Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Freeze Is Lifted

Let's take a moment to look back at April 1st, where I voluntarily put myself on a spending freeze.  Today is April 30th, which means my month of no spending is officially over.  And let me tell you friends, it was a very long month.  Let's recap, shall we?

If you remember, I gave myself a few guidelines exceptions to "no spending":

|| House Spending:  I'm happy to report that I didn't buy anything for the house all month!

|| Clothes, Shoes, Makeup, Etc:  I surprised myself here.  I didn't buy anything I didn't need.  Let me explain - last weekend, we went to DC for a wedding.  On the Wednesday before, I realized that all of my fancier dresses were in storage.  So I needed a dress!  I found a cute one, 75% off, and I had a giftcard.  In the end I only spent $35 on it.  I'd call that a win!  (You can see the dress here)

|| Clothing for the girls: I had allowed myself to buy A shoes, and both girls capri leggings.  I didn't buy either!

|| I gave myself the out of using giftcards I had from Christmas.  Besides the above dress, I used part of one for a sandwich. 

|| Food, including lunches out:  I'll be honest here, I slipped on this a few times.  What can I say?  #ilovefood

Overall, I think I did pretty good.  I'm proud of myself for not running to the mall when stressed, or killing time at work by shopping online here and there.  And the fact that I didn't buy the girls anything all month really needs to be documented.  That hasn't happened since I was pregnant with E!

Moving forward, I've decided to give myself a budget each month.  I'm ashamed to admit that I've never done that before.  I looked at budgets today, discussed with Lindsay what was "normal", and still have no idea how much to budget for myself.

This will be for purely spending - lunches, going out, clothes, shoes, makeup, subscription boxes, etc.  Basically, anything that only benefits me.  So, world wide web, help me out - if you don't mind sharing, how much do you budget for this each month? 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Five Candles

My Dearest "E",

Somehow, in some way, you turned five this week.  Every year on your birthday, your Daddy and I sit and reminisce about that day.  How I was in labor for 42 hours with you.  How you got a little impatient during those hours, but were so stubborn you wouldn't work with me.  How we stayed awake all night (the second night of labor) watching your heart rate on the monitor, and how scared we were each time it dropped.  And every year, we thank God that you were born healthy.

Last year, I marveled at the fact that you had become a big sister, and was amazed by your never-ending love for A.  I am still am amazed by that.  Sometimes, you are the only one that can calm her down, and in the morning you gladly jump in her crib and read stories together.  This past year, you have learned so much in pre-kindergarten.  You can write any word, just by sounding it out, and know so many sight words.  You read stories on your own, and are constantly asking Daddy and I about the world around you.

This year is special because in the fall you will be going to Kindergarten.  I can't wait to see your friendships grow, your knowledge and love for learning blossom, and the bond with A to deepen. 

I hope you never lose your love for life - and always know that we love you "a million kagillion".

Love, Mommy

Some of your favorites: Princesses, (still) My Little Pony, coloring and crafts, puppies and kittens, cake pops (only from Starbucks!), gymnastics, snap peas and chicken nuggets.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

-Linking up with Emily for Grateful Heart Monday.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Blogger Love v.38

And just like that, it's Friday again.  Why?!  But it's not just any Friday... it's E's fifth birthday.  I have a whole post dedicated to her for Monday!  To say I can't believe she's five already would be an understatement.

In case you missed it, this week....

I linked up with Amanda to tell you all about my home state of Iowa, and all of the fun I had growing up outside.

I shared some of my favorite wedding invitations, and gave you the opportunity to win a $50 credit.  The giveaway is still open!

I finally gave in to The Plan, trusting that it was better than anything I could have came up with myself.  (Thank you all for the sweet words!)

And, what a week for great posts!  Something must have been in the water because I found myself nodding my head in agreement and loving many of your posts.

"What Happened to Blogging?" by Two Thirds Hazel.  My favorite posts to read are when bloggers are themselves, updating us on what's going on in their lives.  We are all guilty of having sponsored posts here and there, but I really hope we don't lose the personal side of blogging.

"You Cannot Give What You Don't Have" by Rebecca Chapman.  Everyone go read this.

