Small Business Shout Out!

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On Friday last week, I was thinking to myself, “wow, I have A LOT of friends with their own business. In fact, most of them are owned by women!” That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. How did I meet so many entrepreneurs? Regardless, I’m so darn proud of you all! You’ve had an idea, a talent and you’ve done the hard work of trying to help your family out financially and have fun while you are at it. It’s a lot of work just for the tax paperwork if nothing else…

Small businesses you can shop locally at are right at your fingertips!

So today, I want to give you a shout out for all your hard work . I know I’ve benefited from it already!*

To my readers, most of the people you’ll see here are local either here in St. Charles/St. Louis, MO. A few are friends from across the nation whom we’ve met via the United States Army! (In fact, many of these small businesses are run by Veteran’s wives or Veterans themselves!)

Cobblestone Road Photography, Jennifer Crowe (St. Charles)
Jen is a friend we met at church. She has taken our family pictures since we’ve moved home to St. Louis. She has a beautiful eye for light and is fun to work with! My favorite thing about her is that she always comes prepared with ideas and props. She has a unique perspective on things and does great “Themed” photos. We did a back yard movie night theme for our family photos in 2011 and they were so fun!  She enjoys vintage, DIY weddings and does lifestyle & themed sessions for families. She is a Veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Jen’s fun family session she did with us one year ago

Flippin’ Cute, Erika Conley (Ellisville)
My friend Erika is someone I’ve known for a long time! We went to college together and were in church together as young marrieds. We kind of “grew up” together! The latter half of life at least. Erika makes the cutest flip flops for girls/women! In fact, they are so cute, they’re Flippin’ Cute! HA! I love her business name. She’s even made some sandals for Cece… I believe the entire cheer squad out at Eureka High School owns a set of her flip flops in their school colors.  She will customize your flip flops in whatever colors you would like and also does a monogrammed button on the front.

Cecelia’s cutesie flip flops from Flippin’ Cute!

Foushee Boutique, Elizabeth Foushee (St. Charles)
My friend Elizabeth and I met ten years ago in that same young marrieds church group I mentioned earlier ! She just started up her own business making pillow case dresses, aprons (for girls or boys), little blankets (think car seat size), and pumpkin seat covers. She will do any size and any color. You completely customize each item to your liking.  The ingenious thing about her design on those dresses is that she has anchored the ribbons in the dress so that when you wash it, the ribbons won’t come out. She made my daughter Cecelia an ADORABLE cupcake dress! I call it her birthday party dress. She doesn’t have a website but she sent me this great photo and is very easy to chat with over the phone or email. You can contact her via email at efoushee at hotmail dot com or via phone or text at 636.675.3934.

From Foushee Boutique!

Here’s the Diehl, Nicole Diehl (Ballwin)
My friend Nicole (can you guess how we met? Yup, same young marrieds group!)  is quite the crafty lady. She has been blogging her craftiness for years now. Last year she opened a shop on Etsy with the same name as her blog; Here’s the Diehl. She makes rolled flower headbands for babies and little girls!  New this fall she has headbands to match American Girl dolls! So all you people with nieces (or daughters or granddaughters) take note. She also has a back to school special right now; buy 2 hair accessories, get 1 free. The sale is good through August 24th (that’s THIS Friday!). Convo her through etsy (click on “contact the shop owner”)or her Facebook page and she’ll create a special listing for you so you can take advantage of the sale. The American Girl doll headbands are included in this deal! If you have seen my daughter with this style of headband, it’s from this shop!

from Nicole’s Etsy page

Kerlina Krafts, Kerlina Vinyard (Oklahoma)
Kerlina and I had the pleasure of serving in one of the most challenging jobs a woman can serve; that of an Army wife. Her husband and mine served in Afghanistan together and Kerlina was our FRG (Family Readiness Group) leader. She is pretty amazing! She is also quite crafty and makes wool dryer balls, hair bows for little girls, hand knitted scarves and children’s hats as well as Gators for soldiers. She also makes “cupcakes” for women who have undergone a double mastectomy/survived breast cancer. She donates them for free to survivors. Kerlina’s husband is currently serving in the Army and you can contact her through her Facebook page!

