Blogging 101: Finding Your Passion

One of the toughest blogging-related things for me to do is to describe and define my blog.  At the outset it seems like an easy task, definitely not one that should induce the deer-in-the-headlights look that it often causes me.  I know my blog's niche, that's easy.  It's a lifestyle blog.

But how do you define it further than that?  It seems, to me at least, that the lifestyle niche is one that is the catch-all niche.  It has a bit of everything.  It includes the day to day happenings, some recipes, some DIY Projects, and the general musings of my mind.

To dig deeper though, and to maybe help solve the definition dilemma, maybe it's better to ask "What is your passion in blogging?"

This makes it easier for me to define what my blog is.  The way I answer this question is to find the posts are my favorite posts to write.  Therein lies my answer.

To find my blogging passion I look at my old posts.  We all have posts that stand out more than others; whether it's for an emotional connection we have to them or perhaps it was something near and dear to our heart.  There are others that were fun to write and research.

My favorite posts to write are blogging-related ones.  I love to share pointers and tips that I have learned along the way.  I love reading tutorials from other bloggers.  I feel that I have so much to learn still and I love learning new skills.  Sharing what I have learned with others, in easy to follow steps is one of my favorite things to do.

Another type of post high on my list of favorites and one that goes hand in hand with blogging?  My fonts posts.  I  love the creativity that these posts allow me.  Finding and using new fonts makes me happy (a joy that I share with my blogging friend Ashley).  I can spend hours researching and downloading fonts.  I can get carried away with making font pairings to be used in graphics.  I truly love writing these posts and love the time I spend on them.

Rounding out my favorite posts are my Awesome Things posts.  In the day to day craziness of everyday life things can get you down.  Being intentional about looking around and finding things that cheer you up and bring a smile to your face is wonderful.  By the time I have written my Awesome posts I am in a great mood and feel so much lighter.  If we take the time to look around us and really notice life around us, we can be pretty amazed.

So the next time I am asked what my blog truly entails I have a better answer since I now know where my blogging passions lie.  Love the Here and Now is a blog where I enjoy sharing my blogging knowledge (as it grows) with others and where I celebrate the day to day things that make my life that much more enjoyable.  

What are your favorite posts to write?  What is your blogging passion?

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.

Ember Grey
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Tips for a Lasting Marriage

I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 18 years.  We have been together since we were 16.  I have spent more than half of my life with him by my side.  It's amazing for me to think of all that we have shared and how we have grown together since we were younger. 

Marriage takes work.  It is not something that you can leave on the back burner and tend to when there is time.  Life is busy; 2 full time careers, three daughters and all of their activities, and the day to day stuff of life can be consuming. The important thing to remember though is that you owe it yourself, to each other, and to your family to nurture your marriage.  

There is no fool-proof way or a formula to create a lasting marriage.  There are, however, things that you can do to help keep your marriage healthy.  I thought I would share with you a few things that have helped keep my marriage going.

No matter how long you and your spouse have been together communication is key.  Never assume that because you have been together for years that you know how he is feeling or what he is thinking. Talking about issues, whether they are big or small, can save you many a headache and heartache in the long run.

Be sure to check in with each other during the day.  There are times when our schedules are so crazy during the day that a phone call is not possible.  Some days I get the biggest smile on my face just by getting a random "I hope your day is going well.  I love you!" text from my husband.  Our days are busy and hectic but just that little text can brighten your day and let you know that you are in his thoughts.

Having a good time together and laughing throughout life is wonderful.  Life throws you many curveballs and when you have kids it's easy to get bogged down with the day to day things.  Having time with your husband to focus on just the two of you and to enjoy each other's company can help your marriage.

Just as having together time is key, I firmly believe that having some space is healthy too.  Spending time doing your hobbies or seeing your friends is good for your marriage.  When you become a couple and a family it is easy to lose sight of yourself.  It's best to not let that happen.  Marriage does not mean giving up yourself and your hopes and dreams.

Support and Encouragement
Be each other's biggest cheerleaders.  If you are anything like me, self-doubt is a constant companion. Knowing that my husband has faith in me and is supporting me in all of my dreams does wonders for my confidence.  