"#morethanaframe" by Sage.  I love what Cassie does within the blogging community, and this is a fun new project on Instagram.  I'm a little late with this week's introduction, but I'm excited to participate!

"When Numbers Become Your Worth" by Love the Here and Now.  Anne's post goes along with Rebecca's.  It's a great message for anyone, but me in particular this week.

What were your favorite posts this week?  Link up below and share with us!  You must include at least one post by a blogger other than yourself in your post.  Click around and say hello!

All the Joys - Blogger Love
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Love Is In the Air (+Something for You!)

Here is a little known fact about me - I am a hopeless romantic.  I love love!  When I see older couples being lovey-dovey, or hear about high school sweethearts that are now married - my inner romantic sings with joy.

This week in particular has made me feel the warm fuzzies.  Ten years ago on Tuesday, Tim proposed to me.  I obviously said "yes", and every year on the 21st I am reminded of that very special day.  Also, this weekend, we are going to our first wedding of the wedding season and I am truly excited!  I don't think I will ever stop loving weddings.

My favorite part is receiving the invitation.  I feel giddy opening it -  it's like the first impression of the entire day.  The theme, colors, and style can all be felt immediately.  Fancy, black tie?  Outdoor wedding?  Laid-back and focused on fun?  I can feel that just from invitation.  My love for stationary and all things paper related might have a little influence on this.

I recently had the opportunity to review wedding invitations from minted, and let me tell you, they made me want to plan my wedding all over again.  You can order a free sample set, which is a great way to see and feel the products.  Each design is customizable, including colors, shape of the invite and type of paper.  You can truly make something exactly how you want it.  Here are some of my favorite designs:

 I love the small pop of color.  This is the perfect invite for an outdoor, barn themed wedding.  You know the one - complete with mason jar drinks and cowboy boots!

 Class.  Gold.  Polka-dots.  Almost all of my favorite things!

 This is another great option for an outdoor wedding.  I love the lights on the tree, but I get the feeling that the wedding would be fun, full of friends and family.

 This would be great for a traditional wedding - in a church, with the reception at a trendy restaurant (or somewhere of the sort).  Love the pop of gold!

I love how simple this invite is!  I feel like it really makes the focus on the couple - which, really, is how all weddings should be.

What do you think?  minted not only has invites, but they have adorable plannersbusiness cards and so many other wonderful products.  And who doesn't love paper and paper products?  I know I am not the only one.  minted knows how much you'll love their products, that they are giving one of you a $50 store credit - to be used on anything you'd like!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This post was compensated by but written by me, and all opinions are my own. 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Plan

I'm a planner by nature.  Trips, big decisions, projects, even my blog posts are planned in advance. I used to be more spontaneous - back when adult things didn't rule my life (like a career, kids, house, bills and the like).

The most spontaneous I get these days are "Let's go out for dinner!" or "I just bought myself a nice purse!".  Everything else = planned.

So, when we put our house for sale, I had been planning it for months, if not close to a year.  When we would list, how much, what I needed to do to prepare, etc.  Earlier this month, we accepted an offer on our house - which was right on schedule with my plan.  We started looking at houses and prepared to move this summer.

Then, God must have decided to teach me a lesson because our buyers pulled out of the deal.  We now have to re-list and start all over.  This was not part of my plan.

I've spent a lot of time the last week reflecting on everything that happened.  Why?  When will we move?  What school will E go to in the fall?  When should I look for a new nanny?  And I've come up with one answer - It's not up to me.  I am learning, stubbornly, to let go and go along with The Plan.  You might have seen on twitter or instagram nice little reminders to myself - to choose to react positively to situations, and to find something good in them.

So, that's what I'm doing today. 

Reasons Why Not Moving Right Now is OK:

|| We will save more money

|| If E goes to the school we are currently zoned for, she will know some friends already from preschool

|| I still have my short commute (about 12 minutes).  When we move, it will be more like 45

|| I don't have to pack

|| Until we re-list, I don't have to keep my house perfectly clean and tidy

|| We still have our great neighbors (who also happen to have a pool, bonus)

It's hard to give up control.  It's difficult to not have a plan.  But I have to trust that The Plan is better than anything I could have came up with myself.

Letting go now....

