My Friday Favorites

Friday is here and I for one am thrilled.  The weekend is here and next week is a short work week and Thanksgiving so I am one happy person.

Today I am linking up with Meagan from All the Joys for Blogger Love.  The rules are simple...share the posts that inspired you this week.  It's a great way to find new blogs to follow as well as a wonderful way to applaud some fellow bloggers.

Need a Blog Post Idea? Let's List It... by The Florkins.  I have to admit this post made my day when I read it.  Blogging related post?  Check.  List?  Check.  Something to Pin and refer back to at a later date?  Check.  Trifecta....well played Florkens, well played.

Blogging 101 by The Wetherills Say I Do.  Madison is amazing.  When she talks anything blog related I sit up and listen and take notes.  She knows her stuff and shares her knowledge.  She's wonderful to work with and is so kindhearted.

Making the Time by The Simply Complex Mom.  Elizabeth has away with words.  I find myself reading her posts and nodding.  This one is no exception.  As moms it is easy to put ourselves last.  She gently reminds us to make the time for ourselves.  It's rejuvenating and refreshing and oh so needed.

Why I Love Syracuse, New York by Our Nashville Life.  I live an hour away from Syracuse and I was thrilled to read Jackie's post about her hometown.  I loved reading about all of the things that are so familiar to me.

A Battle of Wills by The Adventures of Bug and Boo.  Toddlers can be tough.  They are coming into their little (or not so little) personalities and as parents that can be hard; a true battle of the wills.  Oftentimes these battles of wills don't end at the end of toddlerhood.  They continue right along with the children.  I loved that even in the frustrating moments and thereafter Rebecca was able to regroup, relax and savor this stage (the good and the rough).  Her wish for continued patience and grace is something we all can relate to.

So what posts caught your eye this week?  Link up and share them with us!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


Staying Organized and On Budget This Holiday Season

Click here to learn how to stay organized and on budget during the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching.  If you're anything like me I have to write down who I am shopping for, gift ideas for them, and what I have purchased.  I also like to keep track of my expenses and try to stick to a budget.

How do I do all of the above?  The answer is easy, and one you hear quite a bit nowadays.  There's an app for that (at least there is for iPhone users, can't speak for the Andriod users).  

Do yourself a favor and go download Christmas List.  It will cost you $1.99.  For less than the cost of a cup of coffee you can have yourself organized and on budget.  It looks like this in the App Store.  I'll wait....

Perfect.  Ready to learn a bit more about it?

First thing you should do is set a passcode.  This will ensure that no one can see who is getting what gifts.

I love this feature.  

After that, take a few minutes and enter everyone that you shop for.  The app allows you to assign pictures for each person as well. 

It's mid November and I have barely started shopping; and by barely I mean two presents have been purchased.  Once I purchased my first present I went into my daughter's profile and noted it.

Christmas List allows you to write what you bought, enter the store (it keeps a selection of nationally known stores to choose from or enter your own local stores), the price, and any notes (as you can see I want to spray paint it to match her room.  This reminds me to do that).  It also allows you to take a picture of the gift so you can see what exactly it is that you purchased.  Just in case my daughter stumbles across this post, I am refraining from adding the picture of the wall art.  

Once the information is added, it updates the main screen. 

The app keeps track of your progress and lets you know what you have spent on each person.  Once I think of a gift that I want to buy for someone I add it to their list and simply check it off when the item is purchased.  

Christmas List goes even further than that though.  It has sections to keep you on track for wrapping gifts and shipping gifts.  It keeps a countdown til Christmas so you know just how many days you have left to complete your shopping.  Another feature?  It allows you to share your lists with others via text or email.  It also allows you to archive gifts from past Christmases.

Is staying organized and on budget something you struggle with during the holiday season?  What do you do to stay on top of things?

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.

Need a break during the month of December?  Purchase my newest ad spot, Seasonal Love and I will promote your older posts while you celebrate the holidays.  All spots purchased will be extended through December 31st!

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


The Importance of the Father/Daughter Bond

Last week I read a post by Emily of Ember Grey that resonated with me.  She and her father went to a football game.  Not just any football game though; this was their traditional Father/Daughter Purdue football game.  I'm sure the game was fun, but the true treasure of this was the time spent together and the memory added to a long line of games together.  It got me thinking about how important the father/daughter bond is and how it can be cultivated.

