Friday, October 24, 2014

/ / Coffee Date | Highs & Lows

Happy Friday! I'm excited to kick off the weekend with a little virtual coffee date with you! It's been so fun doing this the last few months, and each time you guys share such beautiful, inspiration, and fun updates on life. I so wish we could meet up in real life for coffee (some of us did finally get to meet that the Renew Retreat last week--yay!), but until then I'll keep hosting this date twice a month for us to come together, build community, and share hearts. So grab your coffee, hot tea, or smoothie and let's get to chatting!

Two years ago today, Lamar stole me from my workplace, drove me an hour north of Atlanta, and took me on a hot air balloon ride.At around 3,000 feet he asked me to be his wife! I'm so thankful for those beautiful memories of us sailing up into the sky, celebrating our new life together, gathering leaves from the treetops, landing in someone's side-yard, and calling all of our friends and family with the exciting news. And good for you, we got it all on video! For your viewing pleasure...our proposal!

Ahhh, the warm fuzzies! :) I'm so glad Lamar made sure to capture the proposal on video. I thought he was just recording it so that we could watch our ballooning adventure and show our family. Turns out there was a much bigger reason. You can read our proposal story here.

Highlights of my week...

This week has been conference week, which I figured would be insanely stressful. I was really dreading this week, but it has turned out to be a great week! Praise God!

Last night, Lamar, my sister, and I went to the Fest of Ale at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. We tried some seasonal brews, listened to good music, and explored the gardens. I've been wanting to go for a couple of years now, and finally made the time! I'll share photos next week. Until then, check out my grams!

Last weekend, I traveled to Tennessee to spend the weekend with 14 amazing blog friends for the Renew Retreat! It was such a beautiful weekend of relaxation, bear-sightings, and coffee (and lots of it). Photos coming soon!

Lowlights of the week...

Although this week has been good, I've still been in such a funk. The desires of my heart aren't lining up with where I currently am in life, but I'm continuing to learn more about myself through situations that God brings to to. I'm excited (and honestly a bit nervous) to see what the near future holds. Change and taking risks is scary!

Now it's your turn!

1. What are your highs and lows from the week? Comment below!
2. Link up one post from this week that gives a glimpse into your life lately. This could be a coffee date, highs and lows, recent update, etc. Make sure it's a link to your post and not your blog URL.
3. Important: Comment on the blog that linked up before you. This linkup us about building community, so this step is important. Feel free to comment on more than just one!
4. Share about the coffee date via social media using the hashtag #coffeedatefriday

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

/ / Etsy Swap | Fall 2014

Hooray for the Etsy Swap reveal! I'm so excited to finally share the package I sent as well as the amazing gift I received. When Amy sent me my mission last month, I squeeled when I was given one of my favorites, Meg of Rivers and Roads! I immediately began stalking her Etsy Favorites and picked out a few little goodies just for her. I also picked up some fun postcards and pens from the dollar section of Target. Whoop!
For Meg: Scenic Postcards from One Canoe Two // Gold Tinsel Twine from Thatch and Thistle Co // "HEY" Postcards and Pens from Target

When I first recieved my Etsy Swap in the mail, I was so confused. I first saw the Stitch Fix box and thought, "I knowwww I didn't order one this month!" Then I got closer and saw the cutest little notes all over the box. Surprise!

Then...I opened it.

Y'ALL. I was spoiled. Hayley of Roots & Whim sent me the most amazing package of soap, a tumbler, a sweet postcard, and a delicious smelling candle. How did I get so lucky? Right when I opened the package, the glorious smells of the pumpkin candle and rosemary soap smacked me in the face (in a good way). I wish there was a way to include the smell in this post! Ha.

  See? Spoiled! I am blown away by Hayley's generosity and thoughtfulness. In her note, she introduced herself (we've never heard of each other before this swap!), and said she bought the soap and the postcard from a local shop in Colorado. I feel so special that I have some local goods from her town. The soap smells amazing! I love rosemary and mint, so it's perfect. What I love most about the Etsy swap is connecting with other bloggers, surprising them with goodies, and getting to know them more. Before this swap, I had never discovered Hayley's beautiful and creative blog. Now, a connection is made and a friendship is being built. Blogging is such a fun adventure! Thanks so much, Hayley, for the amazing gift. I have the candle burning right now and it's deliciouuuuuus. 