Be on the Same Page
This last piece of advice really pertains to if and when you have children.  I have seen many couples lose their spark because of parenting issues.  We have three daughters and from day one we always discussed how we would raise our children.  For the most part we have had no issues.  I tend to be more cautious while he is more willing to let them do more.  The key part is discussing things in private and presenting a united front to your children.  Stand firm together as parents. Children and teens can sense when there isn't agreement and can whittle away at you.  Do not give in and do not undermine each other when it comes to your children, especially in front of your children.  This can cause resentment and arguments between the two of you; neither of which is needed and can be avoided.

The best advice I can give you is to remember what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place.  I still look at my husband and am in awe of the fact that he is mine; that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.  A marriage takes work, effort, dedication, love and tears.  It takes a commitment to each other and it takes strength to work  through the hard times.   Your marriage is the best gift you will give each other.  Savor it, nurture it, appreciate it, and love each other.

My wish for today is that I continue to practice these tips day in and day out.  It's easy to think that relationships will continue on as they are and not put extra effort into them; especially with the craziness of every day life.  I wish that I will always be cognizant of the amazing gift I have by my side every day.

*This post was previously published on Life with Amberly and Joe.

What are you wishing for today?  Link up below and tell me!

Love the Here and Now

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Lot 48 and the Onstage Awkwardness of Kissing

Today I am happy to hand over the reigns of Love the Here and Now to one of my sponsors,  Lauren from Lot 48.   It's all yours Lauren!

did i ever tell you i used to be a performer? well, i was.  i did a ton of shows.  and i was good. i made money off it.  my plan was to be a performer forever.  but life got in the way.  and i also realized i didn't want to live that lifestyle.  my major freshman year was theater but when i transferred to a bigger school i was wait listed for the theater program.  then i got interested in screenwriting and decided to major in communications and marketing.  so there ya go, my college story. 

one of the shows i did was little women.  i was meg.  you can see me, in the circle.  the boy in the circle is the guy i had to kiss. in the various shows i have been in, i have had a total of 3 stage kisses.   and let me tell you.  they are AWK-WARD.

first of all, this particular circumstance was awkward because the boy and i liked each other.  oh dear i hope he doesn't find this blog or this blog post.  his name was kaden.  oh dear i hope he never finds this.  come on kaden, we both knew we liked each other.  you told my best friend and you asked me out when you got home from your lds mission.  a date we never went on, might i add.  

but anyway!

another reason it was awkward is because i didn't get kissed outside of a play until i was 19.  i stopped performing when i was 18.  so therefore the first time i kissed a boy ever was in front of dozens of people.  and i had absolutely no idea what i was doing.  and i was terrified of boys at this point in life. TERRIFIED.  

well, you know the song that meg and her husband sing when they get engaged? there is a kiss after it. in rehearsals, the director told us to "practice."  did i mention this was high school?? i had already had two stage kisses by this point but since i like the guy, i was sooooo nervous.  we went into the girl's dressing room to "practice."  are you cringing yet from the awkwardness of this situation?? 

okay, guys, this is how bad i was at kissing.  i didn't know i was supposed to kiss the boy back.  that just didn't occur to me.  like i said, i had no idea what i was doing.  so we are in the girl's dressing room and we are all nervous and then i just barked at him "just do it" and he kissed me but my awkward self didn't kiss him back so he asks "are you okay?" and then i'm like yes, fine.  and then a girl in our cast knocks on the door and i'm like "sammy come back! we're practicing!" and then he kissed me again and i still had no idea what to do.  

and that wasn't even the worst part of it!! now comes the rehearsals where you are kissing in front of dozens of people.  and the techies, the behind the scenes people, the cast, friends of the cast, is all standing there staring at you while you try to kiss so it looks convincing and like you're in love.  ah! so awkward!! i am cringing just writing this! ah! 

i was so nervous about these scenes that i always felt nauseated before the scene and so terrified it was like i was walking into the gallows.  it took five times (yes, i counted) of me kissing this boy in front of dozens of people before i figured out how to kiss him back and before it stopped being so terrifying.  by the time the show ran, it was no big deal.  

