Friday Faves Halloween Edition

You know what part of writing a blog post I find to be the hardest?  The intro.  Seriously.  Am I the only one that feels that way?  Once I get past the intro, the words flow so much more freely.  Can we just consider this my intro and get onto the actual post?  We can?  Good.  Thanks.

Fridays are reserved for Blogger Love with Meagan from All the Joys.  The concept is simple.  Share posts that inspired you this week.  Without further ado, these are the posts that I loved this week.

Am I Doing this Right? by All the Joys.  As moms we tend to doubt things that we do, from birth on up. As Meagan says though, our children are loved and feel the security of that.  That is the most important thing.  End of story.  

A Few Thoughts Vol. 1 by She is Fierce.  Kirsten tackles some topics that have been floating around as blog topics for awhile.  What do rap lyrics mean?  I often wonder myself.  Is college worth the debt? How is confidence perceived in women?  All great topics that I have thought about myself.

You Know You're Getting Older When.... by Eat, Drink, and Be Mary.  My birthday was this week so this was a timely post.  I think several of us can relate to this post.  

Wellness Wednesday: A Plea to the Lucky Ones by Life, KV Style.  Our health is something that we often take for granted.  This post was such an eye opener for me and really made me stop and really think about how lucky I am. 

Blogging: Real Connections and Genuine Community by Simplicity Relished.   Daisy nailed this post right out of the ballpark.  She was spot on with each and every point.  A must read for those that truly want to get the most out of their blogging experience and the blogging community.

What posts caught your eye this week?  Be sure to let me know.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with relaxation, fun, and candy!
The So Called Homemaker
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Guilty Pleasures

We all have things that we just love to indulge in.  Things that perhaps to others are not that great yet they bring you happiness.  These may be the things that we treat ourselves to when we need a little pick me up.  

None of my guilty pleasures are extravagant by any means but they can cheer me up.  Regardless of their worth the following things make me feel like I am splurging on myself.

Ice Cream / Frozen Yogurt
Sad but true.  These frozen treats can hit the spot like nothing else.  Lest you think the fro yo is healthy I will 'fess up now:  I like my frozen yogurt with hot fudge, gummy bears (a specific kind, smaller than the kind you find in most stores and not as soft), and whipped cream.  I often feel like I am channeling my inner child when I have this.

Anything Caramel 
Another food treat.  Extra bonus points if it's chocolate covered caramels.

Planners / Organizers
Thank goodness for my blog, it has allowed me the opportunity to buy more planners.  Yes, this blog is less than  a year old but I have already gone through 3 planners.  I finally have settled on the perfect one.  

Just the other day I treated myself to a new planner for my personal life.  It's a sickness I tell you.

I love having my home smell like the current season.  In Spring it smells like flowers, Summer is reserved for fruit scents, Fall smells like leaves or pumpkin, and Winter brings the fresh scents of baking and spices.  I usually stock up at the beginning of each season.  I love having a variety of scents to choose from.

This is such a rare treat for me but I seriously love them.  Consider me worthless the rest of the day after getting one.

A Nothing Day
Another rare treat.  I clear my calendar and do absolutely nothing. 

Coffee Mugs
This is quickly becoming another little obsession of mine.  Being that they are cheap, I treat myself to these more than I care to admit.  

Office Supplies
Notebooks, pens, decorative file folders....you name it, it's a quick pick me up.  

If you've been following Love the Here and Now for a bit, you know I love my fonts.  Treating myself to a font or two is a sure win in my eyes.  There are so many great free fonts out there that this is definitely a treat.  

What are your guilty pleasures?  

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.

The So Called Homemaker
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Wednesday Wishes and Notes From a Newlywed

Happy Wednesday everyone!  What a week this has been so far.  There's been much celebrating, relaxing, and a general enjoyment of life.  This has prompted my wish for this week.

I need self control.  I'm desperately wishing for it.

Saturday my husband and I brought home a whole Dulche de Leche cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday my friend made me the best pumpkin dessert I have ever had (thanks Ashlyn!).  It's worthy of a post all it's own.  That will be coming soon.  

Tuesday (my birthday) brought my favorite local cake and one of my favorite ice creams, butter crunch.

And we can not ignore the fact that Halloween is Friday, which to a sweets addict like myself is so hard to ignore.  Every year I tell myself that I will buy candy that I hate.  Every year I fail.

So, for the love of my jeans, my stomach, and thighs, I am wishing for some self control.  Indulging once or twice is fine.  Going back day after day for the leftovers is not.  Please, please, please let me be able to say no.

Who am I kidding though?  Life is too short and my elastic waisted pants collection could use a few additions.

Enough about me and my sweet tooth, I have someone I'd like you to meet.