 Mason Jar Tumbler  | Purdy Things
Hagrid's Pumpkin Patch Candle | From the Page
Rosemary Mint Soap + Postcard | I heart Denver

Connect with Hayley: Blog  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Have you joined in the Etsy Swap? You should head over to Meg and Amy's blogs to check out more swaps. They are such amazing hosts, and I'm thankful that they thought this project up and continue to host it a couple of times a year! Would you join in next time?

Monday, October 20, 2014

/ / Things I'm Passionate About

Happy Monday, y'all! I can't believe how quickly this weekend went by. I spent the weekend in the mountains with some amazing blog friends at the Renew Retreat. We rested, explored Gatlinburg, played games, and took lots and lots of photos. It was so much fun, and I can't wait to share a recap of the weekend!

I've been talking (er, typing) a lot about dreams and passions lately on this blog, but I have yet to really go into detail. I've realized in the last year how important it is to pay attention to the passions that the Lord lays on my heart, instead of brushing them under the rug and using the excuse that I don't have time to pursue them. Honestly, most of the reason I don't pursue every one of my passions is fear. Fear of failure, fear of taking risks. And as an educator who teaches children to take risks every day, I'm embarassed to say that I haven't been practicing what I've been preaching.

It has been one of the most difficult years of my life as I have been experiencing immense transition, change, stress, and disappointment with my job. I realize that God is teaching me during this seasons, so I'm trying to pay close attention. So that when this season comes to a close, I know what steps to take and which direction to go. I don't believe that God calls us to just one passion in life, or one calling. I think there can be multiple callings, and I've believed that for a few years. Now is the time that God is really teaching me about them, though. It's exciting, nerve-wrecking, and scary to know that God may bring me to do something completely different with my life next year or the year after.
Anyways, let's talk about some of the passions God has laid on our hearts. I'll go first, then I want you to share yours in the comments below!

CHILDREN |  Children have always been a passion of mine. I knew I was going to be a 2nd grade teacher before I even left elementary school. There wasn't a question in my mind whether or not to go into teaching when I reached college. God was right though, I would teach 2nd grade and have been for four years now. He is so faithful, and I think it's so crazy and awesome that God spoke to me at such a young age. He specifically told me 2nd grade, and in case you aren't familiar with teaching, you can rarely choose the grade you are placed in. You just get whatever the schools have available at the time of hire. So the fact that I have been placed in 2nd grade for all of my four years of teaching is such a confirming message from the Lord. Now, the question is: What else about children, God? Besides teaching, how does this passion fit into my life?

FLOWERS | Floral design, bouquet making, and simply looking at flowers makes me so giddy and happy. I know, I'm weird. This passion of mine is about two years old, and has become more intense with time. It has gone from just enjoying making arrangements for our home, to wanting to pursue a side job as a floral designer. Now, if I could just get some training, connect with other designers, and figure out how this could bring glory to the Lord, then I'd be set.

CREATING | Painting, pottery, and crafting has always been so much fun for me, but it is the one passion I rarely make time for. I can't seem to justify spending money or much time on this area. That being said, whenever I create it gives me such an amazing feeling and I feel closer to the Lord. I love to just find a quiet room, turn up the worship music, and escape. It's so good for the soul.

COOKING + BAKING | I have loved working in the kitchen since I was about 11, when my uncle gave me a kitchen set for Christmas. It included pots, pans, baking sheets, spatulas, and little gadgets. It was probably the best gift I've been given! Since I've been married, it is even more fun. I love to cook for Lamar and play around with new dishes. I think it would be a lot of fun to be a recipe tester (did you know that's a thing?) or food blogger. Who knows!?

I've invited one of my super sweet sponsors, Martha Kate of Seasons with the Strattons over to share some of her passions! I just love her blog and her heart, and I know you will too!

MISSIONS | ​One my biggest passions is the Rafiki Orphanage in Ghana, Africa where some of my favorite kids I've ever met live. God reveled my passion for Rafiki my sophomore year of college when I went on a mission trip to Ghana.  The Lord captured my heart for the sweet kids living at Rafiki and their heartbreaking stories.  

COOKING | Spending time in my kitchen creating meals has become one of my new found passions. I've always loved to cook.  My mom was really good about letting my sisters and me help her cook growing up.  But recently, I have found a new found passion for creating things in the kitchen.

