Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Goals + Giveaway Winner!


We're talking Goal Setting today! I love making goals. It's something I've wanted to write about on a monthly basis, but I always seem to forget whenever a new month rolls around! Yeah, I know... sounds like this goal meeting thing is in the bag.

For the month of October, my goals are centered around beefing up Banana Grove Designs for the holiday season. Last year was an excellent first one as far as sales and traffic over Christmas, but the whole time I honestly didn't know what I was doing. Hopefully, with twice the preparation and experience will come twice the result!

October Goals:

1.) Decide on new packaging that incorporates logo. This is fairly obvious. Rebranding has been a slow process because I'm figuring it out for the first time, but my packaging is the final thing I need to change out.

2.) Have all blog posts finished a week in advance, at least. Blogging is taking up more time than it should during the week with the holidays approaching. My goal is to spend a little more time on the weekends preparing everything, so it's DONE!

3.) Read two books (Finish Villette & 7 Habits). Reading took a backseat this year. Now that I'm starting Lauren's linkup Operation Read Your Shelves, I'm trying to make more time for this. It's important! Getting my nose out of my laptop is important!

4.) Bring inventory up to 100 listings on Etsy. This has been a goal for a long time and this year, I hope to finally accomplish it. 100 listings by November 1st. 

5.) Write a handwritten letter once a week. This is something that I need just because it's good to be on a different level of communication. Letter writing is different from texting, talking on the phone or even speaking in person. It's stretching to think differently about how you communicate.

6.) Conquer laundry like a boss. Self explanatory.

7.) Get in the habit of waking up at 5:30 every morning. (cue laugh track) This has been a necessary transition for a while. There just aren't enough hours in the day, and I just don't feel rested enough if I'm not getting in bed and getting up early. Gotta do it!

8.) Each piece I make MUST be something I love. You'd think that's a no-brainer, but sometimes it's hard to get yourself out of your customer's head long enough to realize that you and your ideal customer share a brain.

9.) Finish reading Daniel & the New Testament. There needs to be more structure around this for me. I need to start making this a monthly goal! :)

What are your goals for the month? Let me know in the comments below!

I'm incredibly excited to announce the winner of my celebratory giveaway! :) Congrats to Nicole M.!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And thank you to all of you who entered! I'll be doing another BGD jewelry giveaway between now and Thanksgiving, so stay tuned!

-Song

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I Love... P90X

Time for another Why I Love! We're talking about fitness and my favorite workout! Today I'm listing all the reasons why I love...P90X.


Before I begin, let me explain what P90X is for those of you who aren't familiar with it. It was developed by Beachbody.com and is an intense, at-home, 90-day workout designed to get anyone's body to pique performance level after 3 months! There's a food plan that goes along with it, as well, for those who have more weight to lose. The torture is minimal, trust me. I have done both P90X and P90X3 at different times and enjoyed them both immensely! Here's why:

1. Tony Horton...The fearless leader. Obviously, if you're going to work out every day with a person, that person needs to be someone you can stand. While I have muted Tony from time to time (which you can do while still getting cues, by the way), he is actually pretty entertaining and definitely motivates me. Some of the most ridiculous stuff comes out of his mouth, though. Be forewarned. :)

2. Modifications...When I first started the program, I lacked the endurance and strength needed to go at the same pace as the demo crew in the video. Thankfully, they demonstrate ways to do the exercises at a less intense level, which is a huge help when you're just starting out. Eventually, you can begin doing each exercise at full strength, and it's amazing how quickly you gain momentum.

3. Variety...The program includes several different workouts. P90X3, which I'm using right now has sixteen of them, that include weight lifting, yoga, pilates, martial arts, plyometrics, cardio and more. Following the schedule made for you, you will do a different one every day. The theory behind this is that using different muscles differently each day whips your entire body into shape faster. And, obviously, it's less boring than doing the same exact workout for weeks on end!


4. Simplicity...It's unnecessary to have a large number of weights or tons of gear (of course, you can use them, but not having them won't keep you from being able to do the program). Basically, what you see above and a pair of good court shoes is all you have to have (other than things you already own, like a towel).

5. No pressure...there is pressure, but only enough to encourage you to keep going. The goals are attainable because they're measurable and not out of reach...work out today. Just today. "Do your best and forget the rest" is Tony Horton's mantra and if you're focused on doing the most you can one day at a time, you'll be amazed what that means at the end of 3 months.

6. Fun...it's genuinely fun to work out and feel strong. I've discovered new loves through this program, too. Kenpo and Yoga? LOVE THEM!

7. Health and Security...This is not specific to P90X, but after working out, I'm always left with a great sense of accomplishment, as well as a sense of security (false, though it may be). Cause you know what? I just might survive that zombie apocalypse now! Every single one of us needs the health and capability that comes from being strong!

