in A and E's rooms - while picturing them as newborns in their cribs

|| Celebrating new jobs, new friends, and entertaining our best friends

|| Adding our touches to each room, making the house our home.

And so so many more.  I just sat in the empty living room and cried.  Do you ever have those moments where all of the emotions you haven't let yourself feel for months just come pouring out?  That was me.  The poor meter man that showed up had no idea what he was getting in to!

Now, of course, the next question is "Where are you going?"  That, my friends, is a whole other post that will be happening in the next couple of weeks.

Until then, I will leave you with this picture - this is what it looks like to have all of your most important belongings in your car, while jumping from house to house.  (A big thank you to our friends and inlaws for having us!)

Beer front and center.  Priorities.
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Blogger Love v.47

First of all, I have to apologize for skipping Blogger Love last week.  I know that all 650 of you came here to see my favorite posts, and were shocked to see I hadn't posted (I kid!).  But really, the life events that have been keeping me so busy are finally coming together - and I plan to share all about them on Monday!

Until then, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my favorite posts from this past week.  If you have a few moments, I highly recommend reading these!

"Your Content Is Worthy" by Bourbon, Lipstick and Stilettos.  Blog for you, absolutely Lindsay!

"My Most Favorite Announcement. Like, Ever" by Ember Grey.  Mine too!

"Mom Guilt" by The Celebrating Momma.  I completely relate to this lately!

"Our Biggest Failure" by The Celebrating Momma.  What can I say - Jamie really spoke to me this week!

"10 Blogs to Follow for Blog Tips" by Love the Here and Now.  Blogging about blogging - love it.

Did you read posts by others that inspired you?  Link up below and share them with us!

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

To My Sweet A

My Lovely A,

Before I had babies, everyone used to tell me that "time flies by" with young children.  I always used to nod my head and say "it sure does!", all while thinking that I had all the time in the world with you.

Today is your second birthday.  And I can remember that day like it was yesterday.  You were ten days late, and I remember thinking how ready I was to meet you, even though you had no plans to grace us with your presence yet.  Looking back, I wish I would have enjoyed my pregnancy with you more and let you come on your own, as it was probably my last.  When you were born, my heart swelled to a level I didn't know was possible - the second you looked in to my eyes, I knew we were meant to be together.  

Since then, you have grown in to quite the toddler.  The love and admiration you have for your older sister is just amazing.  Everything she does or says, you do too (or at least try!).  You have a serious obsession with books and reading, and it amazes me how long you can sit and flip through a story - never lose that!  When you aren't busy "reading", you can have sort of a sass to you.  I'll let you in on a little something - I secretly love that sass - and you somehow know when to pair it with your sweetness that almost always gets your Daddy and I to do whatever it is you want.  I probably shouldn't admit that, but by the time you read this, you'll have figured that out on your own! 

This year brings a lot of huge changes for our family, none of which you will probably remember when you are older, but I know you will take them with a huge toothy smile on your face.  Always, always remember how much you are loved.  I promise to cherish every moment I have with you, because they were right - time is flying by.

Happy Second Birthday A!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stitch Fix - July

Oh, Stitch Fix.  I have a love/hate relationship with you.  I love the fun and excitement you bring me - the sheer joy I get when I see that you've shipped me a new fix.  I hate how after seventeen fixes, you have yet to wow me with a "I'm keeping everything!" box.  I would think that if we've been together this long, you would really have a great sense of my style and kill it each and every month.

This past month was oh-so-disappointing.  Spoiler alert - I kept a whopping zero items.  But in the spirit of keeping it real, I'm going to share them with you anyway. 

 Mystree Smith Maxi Dress - $74.  I thought I might like this, and it was perfect for the 4th of July.  But I quickly realized the the horizontal stripes were not my friends and made me look quite wider than I actually am.  Returned.

 Loveappella Dixie Crochet Sleeve Dress - $78.  This just wasn't my style.  The tightness, the sleeves, the length.  Pair that with the price, and it wasn't a keeper.  Returned.

 Lavender Brown Noel Silk Dress - $64.  Oh, where do I begin with this one.  The pattern is totally not my style, not even a little bit.  And the silk?  Just based on all of the wrinkles from being in a box for a few days was enough for me to say no.  Returned.

