Friday with a Side of Everything.

Hey, there. Five things on this Friday is hard and it easy. Which makes such sense, I know.oneI wrote two posts about my papa (God is Nigh & Holding up the Sky) and today and this weekend is the funeral. I would be so thankful for your prayers, not only for my family but also for something non specific that only three people in the entire world know that is just going to make this weekend all the more harder. I really can’t give specifics or I would. But just, if you think of me or us, can you pray for us?sorrytwoI updated my bio page. This is what it looks like:newbioI need to tinker with it but I’d love to get your thoughts on it. And while we are at it, have you ever had any question you really wanted to know abut me or this blog? I would love to answer it and add it to the FAQ page.threeThree books that have helped me grow recently. I owe you reviews on them but they really are worth the read. These are books not even buying but buying the actual book so you can mark it up.


four

Who knows HTML? Who knows how to get these three images in a row on the same line on this page (which is my popular series page)? I would love you forever. I am also offering 20% off all sponsor spots with the code: laughfiveA raffle for two tickets to the Influence Conference. I am saving up to join the network but they were having an incredible sale the day after this year’s conference and I was hearing such amazing things from women I really admire that I just decided to go for it. Plus, Indianapolis is not that far away? Who wants to car pool? So anyway, as I save up to join the Influence Network, you can (well two of you!) tickets to their annual amazing conference.

 
What is the Influence Network?
via
 
via
 
 
TWO lucky readers will win a ticket to the 2015 Influence Conference. The conference is a three day event held in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Westin Hotel. You will meet women from all over the country who are seeking to learn the right tools for their passions. There will be workshops, classes, speakers, coffee, & shopping. There will be bloggers, mothers, small business owners, writers, and the list goes on & on. 
 
 
 

Two Places At Once     //     What She Saw     //     Rivers & Roads
 

Oaks & Oats     //     Amy Cornwell     //     Simplicity Relished

Rachel Rewritten     //     Trusty Chucks     //     Wear Flowers In Your Hair

She Lives Free    //     Elah Tree     //     Mandy Living Life

 

Vallarina Creative     //     Camp Patton     //     23 and 9 Creative
 
 

 
 
 
You do not have to be a member of the Influence Network to enter the giveaway OR to go the conference but I can personally attest to the growth I have seen in my life through the network and the relationships I have built through it.
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
**Please note that this giveaway is in no way sponsored by The Influence Network.  We are a group of independent women who are joining together to make this conference happen for two of our readers. The two recipients will only receive tickets to the event & are responsible for ALL other expenses, including but not limited to travel, lodging, meals, parking, etc. If for some reason either of the winners cannot attend the conference they will be expected to contact one of the hosts immediately so that another winner can be chosen.

I am linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, Karli, and Amy.

Signature        

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:   

Better late than Never: a FANCY giveaway!

So, here is the thing. Every now and again, there is a blogger who becomes a real life friend who honestly cares about my life (and honestly I care about hers too! Ha!). Well, Jenni is one of those people. I am so glad that I have gotten to know her and that our friendship continues to deepen. See? The internet can be used for good and it can be used for good now too because today is the last day to enter Jenni’s raffle. Her blog is turning three! I can’t believe it. I really want some of this stuff too, probably the Fancy shirt the most. But anyway, enter.
 
Also, if you get a second check out my new about me. All honest opinions are welcomed!
 
 
I have teamed up with my two awesome Etsy shops & nine of my favorite gal pals & to bring you a birthday bash full of goodies you’ll love celebrating! 
 
Happy Little Hummingbird           //           East West Design Co.
 
 
 
 
Park Avenue     //     Lisa Loves John     //     Jessi’s Design
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here’s what we are giving away:
 
Crystal Faye Oh Happy Day Coffee Mug
Gold Print “Fancy” Tee from The Sticker Place Etsy Shop
Fall Bracelet Stack from Happy Little Hummingbird Etsy Shop
Thimblepress Greeting Card 
Watercolor Scripture Print from East West Design Co.
 
 
Don’t miss out!

