Friday, October 31, 2014

What I WOULD'VE Worn If I'd Gone Trick or Treating...

I have never gone in for Halloween. And you can guess why. It's the same personal conviction many people have about what's behind the holiday (no judging you if you enjoy it, though :)). My parents felt the same way, so I never went trick or treating as a kid. But, I always enjoyed dressing up when I was little and had a deep love for movie and book characters. If I had walked the streets with a plastic pumpkin from ages 4 to 12, this is totally what I would have worn....

1994 - A Mouse - I loved little mice (think Beatrix Potter) when I was a tot. And Mom would've come up with something adorable for me to wear.

1995 - Piglet - I was Piglet as a child. I'm not sure how I feel about that now.

1996 - Cinderella - It's Cinderella, dude! She was my favorite Disney princess.

1997 - Nancy Drew - Nancy was the coolest. And somehow all 56 original yellow hardback mysteries wound up in my old attic.

1998 - Kirsten - I was an American Girl enthusiast. Back when it was at its best.

1999 - Ballerina - I'm just realizing how typical my choices would have been. I'd say I was a pretty normal little girl, at least!

2000 - Queen Amidala - Do y'all remember the craze over this movie??? It was insane. And attempting to imitate this look would have been equally insane. Good luck, 10 year old self.

2001 - spy - Not just any spy...I would've channeled Laura Holt. My sister and I got into '80s spy/detective shows around the turn of the century. I can still hear the theme songs in my head.

2002 - Lord of the Rings elf - Last, but certainly not least... An elf. Massive obsession with these books and movies. Massive. Trick or treating would've ended at age 12 but the obsession continued for another 2 or 3 or 10 years.

So, there you are. You now know more about me than you wanted to know. What were you into as a kid and could you have gotten a costume out of it? :) Have a happy Friday!


(photos: mouse; piglet; cinderella; kirsten; ballerina)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hiding & Acceptance


As believers who have personal relationships with the God of the universe, we sometimes have a tendency to revert to what seems most natural: HIDE!

Often if there is something (anything) in our hearts that we're ashamed of, we instinctively want to conceal it and ourselves from the eyes of God. Within the last month, I've been feeling that desire to stay hidden and avoid any confrontation with the Most High. It was over this attitude: I want to take care of myself. I want to be in control. I don't need Your help, God. I got this...

There is no greater lie than "I don't need God." There is never a more prideful attitude than "No thanks, Lord." And after thinking that way for a while, I constructed a wall in our relationship.

The interesting thing is, any walls I construct are really only affecting one person in the relationship. There isn't any wall where God's concerned. His power and love are ever active in my life, no matter what. And while I'm allowing guilt to keep me from him, he never stops extending grace and mercy to me.


After feeling convicted of my pride, I confronted my wall and did the right thing: I took responsibility for my actions, repented, told God it would never happen again, that he could expect much better from me in the future, and that I was now a person he could be proud of. Because that's what God wants to hear, isn't it? Isn't it? No, no it's not, and that's not what I did. I repented, but I realized that "There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus our Lord." And, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." All he asks of us is humble acceptance of his love and provision for our sins, and reliance on his work to make everything better. Acceptance is really all that faith is.

It was a little hard to do that. Even though I knew I had nothing to add to what Christ paid, it was still difficult for me to be okay with it (after having just been convicted of having a prideful attitude, too!) God handing freedom to you and me, no charge, is hard to accept. Just like we would love to be able to handle our lives on our own, we would love to do something, anything to deserve his forgiveness. We can't. He has to do it all, and he has done it all. We're responsible for receiving it and nothing more. The overwhelming thankfulness and love we feel when we finally accept it is what changes us into people who honor Him.

Like this quote I shared with you on Tuesday, we try to gain understanding and love from the Lord, but it only truly comes when we just receive it... freely and abundantly. Hiding when ashamed is unnecessary and trying to live in our own strength is fruitless. He is the only one who can overcome our struggles and who loves us despite our flaws. We just have to accept that. And when we do, we are free to enjoy the overwhelming security, peace, comfort and joy that is always ours for the taking...