How do these passions fit into your every day life?
My passion for Rafiki is hard to fit in to my every day life since I can't be there daily, but the root of my heart for Rafiki comes from my love for kids.  Right now, I am living out my passion for kids by teaching preschool at our church. Thankfully, eating is a daily part of life so I get to use my passion for cooking pretty much daily.  I'm learning to not be afraid to be creative in the kitchen and not focus on perfection.  

 What is the most challenging part about pursing your passions and dreams?
The most challenging part of pursuing my passion for Rafiki is living a world away from Africa.  I started writing a blog for Rafiki so I can pursue this passion from the US and bring awareness to the precious kids at Rafiki. The hardest part in pursing my passion for cooking is learning to slow down and enjoy my time in the kitchen rather than rushing through what could be just another task.  I'm learning to savor my time in the kitchen creating meals for my little family of two.

Connect with Martha Kate: BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

So tell me, what are you passions? How do they fit into your every day life?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

/ / Simple Sangria Recipe + Scenes from Oktoberfest

Last weekend was our annual Oktoberfest vacay in Helen, Georgia. It's only about two hours from Atlanta, but Helen is such a unique town it seems like we're far away in the mountains somewhere. The weather was warm and a bit rainy at night (my favorite), so it made for a really cozy time. If you know me well, you know that being cozy, wrapping up in a blanket, and spending time with friends is my happy place.  It was the perfect rainy, misty, beer drinking, s'more making weekend. I already want to go back, and escape the stress that this week has held. Until then, I'll live through these photos.

This week has been challenging, and I'm being pushed to my limit at work. I'm trying to remember that God is my refuge and my strength. With Him, I will get through this. I need to repeat those words over and over again in my head. I prayed for this job, and I'm so grateful for the students I've been given this year. They (and God of course) is what is keeping me going each week. They bring so much joy to my days, and I'm thankful for that gift from God. I'm in tears as I type that, because it just reminded me in a great way that God is here and He is taking care of me. Even when I feel defeated. Those babies love me, and I love them, and He knew that I would need that to get through the year. How faithful is our God?

Whew! Let me reel this back in. Let's talk about Sangria, friends. I'm fairly new to the beautiful concoction, but it has become one of my summer and fall favorites. I've come up with a simple recipe that I made a few weeks ago at a family gathering and it was a hit. I made it again this past weekend in Helen, and it was gone quickly! I think it's the perfect drink to sip in the fall with all of the apples, cranberry juice, and red wine. I could use one right about now. :)

Simple Sangria Recipe

1 apple, cut into chunks
1 orange, sliced thin
1 bottle of red wine
1 cup of grapefruit juice
1 cup cranberry pomegranate juice
3 oz simple syrup

Just mix it all together in a pitcher, chill for about an hour or so, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did! Have a beautiful Thursday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

/ / Our Wedding: Handpainted Invitations

  I've said before that when it came to planning our wedding, it took me forever to make final decisions. I spent hours searching the internet for ideas and inspirations for all of the little details, including the wedding invitations. There are so many great websites out there for wedding invitations, but I knew I needed  to have something unique....and budget friendly. I hated the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on invitations that I could possibly do myself. Especially since I have dabbled in painting (I took classes in high school and college), if I saw a beautiful watercolor invitation I knew I could do something similar myself. Basically everything I pinned and saved was a handpainted style invitation, and also cost an arm and a leg. It didn't take too long for me to decide to go for it and paint my own invitations. My only problem: I had no clue how to scan and print them in high quality. That part sounded pretty complicated, but I knew I would need to figure it out. Then, out of nowhere, Lamar's Nana told me she does wedding invitations! She has all of the technology and tools to scan and print and all that jazz. Prayers answered! I immediately began sketching out ideas and painting flowers to see what worked and didn't. I knew they needed to be whimsical, pretty, rustic, and simple. With lots of little flowers. 

 We had so many leftover circle tags (how adorable are those!?), so we used them on our ceremony programs. I liked being able to use the painted design on more than just the invitations. Here are some shots by my amazing photographer, Amelia of Bloom & Lo

Did you make your own invitations, too? When you were choosing invitations, what style did you go for?

Monday, October 13, 2014

/ / My Blog Business Cards + a $150 LOFT Giftcard Giveaway

I had been contemplating ordering some cards for my blog, but didn't really see the need for it until I purchased my tickets for the Maiedae Mixer. Of course I asked my blogging bestie to design my cards--Madison of Wetherills Say I Do.  I love the simplicity of them, and I think they represent my blog so well! What do you think?

Now let me introduce you to the girl behind the design--Madison! She has become one of my closest friends, and I love her and her amazing blog so much.  I just know you'll love Madison and her beautiful blog!

What are three words that describe your design style? Feminine, minimal and classic.

 What is your favorite thing about graphic design? My favorite thing about graphic design is that there are elements of creativity, problem solving and helping others. I'm so blessed to have a gift where I am able to provide a service for people, because helping others is so in my nature. I love getting to connect with new people through it and build relationships. Being able to design a logo or business card for someone allows me to have a small part in their big dreams and goals for their business or in a big moment in their lives like a birthday or wedding by designing invitations.

 If you could offer helpful tips to others who are following their dreams, what would you tell them? My advice is to just start now. I'm not saying quit your day job to start pursuing something else just yet, but start slowly pursuing your dream right now. Start making a plan, a check list, start declaring that you want to follow your dream and that you are capable of doing that. Another thing I've learned is that you have to know when to ask for help. I'm a graphic designer, but I'm not a calligrapher which is why I asked for help with my logo. I am a graphic designer but I am not a business expert, which is why I rely on people who are. You have to use your network to help enable you for success and you should help others to do the same!

Connect with Madison: BLOG |  PINTEREST |  TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Now, on to the giveaway! If you watched my Closet Confidential Vlog, you learned that basically my entire wardrobe is LOFT, For good reason, too! I find that their clothes are high-quality, and they are always having a good sale. Well, I've teamed up with some amazing ladies to bring you a chance to win a $150 LOFT Giftcard! Meet the amazing sponsors.

  Giveaway runs from 10/12 at 12AM EST to 10/22 at 12AM EST. Available to US Residents 18 years and older. No purchase necessary. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 10, 2014

/ / Coffee Date | Highs and Lows Vol. 10

Happy Friday, friends! It's time for another virtual coffee date! Last week, we had so many amazing bloggers link up posts that really filled me in on their lives. One post that really stuck out to me was Emily's 10 Things to Thank post. It reminded me to be thankful for the little things, the big things, and everything in between. 

I hope you'll join us for our 10th coffee date! Can't believe it's already been ten! There are some changes brewing, though. New beginnings are always exciting, and this one is definitely bittersweet: Jenna, the other coffee date host, is movin' on to focus on some other projects. It's been so much fun doing this thing with her, and I'm sad to see her go! However, coffee dates will still happen twice a month as usual! I'm excited to continue this virtual date with you, and get to know you even more. I hope you'll continue to join me! 

If you're new to the coffee date linkup, here's the deal: It's not a typical coffee date post, because you don't have to prepare a post ahead of time! You get to link up ANY post from the last week so that we can catch up with you, just like we would if we really sat down to coffee. Now, you want to make sure to link up a post that shares a little about you (i.e, you wouldn't want to link up a recipe or a DIY). Although those types of posts are great, we want to get to know you. Join me, will you?

Highs from the week...
+ Some of my very best friends, Mary Hannah and Daniel, announced they're expecting! When she told me, I burst into tears. So.Excited! 

+ Hearing my students tell me they love me as they hug me to walk out the door. I love them so incredibly much, they make all of the stress of teaching completely worth it. 

+ Walking into Anthropologie, and walking out empty handed. I usually do so much damage, but I controlled myself. Progress, people. Progress. 

+ Taking today off of work! Today we are leaving to go to Helen for the weekend. Each year we rent a cabin with a bunch of friends to celebrate Oktoberfest, and it's always such a blast. I'm so excited to get away for a couple of days!

Lows from the week...
- Feeling exhausted every day this week due to lack of sleep and work stress.

- Waiting in long lines at the store and post office. 

- The glass topper to my favorite cake stand (a wedding present) shattered earlier this week. It's one of those things that happen in slow motion, and you can't do anything but stare at the bits of glass all around you. It was a sad moment, for sure. Hopefully I can find a replacement!

Now, it's your turn! 
1. What are your highs and lows from this week? Comment below and let's chat. 

2. Link up your favorite post from this past week. Make sure it's one that will allow us to get to know you more. Only link up the URL of your blog post, not your blog homepage. Make sure to visit and comment on at least 2 other links! After all, that is what this link up is all about--getting to know one another!