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!


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


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! :)


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!


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.


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 bit...dance 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 fall...it'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 friends..how 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.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Currently 9.6.14

Hey there! What have you been up to? Currently, I am...

-Wishing: Summer would go on for another couple of months. That's just how I feel.

-Tackling: The creation of necklaces incorporating these peach druzies.

-Feeling: Frustrated with our country and the myriad of ways it seems out of control...

-Watching: This youtube video. Whaaaat? Most epic "patty cake" ever!

-Reading: Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I'm not too deep into it yet, but so far it's pretty mysterious. And who doesn't love a Bronte?

-Listening to: I have Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" STUCK in my head. Also, Sam Smith's "Latch" and Downhere's "How Many Kings."

-Wearing: This t-shirt as long as the weather will let me.

-Enjoying: A quiet weekend and a return to a normal schedule. Oh, and a lemon-lime gatorade. :)

I hope you guys have a great weekend! This post was linked up to Dearest Love's linkup here.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Inspired to be...Hospitable: Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts

Hey you guys! I'm so excited to kick-off Hospitality month in the Inspired series today! Four ladies will be sharing their own unique stories about hospitality and the people who inspire them to live hospitably. This is a topic that's close to my heart. I was raised by a Southern mother who always worked to create a home where others would feel welcome.

My first guest is a fellow Southern girl with a great lifestyle blog! Rachel has such a lovely spirit and devotes a lot of her blog to growing community and sharing her faith with others. Enjoy reading her story (it resonated with me for sure)...

Hi there! I am Rachel, and I blog over at Oh, Simple Thoughts. I write about Jesus, marriage, food, and handmade goods. I am so happy to be here today as part of the Inspired Series! :)

Hospitality. A word that is beat into every Southern girl's head from the day she is born. I feel like I have always loved being around people and hosting parties, I attribute that to my extrovert personality. However, in the past few years I have realized that true hospitality is so much more than what is portrayed in Southern Living or Martha Stewart...it is a lifestyle, a character quality, and a mark of a truly godly woman.

When Anna asked me to share on this topic in particular, instantly my grandmother came to mind. My "Grammy" as we all knew her was the epitome of class, grace and hospitality. My grandmother welcomed people into her home all the time, she would invite people in for coffee, dinner, or to live with them for a few months if needed. She was constantly loving people through food, and selfless love.

I could literally tell countless stories of the way my grandmother showed hospitality to so many. From baking homemade sourdough bread every week simply to give it all away, to paying for a poor man's rent so that he would have a roof over his head, my grandmother loved people, and she showed kindness to everyone she came in contact with.

My sweet grammy passed away last summer, just a few months after my wedding. But the legacy of her life will forever live on...I lived just a few miles away from her my four years in college and learned so much from her in that short time. She taught me how to make chicken salad, baked beans and pork loin...my grandmother always had a smile on her face and always saw the good in people.

I think the biggest thing I learned about hospitality from my Grammy was that it does not come naturally. We are not born selfless, we have to strive to perpetuate a lifestyle that draws people into our homes and makes them feel safe and loved. It is a lifelong journey of laying down ourselves. I believe that hospitality is vitally important in the Christian walk because through hospitality people can see the love of Jesus. It is counter cultural, people expect you to watch out for yourself. They expect for you to build walls and fences around your homes and tables, they do not expect for you to fling open the doors and welcome any and everyone in (yes, even those not like you)...this is what I saw from my grandmother, welcome arms for people of all ages, social classes, and walks of life...and that is true hospitality. Not having a perfect meal planned out, or the most stunning tablescape...no, hospitality is loving with a brave unconditional love, share life with others, and selflessly laying your life down for them.

Thanks so much to Anna for letting me share this today, such a joy to be here and I hope some of you will reach out over on my blog so I can meet you!

That was incredibly sweet, Rachel! Thanks so much for being here today. :)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Love, Save the Empty

This last week was a hard one. I witnessed close friends experiencing loss and multiple difficult life changes all at once. (Does anyone else feel like hard things often come to people in tidal waves?) Because of those events, I've been pondering the effect of change that removes things from your life. It's so difficult to adjust to sometimes and can often create a sense of isolation and emptiness.

I had a conversation with my sister just yesterday about changes like these. There will be some in the not too distant future for us, I'm sure. Friends part ways, people drift out of your life, family members move away. I often complain that nothing is changing in my life, but imagining those kinds of changes left me feeling like an empty shell. At the end of what was a rather despairing conversation, my sis made the statement that my imagination was leaving God out of the future. The moment she said that, I recognized that I hadn't mentioned God at all and how hopeless I felt without thinking of Him. Remembering Christ's presence immediately consoled me. "Oh, yes, I almost forgot...God will be there."

There's a Bible verse you will have heard, I'm sure. It's simply, "God is love." There's a pop song you might have heard called "Love, Save the Empty." This is not me equating a Bible verse to a pop song, and the title is the only thing I'm drawing from, but it came to mind because of those empty feelings. What could save an empty person more than love? And, while the pop song is referring to romantic love, powerful, life-altering, fear-defying, self-sacrificing love in all its forms comes from one source, and that source is what will fill the loneliest, emptiest moments of our lives...God.

M. Night Shyamalan wrote a very simple line of dialogue for his movie, The Village, that speaks to this profound truth for all of us, whether you're a Christian or not, "The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe."

There is no denying that in every story, every movie, every song, love is exalted as the best thing in life and the only thing worth giving your life for. I'll say it again, "God is love." And He is what calms my fear of the future and gives me certainty that I will never truly be empty. He is the one person who will satisfy the world's desire for safety and fullness.

"...I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-19

Just like my sister reminded me in a depressing moment, if you are looking for something to fill you and give you satisfying peace, look to Christ. Whether you're fearful of things to come or you're experiencing loss and emptiness right at this moment, He is love and that's what all of us really need.


Monday, September 1, 2014


I cannot tell you how difficult it is to take pictures of my cat. I've tried about four or five times since finishing my photography course, and he is a most unruly subject. First of all, he knows what I'm doing and thinks it's ridiculous. He's made that perfectly clear. Every time I've tried to get a few shots, he turns away and acts peeved. But, when I have caught him, he's making an annoyed face, which comes across pretty bad in photos (your own fault, Possum). Exhibit A:

Here's another one...The fact that it's out of focus is entirely my fault, but my stars, look at his little face! He's channeling Scar from the Lion King.

The other day, I managed to catch him by surprise and got a decent one.

Anyway, everyone meet Possum. He spells his name without the "o" at the beginning. Poor thing's been diabetic for the last couple years and has to take insulin twice a day. :( If you're wondering why we named him after a marsupial it's because he looked a lot like a baby opossum (much cuter, though) when we first found him. He's my family's last surviving pet, and while he'll probably never be real photogenic, we love him a lot.