My other wish for this week is simple.  I hope you will stop by and introduce yourself to Amanda from Notes From  a Newlywed.  I "met" Amanda early on in blogging and have loved following her since.  Her posts are genuine, informative, and from the heart.  Her latest series is amazing.   If you are interested in using natural products this is a must read series.  Her most recent post, I'm One of Those Skinny B*itches was written so beautifully and made me (and many others) stop and think of the effect our words have; even when they aren't meant to hurt.  

Enough form me though.  Here's Amanda in her own words. 

What prompted you to start blogging?
One day I just kind of had a revelation.  It was shortly after my wedding, and I was telling my best friend all this stuff I was learning about wedding planning, being married, being an adult etc.  I thought that maybe I could share all of this with the world and maybe even use it to connect with other women.  

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Australia- it's the one place in the world I've always wanted to go to but never have.  It's also the only place in the world that both my husband and I really want to see.

How did you come up with your blog name?
I knew I wanted my name to reflect what I would blog about, and I love alliteration , so after playing with various word combinations related to being a wife and a newlywed, it just sort of fell into my lap.

What is your favorite season and holiday?  Why?
Summer for sure!  I'm the girl that is always cold, even when it's 80 degrees so summer is the one season I can actually be comfortable outside.  Plus flip flops are one of the best things in this world.  My favorite holiday though has to be Christmas.  As much as I hate snow, it can be beautiful and I love snuggling up by the fire with family, eating sweet treats, and opening presents.  It's a magical holiday!

What is the best advice you could give a new blogger?
Aside from the "rules" of blogging , just do what feels right.  Be yourself, be genuine and that will prevail over any other checklist of things you should be doing.  

You can follow Amanda and Notes From a Newlywed on TwitterPinterestFacebook, and Instagram.  

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

Love the Here and Now

The So Called Homemaker
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Birthday Thoughts and a Gift For YOU!

Today is my birthday.  Not sure about you, but when my birthday rolls around I tend to get a bit reflective.  I thought today would be a great day to share some of my deep thoughts with you.  Keep in mind some are a bit cliche but true nonetheless (in my opinion at least).

As I get older, it becomes more and more apparent that life is far too short to surround yourself with negative people.  If they bring you down in any way, shape, or form it's time to reevaluate that relationship.

Another thing I noticed as I am getting older?  Elastic is becoming a good friend of mine.   Sad but true, I can not wait to get home to get out of my work clothes and into my comfy (read: elastic waisted) clothes. On the weekends and my day off, I dread getting out of them.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses in life.  I have come to stop apologizing for the strengths I lack.  I like to think I make up for those weaknesses in my other strengths.  Who knows if it's true or not but I'm ok either way.

I have come to notice that as I get older I find myself biting my tongue.  There are things that I want to say but I am learning to hold back.  I can not wait for the day when I reach that age (whatever magical age it is) when we are able to voice our thoughts and feelings freely and get to blame it on our age.  Til I reach that point in my life I am holding quite a few things back and learning to go with the flow.

I am learning to avoid giving into "obligations".  I'm not talking about the day to day obligations that are mandatory, for example work.  I'm referring to those things that we might do just because it looks good or it is what's expected of us.  As I get older I'm realizing that my time is a commodity and if I want to spend it doing something that I truly enjoy or spend it with those that I truly want to be with then I will. I will give my time to causes that I think are worthwhile.  I think it's wonderful to set the example of giving back and I like to think that I am raising my kids to do that; but to causes and organizations that we choose to support.  First and foremost though, my time goes to my family, and I feel no need to apologize for that.

Another thing I won't apologize for?  My love of the holidays.  I catch quite a bit of teasing for my love of Christmas.  I am one of those people that likes to have every room in their house have a bit of Christmas in it.  That takes a bit of planning and work.  I tend to start decorating early so I can relax and enjoy the holiday season without the added stress of decorating.  I give myself the same "gift" each year.  I put up my bedroom Christmas tree.  From tonight on, my Christmas tree will be lit.  I can't tell you the amount of joy it brings me.  And for those that tell me that somehow having a tree up before Thanksgiving lessens the importance of that holiday please tell me again how that is true.  A tree with white lights and beautiful ornaments in no way, shape, or form lessens my gratitude or feeling of thankfulness.  So tonight after my birthday celebrations are over, I will be sitting in my room and soaking in the beauty of my tree.

And because it's my birthday I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than by being a part of a giveaway that has a prize of one of my favorite things....an organizer!

I am thrilled to be collaborating with the lovely ladies below to bring you the opportunity to win a Whitney English Day Designer and a Starbucks gift card.  Aren't both of those prizes bascially a blogger's dream?

Host: Hayley from A Beautiful Exchange
Co-hosts: Martha Kate from Seasons with the Strattons, Rachel from Oh Simple Thoughts
Amanda from Life With Grace, Rachel from The Rachael Way
Anne from Love the Here and Now,  Samantha from Godly Womanhood

What things have you learned in life as you have gotten older?

The So Called Homemaker
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A Forced Break and Bloggers for Boobs

Sometimes we are forced to slow down.  Sometimes we are forced to disconnect.  Oftentimes, this is a gift in disguise.

The past week or two my laptop has been considerably slower.  Nothing horrible but it has been getting more annoying (total first world problem, I know).  The timing was perfect in a way; I received it last year as a birthday gift and the warranty was coming to an end.

Saturday my husband and I headed to the nearest Apple store which was an hour away.  After a half hour of diagnostics, the Apple techs were stumped.  I was given two options; erase everything and start from scratch (thank God I had backed up my computer Friday evening) or leave it to be triaged and researched more in depth.  I went with option B which is leaving me computer-less for a few days. Thankfully, I am able to use my husband's laptop but I am missing my files and fonts.  That's a hard pill for me to swallow.

Even though this could be considered an inconvenience (which in the grand scheme of things it truly is not) I still have much to be grateful for.

I am grateful that I got to spend the morning with my husband.  We basically had a date....wow...it seems like it's been ages since that happened!  We shopped around, had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, and were able to talk and catch up.

I am grateful that we got to see my husband's uncle at the mall where the Apple store is located.  He and his wife own a Great American Cookie shop there.  It was nice to see him and to get a chance to say hello.  To make the visit even sweeter, we bought some of their cookies...so delicious!

Since we were stuffed from lunch, we opted to bring home dessert from the Cheesecake Factory.  I can hear the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake calling me from my fridge.  I am grateful for the treat awaiting me (although I'm sure my jeans won't appreciate it as much as I am).

I am grateful for the forced disconnect I am having.  Instead of catching up on emails and comments (I promise to answer all of them) and working ahead on my posts, I will be living in the moment.   What a unique concept that can be at times.  I am so grateful for that.

I am grateful for the chance to catch up on my housework.  It appears that I have won the war against the dust bunnies that have been silently mocking me for a bit now.  My house is cleaned and even better, organized!

The last thing I am grateful for is this giveaway which is for an amazing cause.  I lost my Aunt to breast cancer at the end of August.  She fought a battle with this horrible disease for years.  It seems that it's so incredibly rare to find someone that hasn't been affected by breast cancer.  We all seem to know somebody fighting the battle, lost the battle, or the happiest outcome, won the battle.  I couldn't be happier to be a part of this amazing giveaway.

boobs2boobsBaby Got B.A. | The Style Prescription
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm linking up with Emily from Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday.  What are you grateful for today?

The So Called Homemaker
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Sharing the Love

Did you feel that?  That was another week rushing by us. No complaints here.  Wait scratch that....the weekends seem to fly by too....if they could slow down life would be golden.

Being that it's Friday, that means it's time for Blogger Love: Friday Favorites with Meagan from All the Joys.    Today is the day where I share some of the top posts that caught my eye this week.  This post gets tougher and tougher to write since there are so many amazing bloggers out there that deserve kudos.

That being said, here are this week's picks.

8 Ways to Prep for a Custom Blog Design by A Beautiful Exchange.  Looking to freshen up your blog? Considering a new blog design?  Before making any decisions read this post.  Hayley has some wonderful pointers and tips for you to consider.  

A Few More Steps by Ember Grey.  If the first photo doesn't pull you into this post I'm not sure what will.  Beyond that though, Emily, as always, provides the inspiration to keep you going on a rough day.

Fave Insta and Blog Editing Tools by SnapGinger.  I'm a sucker for all things blog related as you may know from yesterday's post.  Thanks to Jamie I have downloaded some great new apps for blogging. Can't wait to try them out (and FYI, they are available for iPhones as well).

I'm One of Those Skinny B*tches by Notes From a Newlywed and Going From Skinny to Plus Size by Chits and Giggles.  Loved both of these.  I couldn't separate these two posts.    Without meaning to, people can inevitably say something without realizing that their words hurt.  No matter what our size, whether we are skinny or plus sized, loving ourselves and accepting ourselves is key.

DIY Photo Walls by Life is This.  Someday I swear I will have a gallery wall in my home.  I have even started a Pinterest board for inspiration for gallery walls.  Katie shares some tips for photo walls.    I can't wait to start picking out items for my wall....TJ Maxx get ready for me!

What posts caught your eye this week?  Be sure to link up so we can share the Blogger Love!

All The Joys Friday Favorites

Ember Grey
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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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