Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I feel like time is moving so fast - we are already in April tomorrow, and I feel like we just got through the holidays.  I need things to slow down, just a bit.  There are so many things going on right now, I thought a good Currently post would help me focus on what is happening today, rather then worrying about the future. 

Currently I'm...

Reading:  "Uganda Be Kidding Me" by Chelsea Handler.  This is my first Chelsea book (shocking, I know) but I am enjoying it.  The things she gets herself in to are pretty funny to read about.  A good, no-thinker book.  I also just read "Reconstructing Amelia", which was great!

Writing:  Besides this post, I am putting together stories about my time in Japan for you.  The tricky part is remembering the details, and getting my pictures and souvenirs from my Mom's house.  I want it to be finished before publishing the first.  I find myself adding to posts, switching things from one to the other, so it's taking quite a bit more time than I originally thought!

Listening:  Nothing.  It's silent - which is a rare but special treat in my house.  The girl's are at their nanny's house!

Thinking:  About all sorts of things.  E's school registration, our house selling, finding a new one, work - just to name a few.

Wishing:  That our house would sell already.  We've had a lot of activity, so hopefully soon.  It's hard keeping it so clean with two littles and a dog - who freaks out every time he has to get in the car for a showing.  Poor guy!

Hoping:  That once our house sells, we will be able to find our perfect next home.  This next one we will be in for awhile, so it has a lot of pressure to be what we want.

Loving:  The warmer temperatures lately.  60 today and tomorrow!  Although I don't like in between temps (hot or cold only please!), this is a sign that summer is on it's way.

Wanting:  For a smooth month of no spending, starting tomorrow.  (More on this tomorrow)  I need a lot of luck in this area. 

Needing:  A little time to myself, that doesn't involve anything but a book, wine and a bubble bath. 

Eating/Drinking:  I just ate a granola bar, and currently drinking water.  No coffee for this girl! 

What are you currently up to? 

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Blogger Love v.34

I finally got back in to the swing of things as far as blogging goes this week.  I finally caught up!  And that means I have some favorites to share with you this week.  Let's get right to it, shall we?

"Sharing Pregnancy on the Internet" by Sage.  I've touched on this subject before, and Cassie explains it even more.  As I said to her, my number one job in life is to protect my babies, and I feel that for us, not sharing their information online is what's best for our family.

"Why I'm Ditching the Scale" by the Rambling Llama.  Melissa is so right - we need to stop verifying ourselves based on a number on the scale.  I am guilty of this - what the scale says can make or break my day.  Instead of focusing on a number, I should be focusing on how I feel and how my clothes are fitting differently.

"Why I Follow Your Instagram" by Helene in Between.  Helene is starting an Instagram Challenge for the month of April - something that I hope will help me better about posting there.  Check it out and join us!

"10 TV Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix Right Now" by Hello Rigby!  Not that I need more television in my life (my dvr is currently overflowing!), but I'm always on the hunt for shows that my husband and I can watch together - there aren't many that we would both like.  Jenn has some good suggestions for girly binges and shows that we might be able to watch together (The Killing and Lost).

So there we have it for this week.  What were some of your favorite posts by bloggers other than yourself?  Link up below and tell us!

An InLinkz Link-up

Don't forget about my reader survey and giveaway!  There are two days left to enter for a $25 Amazon giftcard!

Have a great Friday and weekend everyone - I hope it's starting to feel like Spring in your neck of the woods!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Winning the Lottery

Don't get too excited, I didn't really win anything.  Although if I had, I'm not sure you would hear about it here for quite some time, if ever.  There are a few reasons for this - I'm not one to talk openly about money, especially on the internet where anyone can read what I write.  Also, well, because you have to play the lottery to win - and I maybe buy one ticket a year.  But that doesn't stop me from dreaming about what I could do with all of the winnings!

|| First, I would take the cash option and invest it myself.  I don't trust Illinois to pay me every year for 50 years or whatever it is.  They can barely give me my tax refund each year.

|| I would set up accounts in each of the girls' names, my soon to be niece, and few extras for future nieces/nephews.  It would pay for college of course, but also pay them a modest amount each month once they turn 18.  Not enough to live on, but enough to not have to worry if they fall on hard times.  I would still insist on them learning to take care of themselves, and how to work for a living.

|| After that is taken care of, I would absolutely charter a jet, fill it with our closest friends, and go on a crazy vacation.  I'd take over a lavish resort somewhere and just go all out.  Drinks, dinner, outings, everything!  I'd also hire nannies to go along so we could all take our kids, but still enjoy evenings out.

|| My house that's for sale?  Oh yea, I'd just pay it off and donate it.  Then we could move to the area we want to be in, before Kindergarten starts in the fall.  Paying in cash, of course.  I'd probably hire a decorator and contractor and make the new house exactly how I want it.  (Did someone say gourmet kitchen and huge whirlpool tub?  Oh yea, that was my dreams coming through.)

|| I'd send my Dad and step-mom to Europe, all first class.  He'd get to see Wales, Germany, anywhere he wants.  A small token of saying thanks for putting me through college.

|| I'd buy my Mom and step-dad whatever house they wanted.  They wouldn't have to worry about selling, because I'd just pay for their current house and then donate it to an animal rescue place in Cedar Rapids.

|| I'd buy both of my parents places near us, so they can come visit any time they wanted, and stay as long as they wanted to.

|| Speaking of donating, I would get involved with a few charities and research organizations to see how they operate before making any kind of financial commitment.  I've worked in non-profits my entire professional career and want to be sure that I am making a true investment that will be used for it's intended purpose.

 Of course, I'd pinch myself a few times, go shopping (more than a few times!) and say thanks every day for my wonderful blessing.

It's Wednesday, so of course I'm linking up with Anne for Wednesday Wishes.  To be superficial, I really wish to win the lottery.  Writing out these plans makes me wish I could follow through! I also wish that you fill out my reader survey and enter the giveaway - found here.

What's first on your list if you won the lottery?

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Monday, March 23, 2015

A Blogiversary, Reader Survey and Giveaway - Oh My!

Happy Monday Everyone!  This month is a big one for All the Joys - exactly one year ago, I was in the process of beginning this little space of mine.  I was choosing a design, figuring out the crazy tech stuff (that I still don't understand), locking down my social media accounts - and on March 30, I hit publish on my very first post.  I've come a long way since then, and I know there are so many more opportunities to take advantage of.

To celebrate, I wanted to reflect on the last year, and see where my opportunities lay for the future.  This is where you come in.  I have a very quick Reader Survey that I would love some feedback on.  As a reward - the password for a $25 Amazon giftcard giveaway will be given at the end.  (Along with another surprise!)

I am looking forward to taking your feedback and merging them with my blogging goals.  I honestly never thought that I would be here a whole year later, and now I can't imagine not coming to this space, to each of you.

You can find the survey here.  Thank you, and Good Luck with the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Blogger Love v.33

Happy Friday Everyone!  I normally really love Fridays, but this one I needed.  The first week after vacation was a rough one.  My mind was still on the beach, but I had so much to do both for work and home.  This weekend is very much welcomed, even if I will be working part of it.

This week for Blogger Love, I have a very fun co-host!  Lindsay, from Bourbon, Lipstick and Stilettos is here with us.  Have you visited her yet?  She has the best reviews of all things makeup and skincare, some of which I have purchased for myself on her suggestions.  I've asked Lindsay to share some thoughts with all of you, enjoy!

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
 On a typical Saturday morning, you can find me in bed until 8:00 or 9:00. We don't have kids yet so I take full advantage of being able to sleep in! I usually make breakfast, have a few cups of coffee, and we watch a home design show (currently obsessed with Fixer Upper). I start weekdays at 5:00 am, so lazy weekends are the best. 

You write a lot about beauty products.  What are your top three and why?
My top three products will change from time to time, but as they stand now:
-Maybelline's Falsies mascara: I've tried a million brands of mascara, and this drugstore find remains the best in my book. 
-BareMinerals Complexion Rescue: this is a relatively new product, but I'll never be without it again. It moisturizes and smooths skin for a flawless complexion. 
-NARS Orgasm blush: other blushes will come and go, but this is forever. It's the perfect color for everyone and always gives me a gorgeous, healthy glow.  

What's the best piece of blogging advice you've ever received?
The best piece of blogging advice I ever received was to build a community and befriend other bloggers. I thought I could do it on my own, but I'd be buried in the internet wasteland without the support of others. 

Spill it!  What's your favorite guilty pleasure tv show?
My favorite guilty pleasure tv shows are House of Cards and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I am so happy Lisa Rinna and Eileen Davidson are now on RHOBH because I'm also obsessed with Days of our Lives...  editor's note: I LOVE me some RH.  And I surprisingly really like Lisa Rinna!

You can find more of Lindsay here:

And now it's time for Blogger Love!  Join Lindsay and I, link up below and share your favorite posts by other bloggers for the week.  Grab the button if you'd like and check out some new-to-you bloggers!  I am still catching up on posts from last week, so my faves are a little sparse this week, but you should check these out:

"Overcoming Our Insecurities - Motherhood" by Anne via Life with Mrs G. and the Artist.  Faith is hosting a whole series on insecurities, and this post by Anne hit home.  With two daughters myself, I completely relate to this!

"We Made the News... in Ohio?!" by the Florkens.  Imagine your surprise to find your photos in a news article in a state you don't even live in!  This post just reaffirmed my decision to not share photos of my littles on here, you just never know where they might end up!

I hope you have a great weekend!  I can't wait to share some fun things with you on Monday!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stitch Fix - March

I'm sure that by now, most of you (if not all) know what Stitch Fix is.  If not - real quick - it's a monthly box of clothing and accessories picked specifically for you delivered right to your door.  Keep what you want, send back the rest.  That's it!  In my last fix, I asked my stylist to once again send me some items that I could take with me to St. Thomas

I got a few items for warmer weather, but once again not enough to keep the whole box.  Let's review!

 Pink Martini Katalli Open Weave Sweater - $58.  This was actually quite comical - I should have taken a picture.  Cute, but when I tried it on it was more like a crop top.  Sent Back.
 Pixley Franz Keyhole Blouse - $58.  Purple is my thing.  I imagined myself wearing this with skinnies and sandals.  Kept.  (Although I didn't wear it on vacation!)

 Tart Elizabeth Printed Wrap Dress - $138.  Oh, this dress.  I love wrap dresses.  This was the perfect length, and the material was super soft.  I wore it for about twenty minutes, tried on different shoes and accessories and loved it.  I did not, however, love the price tag.  After much debate, it was Sent Back.
 Monoreno Angelique Button Down Vest - $54.  I liked the look of this, and appreciated that the stylist made a note that she picked this based on this pin - I liked hearing that she does in fact check out my Pinterest boards.  However, this vest wasn't very cute on.  Sent Back.
 Romolo Starla Ornate Collar Necklace - $44.  I love accessories, and this necklace was fun.  It was a great length, and the colors were great together.  However, I didn't love it, therefore couldn't spent $44 on it.  Sent Back. 

This box marked a whole year of fixes for me.  It's so fun getting this every month, and I still fully believe that someday I'll have my "need to keep everything" box!  So how did I do?  Anything you would or wouldn't have kept?

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, check them out here.  They now offer Maternity and Petite sizes! 

*I was not compensated for this post, all opinions are my own.  Signing up with the above link will give me product credit - thank you!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Vacation of All Vacations

How, exactly, do I begin to tell you all about my vacation?  Quite simply, I can't.  It was exactly what Tim and I needed.  I could probably spend an entire week telling you about what we did, sharing pictures, and reminiscing about how I wish we were still there.  But instead, I'll put it in to one long, picture-filled post because I have some other exciting things going on this week that I can't wait to share.  Bear with me while I picture and memory dump below!

Our flight Saturday was delayed, but after a limo ride to O'Hare and knowing that we would be on the beach in half a day, there wasn't much that could bring us down.  We had a direct flight and watched a few movies on the way down.  Upon arriving at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, this was our view - we were off to a great start:

Sunday was spent at the spa, where I had a fabulous massage, and then on the beach.  Monday, we chartered a boat and skipped over to the British Virgin Islands - mostly Jost van Dyke, including Sandy Spit - which is where the Corona commercials are filmed.  To say that this little spot was my happy place is a huge understatement.  I just laid on the sand for at least an hour, soaking it all in.  We also stopped for a quick hike to the "Bubbly Bath", which is a spot where waves come through walls of rock and make a fun little wave pool.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone = none of my own pictures.

Sandy Spit.  source
Tuesday we went in to Red Hook, where after a few cocktails, I decided to try one of those fish pedicures.  The fish are pretty small, and they rub all along your feet to loosen dead skin and then suck it off.  I had seen it on tv before (The housewives did it in Thailand!) but never in person.  It felt like little bubbles - and only really freaked me out when they tried to go through my toes.  But here's the kicker - my feet are still soft.  After a week of the beach and sandals.  I am a believer!

Wednesday, we took the ferry to St. John and rented a Jeep.  We hit three different beaches, then had the best dinner I've ever eaten at a place called Fatty Crab.  If you are ever in the vicinity of St. John, go here.  It is a "funky southeast Asian restaurant" and only has locations in New York, Hong Kong and St. John.  It was so, so good.  St. John is quickly becoming my favorite of the Caribbean islands I've been to.

Thursday was another boat day - this time we went to Tortola, another British Island.  We first snorkeled, where we saw two different sea turtles and hundreds of fish.  We spent the afternoon here - eating, drinking cocktails and just enjoying the views.

The second picture is one of my favorites from the trip, complete with the British phone booth.  It's a framer!

Friday, I woke up with a migraine.  I did my routine that always seems to help - drink a regular Coke, slather Peppermint essential oil on my forehead and sit in a warm bath.  Just over an hour later, it was gone - so out to the pool I went.  We spent the day reading and soaking up the sun.  I finished two books in one week - that is definitely a record for me!

Saturday was our travel day home.  By that point I was ready to see my babies again, but so so sad to be leaving paradise.  I can't wait to go back again - maybe next time to stay on St. John.  Has anyone done that?

All in all, it was a fabulous trip.  We loved our time together, the girls loved their time with the grandparents, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.  I was able to cross five things off of my 101 in 1001 list!  Also, a special note to my Midwestern readers - we brought the warm weather home with us.  You are welcome. :)
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Blogger Lover v.32

Hi lovelies!  You didn't think that I would skip a Blogger Love just because I am off laying on the beach, did you?  No way - I need some reading material for my flight home tomorrow.

My sweet friend, Anne, is hosting today - so please follow the link below to share your favorite posts from this week!

Blogger Love Link-Up

All the Joys - Blogger Love

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Lilac Linnet: Making Healthy Changes and Saying Goodbye to the Scale

Today I have Llinos, from The Lilac Linnet posting about healthy body image.  I know this is something I need to work on, and I love the message she shares!

Since September 2014, I have really been working on my fitness in ways that I haven't ever done before. I know I'm not alone in having left any exercise behind at the last gym lesson in school, and for the daily routine of drive to work, sit at a desk and go home to sit on a sofa to take over. 20150214_121054 But, I knew I wanted to change that. In February 2014 I underwent surgery to remove a cyst on my ovary. I recovered well, but I wanted to take up healthier habits to look after myself. I'm an apple shape; my stomach is where my weight goes, and I've always had a difficult relationship with my stomach due to that weight, and surgery scars. I wanted to stop worrying about the size of my stomach, stop staring at it in the mirror, stop comparing myself to women with flat stomachs. As my stomach had healed from the operation, this seemed like a great time to let all of these negative feelings go. I started small because I wanted to create lasting habits. I began going for a walk at lunchtime everyday, so that I was getting out of the office and into the fresh air by moving my body. Then, after a few weeks, I took up running with the help of the Couch to 5K app. Now I try my best to walk daily and run three times a week. I have more or less cut cola from my diet, only eat fries once a week, and dinner is usually veg and meat or fish. I have a sweet tooth but a small piece of dark chocolate satisfies it, and I love trying healthy baking recipes. 20150214_121115 However, if life gets in the way, I don't best myself up about it. If I go out for dinner I will enjoy my meal and maybe a cocktail. If I miss that run, there's always tomorrow. When I first made these changes, I was quite obsessive about weighing myself and measuring my waist size. I had a clear idea of what size I wanted to be. I was anxious about losing the fat around my stomach. However, I now realise that I can be happy with my body now, right in this moment. I can enjoy my outfits, and makeup. I don't have to wait to reach a certain number on a scale. I realise that the action of weighing myself constantly was tied up with the guilt I felt at eating unhealthily, and at my lack of movement. Now I know that I'm doing my best to eat well and move often, and that I'm moving in the right direction, I don't have to frenetically measure my waist! This is a lifelong path, which I'm taking one day at a time. How can you make a small healthy change in your life today?
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Brianna Leigh: Easy Chicken Parmesan

If there's one thing I need a recipe to be, it's easy.  Brianna is here with just that - a delicious recipe for Chicken Parmesan.  This one is getting added to my rotation when I'm back!
Hello All the Joys readers! I'm so glad to be here today and to introduce to you a super simple and delicious recipe.

It's no surprise that my favorite dishes are quick and easy. I don't like a lot of fuss when it comes to cooking, which is why this three ingredient Chicken Parmesan is the perfect addition to my weekly menu. It's actually a go-to staple in my family!

This recipe is simple, quick, and can be totally customized to your preferences!

boneless, skinless chicken thighs
shredded mozzarella cheese
ragu sauce (any flavor)


1. Defrost 6 pieces of chicken thighs in the microwave. This takes about 20 minutes or so, depending how big your pieces are and the strength of your microwave.

2. Coat a frying pan in oil. You can use vegetable oil, but I prefer olive oil. To each their own!

3. Place the chicken thighs in the skillet and season to taste. I used seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Again, it's however you prefer!

4. Cook chicken over medium heat. You don't want to cook it too hot, or it'll burn. Also, you don't want the heat too low, as that would take a lot longer.

5. Once your chicken is thoroughly cooked (you can check by cutting into one of the thicker pieces), turn the burner off and drain the oil/grease from the pan.

6. Next, turn the burner back on to low-medium heat, and pour Ragu sauce over the chicken. From a larger jar, I used about 3/4 of the sauce. Again, it's up to you how much you prefer to add. If you like a lot of sauce, go crazy and use the whole jar! If you prefer less sauce, use about half.

7. Last, but not least, top with shredded mozzarella cheese! I used about 6 ounces, but it's totally up to you! If you're a big fan of cheesy dishes, add as much as your heart desires. If you're trying to cut back on consuming so much cheese, only use as much as you'd like.

8. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. This isn't to keep cooking the chicken, but instead to heat up the sauce and melt the cheese.

9. Enjoy!

Follow Brianna:
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Love the Here and Now: Easy Pasta e Fagioli

Today, Anne from Love the Here and Now is here to share a delicious recipe for pasta e fagioli with us.  It looks so good, I can't wait to come home and make it!

This winter has been tough. It has brought record breaking temps (below zero temps, mind you). Some of us are lucky enough to escape the winter and head somewhere nice and warm (cough Meagan cough). Then there are others, like myself (Anne from Love the Here and Now), who have to stay home and find ways to stay warm. One way I like to stay warm is to eat a nice hot bowl of the Italian classic, Pasta e Fagioli. This has to be one of the easiest Italian dishes to make. Get ready to impress your families and friends with this simple and easy Italian classic.

Pasta e Fagioli


4-6 Cans of Vegetable Broth
2-3 Cans of Canellini Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 Lg. Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Stalks of Celery
4-5 Carrots (Peeled and Chopped)
1 Onion Chopped Parsley (to taste)
2 Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Fresh Grated Cheese
Small Pasta (Ditalini, Small Shells)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Dash of Wine if desired, feel free to add some to the pot as well ;)


Heavily coat the bottom of your pan with olive oil and add bay leaves. While that warms, chop your garlic. Add garlic to oil and let cook on low, being careful to not burn garlic. Add onions and sauté for 5-10 minutes. Once onions become soft, add chopped carrots and celery.
pasta e fagioli

While that is sautéing empty the whole peeled tomatoes into a bowl. Gently squeeze the tomatoes until they are broken up. Add contents of the bowl to the pot with the 4-6 cans of broth.
pasta e fagioli
 Let simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Add the rinsed cans of beans. Continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper and parsley. If you choose, add a dash of wine or pour yourself a glass to enjoy while it continues to cook. In another pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook your chosen pasta the length of time designated on the box. Drain and add to a pasta bowl. To prevent the pasta from sticking, add a small scoop of the pasta e fagioli and stir (or a dash of olive oil can be used instead). Fill individual bowls with a scoop of pasta and ladle the pasta e fagioli over the pasta. Be generous, as this is meant to be a soup-y (is that even a word??) dish. Garnish with freshly grated cheese. If you like a little extra spice, add crushed red pepper. Serve with a salad and a loaf of warmed crusty Italian bread.
pasta e fagioli
Word to the wise...this makes quite a bit. So invite your family and friends over or be sure you have enough freezer space to freeze some. We love having this on hand for those cold Winter nights that our schedule doesn't leave a lot of time to get creative in the kitchen. Are you a fan of pasta e fagioli? What are your go to meals for winter?
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Lot 48: Starting Sponsorships

I am thrilled to have my week of guest posts start off with this topic - Sponsorships.  Lauren is here to give you some advice on this tricky subject.  These are great things to keep in mind, whether you are new to sponsorships or have been offering them for awhile.

Stay tuned next week for an announcement regarding my Sponsorship Program - I think you'll like it!

hello all the joys readers!! i am so happy that megan has allowed me to take over the blog today!! i'm so excited!  i'm lauren and i blog over at lot 48.  i blog about life, films, entertainment, really whatever pops into my head as i am drifting off to sleep at night.  what you won't find on my blog are recipes, fashion posts, beauty posts, or diy posts.  i so not crafty, clueless about makeup and fashion and don't like to cook!

today i wanted to talk about what i wish someone had told me when i opened my blog to sponsorships.  as i have had my sponsorships open for a while now, i think i have found some good and bad things about the process and tips to know before you open your blog to that.

be dedicated to spending A LOT of time blogging. when someone spends their good hard earned money to sponsor my blog and i promise then a sponsor highlight, giveaway, guest post, social media love, whatever, i want to deliver.  i don't want to waste anyone's money.  so when i get a new sponsor, i put them in a separate list in my bloglovin account.  i check that list first each morning and then schedule out tweets about their posts every day.  this is a very important part.  i promise my sponsors plenty of social media love, so i want to be sure that i am tweeting, pinning, facebooking every awesome post they have.  it takes a lot of time because you want to be sure to write frequently, schedule your own social media, and then spend time reading all your sponsors posts and schedule social media for their posts.  it takes a lot of time.

be organized.  it's really easy to let sponsorships slip through the cracks.  each sponsorship gets a different perk.  that could be a guest post, highlight post, etc.  i organize everything in my calendar so i know that this sponsor gave me her responses to the sponsor highlight and what day it will run, etc.  and to make absolute sure i don't forget, i go ahead and try to create their photo immediately and put their answers in a blog post and schedule it for that day.  when i see on my dashboard that it is scheduled, i know that i need to write an actual post with their sponsor highlight.  it makes things a lot easier. the most frustrating thing is when a sponsor doesn't respond when i ask her the questions!

ask for testimonials!!  it really helps when you have testimonials on your sponsor page.  that shows a potential sponsor that other sponsors liked you and shows that you are a good sponsoree.  (is that the right word?)  i know that i always look for testimonials when i consider sponsoring someone.  i want to know that i won't be wasting my money!

do giveaways!  some sponsorees (?) are afraid of hosting giveaways, but giveaways are the best way for you and your sponsors to gain followers! they love it! and i love it too!! i was scared the first time i did it, but it went so well! we got so many entries!! do giveaways! do it!

thanks for reading!  hope it helps you as you open your blog to sponsorships!

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Blogger Love v. 31

It's Friday again, but this Friday is extra special for me.  Why?  Because tomorrow is the first day of our husband and wife vacation!  And now that I'm not feeling guilty anymore, I am so ready for sun, sand, cocktails and sleeping in.

Before I get carried away - please come back next week to see some special guest posters!  There will be a post each day, and we will have Blogger Love next week as well.  My friend Anne will be hosting on her blog.  If you don't know her yet, this is the perfect opportunity to find out why she is so great!

Let's take some time and focus on my favorite posts from this week, shall we?

"I Refuse to Follow You on Twitter If...." by Hey Kerri Blog.  I love how Kerri tells us like it is, and this post is just that.  Plus, I agree with every point she makes!

"Mint Oreo Truffles" by Eat, Drink and be Mary.  Mint.  Oreo.  Truffle.  Need I say more?  I didn't think so.

"Journal Swap Creative" by Love the Here and Now and Sage.  I love this exchange idea - journals!  Sign up soon.

"Eye Opening" by Simply Complex Mom.  This post really made me think - and I promise it will you too.

"Taking Your Pets for Granted" by Amanda Moments.  Sad, but true.  This is a great reminder to give our furry friends lots of love, every day.

What were your favorite posts by bloggers other than yourself?  Link them up below and see some of our favorites too!

All the Joys - Blogger Love

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Timing is Right

Sometimes, when we least expect it, the perfect moment can happen and change your entire perspective.  It doesn't happen often, and never happens when you think it will, but when it does, the message that comes through is exactly what your heart needs to hear.

We've had a lot going on the last couple of weeks.  It all started when A was in the hospital.  Just as we were getting on the other side of that, we unexpectedly put an offer on a house.  (We didn't get it, by the way.)  That little leap of faith prompted us to get our house ready for the market, and it is now for sale.  All of this in a matter of ten days, and to top it off, we leave for vacation this Saturday.

The trip to St. Thomas is coming at the perfect time.  All of the stress from A's sickness, de-cluttering and listing our house, and the last minute showings we've had have completely exhausted me.  I love the beach, I love one on one time with my husband, but I couldn't shake this underlying feeling of "mom guilt".  How could I leave my babies for a week?  Would they resent me?  Is it too much to ask my parents to watch them for that long?  I was borderline not excited to leave.

And then?  Our realtor came over to take pictures.  He brought his wife, who helps him with staging and lighting.  She and I were talking and she asked about our vacation.  I very casually said we were going for a week, without the kids, and in that moment, she said the perfect thing to me.

"The relationship between husband and wife is the strongest in the family.  Relationships with your parents will eventually fade, as will those with your children as they grow up and move out of your house.  People often don't focus on one another, and taking time for just each other is the best thing you can do for your family.  You shouldn't feel bad about making your husband a priority."

It's almost as if she sensed my mom guilt.  In that moment, I knew she was right - and realized that having my girls spend the week with their grandparents is amazing for everyone involved.  I can't feel guilty for spending the week with my husband - we so desperately need that time together.

The timing of her comment was impeccable, although I know it wasn't a coincidence.  My heart is happy and I am excited for vacation.  My heart is at peace knowing that my girls (and pup!) will be spending quality time with two sets of their grandparents.  Bring on the sunscreen, sand, and of course, cocktails!

My wish for you today is that no matter what is laying heavy on your heart, you listen for that perfect moment.  Wait for it, it will come.

Linking up with Anne.

Love the Here and Now
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

7 Awesome Things about the Midwest

On certain days, I need to focus on good things.  Like today, for example.  We all know that I love the winter - the more snow, the better in my mind.  There is one part of winter I do not like, and that is ice.  If you are in the Midwest, or specifically Chicago, you know that we woke up to the world covered in ice.  Cars, roads, sidewalks.  On days like today, I need to be reminded why I love living in the Midwest so much.

Cue the Awesome link-up, from Anne at Love the Here and Now.  Today I'm focusing on the awesome things about living in the Midwest.

|| We get to experience all of the four seasons, and they each last longer than one week.

|| With the above, we have the opportunity to wear any kind of clothing for at least a few months out of every year.

|| In some parts of the Midwest, it is so flat that you can see for miles. (just like the song).  This is one of my favorite parts about rural Iowa, truly beautiful.

|| We are truly smack dab in the middle of the country, which means that we can get to almost every large city in the U.S. with less than five hours in an airplane.  No cross country flights!

|| There are very little earthquakes.  The few that we have had are barely recognizable.

|| We produce more corn than other region in the United States (shout out to Iowa on this one!)

|| "Midwest is Best". 

Do you live in the Midwest?  What else would you add?

Linking up with Anne.

Love the Here and Now

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