Ember Grey
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The Ring

When my husband and I got married I decided that I wanted to have a diamond band on either side of my wedding ring.  The jeweler soldered the bands together and my engagement ring fit perfectly between the two rings.  Way back in April my bands started to come apart where they had been soldered.  A few months ago while attempting to finish my never-ending list of errands, I decided to stop at the jewelers where my husband and I had purchased our wedding bands.

I walked in the jeweler's expecting a quick fix.  I was wrong.

I handed over my rings to show the salesman what needed to be done.  He quickly pointed out the things he saw wrong with my ring.  A diamond here needed to be reset, the soldering needed to be done, and two other things needed to be repaired.  He was quick to point out that nothing was loose but if he were to fix the soldering he would be more than happy to take care of everything all at once. He left me quickly to get an estimate.

While I was waiting, a woman came in.   She quickly went up to the saleslady at the counter and told them she was here for her weekly cleaning of her rings.  She had gotten married about two months prior to this.  The ring was beautiful, a large stone with a unique setting.  The saleslady remarked that her husband had done such a great job picking out the ring and that she must have been pleased.  The woman replied that she was and he had known exactly what she wanted because they had shopped around together before he proposed.

Meanwhile, my salesman came back with an estimate of $375 to get my ring back in tip-top shape. My jaw dropped.  Keep in mind that he said nothing was actually loose or in danger of falling out.

I quickly thanked the man and told him I would have to think about it.

And I did.  I thought about my ring quite a bit.

You see, my husband and I have been together since we were 16 years old.  We graduated from high school and even attended the same college.  Despite the warnings we received that this was a bad idea and that we would surely not last, we have.

Christmas Eve of our freshman year at 11:58 pm he asked if he could give me the first Christmas present that year.  At midnight, he proposed with a ring that he had saved for himself and pick out himself.

When I look at the ring on my finger, I see a gift that was chosen 22 years ago by a teenager.  I don't see the imperfections that the jeweler did.

My ring isn't sparkly and clean like it once was.  It's been worn and it's been loved for so many years. It represents the ups and downs that all marriages have and will continue to have.

I could fix it and have it perfect.  But why?  The money is better used elsewhere, with a family of 5 it seems that the money is constantly going somewhere and needed elsewhere.  Better off it goes to my children and their activities.

To be honest, I like the way it is now.  Aren't our rings a symbol of our love?  Ours is far from perfect like everyone else's.

And I'm ok with that.

Today I am linking up with Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday.   I am grateful for the years that I have had with my husband, from our teenage years to our present years.  I can not wait to see what the future brings.

To sweeten your Monday I also have a giveaway for you!  Join me in wishing Ashley a Happy Birthday!

I have teamed up with 5 other amazing bloggers to bring you this giveaway.
One lucky winner will be getting $50 to Enjoy Essential
This website has the cutest quote tees for adults & the littles, & more. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ember Grey

Ember Grey
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Some of My Favorites

Each Friday I participate in Blogger Love Friday Favorites with Meagan from All The Joys.  Today is extra special because I am co-hosting the link up with her. Please be sure to linkup with us and share the posts that caught your eye this week.  It's a great way to applaud the bloggers that inspire us and an even better way to find some new blogs to follow!

Fall in Love with Yourself First by The Rachael Way.  I loved this post because it serves as a reminder to me to embrace myself, flaws and all.  It's okay to just enjoy my own company and accept myself as I am.  It's easy to get down on ourselves; it's a trap I fall into way too easily.

Who am I Now....? by The Adventures of Bug and Boo.  It's so easy to define ourselves based on relationships (wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend etc) and to lose sight of everything else that we embody.  Love this post by Rebecca for the sheer fact that it made me think of everything else that I am; not just who I am to others.

My Favorite Quotes by Lot 48.  Need some inspiration this week?  Be sure to check out Lauren's post.  Love all of the quotes she's listed.  