-Song (thanks to Amy!) :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Leia of Leia Bryn

Today's guest is a new, sweet friend of mine! A woman with a passion for encouraging others, Leia of Leia Bryn has been so wonderful to work with, and her blog is really going places. I have high hopes for her. :) Leia works alongside her husband in campus ministry and in the month of October she wrote 31 days of posts focused on all aspects of writing (she and I share a common love). She's telling the story of the man (the first male to be featured in an Inspired post, by the way) who inspires her to be courageous today. Take it away, Leia...

We are more courageous than we lead ourselves to believe. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous - and don't we all experience difficult circumstances in our lives? For some of us courage can be as simple as getting out of bed each morning to show up at a job that we've been called to do but struggle to find the muster to give it our all. For others, courage may reveal itself in more exciting ways, like launching a new business, deciding to start a family, or moving to a new city. Courage has many faces, friends.

There are however those individuals in our lives that inspire us to be more courageous beings. They're the friends, family, and strangers that venture into new territories of life not allowing fear or difficulty to stand in their way. These individuals make us all more brave, brave to pursue our passions and giftings, or very simply, brave to show-up and do the job we've been given that day.

My husband, Guy, is one of those individuals. To explain I'll have to take you back a few years in our relationship. Back to senior year of college to be exact. Guy and I were recently engaged, just babies when I think back on that time in life, and both preparing for our post-graduation careers. I was stubborn and eclipsed by fear. My career was a choice I made because I wanted everyone else to be proud of me, I wanted approval of others, and those gleeful congratulations when you shared you landed that dream job. Guy went about the process far more thoughtfully than I. He pursued God's will in the decision and ultimately made an incredibly faith-filled, courageous decision to work full-time as a missionary in college campus ministry.

Over the course of the following two years I witnessed him remain faithful to his values and calling. When others didn't understand his decision to be a missionary and verbally expressed their disappointments in him, he remained unwavering in his choices. He showed true courage, not allowing fear or difficult circumstances or hurtful words to stand between him and the role he knew he was called to pursue.

When his new role as a missionary required him to raise his full support, a process not for the faint of heart, he showed up daily, and diligently raised his full support. Ultimately this was God at work in his life and the life of others, but it required Guy to trust God and remain faithful to the job he was called to do. Having now joined him in raising support I firsthand know the kind of courage this activity requires.

I sat on the sidelines watching this courageous man for almost two years. Each and every day he would wake, drive into campus, and share Jesus in discipleship, during large group weekly meetings, and with inquiring strangers on campus. His very job in life requires great courage as it stands entirely counter-cultural to popular society today. I know that his courage does not come from his strength alone but rather very literally comes from God alone. I guess I've realized that courage very closely relates to our trust in God's faithfulness and our willingness to submit our will to His.

Guy has quite literally inspired great acts of courage in my life and very few days go by that I don't wonder where I would be today if not for his display of courage. Almost two years ago, as I sat in an office, in a job I had accepted for the reasons I shared in the beginning, I made the monumental decision to stop allowing fear to control my life. I very clearly saw what living out a courageous life meant because of my husbands daily acts of courage and I wanted in.

Today, we work together as missionaries, in a new city, and I have the immense blessing of watching him being courageous day in and day out as we work together on the many college campuses in our area.

Guy's courage reveals itself in very small moments of his everyday routines. If you're not looking closely you might even miss it altogether. But like I said in the beginning, courage has many faces. Sometimes courage will mean taking major steps of faith and radically shifting your life, but other times, and I believe maybe most often, courage happens in the small decisions we're making daily.

Do you see moments today where you've been courageous? Or do you feel like you're sitting in the office chair I once did two years ago; eclipsed by the fear of others, fear of walking through difficult circumstances, or fear of failure? What might it look like for you to take courageous steps today? To submit your will to God's will? Courage, I believe, requires great faith. And being courageous won't mean we will be without failures, painful circumstances, or disappointment, but I do believe if we are stepping out in faith, trusting God, and abiding in Him, we will not regret being courageous with our life.

What does courage mean to you?

Blessings to you and Guy, Leia! I'm so thankful you were able to share your story with us today! It's a beautiful one.

Follow my new friend, Leia, blog readers. She's one of my favorites. :) Have a great day and value courage!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well Said...

I've been thinking about the truth behind this quote a lot and will be sharing my thoughts soon. His grace is amazing. :)

Meanwhile, today's my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and I'm headed to the kitchen to bake her a cake while she's at the bmv getting her license renewed. :) Hope you guys are having a great day!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Trends

Happy Monday! Rarely, do I have to retreat into the weekdays for some peace and quiet, but that's kind of how I feel this week. It was a lovely, but crazy weekend that included  a 5am bed time one night in order to fill a jewelry order. (My goal for October was to get up at 5, not go to bed at 5! :)) But, honestly, here's hoping more of that happens in the next couple of months. The holiday countdown is real. How are you preparing for it? 

Segue, into a fluffy subject...

In all of it's "haute-ness" and "couture-ness", the fashion industry has been right in sync with what I've been drawn to this fall. I'm seeing trends like these everywhere:

1. Black & White

2. Sporty sporty

3. Burgundy

4. Blush

5. Florals ("for fall? groundbreaking.")

6. Zippers

7. Trench

Feeling any of the above? :)


Photo creds: 1.1| 1.2| 1.3| 2.1| 2.2| 2.3| 3.1| 3.2| 3.3| 4.1| 4.2| 4.3| 5.1| 5.2| 5.3| 6.1| 6.2| 6.3| 7.1| 7.2| 7.3

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Katie from Life Is...

Hey Everyone! It's Inspired Wednesday again! :) Today's guest is lovely Katie from Life Is..., a blog I always enjoy visiting for encouragement, inspiration and excellent writing. When I first found Katie, I sat and read the story of her sister's battle with cancer and was incredibly touched by their relationship (and reminded of my own "sister-ship"). It made an impact. It would appear that Katie has many courageous people in her life, and I'm so happy she decided to share one of them with us this morning! Here are Katie's words:

I believe the most courageous people aren’t those we always suspect. We have all seen our favorite superheroes on the big screen: fighting evil, standing tall, being courageous in the face of danger. But real superheroes don’t wear capes or masks, they don’t have a special nickname, or defeat darkness every single time.

Real superheroes face darkness every time and even if they don’t defeat it, they rise each day to face it again. The courage comes from fighting to live a life you love, despite the things that make it difficult.


My aunt has faced more dark nights than most people. Sometimes I feel like the hardships are lined up for her one after the next. Hurdles she just barely manages to jump over each time. But the point is, each time, she jumps.

When I was younger, my aunt would fly from New York to our home in Las Vegas a few times a year, and each time I would think to myself “I have the strongest, most beautiful aunt in the world.” She did the things she wanted to do and she always took care of those she loved. As I grew older, my aunt still lives fearlessly. She finds beauty in the messy parts of life, and loves and cares for others endlessly. 

My aunt’s life has been about being brave. Courage is weaved into her bones, making her stronger than anyone I know.

Me, my sister and my aunt (left to right)

My aunt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. Her body has done things she cannot control. MS affects the central nervous system, and disrupts the information the brain tries to send to the body. No matter the limitations my aunt’s brain and body has, her heart remains courageous, her love remains steadfast.

My aunt has donated her kidney to a cousin in need, she’s stood by both her parents through old age and illness, and she always finds some way to help others.

My aunt and uncle’s five-year-old daughter recently got sick after her appendix ruptured and a slew of stomach complications followed, and I watched as my aunt put on a brave face and stood up for her daughter. Through tears and shaking hands, she remained fearless.

The thing is, there are always going to be things that scare us. Things that frighten us to our core, and events in our life that make us question everything. My aunt has taught me the way to face these things it is to have to courage to live anyway.

Despite the fear, despite the hardships, despite the dark nights, she has taught me to seek the light and bask in the good days.

She has taught me we are all so much braver than we think.

Wow, thanks so much for being here, Katie! Your aunt sounds like a person who inspires everyone she meets.

Y'all check out Life Is... and have a wonderful Wednesday!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My friend, Abby, sent this video my way last week. I thought it deserved its own post. It's a very well done short film on the importance of smiling and the power of positive words. (There's a familiar face from Bones, if you're a fan.) :)

Enjoy! You look great today, by the way!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salon Chair Conversations: Blogging Burnout

Last week, I had a hair appointment. No drastic changes here, just a trim. But y'all, I happen to have one of the sweetest hairstylists ever! She's so easy to talk to (no awkward salon pauses in the conversation), and we have lots of fun. Thankfully, she's also talented! At one point in my life when I had a different hairstylist, I would sometimes walk out of the salon feeling like this:

But now, oh happy day, I always feel like this:

I would encourage you to find the hairstylist that makes you feel like Audrey. Don't settle for being a mad little girl with a brush.

Anyway, on to the main topic... One of the many conversations we had while I got my hair trimmed was around blogging. My stylist once blogged regularly, too, and we were discussing how so many bloggers just seem to be getting burned out these days. I myself have been seeing tons of blogs, large and small, going on indefinite hiatus because writing became too stressful and time consuming. Life online is only a small part of everyone's world, after all. This is even more true for those of us who can't claim blogging as a full-time job or as a source of any income.

But, as we were talking, I voiced my feeling that "blogging burn out" has to be preventable. If we truly enjoy this means of sharing and communicating online, there have to be boundaries we put in place that keep the online world in its place, so we don't become overwhelmed and drop out of the fun. What are they?

I honestly, don't know that I can answer my own question. I'd love to know your thoughts. I'm sure the answer will be different for each person, but I think it's important that we all try to answer it for ourselves because, quite frankly, this should be a no-pressure environment. Whatever else blogging is nowadays, it's always been about writing and sharing and making friends and having "you too?" moments and enjoying our worlds in a public way, not stress and competition. If you can only blog two times a week while managing the rest of your life, do that! If you don't have the time to make all your own graphics or do DIYs or write a life confession that's football fields long, that's fine! "Do your best and forget the rest" as Tony Horton says. But, don't get overwhelmed. Don't feel stress over something that's supposed to be enjoyable. And, if this really is your source of income, and you're drowning in blog-related work, think of maybe finding someone to help you out! The abundance of work is probably a sign you're doing a great job with your online world, just don't sacrifice the physical one for it.

Am I the only one who's been thinking about this? Please do share your thoughts for "blogging burn out prevention," and have a great, stress-free Monday! :)


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?


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.


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! :)


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!


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?


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. 


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?


Monday, October 6, 2014


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!


Saturday, October 4, 2014


(These are dropping like crazy right now! Aren't they huge?! They're so very Fall.)

A little black and white Boston terrier is prancing around my chair with a ball in her mouth wanting to play. (In just a little bit, Sadie! Gotta blog.) There's an episode of Sherlock playing in the background cause my sis and I decided to have a mini-marathon of Cumberbatch (or Cummerbund, as my mother calls him) while we dog sit. I'm drinking vanilla almond tea and watching fall colors explode outside the window. There... now it's like you're here with me. :)

I'm thinking about courage today because it's the topic of the month in the Inspired series! By the way, how are y'all liking this series so far? I, for one, am enjoying it immensely. This has been too much fun! I love getting to build friendships with all of my guest bloggers. They're blessing me a lot! And I really appreciate them sharing their stories.

But, back to courage...I watch the news and I get scared. I surf the net and I get scared. There are so many times during the course of a normal day when something or other freaks me out. It just feels like dozens of frightening things are happening in our world today. Thankfully, I have yet to be confronted by most of them. Everything is still "out there," far away and in the future. But, when I think about being courageous in the face of those loud, grand-scale monsters, this Rowling quote (nerd alert) always comes to mind, "Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

Isn't that the very definition of courage? Doing what is right instead of what is easy? Not wrong, but easy. I think we will be faced with that choice in a very large and public way in the future. And, I pray we'll be able to meet it.

But, there are other scary things we confront on a daily basis. They're small and they're persistent. It's hard to shake them because we're so used to their presence. They hide behind thoughts like:

-My business will probably never become as successful as I'd like it to, so why try?

-Does God really have good things in store for me?

-I don't even feel like getting out of bed today.

-What would I do if I lost my loved ones?

-I'm hesitant to show my real self for fear of rejection.

Thoughts like these, small though they seem, indicate a need for courage. Failure, rejection, doubt, loneliness, and insufficiency are monsters that need facing each and every moment of the day. If we were to choose what's easy, we would cease to try to overcome them and allow them to grow. Pressing on despite the real and frightening possibilities isn't easy, but it's right.

I am looking forward to reading the stories of my guest bloggers who have faced scary things on a number of different levels. May we encourage each other to be courageous every day no matter the size of monster.


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. This is why I need a list.

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 very very 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 Bible reading for me, so I'm going to start making this a defined 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!