The Lawn Guy, Staci & Todd Marino (St. Charles)
Stacie and I met through church also, but we were serving in the Junior High ministry back in the day (13 + years ago!). Now Stacie is married to a soldier who will hopefully be returning from deployment very soon! Her husband started this lawn business and she has carried it out in his absence. Aren’t Army wives amazing ladies? Stacie is local and since this is a lawn service,  you know, you can’t really order anything online. But they are working on getting a website up. I’ve linked to what they have thus far. She has a special right now for 10% off a dethatch & rake.  Please mention me and my blog when you call!

Natural Birth Evangelist, Wendy Sutter-Staas (St. Louis)
My friend Wendy goes to church with my SIL and BIL and is a fun friend of mine. I am SO excited about her new business as a Doula! A Doula is a labor coach who partners with you (and your spouse) to provide loving and encouraging support for you during the birth of your child! I’m telling you, I’ve had a doula twice and I HIGHLY recommend it. Why? Because it is so freeing to be able to just let go and focus as a couple on the hard work of delivering a baby, especially when you deliver naturally and without drugs. It takes the pressure off of you as the birth mom. All you have to do is have that baby, let your Doula help you and take care of the rest. I could talk about the benefits of a doula for hours. Really. But I won’t get into it here. Unless you want me to. If so then comment on this post and I’ll email you and we can talk. Anyway, Wendy is a certified Doula! And she’s is an extremely nurturing and caring woman. Check out her webpage and please spread the word! She has just completed her certification and is ready for clients.

Stephanie Bannon Photography, Stephanie Bannon (St. Charles)
Stephanie  is another friend of ours from church and the neighborhood. Our kiddos are in the same classroom together at school! She is another of my talented photography friends with a lovely eye for people’s faces and classy taste for scenery and surroundings.  Stephanie is available for weddings (worldwide!) and she also does sessions on love, families, kids, maternity, babies and high school seniors. Check her out!

TM Memorabilia, Thomas Morbelli (Ballwin)
I’d be in big trouble if I didn’t mention this guy…he’s my Father in Law! He has his own small business selling sports memorabilia, baseball, basketball, football, hockey and NASCAR. Ladies, read #bestgiftseverforhusbands (or Brothers, Dads and Grandpas). He has gobs of stuff both vintage and new. And if he doesn’t have it in his shop, he can get it for you. He also has lots of autographed stuff. Tom is quite the character (he’s Italian) and is so fun to work with. He has a webpage and a Facebook page that you can check him out on. The best thing to do is call him if there is something you have in mind. Tom travels almost every weekend to share his wares in the bordering states around Missouri. But he is home during the week and easy to contact. Christmas is coming!

So there you have it, my entrepreneurial friends and their fun stores and services all in one post. I hope you will support these businesses by either shopping there or by spreading the word to your friends!

*I did not receive any goods in exchange for writing up this blog post. These are people I am friends with and have utilized in my own life for the goods and services they offer. 

Creating Traditions

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Today, I widdled my day away with laundry, a trip to Target (yes, I had my hair fixed and make up on!) and some special time writing in my childrens’ journals.  At first, when I was thinking about what I’ve accomplished thus far in my day I thought,”what a lazy day”! But then it occurred to me that maybe that’s a bigger deal than I was making it. When was the last time I spent an afternoon writing notes to my kids?

Apparently it was 2010…

This tradition began when my first born son, Cooper, was 10 months old. He had begun to grow so fast but I simply didn’t have the time to scrap book everything that was happening. (This is before my now-beloved digital photo books were in production.) I was working full-time and life was so busy! The words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9  had impacted me greatly at this point also. I felt like I needed to talk about life and the Lord to my child in a different way.

So, I went out and bought a small spiral-bound notebook that I could keep on the counter in the kitchen. It was meant to be out all the time originally. Until that is, my precious child started walking and touching and coloring things. Then I put the notebook in my bedroom or just away. (I have many a note that says “you scribbled here, oops, Mommy left your book out again!”.)

Little treasures

I continued the tradition for Chase, but sadly, the second born got so much love that I had no time to write. I have less than 5 entries in Chase’s journal. (Which actually shows a lot about his early days. He was a colicky child and Jeremy was deployed from the time he was six to eighteen months old!)

When I was at Target today, I finally bought a journal for Cecelia. (Notice how pretty hers is? Hey, she’s a girl. And I’ve changed.)  I sat down this afternoon and spent several hours in each kiddos journals. Don’t worry all you middle children out there, I started with Chase’s journal first.

I write all sorts of things in their journals; from short little snippets of funny or awful things they’ve said or done, to long prayers or ways I have seen God move in their lives, to birthday letters and lists of their accomplishments at each stage of life. My plan is to one day give them to the kids. But I don’t let them read them themselves. There are some things I want to save. Some things I want them to read with the mind and heart of an adult. They do know about their books. I’ve told them they are very special and they are only for Mommy and Daddy to write in. They are our special treasures.

In the mean time, I occasionally look at them and recount a few pages to them. It’s so fun to see what my daily life used to be like with one, then two and now three children. Things have changed so much.  They have grown and changed and so have their Father and I. God really wasn’t kidding when he said that one day is like a thousand to Him (2 Peter 3:8). I get that.

Today, the tradition continued. I have a renewed sense of affection in writing to them. I think the books will have to return to my bedside table or maybe even an upper kitchen counter.

My Thoughts on Pinterest

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So many people talk about Pinterest these days! Most seem to fall into one of two categories: those who are completely addicted to it and love it vs. those who have no clue what it is or why it is of any use to any person.

I feel like I explain Pinterest a lot in person but really, wouldn’t a blog post about it be that much better? EUREKA!

Pinterest Logo

Q: What is Pinterest?

A: I like to call Pinterest a virtual and visual file cabinet. If you’ve ever been flipping through the pages of a magazine and seen: a recipe you must cook, outfit idea you must purchase or create, yard you must attain, craft you must pay someone else to make, pillow that would be perfect for your couch, paint color for that room that’s been bugging you or beach you MUST go to, so you tear out the page of that magazine (deep breath!) then THAT is what pinterest is like.

Another way I like to think of it is shopping and eating without spending money or actually consuming calories. It’s just about dreaming!

I’ve heard a lot of people say it is a DIY site and I don’t really agree with that. But that’s probably because that is not how or why I necessarily pin things. It’s just creative visual fodder for me to drink in and be inspired by! Vacations I want to take one day, cruise ships I want to remember, flowers I want to put in my garden, baby stuff I want to possess, shoes I want in my closet yesterday, etc.

Q: How does it work?

A: Someone has to invite you to join Pinterest. (You can go to the Pinterest website and ask for an invitation…but sometimes that can take a while for them to actually send you one. It’s just faster to ask your friends to invite you.) Once you join, a button will be installed (if you so choose…which you should) on your internet/web tool bar that says “Pin It”. It just sits there ever so quietly. (We will get to how to use that in a minute.)

Next, you need to set up your profile and your boards. Your profile is just that, a picture of you and a little or a lot about yourself. Then your boards are your file cabinets. There is a default list you can put up or you can choose to name your boards whatever you would like. But think of them like cork boards or file cabinets. They are your categories of stuff.

For example, my boards are as follows: House Pretties, Eat It!, My Style (clothes/shoes, jewelry), rugs, yard dreams, crafties, favorite places and spaces, gift ideas, ideas for and about kids, products I love, quotes and reminders, organize it!, clean it!, party ideas, Christmas, maternity style, baby stuff, love and mushy stuff and education ideas. Whew! That’s a lotta boards! But I have a special love for each and every one of them. They are so….pretty. :D

Q: What do I Pin? And How do I pin it?

A: You have two options for pinning things. Either you can just repin things that are on the home page of Pinterest (this includes things that your friends have already pinned/people you are “following”) or you can pin things that you see as you browse the internet.

To pin/repin things you see already on Pinterest, just look at the home page, hover over the picture/image and choose “repin”. You decide which of your “boards” you want to file it in and then you should describe it or write a note to yourself. I mean, you may want to remember why you did it or what you liked about it later.

To pin things you see online that you like, just browse the internet like you normally would. Say you are on allrecipes.com and you see something super tasty. While on that page, you take your mouse and click your quiet little “Pin It” button. A page of pictures will pop up asking you what you want to pin (it’s visual so it pins pictures), so click what you want to pin, pick your board and describe it so you don’t forget what it is or why you like it/pinned it.

Now that you’ve pinned it, you have a visual link to where you found that item. So if you were perhaps dream shopping and you decide to buy that thing you can’t get out of your head, just click on it from your Pinterest board and it’ll take you back to where you found it!

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I am not sure what else to add here. I mean, just in toggling between this blog post and my pinterest page, I’ve managed to get sidetracked by fun stuff to pin countless times. It’s taken me two days to write this post! HA! I will add that I actually maintain/update my boards. I delete pins that I’ve changed my mind about and I double check links to make sure they work before I repin (most of the time).

Go, be inspired and check out Pinterest! Dream a little dream just for fun.

Any questions?

What Takes All My Spare Time These Days

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My BF in WA has a couple of sisters who are way fun. Her older sister, Selina, is very fashionable and hip. Her house is crazy adorable and she is one of those women who always has perfect hair, skin and clothes. Don’t hate her though. Like I said, she’s way fun. Anyway, she recently turned me on to this blog called Young House Love. It now takes every moment of my free time! I know I’ve mentioned this blog recently, but seriously people, I can’t stay away from it.

You may be saying, “Freetime? What freetime? You get freetime?!” to which I would say, uh, yeah. I mean I am living with my parents. When my munchkins have quiet rest time, I can clean and do laundry and then what? I mean, I’ve gotta do something else…

But I digress. The point is that this blog is FLIPPIN’ AWESOME!

Say you are a young family on a budget. You don’t have a bunch of extra cash lying around and if you did, you most likely would spend it on something “responsible”. So that new bed you’ve always dreamed of still hasn’t happened even though  you’ve been married for 10 years already. No problem. DIY headboard, in one hour. Done! (And for maybe as little as $45 bucks!)

‘Been barking at the love of your life to organize the garage so you can actually get a car in there? No problem. This post will focus your efforts and help you get ‘er done in just one weekend. Do you hear angels singing?

Maybe you are a clutter-bug. You just can’t seem to organize your home and you need a little help, but you don’t really want to pay someone to do it for you. That’s ok, YHL to the rescue!  There is an ENTIRE page of ways to organize your space; from your kitchen cabinets all the way back out to the garage and even to your refrigerator! Here’s a post on how to systematically organize and declutter any space. Did you hear that? ANY space?

Not the best decorator? Having trouble putting a room together? Go to inspiration station! That entire page of ways to organize your space also has a ton of decorating lessons. It’ll move you from JCPenny Catalog to say, CB2. My personal favorite post is on How to Avoid the dreaded Matchy-Matchy. I haven’t even moved in to my new house yet and I’m already trying to avoid matchy-matchington in my dining room. You know…in my head…while I lay in bed at night dreaming of it.

Do you see why this is the bestest-blog ever? And, this couple even tries to do stuff on the cheap, which is all I speak these days. In fact, even some of their recent purchases have been too expensive for me, even though they ARE good deals. For them. I mean I did a dance last week when I paid $15.00 for a rug at Hobby Lobby. A DANCE!

Anyway, this blog takes all my time and makes my head swim. At night, I lay in bed thinking of all the things I cannot WAIT to do in our new house. I cannot wait to move in and get started! Is it Tuesday yet? (Additionally, this couple isn’t limited to just the indoors. They do great stuff outside too. I love that about them!)

Now, it’s your turn. Though this is my absolute favorite blog ever right now, I trust you might have a good one up your sleeve too. So do share. What blog (ok, besides Pioneer Woman or Real Simple or Martha Stewart) takes all your time?

 

 

National Dance Day 2010!

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My favorite show is So You Think You Can Dance. I love, love, LOVE the show so much because it’s taught me to appreciate dance! I’ve always loved to watch people dance, but the criticism from the judges is so constructive and encouraging that I have learned things I never knew.

I have been watching the show for about 4 seasons now (I think) and I just can’t get enough of it! I saw that the show is promoting this new thing Nigel Lthygoe created called National Dance Day, which is July 31, by trying to get people to learn this “Nappy Tabs” routine. (Um, that’s Tabitha and Napoleon for all you non-show watchers.)The idea is to encourage people to just be healthy and get moving.

I watched the first part of the video and decided I should go to bed (it was approaching midnight, oiy) but, I really want to learn it! I did practice the first 3 parts. You know you wanna see it right? Here is the routine! Try it ok? It would be fun to see if we can video ourselves doing it and repost! EEEK! That makes me nervous. But how fun, right?

Counting Down!

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Countdown Paper Chain

Countdown Jelly Beans - 'cause each day is more sweet than the one before when we are counting down!

HURRAY! It is June 7! The kids and I are getting so excited that Jeremy will be home in just a couple of weeks. It is so fun for us to get to talk about it and laugh at how crazy life is about to become. I’m already making plans with my Army girls about going to different homecomings with them in support of welcoming their husbands home. For you non-Army types, the Brigade comes home in groups-not all at once. (It’s quite a logistical nightmare getting 5,000 infantrymen plus supply people home.) So we will all have different days and times when our guys get home; some of us earlier than others.

It has been interesting for me to see the boys “get it” lately. Chase is longing for a male presence in his life, big time. If he could be more excited when he hears Jeremy’s voice on the phone…I don’t know how it would look! He is just giddy. I have been thrown by his excitement and yet so blessed because I know that whatever he “gets” or knows now is nothing in comparison to how great he will feel when he sees Daddy everyday from homecoming on.  For however much Chase gets it, Cooper REALLY gets it. He has been an angel lately (for the most part) and is talking about Daddy constantly. It has been fun to watch his precious heart rejoicing with me.

Yesterday, I got to say one of my most favorite phrases EVER: “Daddy can fix it when he gets home”! Ahhhhh….how I love those words. My heart has been thinking so much about what this year-long journey has been like. I think it was my friend Stephanie who shook me out of my auto-pilot daze by asking me some deep questions one night when we were out at dinner. She asked me what I’ve learned through this deployment, how I’ve changed/grown and what God has done in me. I was kind of taken aback by her question because I was embarrassed that I haven’t really asked that question of myself! That line of thinking has truly led my heart to a place of gratefulness as I ponder this journey we’ve been on. Thanks Steph!

I was thinking this morning what I would say if I got interviewed (I’m famous in my mind – {sarcasm}) or if someone asked me if I could do it again. My answer (to my Barbara Walters self) was that no Army wife thinks to herself “Yeah, I would LOVE to do that again-bring it on!”. I think of my friends who know without a doubt that this deployment is one of many more to come and how their joy is deeply intermingled with sorrow over the knowledge that they WILL have to endure this again. I am grateful that we most likely will not have to do it again and I’m ready to be done with that aspect of life.

I’ve thought a lot about this and I don’t think this deployment has been hard because it was something I couldn’t handle by myself. I think it was hard because it’s hard to go from doing life together to doing life alone. When we share our lives with someone, we share our joys and our sorrows, we experience greater joy in the joy and greater relief in the sorrow because of the companionship. God said it wasn’t “good” for Adam to be alone. Adam looked around in the Garden of Eden and saw that he was the only one without a partner. God knew we needed companionship. I really get that in a new way and yet I can honestly say with understanding that Jesus is enough-He satisfies me.

Anyway, the boys and I are excited for all that is ahead. We have a busy summer and I’m literally telling you that almost every single week or weekend is booked from July 4 through September! AHHH! I have a lot on my mind and I feel like I have a lot to do to get ready. I’m planning a welcome home party for Jeremy in mid-August by the way! Stay tuned for those details.