To Amanda Bynes by Our Nashville Life.  Amanda Bynes was back in the news this week.  Driving to work one morning 2 DJs on a local radio station were talking about her and laughing about her most recent situation and making a joke of it.  It left me with a pit in my stomach.  Later on that day, I read Jackie's post.  Nobody chooses mental disease and it's exactly that....a disease.  Nobody should judge those living with it, and most definitely should not be making fun of it.

Breaking the Blogging Mold by She is Fierce.  Ever been asked to describe your blog or to share what it's about in 3 sentences?  To me that is the toughest question out there.  How do you it?  In a world full of bloggers and their blogs it's not easy to stand out.  The key is to stay true to yourself and write things that reflect who you are and what you enjoy.  As long as you do that you can break free from the blogging mold.  

What posts caught your eye this week?  Link up with Meagan and I and share the Blogger Love!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

Ember Grey
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Not Your Typical Pumpkin Decorating

My oldest daughter is allergic to pumpkin; specifically the insides of pumpkins.  Each year we would carve pumpkins and she would break out on her hands and arms with blotchy, red spots that itched.  It is only a skin allergy.  Each year, by her choice, she would carve away.

This year though she proposed the idea of decorating her pumpkins in a new way.  One that used one of my favorite craft supplies.....spray paint.

And to make it even better, she chose colors near and dear to my heart, mint, gold, and white/cream. Doesn't scream Fall I know, but that's ok.  She's not itchy and blotchy so all is good in our world.

If you own a Sharpie, this pumpkin is for you.  Decorate any spray painted (or bare) pumpkin with your favorite color Sharpie.

Who doesn't love chalk board spray paint?  And even better, who knew it would work on pumpkins? Guess what....it does!

Can't come up with something cute to write on your pumpkin?  Why not use washi tape to decorate it instead?  

Have any extra stickers around the house?  Perfect for decorating pumpkins!

A little gold pumpkin never hurt anybody right?

I have to admit, decorating the pumpkins this way was much easier and less messy.  All you need is spray paint, a nice day to use it (or a well ventilated space) and some creativity and you are good to go.

The down side?  No baked pumpkin seeds.

How do you like to decorate your pumpkins?

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.

Ember Grey
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My family loves New York City.  We have been there so many times over the years.  We have seen a few movie sets yet we have never seen anyone famous.   Until one year....

We had met friends of ours in the City and had gone over to their hotel to visit with them.  They happened to be staying at the Mandarin Hotel.  After a nice visit we decided it was time to move on to our next destination.  We gathered our girls (at that point they were 12, 9, and 6) and headed out into the hallway to wait patiently for the elevator.  It finally came and we stepped inside.  I then quickly picked my jaw up off the floor.

I was sharing an elevator with Sir Paul McCartney.  

And his adorable daughter Beatrice.

Yes.  The Beatle.

My daughters were clueless to the fact that they were sharing an elevator with one of the most well known musicians ever.  

My husband and I were speechless.  

Beatrice, who was perhaps 3 or 4, was having a grand old time attempting to press every button for every floor.  (As a side note, I am a sucker for British accents.  I love them.  Imagine one on a child the size of a peanut...so adorable!!)  Sir Paul tried to get her to stop and quickly apologized to us.  He was so sweet and so kind and it was wonderful to see him as a father.

We did not ask Sir Paul for an autograph.   He was concerned with parenting and for us to ask didn't seem right.  

The ride soon ended and when the doors opened Beatrice shot off the elevator and ran straight for the exit door of the hotel.  Her father was quickly running after her.

When we got outside we had lost sight of them and quickly explained to our daughters that they just had a brush with one of the Beatles.  My oldest was the only one that knew who they were.  The younger two had no clue.

I'm not sure we will ever be able to top that experience....being so close to someone so famous.  It's definitely a memory that neither my husband nor I will ever forget!

My wish for today is that even though there are so many people that we idolize and look up to, that we see them as they truly are; regular people just like you and I.  We tend to put celebrities up on pedestals.  Yes they are famous, and yes they are so successful, but they are human.

Have you ever had a starstruck moment?

What are you wishing for today?  Link up and tell me!

Love the Here and Now

Ember Grey
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