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

All Iowa, Outside

It's been awhile since I've linked up with Amanda for her Tell Me About Your Town series.  It wasn't intentional, I just had other posts planned.  And that makes me sad for a few reasons - Amanda is awesome, you should know her.  And - I love Iowa, and love sharing my hometown with all of you.

This month's prompt is all about Earth Day, which, let's be honest, is perfect for Iowa.  Rolling hills, miles and miles of farmland (you are welcome for your delicious summer sweet corn), and lots of areas for an adolescent-Meagan to explore.

Let's clear one thing up - I did not grow up on a farm.  Yes, I have been on one - No, I do not know how to detassle corn.  I grew up in a city of over 200,000 people.  That did not stop me from exploring my surroundings.  I loved to be outside.  All day, every day.  I was lucky enough to have woods in my backyard (not deep woods, more houses were about 100 yards back), I collected rocks, built forts and played in the local creeks.

We spent a lot of time at the Indian Creek Nature Center, which had trails and guides to teach us about the local wildlife.

I'm not sure where it began, but when I was about five, I really got in to rocks.  I collected different types and my Dad even took me to a few local "rock shows", where I was allowed to pick out new pieces for my collection.  Did you know that the state rock of Iowa is the geode?  Have you ever seen one?  They aren't anything special on the outside, and are easy to overlook.  But if you knew what you were looking for, a special surprise was always waiting inside.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a place that had natural beauty all around.  A place that put emphasis on being outside and exploring.  I am even more fortunate that my parents gave me the freedom to explore and gave me resources to learn as much as possible.  I hope that I am doing the same for my girls!

Linking up with Amanda
Amanda Moments
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blogger Love v.37 + The So-Called Homemaker

There is one thing I know for sure - blogging is special to me because of my blogging friends, whom I've quickly learned are more than just "blogging friends".  Christine just wrote about our tribe, and today I wanted to introduce you to her!

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Since it's Six Flags season, you can find me at Six Flags on most Saturdays AND Sundays.  My husband and I love to take our daughter.  We have so much fun!

Dogs or Cats?
Both!  Is that a cheating answer?  (sort of...) I think they are both fun, but I will say that I don't like aloof cats.  Only cuddly cats.

Tell us more about your childhood dream of being an exterminator! (My worst nightmare).
Haha.  I really don't remember much about it.  I think I just wanted to be like my dad and that's what he did, so there you have it!  I do remember having rubber spiders that I would keep in my room after they were used for my exterminator Halloween costume.  (Noooooo!)

Being in real estate, what is your biggest piece of advice for someone buying and selling?
Work with an agent!  I swear this isn't bias... never try to buy or sell a house by yourself.  There are so many complicated parts of a real estate transaction that only an agent can really understand.  Bonus points: work with a Realtor.  They are usually far more knowledgeable than those who aren't a part of the National Association (because more classes are required of them).

Find more of Christine here:

I also have two favorite posts to share with you today for Blogger Love!  Want to link up?  We'd love to have you!  Please share at least one post by a blogger other than yourself in your post, and link up below.

"He's Not a Baby Anymore" by Southern Hope.  Whitney writes about how emotional it is to watch your little ones grow up.  YES.  My baby A is turning two this summer, and I have been struggling with how she isn't a baby anymore.  Don't even get my started on E starting kindergarten this Fall.  Ouch.  And all the tears.

"You Are Not Less than a Woman" by Becoming Adorrable.  Becca writes about how we all have different roles in our lives, and not one is better than another.  No matter if you work, stay home, are a mom, are not, you are not less of a woman.  Great message for all of us!

An InLinkz Link-up

Don't forget about these two great giveaways I have going on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

$25 Kate Spade Gift Card

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stitch Fix - April

Now, before I get started - I know what you are thinking.  "What about Meagan's spending freeze?  She's not supposed to be buying anything in April!"  And, you would be correct.  I am not spending any money on myself this month (and still going strong!).  This fix was actually sent and paid for at the end of March, I am just getting around to sharing it now!

Phew.  Now that that's said, let's get to the goods!  I was pleasantly surprised with this fix.  Some of the items I didn't like at first glance, but loved once I tried them on, and vice verse.