What is your favorite workout program? Do you exercise at home or are you a gymie? (Did I just make that up or is that real? Is it a hashtag at least?) Have you tried P90X before? Let's talk fitness in the comments below!

-Song

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Clean Your Jewelry!


Today's the last day to enter the giveaway for a pair of lovely minty aqua gemstone earrings in gold! Click here to enter! I'll be announcing the winner on Wednesday!

Jewelry and I obviously have a lot to do with each other. I design it, I make it, I sell it, and very often, I clean it! There are tons of methods for cleaning jewelry, but today we're talking about the ones that I use the most to clean the jewelry I wear and sell.

1.) For germ killing, which is very important when it comes to earring hooks and posts, I've never used anything better than plain old rubbing alcohol. Soak a cotton pad, wipe the dirty earring hook, and let it air dry. Before a pair of earrings leaves my shop, I always clean the hooks this way!

2.) When cleaning a piece with delicate elements like gemstones, use warm water and dish soap. Rinse it thoroughly and gently pat it dry.

3.) Tarnished sterling silver is what I have to deal with most. If it's a piece made of just metal without delicate gemstones, you can use a sonic machine like this one, to literally do as Taylor Swift says and shake it off!

4.) Another more gentle way to deal with tarnish, is with a cleaning cloth like one of these. I use one a lot on my own sterling jewelry. It's easy, and works especially well on rings and pieces without a lot of nooks and crannies.

5.) Finally, for tarnish in the aforementioned nooks and crannies, a toothbrush and some toothpaste gets the job done. Use the same technique you'd use to brush your teeth! A little water and scrubbing action produces a lovely shine.

Hope that helps you keep all your favorite pieces clean! Remember that pearls and opals should be handled with especial care. Have a happy Monday and good luck in that giveaway! :)


Friday, September 26, 2014

Box of Chocolates Friday


Good evening, my friends! I rarely wish you a good evening, but blogging simply didn't happen earlier. Thankfully, you can blog any time of day!

I just finished playing a Nancy Drew computer game with my mom and sister. Yes, that's how we spend Friday nights. We fulfill childhood fantasies using modern day technology. You have no idea how cool that is! (We're really just keeping each other company waiting for Dad to drive all the way home from Illinois. Here's wishing everyone stuck in an airport a safe way home!)

What are you up to? Here are a few links for your weekend...

-15 Ways to Be a Good Human Today

-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie! Sounds almost weird enough to be incredible!

-Refocusing Your Content

-10 Things You Didn't Know About Gilligan's Island  (this is for you, Mom)

-The Actual Ages of TV and Movie "Teens"

-An Ode to Moonshine. There's a recipe, but what I found interesting/funny was the personal story!

-How Long it Takes to Read the World's Most Popular Books

-The 30-Day Creative Business Cleanse

And...



Thank you, and..."Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!"


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Inspired to be...Hospitable: Rachel Rewritten



I'm so excited to introduce our final guest for Hospitality month, Rachel from Rachel Rewritten! First of all, I'm not sure how I wound up with mostly Southern guests for this month. Believe it or not, it was unintentional. But, they've all been great! :) Rachel herself has created an atmosphere on her lovely blog of home, food and letting her guard down. That's basically what being hospitable is all about! ;) So, without further ado, here is Rachel...



I'm a born and raised Southern girl, where hospitality runs deep. It's something that is innate within us and something we take very seriously. More than anything, I long to have a home that is warm and welcoming, a place where friends and family can come whenever they need to get away. Being hospitable plays a huge role in this - although hospitality is a mentality that we're born with, we still have to cultivate it in order for it to produce fruit in our daily life. 

Being hospitable is so much more than just opening your door for others to come into your home, it’s creating an environment of acceptance and love. It’s a way of life, not an act of service, per se. It's one of those lessons that you learn by watching and doing, not by talking about it. It goes beyond our homes and into our lives, and is shown by little acts of kindness that most people wouldn’t notice. It’s prayer for friends when they need it and when they don’t. It’s taking a meal to someone who needs it. It’s giving of your time when others need it more than you do. It’s letting the people in our homes and in our communities know that they’re important to us and that they are loved.

As I type this, so many people come to mind that have taught me this way of life. Family members, friends, women in my church. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of people I could list, which just proves that hospitality is a community. But ultimately, one person stands out more than others. It sounds so cliché, but it’s my Mammaw. My sweet grandmother, the epitome of hospitality and kindness.


My grandmother’s hospitality goes deeper than just welcoming people into her home. She shows love through her cooking, through her attitude, and through the welcoming environment she creates throughout her home. I’ve watched her give of her time, her money, her talents, and her love over and over to help others, and I don’t think there was ever a moment of hesitation. There was never a time when she really discussed it with me, it’s just something I learned over time, over watching her give and love over and over again. Her welcoming heart seems to come naturally, a gift that she was born with. I know the Lord gives us all talents to further His Kingdom, and hers is, without a doubt, hospitality.

I can remember as a young child always having extra people at our family Christmas dinners. Couples from church, older, widowed ladies from her Sunday school class, even people she had only met once or twice. She’d welcome anyone who needed a place to celebrate the holidays, anyone without a family to be with during Christmas, or even just someone who needed a warm meal or a bed. Even as a young child, the importance of that always resonated with me. It’s such a crucial part of the Christian faith, too—to break down the walls that separate us. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To give unto the least of these.

As I grow up and as I create a home of my own, those little things she's taught me have stuck with me. Day by day, I strive to make our home open to the ones we love. Sharing our lives and breaking bread with friends and family is what life is all about, when it comes down to it. My hospitality doesn't come as easy as my grandmother's does, though. It's easy for those I'm close with, but not so easy for strangers or even acquaintances. I long to open the doors of our home for anyone who wants or needs loved on. I'm learning as I go to go against what our culture teaches us - I'm learning to just be open and ready and willing. And over time, I know that the Lord will fill in those blanks and help me to have a more hospitable, willing heart.

Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel! It was a pleasure having you!

Next month, we're talking about a very important topic for the times in which we live: Courage. I'm so excited for you to meet the ladies who are guest posting. Since there are 5 weeks in the month, we're actually taking a break from Inspired next week and coming back the following Wednesday. I'll still be here, though, so make sure you stop by to keep me company! Have a great day! :)

-Song

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Papa's Tools for Entrepreneurs


Today, I'm talking about someone very important to me and sharing some of his "tools" with you. The jeweler's tools pictured above were the ones my grandfather once used to set stones in rings and pendants. The Lord took him home 2 1/2 years ago, and it wasn't until after he died that I realized the extensiveness of his jewelry making "hobby." His involvement in jewelry making was actually entirely unrelated to mine! I had no idea his workshop was filled with so much professional jeweler's equipment, most of which is sitting in my house right now. I have yet to use any of the machines; his hand tools are the only things I've made use of so far. They were old and needed cleaning, but they were his and because of that, I love being able to work with them. My grandfather was a good man, father, husband, protector, and provider, but in addition to those things, he was also a tremendously hard working entrepreneur.

Papa could look at a block of wood and see a business opportunity. I don't remember how many ventures he got off the ground, but it was more than a few. He was extremely gifted in business building, and had a clear understanding of what customers needed and deserved. He treated them the way he wanted to be treated: with respect and fairness. This meant that he never accepted excuses for customer neglect when he stepped inside a store, restaurant or any type of business because of his high standards for himself. They're standards he passed down to my mother and that she passed on to me and my sister. We'll call them Papa's tools of the trade:

1.) Earn respect by giving it.

2.) Be straight with people.

3.) Show up early.

4.) Don't be afraid to fire someone.

5.) Do more than is expected of you.

6.) Be your own boss.

7.) Make the customer feel right, even if they aren't.

Papa passed away before my business really got started. I firmly believe my entrepreneurial spirit comes from him, and I can't count the number of times I've wished that he were here to share the experience he had acquired. His words would've been invaluable. I still have a hard time believing he won't be around for his three granddaughters' weddings or to see the boys grow into men, but I'm thankful that he shared what he could while he could.

My papa would've been 72 years old today. His words and his tools are precious to me, and I'm so grateful for the role he played in my life.

Happy Birthday, Papa Bear!

-Song

Monday, September 22, 2014

200th Post & Giveaway!


This is the 200th time I've clicked "publish" on a blog post! I'm a little stunned that I've gotten this far and very thankful I decided to begin in the spring of last year. I feel like I've learned so much and met so many people, and I can't wait to keep learning and keep connecting with this little (humongous) community. :) Thanks for sticking with me thus far while I share my life and business with you!

As a "thank you" and to celebrate a little bit, I'm giving away the Aqua Jade earrings pictured above! (The wire is gold filled and is therefore lead and nickel free.) Just sign in below with your first name and email to view the entry methods.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friendly Terms & Conditions: Giveaway is open 9/22/2014 and ends 9/29/2014 at 11:59 pm. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Winning entries will be verified. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Winner will have to provide a shipping address, which will be kept confidential, in order to receive prize. This giveaway is closed to participants outside of the US. Facebook, Bloglovin', and Twitter are not in ANY way involved with this giveaway and are hereby released of any responsibility or liability.

-Song