Signature    

 

 

Linking up with Jenni. Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

Holding up the Sky.

Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote this, my papa went to be with the Lord. I am posting this because it’s important for me to record this part of it and the women who cared for him. And then I probably won’t talk about him for a little while, keeping my grief private–at least until I work things out–for a time.papaI don’t like to wear the color lavender because I remember staring down at my sweater and shoes when we found out we would have to unexpectedly have to put my childhood dog to sleep. We were so shaken because it was unexpected. “I can’t go in there,” my dad said. “Neither can I,” my brother added. I didn’t blame either of them. I did not want to go in either. But my normally quiet mom spoke up: “I’ll go. I don’t want her to be alone.” And then I found myself saying, “I’ll go too,” because I did not want my mom to be alone and because I could not turn away from my mom’s reasoning.

Sometimes you cannot turn away.

That memory came back to me this weekend as we sat around my grandfather’s bed. The we was my mom, my grandmother, my aunt, and myself. All women. This is nothing against men, especially the men in my family. But as I watched my mom put chapstick on my papa’s lips or pretend to hang tools on a non-existent peg board because he thought she’d left them on the ground, I knew instinctively that this was sacred work we were all doing. My grandmother brushed his hair from his head. My aunt made us laugh when we wanted to cry (this is a gift in and of itself). I am still trying to understand what I did. Maybe it was keeping this record.

I’m treading carefully because I so badly want to say the thing I mean and not be misunderstood. So often, men want to fix things. But there are some things which cannot be fixed or put back together. Some things we must watch fall apart, or in fact, die. These things are important and need to be done well. So often times, it is women who hold the vigil, when there is nothing to fix, when there is difficult comfort to give, when there is nothing to do but wait with the hardest anticipation.

We held our breath in that room–the women of the family. None of us felt abandoned by the men/boys of the family. I know for a fact that none of us felt as if they were lesser for not being there. Somehow it seemed right that it was us. I’m not saying women belong in one room and men in another or that there are certain jobs women are made for and others for men. All I can tell you is what I felt in that room: that it was supposed to be the women of the family watching over him.

I have a confession to make. I have often overlooked the strength of the women on this side of my family because it is more quiet than other kinds of strength I am more familiar with. This past week, I was humbled beyond belief. Quiet strength can hold up the whole sky. It bears all types of burdens we cannot imagine. It bears them quietly and without complaint. It holds on with a tenderness and a fierceness that surprised and humbled me. It is slow to weariness.I learned this week, about the quiet strength of specific women. Gentle strength is a force to be reckoned with in and of itself. It should not be discounted.

I do not discount it.

Signature

 

 

 

Linking up with Jenni. Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

Taps: God is Nigh

sorryMy childhood was spent watching my mom burst into old dance routines, wishing I had half her rhythm (I still don’t). I rolled my eyes but this in itself was–is–our routine. My mom is a beautiful dancer and along with that, she was–once upon a time–captain of the drill team. Sometimes, at night, and in my memory, it is always in the autumn, just as summer turns, she would sing these words, her arms following the grace of the old routine: Day is done, gone the sun. From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky-

I didn’t really understand the words for a long time. I only knew they were good words, hearty words. Simple and perfect. I understood one thing though: my mom called forth words from long past, calling them to action with her voice and her arms and her legs, little soldiers always sung to life in the dusk. Her arms moved the through the air as she spoke-sang them and I was comforted as only children can truly be comforted.IMG_8917

This weekend, I traveled an unlikely distance to be at my grandfather’s side to say goodbye. We all thought we would have longer, although now it seems hopelessly optimistic. I am the type of person who marks things–with my writing, with photographs, with a keen memory. I’ve never had to mark the end of a grandparent’s life before (not purposely, not as an adult) and so as I traveled to see the man who could fix anything–not things of the heart or feelings but anything made of wood and nails–I kept hearing the lyrics to Taps in my head.