 Olive & Oak Bale Chevron Knit Open Cardigan - $44.  I definitely liked the price of this sweater.  The pattern - not lust worthy, but ok.  The length was a little short for my liking, but I could have worn it over a longer shirt.  In the end, it was Sent Back.

 41Hawthorn Filbert Abstract Striped Henley Blouse - $48.   I'm always looking for shirts I can wear to work or dress down a bit with jeans.  This shirt fit both criteria, and hangs very nicely.  Kept!

 Loveappella Michelle Cross Back Knit Top - $48.  This is a picture of the back, the front was a very plain crewneck.  I loved the color, sort of a purple/navy.  But besides the cross in the back, it was too basic of a tee to justify $48 on.  Sent Back.

 Pixley Analisse Anorak Jacket - $88.  This is where love happens.  I LOVE this jacket.  It's longer and fitted, and looks so cute with skinnies and flats.  It's perfect for Spring here because the sleeves can be buttoned up and rolled down for cooler days.  Kept!

Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top - $48.  Well, I've worn this shirt at least four times in the last three weeks.  It's that great.  It's lose and fitted at the same time, and is the perfect length.  If you get Stitch Fix, ask for this.  If you don't, sign up and request this shirt.  Obviously, Kept!

So, what do you think of my decisions?  Overall, I loved my fix.  This is the first time I've kept more than two items.  I requested my same stylist (Michal, if you like her choices) and can't wait to see what she comes up with for next month... which, don't worry, I requested to be sent on May 1. :)

*All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this post.  However, if you do use my referral code I will receive product credit - thank you!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Monday, April 13, 2015

Journal Swap Creative + Giveaway

Happy Monday friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  We went to a huge indoor waterpark with some of our friends from Minnesota, and had a blast!  The girls had so much fun splashing around, they are now exhausted, and we managed to have a few adult cocktails.  Win win win.

Last month, two of my faves - Anne and Cassie hosted a swap that I knew I wanted to be a part of.  During the Journal Swap Creative, I was paired with Kasey, and I quickly discovered that she was the best partner I could have had.  She is hilarious, open and completely down to earth.  If you don't know her yet, you need to!

Be ALL of those things.  Every day.  I wanted a journal so that I could start writing down one good thing from each day, to look back on, and this message fits that perfectly.  Not to mention the adorable mini clipboard and paper binders.  Thanks Kasey!

Today I'm also excited to debut my first hosted giveaway for my sponsors!  These lovely ladies and I have teamed up to give one lucky reader a $50 Sephora giftcard.  I know my wishlist would love to have this!  If you are interested on getting in on the next giveaway, check out my sponsorship options here.  All options (including button swaps!) are included.  Enter below and Good Luck!

Meagan at All the Joys || Alanna at Alanna & Company || Lindsay at Bourbon, Lipstick & Stilettos || Chelsea at The New Wifestyle || Kerri at Hey Kerri Blog

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, April 10, 2015

Blogger Love v.36 and Two New Blogs!

FRIDAY.  It's here!  This weekend we have some fun family things planned - waterparks, to be specific, and I can't wait to see their little faces while having splashing around!

But before I shut down the computer and turn off my phone, let's recap the week, shall we?

Traveling by plane soon?  I shared some of my favorite ways to stayed entertained in the airport.

Charlie, my pup, posted a dating ad.  He's gotten some responses, but is still single.

Late last week, I shared the results of my reader survey and announced some new things to my sponsorship program.  Quick recap:
*There is a new spot, Sprinkle of Joy
*All sponsorships include the option to participate in a giveaway - hosted four times a year.  (Including button swaps!)
*There is a new, free sponsorship for new blogs (less than 100 followers on Bloglovin').

Speaking of the New Found Joy Sponsorship - I have two new blogs to share with you today!

FIt Girl by Nature, written by Melanie , is a blog about her weight loss journey - including how she stays in shape exercising outdoors and shares delicious recipes.  Some of my favorites include these brussel sprouts with bacon and balsamic, and this Sweet Potato Chili.  My Pinterest is loving Melanie's recipes!

The Lady Lawyer is written by Brittany.  She is a lawyer by day and enjoys writing by night.  Even though I am on a spending freeze, I have been loving her posts about current trends for less and fun ways to spend your tax refund.  Brittany's tagline captures her blog perfectly: "Finding my balance between work and play while always being a lady".

I hope you check out both of these new blogs - I think you'll like what you find!

Interested in being featured?  Check out all sponsorship opportunities here.

And now for this week's favorite posts!

"Making Pinterest Work for You" by Love the Here and Now.  Anne strikes again!  I've always used Pinterest for personal reasons, and never really utilized it for my blog.  Anne is starting a new series to teach us how to use as a blogger, and I'm so interested to learn more!

"Favourite Childhood Books" by The Kay Times.  So many memories here.  I spent my summers at the local library reading these same books.  And I'm fascinated by the reading competitions she participated in!

"5 Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix with Your Spouse" by Macaroni & Mascara.  We don't often agree on shows, so whenever there are new suggestions I always give them a shot.  A lot of these are new-to-me, so I'm excited to give them a try!

Want to link up?  We're happy to have you!  All you need to do is share your link below.  Your post must include at least one link to a blogger other than yourself.  Check out some other faves and find some new blogs to follow!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Single, B/W Boston Terrier

Hi, I'm Charlie. 

Status: Single

Age: 7.5

Height and Weight: I don't think I've ever had my height measured, but I'm definitely pushing 30 lbs.

Body Type:  Stocky.  Longer legs, but a strong, muscular body.

Income:  Nada

Education:  I graduated Puppy School back in the day.  I'm hear to tell you that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  I love getting treats doing tricks. 

Occupation:  Professional snuggler and nap-taker. 

Drinking/Smoking/Drugs:  Water, sometimes milk when my younger sisters spill it.  No smoking.  I take a heartworm pill every month along with my flea/tea prevention.  Sometimes when I have to go in the car, my mom gives me something weird that makes me fall asleep - but afterwards I feel totally crazy and won't sleep for hours.  Haven't had that in a looooong time.

Children:  Not that I know of.  wink wink!  Seriously though, I physically can't have children.

Likes:  Cuddling, treats, quiet time when my people leave the house, every person I meet, kissing my sisters, when A drops her food on the floor for me, spooning with my mom (I'm the big spoon), playing outside.

Dislikes:  My sisters are sometimes loud, rain, snow, getting woken up, creaky doors.

My mom said she's linking this up with TexErin in Sydneyland for the Meet the Canines link up.  Maybe I'll finally meet my special lady friend - I've been waiting for her for almost eight, long years!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ways to Entertain Yourself in the Airport

This was originally posted on Hey Kerri.

In the beginning of February, my husband and I took a weekend trip to Austin, only to have our home of Chicago experience the fourth worst snowstorm to ever happen while we were away.  Two cancelled flights, hundreds of tears, and multiple cocktails over two full days led me to today's helpful information - How to Entertain Yourself in the Airport.  I should note that most of these are not free (what is in the airport?!), but can kill a lot of time.  Trust me.

|| Have your own "Meal Hop".  Have drinks at a bar, an appetizer at another, the meal at a restaurant, then find dessert somewhere else.

|| Look up all of the bars in your terminal.  Have one drink at each.

|| Buy a book.  Read a chapter, walk to another gate, read another chapter.  Keep moving until you need a new activity.

|| Find an empty gate, and plug in your phone/tablet.  Get to work on that Netflix series you have been meaning to watch!

|| Pick a random gate number and go there.  See where that plane is going, then research all of the local attractions in that area.  Not that you'll want to travel again once you finally get home, but it's fun to learn about new places!

|| People watch.  It's one of my favorite activities - and the airport has some great people watching.

|| Do a scavenger hunt.  Items or places to find: business card, most exotic location via plane gate, left-behind magazine, a picture with a stranger, pen, the signature of someone from your hometown, a picture with someone famous, etc.  Get creative!

I truly hope that none of you get stuck in an airport any time soon, but if you do, I hope you can make the best of your time!  Once I committed to the fact that I wasn't getting home when I wanted to, things got immensely better.

And if all else fails, have another cocktail.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blogger Love v.35 & To the Moon and Back

Happy (Good) Friday!  I don't know about you, but I had a productive week.  I cleaned out some more clutter in our house, forced myself on a spending freeze for the month of April, reflected on the results of my reader survey and added some new features and opportunities to my sponsorships!  Not only that, but I got to know Charissa from To the Moon and Back a little bit more.  I am in love with how in love she and her (new!) husband are.  She takes great photos and loves to be outdoors, which is reflected in her photos.

Why did you decide to start blogging?  How did you come up with your name?
Originally I started blogging as a keepsake for all memories the husband and I would make together over the years.  But over time it has become so much more than that.  It's a new way for me to express myself and to meet other people.  The name of my blog is "To the Moon and Back".  When I began blogging I wanted something that represented my husband and I and at the time one of my favorite things we would say to each other is "I love you to the moon and back", so it just kind of stuck!

Where can we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Since the week can be such a busy time for us our Saturdays are our relax days.  I love my sleep so after we sleep in until at least 9, we move out to the living room and I watch my husband's favorite shows with him that he missed during the week.

Cats or dogs, and why?
I have always been a huge cat lover!  Ever since I was little and I got my first cat princess for my 8th birthday I have always wanted another cat.  My parents currently have two cats Grace and Riot that I basically consider my own, and they might as well be my babies!

How did you meet your husband?
My husband and I actually met in Junior High.  I was the new girl at the Junior High and one of my friends wanted to know if this guy liked her so I sent a text to his friend (which was Kimball), and we started talking from there.  We started dating the summer before our sophomore year of high school and we have been together ever since!

What is your go-to accessory?
I LOVE jewelry.  So definitely I will always go with a pair of earrings!  A pair of studs in my opinion can make any outfit complete!

Find more of Charissa:

This week also brought some favorite posts!

"Furkids and Family Unite" by TexErin.  It's no secret I love my pup, and I love meeting and seeing others too.  Cue this cute link up!  Share your furbabies!

"Promoted Pin Experiment" by Dancin' with a Dolly.  Have you ever promoted a pin?  Jenny did, and I was fascinated by the results!

"24 Things I Learned in my 24 Years" by Rebecca Chapman.  #7, Yes.  All of these items on the list are so thoughtful, too.

"Brides Across America" by Brianna Leigh.  This act of kindness needs to be shared.  And I love this idea, if I hadn't done something else with my dress (I will share someday!)

Do you have any posts that you absolutely loved this week?  Grab the button and link up below!  Please post at least one post by a blogger other than yourself!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Reader Survey Results & An Announcement

Since celebrating my blogiversary last week, I have been reflecting on what I want to make of this space moving forward.  I love where I've been, what I've shared, who I've connected with.  But what else could I do?

I got to thinking about my first couple of months as a blogger last year.  I started not knowing what in the world I was doing.  And in a lot of cases (specifically technology and all things computer), I still don't.  But I think that's a big reason why I still love doing this - there is always something to learn.

Your feedback was important to me because I want this to be a place that my readers want to come to each time I post.  I appreciate all of you who took the survey - it provided a lot of information, and a few laughs!  Let's get to it.

Question 1: How long have you been reading All the Joys?
43.5% "I'm new! Less than three months"
28% "At least six months"
20.5% "At least three months"
7% "Since the beginning"

I'm guessing that "I'm new!" got the most responses because of the giveaway, but I'm hoping they'll stick around.  Also, thank you to the 7%!

Question 2:  How often do you read All the Joys?
48% "Every time there is a new post"
38% "1-2 times a week"
13% "A few times a month"
1% "Hardly ever"

I'm glad that the 48% and 1% weren't reversed!  I was expecting most of the answers to be either "every time" or "1-2 times a week", and I'm happy that the results reflected that.

Question 3:  How do you find out about new posts?
72% "Bloglovin'"
14% "I go to"
8% "Twitter"
2% "Email updates"
2% "Facebook"
2% "Feedly"

No surprises here.  I use Bloglovin' the most as well, as I think most of us do?

Question 4:  Which posts are your favorites? (of total answers, more than one answer per respondent)
19% "Random Life Posts"
14% "Crafts/DIY"
13.5% "Link Ups, including Blogger Love"
13.5% "Recipes"
10% "Blogging"
9% "Travel"
8% "Mommy Related"
7% "Reviews, both Sponsored and Not Sponsored"
6% "Sponsor Highlights"

I expected "random life posts" to be number one here, since that is where most of posts fall.  The one that surprised me?  Crafts and DIY!  I do have some ideas in this area, so I will give the people what they want!

