All the Joys and Blogger Love

It's that time of the week again.  You know...where we virtually high five bloggers that we though had great posts this week. What's better than cheering on fellow bloggers, linking up with Meagan from All the Joys, and finding new blogs to follow?  Let's dig right in, shall we?

DIY Sugar Hand Scrub by Hey Kerri.  A homemade Christmas gift that is useful, pretty, and simple to make?  I'm sold!

What are Your Blogging Goals for 2015 (free Printable PDF) by The Nectar Collective.  It's that time of year where everyone is thinking ahead and planning out the coming year.  Have you thought about the goals you want to achieve with your blog in the coming year?  Let Melyssa help you out.

Put Your Phone Down by How to Make a Life.  Sheryl's post about cell phone over usage is d.e.a.d. o.n. We are so busy trying to show the world what we are doing and experiencing that we are missing out on the actual moment.  I love this quote form her post, "Not every moment in our life can or should be captured in a photograph or video....Many of the most significant moments of my life are held close in my heart and memory.  The feelings and emotions that were felt would never be conveyed via an electronic device."  Love this post.

Time to Give Back Blogmas '14 Day 17 by Tay Meets World.  In a season filled with overabundance it's a great time to keep those less fortunate in our minds and hearts.  Taylor lists some great ways to give back.  Imagine how happy you can make someone (or some animal).....

Our Internet Footprint by The Florkens.  Have you ever stopped to think about the footprint you are leaving on the Internet?  Long after you stop blogging, your posts will still be out there.  Are you comfortable with what you are posting?  Will it come back to haunt you years from now?  These are things we should all keep in mind and we should never stop asking ourselves these questions.

Every Friday you hear me mention Meagan.  Today though I am happy to have the opportunity for you to get to know one of my favorite bloggers.  You see, I'm pretty sure Meagan and I are basically the same person.  Our likes and dislikes are so similar and I know that if we lived closer to each other we would be great friends in real life (because we are already great blogging friends).  

What prompted you to start blogging?
I wanted to share my life - friends, family, fun, everyday things that make me happy.  I also love having a history of sorts that I can go back to.  A not expected outcome has been all of the wonderful people I have met - they are what keep me coming back week after week.

How did you come up with your blog name?
I believe in finding something "good" about each day, even on really difficult days.  When sitting down and thinking about it, there are so many joys in each day, hence, "All the Joys"!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I'd love to go back to Europe - Germany, Italy, and Wales. I'd also love to go back to Japan - some of my most life-defining moments happened there while I was a teenager.  (Anne here...I don't know about you guys but I think there's a blog post hidden in this answer...I'd love to hear more about those moments!)

What is your favorite season and favorite holiday?  Why?
I love extremes, so winter and summer tie for favorite.  I love Christmas and spending time with family  - and the more snow the better.  I also love the hot, hot summers and lounging by a pool, so it's difficult to pick one season.  

What is the best advice you could give to a new blogger?
It sounds cliche, but be yourself.  Readers can read through posts that were written for someone other than yourself.  Also, connect with a few key bloggers - they will become your sounding board, encourage you, and become your blogging besties!

You can follow Meagan on Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin', Pinterest, and Instagram.  Don't forget to link up with Meagan for Blogger Love / Friday Favorites every Friday.

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Between the Lines

One of my favorite hobbies is reading.  I have always been a reader and working in a library has only increased my love of books.  I was thrilled to find that Kristyn of Chits and Giggles was also an avid reader.  Do you like to read? Are you itching to talk about the books you have read in the past? Well, this is right up your alley! Together we are thrilled to bring you a bloggers book club!

How does it work?

It's easy. We will let you know what book you need to read for the month and you read the book. Then we will post easy discussion questions that you can answer and post. We will host a linkup on both of our blogs so that we can all share our thoughts from the book we just read. We already have 4 books chosen and I am so excited about all of them.

When does the linkup happen?

We will be hosting the linkup on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. So, for you that aren't good at math - I'm terrible at it - that is January 20th, 2015.

Do I have to be a blogger to participate?

No! Anyone can read these books and work through the discussion questions. If you are a non-blogger, you can always comment on either of our blogs to discuss things about the book that you loved/hated/had questions about.

When will you announce each new book?

We already have 4 lined up, but we will be announcing each book when we post the linkup. You will basically have a month to complete reading the book. We will be posting the discussion questions a month ahead of time, so don't worry about missing those. If you can't finish the book in time, no problem! This is for fun, not for class or anything like that! If you have any other questions, please leave it in the comments and we will get back to you!

Alright, the book for January is going to be a doosy. I have not read this book, but if it is anything like Gone Girl, I know it's going to be amazing and crazy. So here we go:
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Here are our discussion questions for this book:
1. Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame effected her?
2. What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself?
3. Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?
4. What do you believe in Diondra’s motivation throughout the story? Does her relationship with Ben change him?

Remember to come and link up with us on January 20th!

Love the Here and Now

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Christmas Wouldn't be Christmas Without.....

When we think of the holidays there are certain things that make the holidays extra special.  We have our traditions yes, but then there are things that when we think of them, it brings the holidays to mind. Being that Christmas is next week (and I am still not done shopping and haven't even bought wrapping paper yet) I thought it would be nice to focus on the less commercial aspects of Christmas; the things that truly mean the world to me at this time of year.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without.....

Just like the song says, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.  Seeing grass on Christmas bothers me. Ideally I'd like it to snow all day on Christmas.  It just sets the tone for me.

Homemade Sugar Cookies
I can't celebrate Christmas without our homemade sugar cookies, made by my daughters and nephews. These cookies are frosted and decorated by the kids.  Picture gobs of frosting, sprinkles everywhere...the more sugary sweet the better.

John Denver and the Muppets
I briefly touched on my favorite holiday music here.  Go ahead judge me, but the 12 Days of Christmas and Miss Piggy's solo gets me in the festive mood.  Their rendition of Silent Night is great too.  Don't knock it til you try it. :)

The Food
Since I started dating my husband way back in high school I have grown accustomed to the traditional Italin meal on Christmas Eve.  The mere mention of calamari and stuffed artichokes, Italian cookies and lasagna brings family gathered around a huge table to mind.

Home Alone
At some point during the holiday season we watch this as a family.  Somehow it never gets old.

Christmas couldn't pass without a new ornament to signify the year's main events.

Trees Galore
You know I love my trees.  I couldn't imagine a home with a tree or two (or 3 or 4).

Advent Calendars
Every Thanksgiving my mom and dad give my daughters Advent calendars.  It's fun to count down the days til Christmas and watch the anticipation and excitement build.

Santa's Plate
Even though my youngest knows that Santa only exists in our hearts we still have to leave a plate full of goodies for him and his reindeer.  I love that our girls still do this.  Each Christmas Eve, my husband and I enjoy the aforementioned sugar cookies, some carrots and he drinks the milk.

Board Games
My husband is a teacher and he is off the whole time my daughters are.  At some point over the holidays we play some board games.  I love that we are disconnected from technology and just enjoying each other's company.

Presence vs. Presents
Every year my parents tell me the same thing when I ask for gift ideas for them.  Nothing.  They would rather just have us together as a family and spend time with them.  Isn't that the best gift of all?  I always know the answer to the gift question but have to ask it anyway.

Christmas Card Photos
Every year my in laws like to send a Christmas card of the whole family.  Coordinating everyone's schedules and sometimes everyone's attire can be tough but it is well worth it.  Here's the shot that we came up with for our family this holiday.

Today I have a wonderful co-host with me for Wednesday Wishes, Meagan from All the Joys.

My wish for today?  That in the coming week, despite the stresses and pressures looming over my head, I can take a moment or two and just relax. I need to focus on the true, meaningful parts of Christmas.  I need to remind myself that after the presents have been opened it is truly the memories of the holidays that mean the most.  I can not let the preparations for Christmas take over the actual joy of the holiday.

What are you wishing for today?  Link up with Meagan and I and tell us!

And if you are interested in co-hosting Wednesday Wishes (or The Awesome Link Up) you can find mor information here under Social Love

Love the Here and Now

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Pinwheel Ornaments

One of my close friends happens to be pretty crafty and creative.  Ashlyn is full of great ideas and can tackle a project and have it come out exactly right.  Me on the other hand?  I can try something and it more than likely can be an advertisement for Pinterest fails.    

Sometimes though, I will find something that even I can make.  And better yet?  It might turn out ok. Ashlyn has a blog (she's been on a hiatus).  Seriously take a moment and check it out...ideas and inspiration are everywhere on her blog.  She showed me how to make these ornaments and I knew that I had to share them with you.

You will need the following supplies:

Book pages cut into any size you would like
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Buttons or embellishments
Hole Punch
Ribbon or twine

First, fold your book shape fan style (or accordion style).

You will need 4 fans for each ornament.  

Next, using your hot glue gun, glue each section to each other.

Once you have the fans glues together you are ready to embellish it with a button.

You are now ready to attach the string to your ornament.

And that's it.  You're done.  You now have a beautiful pinwheel ornament.

Have you ever made ornaments before?  Were they simple like this or more involved?

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Color Swap, Gratitude, and a Giveaway!

Not too long ago I read a blog post by Melissa of Two Miracles.  She came up with the idea to host a gift swap; this wasn't an ordinary gift swap though.  It was a color swap.  I loved this idea and looked forward to participating and getting to know another blogger inn the process.  

I was happy to learn that Melissa was my partner.  We emailed back and forth for a couple of weeks.  I enjoyed getting to know her and learning more about her and her blog.  Melissa is the mother of twins (hence the blog title).  She seems so down to Earth and kind.  Her favorite color is teal.  You can see what I sent her here.  I enjoyed shopping for her and finding things that represented both her blog and her family.

My favorite color?  No surprise there....gold.  I was blown away by Melissa's generosity and the thought that she put into my gifts.

She hit the jackpot on gold.....a picture frame, an agenda, a mini notebook, a mug, a necklace, a scarf, and a beautiful print.  All things I love!  We all know my addiction to planners and my ever growing mug collection.  Both are beautiful additions.  I actually had my eye on this planner for a bit now.  It's perfect for me to use at work.

I am thrilled to add the print to my office...it fits my color scheme perfectly.

Melissa....thank you so much for your generosity and your presents.  I hope you know that they are greatly appreciated.

Being that it is Monday, I love to start my week off with a Grateful Heart thanks to Emily of Ember Grey.  Today I am grateful for the opportunities and friendships that blogging has given me.  Through exchanges like this I am able to meet other bloggers and develop friendships with others that I never would have "met" before.  When you stop to think about it, it's pretty wonderful right?  Sharing our thoughts and our stories has the ability to bring some amazing people into our lives.

Have you ever participated in a gift exchange online before?  Did you have a great experience with it like I did?  I also took part in 2 other exchanges and I'm looking forward to sharing those with you too.

You know what great way to start off the week? A giveaway!

I am excited to offer this Kate Spade Holiday Giveaway in the most festive of colors with these other blogging ladies. The earrings are so glam and can be dressed up or down and the engraved compact is just that: darling. painttheholidaysredfiveawaygiveawaygirls
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ember Grey: Grateful Heart

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Perfect Vision

I have a confession: my eyesight is not that bad.  I am nearsighted and to be honest my distance vision is not what you would call horrible.  Sure things are a bit blurry but I get the general idea of what I am looking at.  Hours spent on a computer all day have really started to take its toll though.  Wearing my contacts all day while staring at the computer gives me quite a headache.  I really need glasses that I can slip on easily when I step away from my desk.  Lucky for me fate stepped in.

I was recently approached by Firmoo, an online optical store, to see if I would be willing to provide an honest review in exchange for a pair of eye glasses.  I agreed to the terms and have been pleased with the outcome.

I was nervous about buying glasses online.  My nerves were quickly calmed though when I was able to upload photos of myself and "try" the glasses on.  I loved being able to see all the different pairs, and believe me, there is quite a selection.  Narrowing my choices down was the hardest part.  

The customer service was wonderful and quick to reply to my inquiries.  The directions were easy to follow and ordering the glasses with my prescription was simple.

Once my glasses came I was quite pleased.  I knew I wanted to go with a dark frame, which is new for me.  I tend to steer away from bolder things.

I also loved the fact that the pair I chose had a bit of detail.  Notice the white on the sides?  

So not only am I seeing better and experiencing zero vision headaches I am feeling a bit stylish too.  

I highly recommend Firmoo.com.  Need more convincing?  How about this....they have a program going on now called First Pair Free.  Check it out....hard to believe but it's true, selected frames are free!  

Have you ever ordered glasses online before?  Was it a positive experience?

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December 12th....Whaattt???

I know time seems to fly but when you have  a huge deadline looming in from of you (CHRISTMAS) it seems to go faster and faster.  It's officially less than two weeks away now.  And I am not done shopping yet.  It's ok though.  Panic has not set in.  Yet.

Let's focus instead on the great blog posts I read this week.  Thanks to Meagan of All the Joys Fridays around these parts are for giving virtual high fives to the bloggers that wrote those great posts.  

8 Things Every Happy Woman Should Have by How to Make a Life.  Amen Sheryl, amen.  I agree with every single one of your items.  Especially the friends, the drink, the healthy sense of self, and the hobby.

6 Ways Blogging is Like Elementary School by She is Fierce.  I had never thought of it that way but once Kiersten pointed out the similarities I have to agree with her.  Blogging is just like elementary school.  

Christmas Apps You Need this Season by Dream Big and Buy the Shoes.  Emilia has some great apps for us to use this holiday season.  Couldn't we all use a little help and organization during the holidays? Throw  in some fun apps too and my season is made.  

11 Tips to Increase Your Blog's Traffic by Helene in Between.  Helene always has great tips and pointers when it comes to all things blog (and music among other things!).  Definitely some great pointers in this post.

Plum Paper Designs by Life with Mrs. G and the Artist.  You guys know I have an addiction to planners. I'm sharing this because it is my all time favorite planner and it is a game changer for a blogger.  I can't stress sit enough...get one.  Thank us later.

Why I Won't Call You Skinny by Leaving Perfection Learning Grace.  I don't think we truly understand the weight our words carry and how much they can impact us.  Love this post.  

As you can see it was a great week...I could list so many more posts that I loved but I will stop at 6. Please comment below and let m know what posts inspired you this week!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

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