What I don't think everyone realizes is the importance of this bond and how it has the potential to impact the relationships and roles in their lives.

I do believe that children learn from example.  If they grow  up in a home that is based on a loving and respectful relationship between their parents they will seek that later on.  This is their norm.  Having a father that is encouraging, supportive, and respectful to their mother sets the tone for what they will look for in a spouse someday.  My husband is my biggest cheerleader and supporter and is often encouraging me to try new things and congratulating me on my successes.  

Having a father that is hands on will raise the bar.  I know in past generations the father worked and the mother's job was to raise the children.  In today's society the roles are jumbled and often mixed and I believe that is for the better.  Daughters are learning that it is ok to do what they want.  They can work out of the home, they can be stay at home moms or perhaps even work out of the home.  In order to do this though, a supportive and hands on father is needed.  One of my biggest pet peeves in life is men that say they can't do something because they have to "babysit" their children.   In my opinion, you pay a babysitter and you parent your children.  Having our daughters see that their parents can step out of the stereotypical roles is so beneficial and lets them know that they can not be held back by their gender.  Down the road if they decide to have children they will have been raised with the notion that fathers should be hands on and just as involved in parenting.  To this day, my daughters will talk about how my husband used to paint their nails when they were younger and even would braid their hair.  I would even venture to say that my girls' think that he was better at both of these things than I was.  Evidently a steady hand comes in handy; something that I don't always have.

Fathers and daughters have to find ways to relate to each other.  In my home, my oldest daughter and my husband share a love of similar music and have attended numerous concerts together.  They also share a love of ecology and environmental science and you can often find them discussing these two subjects.  My two youngest daughters are soccer players and from the time they were little, my husband has coached them.  They all share a love for the game and have attended  college and semi-pro games, as well as spent many an afternoon on the couch watching European teams play.  

Just spending time together strengthens the father/daughter bond and creates traditions.  When my daughters were younger I was a stay at home mom.  I loved it and savored it.  Come Friday though, I needed some time and space to regroup.  Saturday mornings my husband would take the girls out to breakfast and often times they would go somewhere after (for example a museum).  Not only did I get my break but he got one on one time with all of them.  To this day the girls look back fondly on their Saturday morning breakfasts and still join him if their sports and sleeping schedules allow (the lives of teens!).  

My daughters  have been blessed with a father that has raised the bar.  He has provided them with memories and the idea of what a husband/father should be.  Knowing that they have this relationship with their father to look back on and to continue to grow makes me so happy.

I know that every family is different and unique.  My wish for today is for every child to feel loved and supported and that they have the opportunity to grow in a home that is filled with love and encouragement, regardless of their family dynamic.

What are you wishing for today?

Link up below and tell me!

Love the Here and Now

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


The Lilac Linett Guest Post

Hello there!  I have one of Love the Here and Now's sponsor's taking over the blog today.  Sit back, relax, and let  Llinos from The Lilac Linnet tell you more about NaNoWriMo.  Intrigued?  Read on!

At about this time last year, I heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time.  It intrigued me from the word go - a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  At the time, I was writing my non-fiction book about my experience as a teenage cancer patient, but I made a mental note to participate in 2014.

So here I am, participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time!  I have been planning my novel on and off for a few months now, but I have been struggling to actually sit down and write it.  I'm completely engrossed in the story and the characters, but it's very different to writing my cancer memoir - that book just flowed out of me.  NaNoWriMo seemed like a great opportunity to get me on track with my first novel.

Why had my novel failed to get off the ground?  Life! Spending time with friends, blogging more regularly, crochet, my new running routine, and (of course) work... these all ate into my writing time.  Instead of being hard on myself, I decided to refocus with the help of NaNoWriMo.

My novel is called 'The Grand Duchess of Aquaserene', and it is a fantasy which is also inspired by history.  Aquaserene is a realm filled with mountains, lakes and waterfalls, mermaids and magic.  But its duchess, Nerina Coral, is a young woman grieving for the loss of her father, a towering figure in her life.  Unable to trust anyone in her court, and facing marriage to a stranger, a threat from within her own family threatens the stability of the realm.  Can Nerina find a way to lead Aquaserene to a prosperous future?

