Friday, September 19, 2014

Photography Update: Autumn's Coming

Today, you get a photography post for Box of Chocolates Friday! My f/1.8 Canon lens just came in, and I've been so excited about using it during the fall! There are always a ton of great shots to capture when the seasons change in Ohio. Here are a few of my favorites from my "camera walk" around the yard yesterday. :)

I hope you have a weekend that leaves you feeling happy!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Inspired to be...Hospitable: Jenna of Dearest Love

Hey Everyone! We're getting Inspired again! Jenna is today's guest from over at Dearest Love. She has been so sweet to work with and she's here to share her hospitality story with you. If you get the chance, check out Dearest Love after you've read this post! Jenna has created a very cozy, welcoming environment there dedicated to all sorts of topics, but most importantly, to her faith. I'm thrilled she's here today. Y'all make sure to leave a comment! (Did you see that "y'all," Jenna? That was for you! To Georgia from Alabama. ;D)

Hello Banana Grove Designs readers! I'm Jenna and I blog over at Dearest Love. I'm a teacher, and I live near Atlanta with my husband and two cats. I'm so happy that Anna invited me over to share on a topic so near and dear to my heart! Thanks so much for having me, Anna!

Beautiful Mary Hannah, middle
When Anna first told me that hospitality is the topic for the month, one of my best friends, Mary Hannah, immediately came to mind. We have been friends for about four years now, and she has taught me so much about what it means to be hospitable. She genuinely loves to invite people into her home, feed them, and let them stay overnight "just because". There have been countless times where she and her husband have invited us over for dinner and let us stay the night in their super comfy guest bed. That's not it, though. In the morning, there is always fresh drop biscuits and gravy with plenty of coffee. It comes so naturally to her just pulling ingredients out of her pantry, nothing planned, yet it comes together beautifully. She's always prepared in case.

She's one of those people that knows how to use every ingredient in her pantry or fridge before it goes bad, and she blesses others in the process. So many times she has said, "I bought too many ______ so I made you a batch of _________". MH is an incredible cook, and my passion for cooking stems from her, actually. She's always thinking of others, which really taught me to think more about how I can bless others and bring bits of joys to other people's days like Mary Hannah has done for me a million times.

I'm on the left (in white), and Mary Hannah is wearing the stripes. :)
Mary Hannah taught and encouraged me to reach out and open up my home, especially my kitchen, to others. It doesn't come natural to me, but I've watched and learned Mary Hannah's ways, and any bit of hospitality that I have most definitely comes from her. Even if hospitality doesn't seem like your "thing", it can be if it's something you desire. The meal doesn't have to be perfect and the house doesn't need to be spotless. In Mary Hannah's own words, "There's always good food, an environment where people can gather around in conversation (kitchen table, living room, etc.), and just making people feel as comfortable as they would in their own home." 

So, I urge you. Even if it's out of your comfort zone (like it was for me), invite someone over for dinner. Focus on the conversation and making your guests feel comfortable and loved. Just that simple act can inspire others to do the same.

What about you? Who taught you the importance of hospitality? 

It was fun having you today, Jenna! Thanks so much for sharing Mary Hannah with us!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Style vs. Fashion & Closet Building, Part 2

Today, we're on the clothing track. I recently read a post by Kendi Everyday that got me thinking about the difference between style and fashion. If you think about it, there is a true difference between the two. Fashion is that high-end, runway world that decides what sorts of colors and trends wind up in department stores (that's basically what Miranda Priestley said), and is responsible for some incredibly funky looking things that people outside of the industry simply wouldn't wear...  

If you happen to love this look, more power to you! It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland & Yo Gabba Gabba.

Not everything that struts down a runway looks as extreme as the above, but personally, I'm much happier talking about and enjoying "style" which is just a person's individual tastes and the way they wear clothes. You have "style" without even trying, it's just based on what you put on every day. Figuring out what that looks like for me is something I've always enjoyed, AND it ties into my line of work quite nicely. Jewelry's a huge part of style! So, you'll probably be seeing a little bit more about that on here in the upcoming months with my "closet building" posts... 

These posts are about shopping with intention and spending more for a few things that last longer. I shared my first "closet building" post last July that you can look at here. Below, are the few things I bought over the summer since then. The graphic t-shirt was one from J.Crew that I really liked when I saw it in the store but decided to wait for it to go on sale. The shorts are the exact same kind as those in the first post, just in a different color. The jacket was from the annual Nordstrom sale and was 1/2 off. Sadly, the jacket and the t-shirt are sold out, but I've linked to similar things below. 

It gets pretty cold in Ohio pretty fast, so I know I won't get much more use out of the tee and shorts, but they'll be great for next year and I can wear that jacket almost year-round. Here are a few basics I'm looking for now that we're into fall...

I really like that vest, and I think I'll be wearing boots every time I leave the house during the cold months! (After last winter, I vowed I wasn't wearing flats or anything more uncovered than a pair of boots to church in winter ever again. This was due to an unfortunate incident that left me walking down the street through the snow in ballet flats and no socks. Brrrrrr! Black ankle boots like the ones above would be a great alternative for Sunday and would keep me from doing anything loco like that again!) 

What are some things you're looking to build into your closet this fall? And, which do you enjoy more: style or fashion?

Friday, September 12, 2014

12 Shots of Happy

Today in Box of Chocolates Friday, everything's laced with happy. Let's all take a moment right now to fill our heads with positive vibes! I've made a list of happy things you can do when you're feeling down to add a little cheer. So here, in no particular order, are 12 shots of happy:

1. Play happy music. If I need something to spark a gleeful attitude, music is usually just the ticket. Here are some good 'n' happy tunes:

2. Treat a friend to something special. Do something thoughtful and nice for a buddy, even if it means getting out your wallet...something small that will just brighten their day.

3. Move! Sitting is bound to make you feel sluggish. If you get up and move just a little to your favorite song, run around your yard, march up and down the stairwell, do some jumping jacks, just STOP SITTING... you're sure to feel more alive and uplifted. To quote Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't."

4. Think of someone you love. Dwell on a specific person and the things about them that you're thankful for. This'll combat lonely feelings for sure. And, it will remind you to appreciate the people around you.

5. Read a Psalm. The Psalms record such a wide range of emotions. I have a feeling that the Lord gave them to us to help assuage the unpleasant ones. Here are a few that always give me strength: 1489165, 67, 34, 14646, 84, 121, 113, 47

6. Watch "Psych." It doesn't have to be Psych, although I must say, it's pretty much impossible to feel depressed while watching that show. It really highlights life's simple pleasures for you....almost obsessively so. But my point is, watch something happy. Stay away from things like Hannibal.

7. Light a candle. I have a mint chocolate chip scented candle, a pineapple scented candle, and a just plain fruity one. Lighting any of them creates a really pleasant work environment. Good smells are good for you!

8. Read P. G. Wodehouse. I don't know if you've read about Jeeves the butler and his boss, Bertie Wooster, but take a break from whatever's bumming you out to make their acquaintance. I never laugh out loud at a book as much as I do when I read the British humor in a Wodehouse.

9. Eat a pancake...or a stack of them. I'm not advocating emotional eating, but if you're having a bad day, it might be a good time to go for your favorite meal. Mine is a pancake breakfast. I kinda wish it was veggie burgers, but it's not, it's pancakes. If yours is chocolate, that's okay too.

10. Buy some flowers. Happiness doesn't have to be expensive, you can pick the flowers from outside, but brighten up your environment with something beautiful, colorful and sweet smelling.

11. Remember you are loved. Truly, there is a world's worth of love with your name on it. And, even if you're not feeling it from the people around you right now, there's a heavenly father whose love for you is greater than the combined love of each individual on the planet. You. Are. Loved.

12. Fake it! Do yourself a favor and just pretend you're happy. Focus on what you would feel if you were having the best day of your life. It's foolproof.

BONUS SHOT (which is the most important one, by the way):

13. Cast your cares. Some of you are probably thinking that at the end of the day, you may have improved your mood, but none of your issues were solved. I get that. Pour out every single thing that's bothering you into a prayer. Ask God to take over. Remind yourself that He's in control, anyway. Let that sink in and feel peace.

Going through the motions with each thing listed here doesn't cut it. Enjoy it. Actually take it in and let it change your mood. Bookmark this list for when you're in need of a shot of happy and let me know what YOU do for a mood boost in the comments below! Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dear Readers

(I guess I am that person who takes pictures of their feet cause they have nothing else to take a picture of...)

Dear Readers,

Just a few rambling words from me as the seasons change...

My lovely, warm, green summer is coming to a close. I'll try to keep from making a scene when I finally have to say goodbye. I keep picturing that Geico commercial, "Jessie, don't go! Jessie, NO!" *wailing*. This could get real unattractive real fast.

While I love summer and while fall feels like the herald of me freezing for the next 5-6 months, I always enjoy most of the things that come with it: jackets, soup, boots, pumpkin donuts, hot tea, colors, apple cider, and that feeling that's in the air. I have this memory of fall from my childhood of being in a garden at night with twinkle lights everywhere and a cool breeze blowing, listening to Enya. That feeling is what I associate with's all mysterious and starry.

Besides the seasons changing, I'm trying to make changes in my productivity. I love my job(s), and my personal life, and the work I do for to balance it all? (How do YOU balance it all?) Even within my business, I'm trying to balance marketing & blogging with production & customer service, and it's hard. I love this blog and I love to write. I also love the sense of community that comes from collaborating with other bloggers. But, at the end of the day, what do I have to write and share about if I'm neglecting life outside of that little cyber world? I pray I can find a way to dedicate just the right amount of time to each area this new season...

I definitely do not intend to let go of this platform, though. For the past few weeks, I've been feeling a bit down (I'm not depressed or anything, just had a rough August). My attitude has been affected, and I find myself often sounding pretty negative. I just recognized it this week and knew I needed to nip it in the bud! I believe we're all responsible for creating happiness for ourselves. That means turning to Scripture every single day and thanking God for all His gifts. It also means finding ways to highlight and share all the things that you love. Luckily, that's what blogs are for. Stay tuned as the seasons change. What changes are you going through this fall?

Much Love,



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Inspired to be...Hospitable: Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street

Hey guys! Time for my next guest in the Inspired Series. Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street is taking over today! She's got lots of wisdom to share, so enjoy the read and be sure to thank her for stopping by. Happy to have you here, Lauren! Thanks for the perspective and encouragement! :)

Hey y'all! I'm Lauren and I write daily at 34 Magnolia Street, which is one of my favorite places to be creative and authentic. I am pumped to be sharing some thoughts on hospitality with you today, so be sure to share your thoughts with me afterwards!

Truthfully, I once thought hospitality meant keeping the house clean and the fridge full. While I think that's definitely a part of hospitality, it's one of many facets that make up an entire life posture.

Hospitality is one of my favorite nouns. It's something I strive for, hope to be known by and hope to bless many others through. But it's much more than a simple noun: it's a way of life, an attitude, and a practice.

A girl named Meg (pictured above, on the right) befriended me in high school. She taught me a lot about hospitality in the sense of doing life together. She invested in a lot of people, but she fit all of them into her life in a way that felt natural. She called friends while driving, invited me along on errands and showed me slices of her life authentically. More and more, I see hospitality as just that - authentically living with others. 

Real life isn't always inviting a friend over for coffee and a homemade slice of perfectly chocolate-frosted cake. More often, it's inviting friends over when I still need to grocery shop and my rug needs to be vacuumed. Most often, it's inviting a friend along while I run errands or need to build a set for the youth group. It's sharing my life in ways others feel part of it and see me for who I am - an imperfect daughter who is loved by God as I am right in those messy moments. I want to share that with friends because it's their truth, too, and yours, reading this now. You're loved right now, in your life that often feels haphazard and oh, so scattered. You are so loved.

We have had nine visitors since we moved to new England this past January. I think first that tell you we have some really awesome friends and family members. It has blessed us abundantly to have our closest people visit us and share life with us for a weekend here and there. But having so many visitors has also shaped my perspective on the art of hospitality.

With nine visitors in a span of 8 months, our lives can't come to a halt every time someone spends a weekend with us. We have to keep going… so those friends are along for the ride. For example, last weekend our dear friend Erica stayed for five days and she not only helped me sew and paint a set for the youth group kick off, but also spent 13 hours with us at church from the Sundaymorning service until youth group was finished. She didn't sit off to the side, either - she was in the thick of it with us. And, you know what? She loved it! She loved seeing a true slice of our lives here and getting to experience our day to day shuffle.

So for those of you who look at the word hospitality and feel your shoulders getting heavier quickly, breathe a sigh of relief. I have a few reminders for you:

Your house needs to be livable, not perfect. 

I totally get it - I'm a clean freak, too, even when people aren't coming to stay with us! I appreciate a clean home, but I can't let myself get bent out of shape over it. Life is too short to worry about the dishes and un-vacuumed rugs. Do what you can and then forget about it - your guests will feel comfortable anyway.

Don't feel pressured to make a big show. 

Whether you have friends coming into town or are just hanging out with your local friends, don't feel like you have to set aside additional time to do that. Do things with them like grocery shop, go for a walk, work on that craft you had been planning to finish, or do the dishes together. I understand your desire to do something big for out-of-town guests.. if that is your true desire, go for it! Just don't feel like every second of each day needs to be that way. 

Be authentically you.

There's nothing I love more than truly knowing someone. You know that friend who just gets you? You have probably shown each other the real "you" behind all the masks and pretenses. Your friends don't need you to put on an emotional or physical show to win them over, either. Be you - it's less work and more rewarding. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you will be able to rush less, worry less and grow more.

I have loved talking about hospitality with you today. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below - I would love to hear what hospitality means to you and how you've grown in being YOU recently!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Peach Druzy & A Giveaway!

So, I had a couple of sweet ladies asking to see the finished product of the peach druzies, which are in my shop here. What do you think?

I also wanted to share a great giveaway with you today! Lauren from Pink on the Cheek has collaborated with a group of bloggers, including me, to give away gift cards to Target, Amazon, Whole Foods, Sephora, Nordstrom, and more to one lucky winner! There's a gift card to Banana Grove Designs in there, too. ;) If you already follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin', you automatically have an entry you can claim! If not, go follow along or enter in one of the other ways listed below (make sure you sign in first).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Details and Fine Print:
Giveaway begins 9/8/2014 and ends 9/15/2014 at 11:59 p.m.. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter and winning entries verified. If winning entry is not complete, prize will be voided and another winner will be chosen. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize before a new winner is chosen. Gift cards are chosen by each individual blogger and are mailed out separately to the winner in increments of $15 per blogger. Winner will have to provide a valid mailing address and email address, which will be kept confidential, in order to claim their prizes from all parties involved. All individual blogs are responsible for fulfilling their own respective prizes and will have the gift card in the mail or through email to you within one week of verification of winning. Gift Cards are sent out in $15 increments. Pink on the Cheek, nor any other blog, is not held liable for unfulfilled prizes from other bloggers and/or vendors involved with this giveaway and all associated with this giveaway are hereby not held liable for any issues with the winnings. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and not in ANY way involved with this giveaway and are hereby released of any responsibility or liability.