 Market & Spruce Bruce Double Strap Blouse - $64.  When I first saw this, I rejoiced because I thought I had a winner!  I love the colors and style.  But, it was too boxy and ended a bit short of me.  So disappointing.  Returned.

Bay to Baubles Grove Stone Drop Earrings - $28.  These just aren't my style.  Returned.

So there you have it.  My first fix that resulted in me sending everything back.  For those of you who love your fixes every month, who is your stylist?  Share her/him with me!  I've done the detailed notes, the style profile and the Pinterest board - let's hope next month is amazing!

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Checking In: 101 in 1001

About a year ago, I began my journey to complete 101 things in 1001 days.  At the time, I thought to myself, "Self, you have all the time in the world to complete these - dream big!"  Now?  Well now is a different story.  I have about a year and a half.  To travel, eat, make memories, and so so much more.

Today I wanted to check in on myself and see what I've accomplished, and what I have left.  For each remaining month I have left, I will be breaking this list down in to "monthly to do lists".

To date, I have completed 30 items, seen here.  Some others I have made good progress on and intend to cross off soon.  This month, I will focusing on these:

|| Go to a flea market
|| Take new portrait pictures
|| Go on a picnic
|| Finish two books (Part of "Read 20 books")
|| Paint Pottery

We, as a family, have some big life things going on this month (all good and I will share very soon!), so I chose items that I can do easily during the summer months.  I'm looking forward to checking back in in early August!

Have you done a 101 in 1001 list?  Leave the link so I can check it out - and if you'd like, I'll add it to my 101 in 1001 page.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

34 Life Lessons

Today is my birthday (insert party emojis here!) and I am turning 34.  Birthdays definitely aren't what they used to be - no sleepovers, parties at the waterpark or all night bar crawls anymore.  Birthdays have turned in to somewhat reflective days for me.  So today, I thought I'd share 34 lessons I've learned - one for each of my years.

1. Always order dessert.

2. Make time to call your parents.  Even if they have mastered texting, a phone call is much better.

3.  Written thank you notes are mandatory.

4.  Forgive.

5.  Never doubt yourself.

6.  Don't be afraid to fall in love.

7.  Buy the shoes.  You can't take money with you!

8.  Look people in the eye while saying "hello", even strangers.

9.  Make time for your friends.  They become family as time goes on.

10.  Always have a pet that you can cuddle.

11.  Use emojis when appropriate.

12.  Emojis are always appropriate.

13.  Have a glass of water in between drinks.  Or drink vodka/water/soda water with lots of limes.

14.  Send or give cards to the important people in your life randomly, just to brighten their day.

15.  Take at least one day a month without technology.  Turn it all off.

16.  Stop and listen when your children want to tell you a story.

17.  Never say no to cuddles - soon they won't want them.

18.  Save some of every paycheck - you just never know.

19.  Drink water every day.

20.  Remember where you came from.

21.  Don't underestimate the power of a good book, bubble bath and a glass of wine.

22.  Be grateful, even when it seems there is nothing to be grateful for.  (You are alive!)

23. Chocolate is it's own food group.

24.  Cheese makes anything better.

25.  Don't be ashamed of watching those trashy reality shows - everyone needs a little entertainment.

26.  Tell the people you love that you love them, and tell them often.

27.  Be yourself.  Every day.

28.  Splurge on yourself every once in awhile.

29.  Do nice things for other people - be charitable when you can.

30.  Only buy things on sale.  If it's not, wait a week or two.

31.  Learn how to cook a "signature meal".

32.  Try to see the other side of an argument, even if you don't agree with it.

33.  It's ok to say "no".

Lastly, and more importantly:

34.  Find something that makes you happy in every single day.  There is always something, even if you need to dig a little deeper some days!
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Monday, June 29, 2015

A Little Summer Fun

I don't normally post on Monday - as those are usually my days to get back in to the swing of normal every life - but I had to check in today to share with you a fun giveaway!

My sponsors from the last few months and I have teamed up to bring you $90 PayPal cash.  Perfect for summer trips, a little something for yourself, a night out with friends - you name it!

Follow the directions below and good luck!  If you want to be a part of the next giveaway, check out your options here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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