So, armed with a cup of tea, some music and obviously my laptop, I sat down on 1st November and began to type.  The fact that the month began on a weekend seemed like too good an opportunity to miss!  I tried not to think too much, and told my inner editor to be quiet, and just typed away, letting the characters live their untold stories.

The first weekend got me off to a good start, but I knew that weekdays would be more of a struggle.  After the day job, making dinner and doing some essential chores like washing up, going for a run and showering... my willpower and energy levels were flagging.  But I am still managing to type away for an hour or so.  50,000 still feels like a way away but I am making progress and I can feel the novel coming into fruition.

Even so, doubts can creep in at times... Like, "Why did you think this was a good idea?", and "Are you sure this is any good?", but I have swept those thoughts away and kept on writing!

I either write sitting on the sofa, or at the dinner table, both of which are in the living room.  I like to be able to chat to my boyfriend as I write, or listen to the guinea pigs chattering or eating.  I'm lucky that I don't need silence to write; I feel that life going on around me spurs me on to work.
Writing my novel
Writing is a sedentary activity, so I am making sure that I am not missing out on going for a run or a walk.  Exercise time is a great opportunity to think some more about the plot aswell!  After a writing session, I make sure to switch off the laptop and read a book or watch a favourite TV show.  I like to leave the book behind and focus on something else, then get a good night's sleep.

Now that the month is advancing, I'm starting to think ahead to editing this first draft!  But, I'm trying not to get ahead of myself too much and be intimidated by the prospect.  After all, having a novel to edit will be such a huge achievement for me.

Also, I'm enjoying the fact that my characters are surprising me!  They're slipping into scenes that I hadn't planned for, and developing traits that I hadn't originally imagined.  I'm planning to profile the characters on my blog soon, so I do hope that you will join me to learn more about the story.

You can follow Llinos on Bloglovin', Twitter, and Pinterest.  

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


A Vlog, a Grateful Heart, and a Kate Spade Giveaway!

I did it.  At least I think I did.  I won't know until this post gets published.  What did I do?  I joined Faith of Life with Mrs. G and the Artist's Golden Vlog link up.  I have loved seeing everyone's blogs and thought that this month would be a great month to link up with her.

If for some reason the video does not work, you can find the blog here.  

Being that it's Monday, I also like to link up with Emily from Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday. Today my gratitude goes out to those that are so much more tech savvy than I.  That includes my husband, whom I like to call my very own Personal Geek Squad, and my blogging friends.  Thanks to them for trying to teach an old dog new tricks.  Lord knows they have so much more patience than I do. 

As the winter creeps up on us, it only seems fitting that we start to think about getting cozy.

IMG_9184Some of my blogging buddies came together to cozy you up with a Kate Spade Cozy Giveaway. It includes the cutest KS earrings that you've seen on all the blogger's wish lists (maybe even your own), some Kate Spade socks with some fab polka dots, and a $10 Starbucks gift card to warm you up and keep you cozy.  Go ahead...enter below...you deserve it!
Anne | Betsy | Bex
Liz | Trish | Linda
Faith | Nina | Emelia
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ember Grey

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


Blogger Love and Operation Christmas Child Pt. II

Being that it's Friday I think we all can breathe a deep sigh of relief and relish in the fact that the weekend is officially here.  Today is the day that I link up with Meagan of All the Joys and we share the posts that we loved throughout the week.  Be sure to visit the link up and I guarantee you will find some posts you may have missed as well as some new blogs to follow.

Here are the posts that inspired me this week.

How to Make Money Blogging by Heavens to Betsy.  So many people often ask how one can make money blogging.  Betsy answers this in great detail.  She is an all around great source of information and one of my daily reads.

Blogging Basics: Choosing Where I Sponsor by Flowers in My Hair.  Nina gives some great pointers as to how she chooses who she will sponsor and where she will sponsor.   I have to say that Nina is amazing to sponsor and to date, I believe she has the best way to introduce her sponsors to her readers.  You can see my sponsor highlight here.  Unique right?  I loved it.