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.farm

While we sat beside him, the WWII vet who still dreams of the war, the oxygen machine seemed to gently lay the words in the air so they need not even be spoken by my mother or anyone else. In fact, my mom does not even know that this song played over and over in my mind since I stepped foot in Union Station in Chicago and made my way to the long dead town my dying papa slept. It felt like a heartbeat in my chest. I wanted to say them but they could not come from me. I thought the magic words must come from my mom but then I remembered the song could no longer comfort me as it did when I was little.babes

At one point, Papa had a surge. He was suddenly and startlingly–for a few hours–himself aware of his state, aware of me, aware of the hush. I told my papa how much I loved him and he told me, “Of course we love each other. We’re family.” The crabbiness that followed him throughout life fell away then so maybe he was more himself in those hours than he was ever before in life. I told him God loved him even more than I did. Papa said he knew that too. I read him a psalm. I prayed silently in my head, words running together so none of it made sense, especially when papa fell away and his body took over for him–a frail body breathing with a beating heart and not much else, suffering. (As I write this, the suffering body lives on though it should have gone days ago. That was and is the hardest and most complicated part.)

In the room, with him, the old song came back to me again. I realized that’s all I wanted him to know. God is nigh.IMG_8923

All of us were exhausted, especially my mom, grandma, and aunt. I wanted to someone to sing it over all of us–and I didn’t want it to be my mother or myself because we needed to hear it too–but someone to sing it over all of us: my grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and me. While we sat beside him in the hush, I suddenly knew that Someone was singing, slowly with a kindness and gentleness we all needed, if we only had ears to hear.

zephaniah

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.

Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

Love the Here and Now: Are you content? (from Anne)

 
It seems lately that happiness and contentment are popular subjects in blogland.  I even did a post on how to be happy not too long ago.  Granted we all want to be happy in our lives and content with how we are living our lives.  That got me to thinking.  Is being content a good thing?
 
Let’s start with the definition of content.  According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary content is defined as “pleased and satisfied, not needing more”.  
 
Who doesn’t want to be pleased with their lives?  We all want to be able to be proud of the lives we are leading and those we are sharing it with.  We want satisfaction in knowing that things are just as we had hoped or just as we had worked for.  Not all of our paths are the same and that’s ok.  We all ultimately want the same thing.  Happiness.  We may choose to share our lives with one person and create a family and measure our happiness that way.  Others may not want a family and choose to measure their happiness in success in their careers.  Some may chase their dreams and reach their goals and be happy with that.  All are perfect ways to be happy. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating your happiness.
 
But being content?  I don’t want contentment.  It’s that last part of the definition that sealed the deal for me.  Not needing more.  
 
What’s wrong with needing more?  I’m not talking about material things, although I do like to surround myself with pretty things.  I’m talking about wanting more out of life.  I want to have it all (a nearly impossible goal I know).  
 
I want to have my family, my job, and my blog.  I want to meet more people and make more friends. Does that negate the value of the friends I currently have?  Not at all.  The more the merrier in my opinion.  Each friend I have adds so much to my life. 
 
I want to try new things.  My current goals?  Learn how to use Photoshop, learn how to design blogs, practice my photography skills.  Simple things to some, yes.  If I was content I would not want to add new skills and hobbies into my life.  What I have on my plate right now would be enough; in fact satisfying.
 
Being content to me means that this is enough.  I have reached my peak.  It implies complacency.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be complacent in my own life.  I want to make it better, I want it to evolve, and I want it to challenge me.
 
So here’s to a life that is never content.  Bring on the happiness, bring on the joys, the challenges and whatever else comes my way.  But please don’t ever let me be content.
 
What are your thoughts on being content?
 

Mindlessness + Shopping.

proverb

I have much to update you on–a lot of hard things that I am learning and just witnessing. Women are amazing, you know? It’s just our girls taking care of my grandpa in his last days and it’s just…women are amazing. More on that later. This happens to be a no spend month for me. The exception to that is Christmas gifts + sales. For some reason, this weekend is chalk full of sales and items that I would love to get the women in my life. Here are some of the items I’ve picked out for them. What about you?

These are some of the shops that are having great sales this weekend. You can get some major steals. I am all about the steals. (I’m all about that bass…) (Trying to stay up beat here…)

Kate Spade | Friends and Family with Code: F14FFUS (I like to get accessories and tiny cute things from Kate Spade for the great ladies I know)

 
J.Crew Factory | 30% off with YAY30


Madewell| 30% off with Code: PICKMEUP (I love the quality of their stuff)


Old Navy | use the code TREAT for 25% off (I love their new grapic tees. Holy Chic!)


Gap | 25% off with the code HAPPY (I love the Gap for staples and for my friends with the babes!)

Happy Shopping! I’m trying to keep a smile on my face and I do love giving gifts. I hope these sales put a smile on your faces too. Let me know if you get something?

Xo,
Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

Sometimes we need some comfort food.

IMG_8900If we were having lunch today, I would order something comforting like a grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup because I am in need of comfort, because I’ve been sick too and this meal is good for that, and because it was pouring yesterday and this is a meal for damp days. If we were having lunch and you asked me how I was doing, I would probably open my mouth to speak and no words would come out. Life is so messy lately. I know I keep saying that but it’s true.

Before I wrote this, hospice informed my mom that I should probably come down to see my papa this weekend. So I made plans, buying a plane ticket I can’t afford, clearing it with work. And then just a few hours ago, hospice told my mom that things have changed, that if I am coming it needs to be within 24 hours. I want to be there, mostly for my mom because she has born the brunt of all this. I just want to be there. I don’t even know if it is possible but I want to be there.

And then if you asked me about the rest of my life, I would go quiet because I just don’t know. There are good things and God is moving but sometimes I am paralyzed by fear. The girl who moved across the country without knowing a single person to start a job she didn’t have experience in is now afraid to open her life to others. I don’t like being afraid. I don’t think we are called to be fearful and yet I know I am holding my own self back. That’s an ugly thought. 

I covet your thoughts and prayers. And of course, as we sit across the table from one another, I would love to know how you are doing and how I can pray for you. 

Love,

Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

Rosie Love, Daisy Love.

Oh I need ya love. I need you love. All you do is break my heart…

I hope I have given you the gift of the song Baby Love in your head on this Monday morning. Today I get to introduce you to some amazing bloggers…A lot of sponsor posts are boring but mine aren’t because so many photos and getting to know these bloggers and in a second, you will know: this is a blog I want to start to read.

If you want to be featured on my blog, all my sponsorships are 20% off with the word: laugh

Without further ado…

2cats chloe
1 // Hi Y’all, my name is Susan and I have been blogging at 2 cats & chloe for the past few years!

2 // Chloe is my rescued, blonde border collie and she has two cats, hence the name of my blog.

3 // I am extremely passionate about clean eating and the Whole30 Program, so expect to find tons of healthy, paleo recipes on my site.

4 // Even though I eat clean, I’m a huge fan of good wine and champagne.

5 // Life is an adventure, and I try to live it to the fullest, one vacation at a time!

6 // In addition to working as a marketing consultant, I’m a wedding planner who owns my own company and is passionate about making things pretty while turning my brides’ visions into a reality!

7 // Speaking of wedding planning, after seven years of planning for other people, I finally had one heck of a party and tied the knot myself!

8 // I spend my free time on the Perquimans River or at the beach, because my heart is happiest when I’m on the water.

9 // A fun fact that you need to know: I’ve prefer to rap my Maid of Honor toasts… yep, this girl knows how to party.jaelean
{ONE} Howdy! I’m Jaelan and I blog over at Making Mrs. M, where I share my life as a newlywed.

{TWO} I like to blog about a lot of things, like my dogs, Teddy & Sami.

{THREE} I really enjoy cooking, and you can bet you’ll find a delicious recipes likeHomemade Tomato Soup frequently.

{FOUR} We like to travel occasionally, like the time we went to Philadelphia for my sister-in-law’s super fun wedding weekend.

{FIVE} From time to time, I do fashion-related posts because I’m pretty much all girl.

{SIX} I’m a runner, and in 2013 I completed my first half marathon.

{SEVEN} I’m a self-proclaimed beer aficionado

{EIGHT} I’m a vet tech by profession, and when I go home to visit the farm I grew up on,I can’t help but doctor some animals.

{NINE} Last, but definitely not least, I’m a newlywed to the most amazing man.
October Daisy Collage
One: I am Liz and I blog over at Baby Got B.A., where I write about my life filled with school and work and Disney.

Two: Speaking of Disney, I live in Orlando and (maybe I might possibly) work for Disney (when I am not going to school).

Three: Between doing laundry (Billy Mays is a liar) and trying to wear real pants at least 25%, I am constantly riding the struggle bus.

Four: I LOVE Halloween and all things fall – This year I went to Mickey’s Halloween party as Jess Day from New Girl!bex
One. Hey, I’m Bex, and I blog over at Butcher’s Niche about all things life and style.

Two. Style to me is in everything; so while most of my posts our outfits of the day or my beauty routine, you’ll also see lots of home decor like my Halloween mantel.

Three. My biggest passion other than blogging is in the kitchen where I make things like this mexican cassarole or my smores pie.

Four. This guy is my best friend, he makes me- me, and our wedding is why I started the niche.

jenniOne. Hey y’all! I am Jenni & I blog over at Frankly My Dear! I love sharing recipes, fun DIYs, & encouraging others!

Two. You know that saying “Never trust a skinny cook”? I totally agree & LOVE having some fun in the Kitchen!

Three. I have a passion for agriculture ( real job) & I own a little small business called Gingerly Styled.

Four. These two are my people. That handsome guy in the middle is our puppy child. Oh, and my sweet husband too!heather
One. Heather, here, from the newly redesigned Style Prescription (formerly Port City Prescription) where I write about incorporating style into every aspect of our lives.

Two. This was one of my most popular style posts to date because who doesn’t love fall fashion?!

Three. I enjoy rounding up my favorite web finds each weekend to help make your Monday a little bit easier.

Four. Most favorite post to date: my sweet family, growing by one in 2015!linda
1) Hi I am Linda and I blog over at A Labour of Life, a blog to capture all that is Linda, fashion, baking, Travel and a general love of life ( and wine).

2) I love taking you with me on my travels, check out the Fall Foliage in Whitehorse.

3) Baking is my release and I bake to share, come join me for a Gingerbread Caramel cup with a touch of White Chocolate Mousse.

4) I love spending time with Kent, a lot of life’s firsts, like a trip to the Rodeo in the Poconos or Golfing in the Fog, its always an experience.

1| We’re B and M, best friends who co-blog at The Sequin Notebook about our shared obsessions with all things glitzy, crafty, and girly!

2| During our BFF nights, we tend to get creative and mix up some seasonal cocktails to enjoy – this fall, we’re especially loving a good pumpkin spice latte martini and some refreshing apple cider sangria.

3| We firmly believe in sprinkling a little extra sparkle whenever possible, whether it’s creating pretty envelope liners for our homemade cards or just adding some pizzazz to an old wine bottle.

4| Life’s a party, and we love to celebrate with a good theme and lots of festive details!

Aren’t these gals so fun? 

Remember you can use the code laugh to get 20% off sponsorships.

Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

The One Where I Start Writing on Fridays Again.

I’ve been totally slacking on Fridays lately. Let’s do it.oneThis weekend one of my best friends is flying in to stay with my one of my other best friends who also has a pad in Chicago. So Chels is coming from California and she’s staying with Lyd because Lyd has a baby (and duh, you stay where the cute cuddly baby is) and also because I live in a studio. But the good news is that I live walking distance from Lyd so I am ready for some great girl time and girl talk and giggles. Lots of the letter G, you know? I met these girls in college and honestly, the way the Lord continues to weave together the fabric of our friendships is really lovely. It’s been on crazy ride from the beginning with these babes. 

They make me think deeply and they ask really tough questions and when I am on the verge of tears they make me burst into laughter so hard that if I were to be drinking at the time, water would spurt from my mouth. It’s that kind of friendship. And while I love them individually and uniquely, there is something terrifically special when the three of us are together. triothese pictures are from the last time we were all in Chicago together…the weird kissy photos are at the bean, of course. we also do skin to skin therapy whenever we are together. hah.two
I did a No Spend September and I am doing a No Spend October. It’s not fun but it’s necessary. And you know, if I wasn’t doing the No Spend thing, I would be buying these things:

threeI have mentioned this briefly but I have a health condition that involves pain (super detailed and informative, right?) and one thing that helps cut that pain down is cutting out sugar. You guys. I admit it. My name is Nina and I am a sugar addict. I love it. I live for it. I’m about a week and a half in and from experience the cravings will be passing soon (they already are). Also did you know that sugar is in everything? Also do you know that it is kind of hard to cook my favorite desserts and not even lick a spoon?IMG_8092fourI do an annual reading of Harry Potter and I am on book five. Oh my gosh, these books, this story is so good. I love the thread of redemption and all the details that just add up. I seriously cry multiple times throughout each book and definitely have a lump in my throat throughout. My mom read one through four to my brother and I aloud because we would clammer for the story and they didn’t want to buy two sets (fair enough) and so I treasure my mom’s voice reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I just…man. I love you, JK Rowling. I really do. Also, if you are a Harry Potter fan, please read this and laugh your butt off. At first you will be like whaaaa? Just trust me.IMG_8801fiveThis week I gave you the recipe to the secret sauce. Nonna’s secret sauce. If you missed it, I don’t know what to tell you. Here is your chance for glory in a pot. That’s all I’m saying.nonna's-sauceI am linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, (they are are doing the amazing giveaway below) and Karli, and Amy.

TGIF. AMEN.

 

Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor:

 

 

 Five on Friday Fall Giveawayfive on friday

Dollie & Two Wooden Spoons.

I need to tell you about someone because she thinks deeply and writes about it. She makes me want to think more deeply and write more truly. A note for everyone: anyone who makes you want to think deeply about the world and do something about it is someone you should treasure. Also, she likes Glennon Doyle of Momastery and I can get down with anyone who loves Glennon. She is, by the way, named Dollie–this woman who thinks and writes and does. In one of my favorite posts, when she talks about discovering her voice, she quotes our pal, Glennon and I think that starts this introduction out right as well:glennon-doyleSo Glennon helped Dollie find her voice and now Dollie is giving her love offering to the world. She makes me feel so much less alone when she talks about her twenties (which she literally just left) being an emotional roller coaster (word). She puts my thoughts to paper, er blog, when she writes about “dreams juxtaposing one another,” I think finally someone gets it! Sometimes I feel completely torn into two directions and not bad directions either. Does anyone else know what we mean?

Here is Dollie by the way and her husband and her pup. You can put a face to the voice she worked so hard to find.dollieanddogGrowing up is hard. Life is hard. Dollie gets it. She asks the questions I would like to ask like, “What the hell is a signing bonus and how do I get one?

(Is she right or is she right?)

But in the hard is the lovely. Dollie writes about her life theme as “floating in the middle” and how that used to bother her but now she is learning to live there and love it. And that’s why I love Dollie because there is so much beauty in what seems hard or even ugly.

In fact, I would argue that is where we discover true beauty–in the hardships and in the mistakes–in those moments where it seems as if we made a wrong turn. That’s lovely. That’s where you find truth and a realness like cold air on your face in autumn. I think Dollie agrees with me. At least that’s the feeling I get from her writing and getting to know her so, I’m going to go with it.dolliecollage

You’ve got to read her writing. And while you are at, please read the story behind her blog name: Two Wooden Spoons. It’s the most best origin story of a blog title I’ve yet to hear and oh by the way, Dollie and I have this in common too: we’re adventurers. She started her blog because she knew her life was going to do a 180. Love that. Relate to that.

Trust me and read. There is something beautiful there.
Signature

 

 

 

Visit the Peony Sponsor: