Friday, October 17, 2014

Box of Chocolates Friday 10.17.14


Happy weekend, y'all! I spent a little too much of the week having fun, so I've got some work to catch up on before Monday. But, that's okay cause I love my job. More work! :) One of the fun things I did this week was going rock wall climbing again! It was awesome! Here's a pic of me bouldering. Note the absence of a rope, but also note I'm only 2 feet off the ground.



And here are the goodies:

-I enjoyed reading this: Joanna Goddard's beauty uniform

-Allow Yourself to Be a Beginner

-Pumpkin Pie Pudding

-Affirmations for Every Blogger & Entrepreneur

-Perspective: I Just Got Engaged & Immediately Doubted My Decision

-30 Excellent Bookstore Windows from Around the World

-This cell phone case:


Oh, and:

-This video is from last week, but if you ever saw Carlton dance on Fresh Prince, you'll probably find it cute like I did (sorry i couldn't find one without the judges comments :)).


-HAHA! Guy torments girlfriend with LOTR quotes:



I hope you have a beautiful weekend! At some point, do this, would you please?
              

-Song

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Kiki of In Its Time



Today, I am honored to introduce my next guest in the Inspired series, Kiki of In Its Time (a blog that I frequent.) Kiki is a school teacher with a passion for photography, community and the Lord, as well as just a very sweet, authentic, and sincere blogger. I have been encouraged by posts of hers multiple times, including today! I hope you are encouraged, as well, when you read Kiki's words of inspiration on courage...

Hi Banana Grove Readers! I'm Kiki and you'll normally find me over at In Its Time, a blog dedicated to life, Jesus, photography, and everything in between. When Anna first asked me to be part of her Inspired series, I was a little unsure. I mean, talking about courage? That's definitely not a natural strength of mine. More often than not, I err on the side of caution. I'm an introvert by nature, always have been and likely always will be. Granted, I have opened up and do not describe myself as "shy" as people once did when I was a child. But I still like to weigh the pros and cons before I start something new.


 So what do I know about courage, you ask? Well, to be honest, not much. But it's a trait that I've thought a lot about my entire life. Something I've prayed for, something I've longed for, something I know I have deep down, even if it doesn't necessarily show. When Anna told me that this post was 2/3 storytelling, it took me a moment to think of a time, a person, a story where someone reminded me about being courageous. But after a moment, I remembered my mentor and fellow teacher who reminded me that courage comes from within. It's something that's there within all of us, but is something we need to find, we need to pray for, we need to bravely use in order to feel and see it in action. She not only inspired me with her words, but with her actions as well. She had always accepted my sensitive, introverted self but also taught me how to use it to my advantage. To take my once-thought "bad" attributes and turn them into strengths. She both urged me to speak up, gave me the words to say, and the time to say it.

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And it was after that short but sweet conversation that I knew I would be okay. That I could make it through class and thrive. That I wouldn't just make it through that class, but through life in general. That despite what others had to say, or what they thought, I was me and that was enough. I didn't (and don't!) have to change who I am because who I am now is who I'm supposed to be. So while that's not a story of someone who's summited a mountain or rescued someone from fire, what we typically see as being brave and courageous, it's an everyday little moment that reminds me that I can do all things. All things through Christ who ultimately strengthens me. Courage, to me, is being brave enough to accept yourself and live the life God created for you. And it's something I'm learning to do each and every single day. So what does courage mean to you? I'd love to hear your stories, just as Anna encouraged me to share mine.

This was very inspiring for me, personally, Kiki! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

Be sure to check out In Its Time, you guys and leave a comment below! :)

-Song

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

8 Tips on Prepping Your Biz for the Holidays


As a creative entrepreneur with a product that people love to gift to others, the holidays are the biggest time for my shop. Last year, I was so small and so clueless that I didn't really do any prep work. While I had a good first year, I knew that I needed to step things up this year and really try to sell my jewelry during the holiday season. "Stepping things up" in my mind meant prepping in a more professional way and having a plan to meet customers who are looking for what I have to sell them. So, today I'm sharing the things on my prep list that could apply to any online handmade business. I hope they're helpful for you!

-Etsy holiday prep worksheet.
This very helpful little worksheet forces you to ask yourself what exactly you want to accomplish over the holiday season. It causes you to narrow your focus so that you can be more productive during this busy time.

-Money matters. 
Check, double check and triple check your finances and have a meeting with an accountant to make sure you're ready to go!

-Prepare everything photography related!
Online sales rely heavily on your images. Make sure you have clean, pretty backgrounds in your photos, master whatever editing software you're using and retake any pictures that need updated.

-Order materials.
It's better to have too much than too little, but don't go overboard on elements that you don't use very much in case something doesn't sell as well as you had expected. But, again, it's better to err on the side of overpreparedness.

-Make sure you have an abundance of packing materials. 
Envelopes, packing tape, labels, boxes, ribbon, these are all things that you'll use into the new year and beyond. If something freakish happens, and you're shipping orders as fast as you can make them (that's what we're all hoping for, right?), you wanna be prepared!

-Offer popular shipping options. 
If you don't already, provide options for people who need things shipped in a few days or overnight. There are specific packages you have to use to meet requests like these and you'll need to order them in advance.

-Create holiday-specific items
This doesn't mean everything suddenly has to have reindeer and elves dancing on it, but making a new item that you're releasing especially for the holiday season catches the customer's interest.

-Share yourself!
Even if you have a hard time with this one during the rest of the year, it's usually a good idea to spend some extra time on promotion and marketing leading up to the holidays! Focus on promoting the items that make great gifts, in particular.

Do you have any tips for holiday prep as a small business owner or creative entrepreneur? Share in the comments!

Have a good one!

-Song

Monday, October 13, 2014

Highs and Lows


Hey Guys! The week is off to a pretty good start! I got up this morning! :)

Today, I'm participating in Jenna's "coffee date" linkup on the highs and lows of last week. Because I'd rather think about the happy stuff last, I'll begin with the lows:

-Realizing I'm behind on my monthly goals.

-Late nights and tiredness all week long.

-Stress from the news, taking on too much, etc.

-Feeling cold...happens every year.

THE HIGHS (thank the Lord for the highs):

-Had my first experience rock wall climbing with some good friends and kind of fell in love with it! I think I'm going back this week. :)

-Was reminded to trust God in the midst of confusion and chaos...Proverbs 3:5-6

-Picked up my smart phone upgrade. I also got wise and set Pandora as my morning alarm clock so I wake up to happy music instead of the annoying ringtone that kills my mood.

-Worked on the design for a new pair of earrings that I'm planning to show you soon! I love them, personally, so I hope you do too!

-Spent some sweet time with friends and family. They all mean so much to me! :)


I hope your week had more highs than lows! What were they?

-Song

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Amber of Under the Oklahoma Sky


The Inspired Series is back for the month! I'm so happy to welcome October's four lovely guests and their thoughts on courage. Today's guest is Amber from Under the Oklahoma Sky. Amber's blogging style is very down-to-earth and encouraging with lots of beautiful photos. She is working on a rebrand right now to be unveiled in December. Exciting things are happening for this girl! :) Welcome, Amber! Thanks for sharing about who inspires you to be courageous...

When I think of a courageous person who inspires me - it's a no-brainer, that would be my mama. She is courageous in many ways, and they aren't cliche. Growing up, my mama was raised in a less than ideal environment that included drinking and fighting constantly. 

She recounts the times of holding the pillow over her head to drown out the fighting. She told me that story without shedding a single tear. This is because my mama told herself that she would never raise her kids in that atmosphere. She waited for a man of God, and then He answered her prayers when she married my daddy. She did not become her circumstances or make excuses. She courageously trusted God and stuck to her beliefs. 

While I wasn't there to witness her bravery then, I got to watch her courageousness firsthand three years ago. One day, she announced that she was going on a diet. She wasn't doing it for other people, but for her own health. So she set out to shed that weight. Twelve months later, the scale showed her 65 pounds lighter. I was right by her side each step of the way [literally]. She changed her eating habits, and we walked thirty minutes every day. She never once complained when I pushed her to go that extra mile.


When I am faced with tough decisions or circumstances in my life, I think of my mama. She beat the odds and statistics. She inspires me to face life boldly with strong faith. I believe that's what courage is - deciding to keep pressing on, even when it's easier to quit or make excuses.

Thanks for sharing your mom's story with us, Amber! Very inspiring. :)

Make sure you guys leave a comment below to thank Amber for stopping by! :) I hope you find all the courage you need to meet your day. 

-Song

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Operation Read Your Shelves: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


I'm so excited to be participating in a new literary project! Books, books, books! I don't know if I've shared much with you about my love for them, but it's real and it's strong. My ultimate dream is to write novels because of the enjoyment they bring me.

Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street is hosting her first Operation Read Your Shelves linkup this week. It's a monthly book review linkup with a focus on reading what you already own, but haven't read yet. I have a TON of those, so I thought this would be the perfect incentive to plow through them all.

When I first heard about this project, I was already reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and decided to finish it for this post.


So, I finished it, looked at my sister, Rebekah, and said, "Wow, I don't have a clue what to write about this book..."

I'm sure y'all are somewhat familiar with the plot. A young hoodlum named Huckleberry runs off with a slave named Jim in the mid-nineteenth century. Together they sail down the Mississippi having adventures and encountering colorful characters. Truth be told, the plot was a bit boring to me. Two guys sailing down a river on a raft, repeatedly getting in and out of trouble doesn't really do it for me. The dialogue was pretty interesting given the dialect it's written in. But, the characters themselves represented a very uneducated group of people (although they can lie like nobody's business). Is that harsh to say? That's why I wasn't sure what to write. I know it's beloved by many, but I caught myself getting frustrated multiple times by the thickheadedness of almost everyone.

The fact that it's an American classic is most assuredly due to the piece of history it captures and the boyhood life it glorifies. But, the best thing about it for me, was the relationship between Huck and Jim. It painted an entirely different picture of the master-slave dynamic than the one we usually think of. Throughout the story, they protect and defend one another, developing a mutual respect and a deep friendship. There are several lines that must have been quite bold for the  time the book was published, due to the abolitionist sentiment behind them. Ultimately, it's the story of a boy and his friend and their love of adventure. I give it a mid-thumbs up. :)

Have you read it? Wanna share your thoughts below?

-Song

Monday, October 6, 2014

Shout-Outs


The above is the Boston terrier I dog sat for last week. My photographer friend Erin would've been disappointed in me if I didn't jump on the opportunity to practice my skills on this new subject. ;) This is the best I got! Sadie strongly dislikes it!

I've been reading about a lot of happy things happening in some of your lives! I'm just going to celebrate them for a moment...

-First, I wanted to make you guys aware of a giveaway I'm sponsoring with Elizabeth Mayberry over at Oak + Oats! It's not more jewelry, it's actually for something I've never used before... a pair of Chacos! If comfortable, wilderness/hiking footwear is your thing, head over here and enter! They look great and Elizabeth swears by them. :) If you're already following me on Twitter or Bloglovin', you have an entry to claim.

I'd also like to say...

-"Congrats" to my friend Jenny of Jen+Eric Generation, who just announced that she and her  husband are expecting!!! :)

-To sweet Bailey of Brave Love, "the blog redesign looks gorgeous. Keep going!"

-"Welcome back" to Eileen of A Creative Day, a very old and dear friend and the new mother of adorable twin girlies!

-To Alisha, "Good luck on the launch! It looks amazing!"

Gonna go finish reading Huckleberry, so I can participate in Operation Read Your Shelves with Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street tomorrow. :)

Hope your Monday is filled with good people!

-Song