At Any Given Moment by Simply Complex Mom.  Elizabeth has a way of writing that is truly genuine and open.  I loved this post for the sheer fact that it made me stop and truly think about those that sacrifice their lives for us to enjoy our freedoms.  Beautifully written.

How To: A Fashion Blog Post by Eat Drink and Be Mary.  Mary gives some great advice for the wanna be fashion blogger out there.  I love her humor and her tips.  A fun read!

Finding Balance: Who Needs Break?  by Bourbon, Lipstick, and Stilettos.  Lindsay hit the nail on the head here.  I am guilty of rushing through life, trying to fulfill all the roles and titles and I have and keep my head above water.  It all comes down to one word, BALANCE.  A great reminder any day!

And now I'd love to give you an update on a project that I am participating in.

You may remember last Wednesday I posted about Operation Christmas Child.  OCC is a program sponsored by Samaritan's Purse each year.  The idea is simple; choose to sponsor a child (choose your age group and gender) and fill a shoe box with gifts that they can open during the holidays.  There are families out there struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table.  While you and I are may be fretting over whether or not we have started our Christmas shopping there are others that are just trying to get by.  Operation Christmas Child steps in and provides some gifts for children for families in need.

My family and I chose to sponsor a little girl (2-4 yrs. old).  Shopping for our child was fun and eye opening.  We knew we wanted to have books for the child to read and to be read to.  My daughters always loved coloring and crafts so crayons and a coloring book were a given.  

We added pencils in festive colors for drawing and doodling as well.  Warm socks and a toothbrush rounded out our box.

We will be adding a note from our family to this child too.

Next week I will be driving to a drop off center 10-15 minutes form my home.  I'll be bringing along a donation of $7 so my shoe box can be mailed to a child.

This was such a positive experience and I love that it was the start of our holiday season.  About this time every year I am in a panic as to what to get the people on my gift list; my children included.  The sad part is that nobody on my list lacks for anything.  The children that benefit from Operation Christmas Child have next to nothing and the items in a simple shoe box will bring them so much joy.  It is a great reminder that we need very little and that the true spirit of the holiday comes in giving to others, especially those less fortunate.

Have you ever participated in Operation Christmas Child or a program like it?

OCC Blog Share Button

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'


My Top 5 Facebook Pet Peeves

Social media is wonderful.  It allows me to connect with family and friends, near and far.  Facebook has been the main way I have stayed in contact with most people.  There are times though when I wish people could use some Facebook etiquette.  I have 5 major pet peeves when it comes to Facebook.

The "I'm cleaning out my friends list!" Updates
Really?  Just do it.   Do I and everyone else need to know that you are deleting "friends"?  Am I supposed to feel honored that I made the cut?  

Game Requests
Nope, I don't want to play FarmVille nor do I want to send you extra coins to unlock some new level in that game you are currently obsessed with.  Along these lines are the parents that send out updates apologizing for the game requests that their children are sending to everyone.  I'm a parent, I get it. Sometimes children need a bit of a distraction so we hand over our phones to them.  Just do me a favor...every so often look and see what app they are in.  No need for them to be on Facebook sending game requests.  There are tons of great apps for kids of all ages that you can add to your phone.  Facebook isn't one of them.

The Vague Attention Grabbing / Passive Aggressive Updates
You know what I'm referring to.  The updates that imply that there are personal issues going on yet when asked about it, the person doesn't want to go into it.  I shake my head at this one.  If you don't want to talk about it, please do not post it.  

The Ranting and Raving Posts
Going off on your husband, girlfriend, parents, children, co-workers is never a good idea.  Do not air your dirty laundry or theirs on the internet.  Posts like these say so much more about you as a person than it does the people you are venting about.  Taking the higher road and keeping your disagreements private is the way to go.  Always.

Political Updates
On all things politics I think it is safe to assume that we should all agree to disagree.  You have your views, I have mine.  Negative posts about one party, candidate, or elected official is not what I like to see in my Facebook feed.  Politics is better discussed in person, in my opinion.  Some may disagree and think that this is a perfect forum for it but I would much rather see cute pictures of your kids and/or pets and hear all about your weekend away than I would like to hear about how shady a politician supposedly is.  

Do you agree?  Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to Facebook or other social media?

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.

The So Called Homemaker
Facebook Twitter Instagram Bloglovin'