Question 5: Which posts are not your cup of tea?  (of total answers, more than one answer per respondent but not everyone responded)
31% "Sponsor Highlights"
29% "Mommy Related"
9% "DIY/Crafts"
7% "Link Ups, including Blogger Love"
7% "Blogging"
5% "Reviews, both Sponsored and Not Sponsored"
5% "Travel"
2% "Recipes"
2% "Random Life Posts"

The good news here is that these responses were pretty consistent with what your favorites are.  Sponsor Highlights and Mommy Related posts are not the favorites.  Good for me, they don't happen too often!

Question 6: How did you find All the Joys? (This was an open-ended question)
Most responses either fell in to "I don't remember" or "Another blog".  Those other blogs that were mentioned were Amanda Moments, Knock on Wood, Love the Here and Now, and Ember Grey.  (Go get your ad space now!)

There were a few responses that included Pinterest and Facebook, which I was pleasantly surprised by.  It also reaffirms that I need to step up my game in these areas!

Question 7:  Do you have any suggestions to make All the Joys better? (This was an open-ended question)
You all are too sweet.  I didn't receive any negative feedback!  Most of you encouraged me to "keep doing me", which was awesome to hear.  I had one very specific message - and I'm working on the kitten thing ;)

One piece of advice I got was to add more sponsorship opportunities.  This is something I've been thinking about for a long time.  Today I'm happy to announce two new sponsorship opportunities, and an addition to the Full of Joy spot!

Sprinkle of Joy gets you an ad on my sidebar, under the Full of Joy spot.  It includes social media shoutouts for both new and archived posts.

New Found Joy is for new blogs - less than six months old that have less than 100 followers (determined by Bloglovin').  This gets you an ad on my sidebar, under Full and Sprinkle, and includes social media shoutouts and introductory post.  (All New Found Joy's will be in one post).  The reason that this spot is for new bloggers only is because it is FREE.  When I first started, sponsoring blogs was an overwhelming process for me - but completely necessary to connect with other bloggers.  I want to pay it forward!   

Also - ALL sponsorship opportunities includes the option to participate in a quarterly giveaway!  Even if the giveaway takes place after your sponsorship ends, you will have the option to participate.

You can find all opportunities here.

This was a long post full of information, but I wanted to say thank you for taking my survey and helping me make this a great space.  I love coming here and hope you do too!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Big Freeze

I love to shop.  If you've been around here for any amount of time, you probably already know this.  Not only do I love to shop, but I seriously get a thrill from finding bargains, using coupons and never paying full price for anything. 

 I like to tell myself that I don't have a shopping problem because I very rarely ever spend full price on anything.  But all of those little bargain buys were starting to add up.  And when I sat down and looked at how much I spent on the credit card in March?  Ouch.  Granted, our vacation made up for the biggest amount.  But there were also so many little things that added up to a lot of spending on my part.  My solution?  Go on a spending freeze.

Of course, with all goals, I have a few rules and guidelines for myself:

|| I cannot buy anything for myself - this includes shoes, clothing, makeup, lunches out.  Basically, anything that is only for me is off limits.  This includes my monthly stitch fix, make up box and essential oils order.

|| I am not buying anything "fun" for the house - because, showings.  I don't want more things to clutter our space.  This does not include anything that needs to be replaced, but hopefully that is nothing!

|| I can only buy these two clothing items for the girls, and only with coupons:
                                     -Spring shoes for A (Tiny Toms or the like)
                                     -Capri leggings for E and A (no more than two pairs each)

|| This freeze does not include E's birthday and party, both of which are this month.

|| I have a few giftcards leftover from Christmas, so they can be used only in emergency. 

|| An emergency does not count as "I just really wanted it."  It's more for something that gets destroyed and needs to be replaced, like if I rip my pants or ruin a shoe.  (I promise I won't do these things on purpose just to be able to shop!)

Have you ever put yourself on a spending freeze?  How did you do?  I am kind of nervous about this, but I think with dedication I can do it!  Lindsay is doing the same thing right now, so having some inspiration should help.  Plus, who doesn't like having money leftover at the end of the month?

Wish me luck, please!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic