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MAKE iT | Homemade Vanilla Extract

Saturday, January 31


You will either love me or hate me for this post.
Regardless...I HAVE to share it before January officially comes to an end.

Homemade Vanilla Extract...
for the Holiday Season + Beyond!!

C'mon now. You've had over a month to recover from the holiday season and just trust me...
you will thank me later when the 2015 holiday season sneaks up later this year and you and I are already fully prepared for treating the people in our life with some of the best vanilla extract because we will have been aging it all year!

I LOVE all things homemade and vanilla extract is no exception.
It's sooooo easy to make and takes such little effort we should ALL be doing this on a regular basis.

I LOVE making it for holiday gift giving.
The problem is...I usually remember I need to start a batch WAY too late to actually have it ready in time to actually give as a gift.  (it takes at least 6 weeks of aging to make it suitable for baking).

Yes, there have been some holidays where I've realized, once again, my vanilla extract won't be ready on time and I thought about giving it anyway and adding a little note to the bottle saying..."will be ready for use by..." But that just really translates into: "Hey...I didn't plan ahead and although your gift isn't necessarily ready to give you...you are getting it anyway".

So...when I found myself AGAIN this last holiday season unprepared for gifting delicious homemade vanilla...I vowed never to find myself in that situation again. I decided to start the process RIGHT AFTER the hustle and bustle of the holidays and be completely prepared for next year.

Did you know the longer you let the vanilla cure/mature the more rich and beautiful and delicious the end flavor will be. In fact, letting the vanilla age for 6 months to a year (or two) will result in the best vanilla your heart (and baked goods) will ever experience.

So...let's do the math, shall we? If we start a batch now...
our homemade vanilla will have the ENTIRE YEAR to sit and wait and age...
which means we will be ready for gift-giving when everyone else is scrambling for ideas.

But let's back up for a minute.
Homemade Vanilla Extract isn't just a gift for the holidays.
It makes a fantastic hostess gift, teacher gift, birthday present and I intend to give some as a gift to my mom for Mother's Day. (shhhh...don't tell her)

Remember...6 weeks is all it REALLY takes for an acceptable curing time...anything longer just makes it all the better. And I'm all about better so I'm shooting for the full year.


All you need in Vodka, vanilla beans and patience.
That's it.

If you want yours to be organic then choose organic brands of vodka and vanilla beans.
Otherwise, if you couldn't care less about your vanilla extract being organic then choose any grade/quality of vodka (the cheap stuff is fine) and just make sure your Madagascar Vanilla Beans are of the highest quality. (look for moistness in the packaging).

The amount of vodka + vanilla beans you need really depends on how much you want to make and how quickly you'll be using your Homemade Vanilla Extract.

The basic formula for the quick (6 week turnaround) goes something like this: 
1 cup of Vodka + 5-7 Vanilla Beans = 2 - 4oz. bottles of vanilla extract. 

For me, I want to make a A LOT at one time and I'm curing mine for a full year so I bought a 1.75L bottle of Hope French Organic Vodka and cut up 16 Organic Madagascar Vanilla Beans.  I'll walk away with about 12 small 4oz. bottles of homemade vanilla extract for gifting.

Now...since I also want to use some of this homemade vanilla extract for my own baking needs...
I will be starting another batch here in the next couple of weeks so I can let it age for a few months and I won't have to mess with this particular bottle that I'm letting mature for the entire year.

Once I open, use or gift a batch, I will immediately start a new one to replace it.
By doing so, I'll ALWAYS have plenty of homemade vanilla extract on hand for my own baking needs and for all of the people, celebrations and seasons in my life. *wink*


DIRECTIONS FOR A SMALL BATCH - curing for 6 weeks or longer
Yields 2 - 4oz. bottles

8oz. glass jar or bottle. (a mason jar with a lid works great)
7 Madagascar Vanilla Beans
1 cup Vodka - must be 70 proof/35% Alcohol

Slice each vanilla bean into thirds.
Add beans to glass jar.
Pour in vodka and make sure the vanilla beans are completely covered.
Put on the lid and give it a swirl.
Store in a dark place at room temperature.
Swirl the vodka and beans around once or twice a week over the course of 6 weeks.
Pour prepared Vanilla in glass jars for gifting.

TIP: If you find vanilla specks in your vanilla extract and prefer a more clear extract you can strain it through a coffee filter prior to pouring into your prepared bottles.

DIRECTIONS FOR A LARGE BATCH curing for 6 months to a year or longer
Yields 12 - 4oz. bottles

1.75oz Vodka
16 Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Pour out a little bit of the vodka from the bottle to make room for the vanilla beans.
Using a sharp knife, slice your vanilla beans into thirds and drop into your bottle of vodka.
Close tightly and swirl it around a little bit.
Store in a dark place at room temperature.
Shake the bottle every week for the first 4-6 weeks.
Continue to shake the bottle at least every few weeks.
Let it mature for at least 6 months. One year is best and 2 years is even better.



The photo above is what it looks like right after adding the vanilla beans to the vodka.
The photo below is after 3 weeks of curing.


Notice that I'm storing the extra vanilla beans I had from my package in a recycled caper jar. I just folded them in half and stuck them in the jar. I'm saving them for when I start my next batch. (properly stored, these beans can last a year and sometimes even more depending on conditions).


It's not necessary to purchase bottles for gifting at this point - you've got at least 6 weeks if you are doing the small batch and nearly a year if you are curing yours for holiday gift giving.

However, if you want to get a jump start on it, these 4 oz. Boston Round Bottles come in a pack of 12 and are ideal for gift giving. They look really cute with a label too and have plenty of space for cute label customization.

The cute clear corked bottles from Hobby Lobby you see in the photos are ones I picked up prior to the holidays. They are smaller than 4oz. and they actually came with a wire for hanging - I just used wire cutters to remove it.  If you go that route...make sure you check to make sure the corks on your bottles actually fit properly before you leave the store. I had one of the corks accidentally fall inside of the bottle when I picked it up off the shelf in Hobby Lobby. It was obviously too small but I would've been really bummed had I not noticed it until I got home.  

PACKAGING TIP:
If you go with a corked bottle for packaging I advise against shipping it. Hand-delivery is preferred.

Anyway - I sure hope you'll join me in making some homemade vanilla extract.
Do it now. Thank me later. *wink*

I'll share some packaging and labeling ideas when I actually package mine all up.
But that won't be for another 6 months. *wink*

QUICK SOURCE REFERENCE
Organic Madagascar Vanilla Beans - you get about 32 organic beans
Madagascar Vanilla Beans - I've used these too but they aren't organic - if that matters to you.
4oz. Brown Bottles
Hope French Organic Vodka

DON'T FORGET!!
The PNPF Book Club starts February 1st!
Did you get your "May You Live A Life You Love" Book yet?

KEEPiNG iT REAL
That's a BIG ol' bottle of Vodka people.
I'm not a drinker, at least I haven't been a drinker in many, many moons. 
Sooo...having J bring this home for me was a little comical and I got a few eyebrow raises from my two older girls. *giggling*
I'm sure the vodka lovers out there are gasping over the fact that I just "ruined" a perfectly good bottle of "vodky" too - *wink*

MUSIC | The Heart Wants What It Wants :: Selena Gomez

Thursday, January 29




I love this song.
Like I REALLY love this song.
When I actually get to listen to music all by myself at the house or in the car...
I've had "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez on repeat for weeks now.
And when I say repeat, I mean I can replay it 25 times in a row and not apologize.
I can drive across town, and often do, playing the same song as I'm pulling back up to the house.
And when I say I play it...I mean I play it LOUD.
And when I sing along, I sing without shame - even while driving down the road. 

I'm sure I sound terrible...
sunroof open, windows slightly cracked so as not to be too windy...
sunglasses on...
and fresh coat of lipgloss.
I don't care who's listening or who's watching. (it's easy not to care if you don't make eye contact) *wink*
It's loud enough to drown out what I probably really sound like
and allows me to pretend I'm a fabulous singer - never mind what the cars/people around me are really hearing.

Being the superstar I am...I naturally assume the "music video" role and add in the appropriate hand motions to emphasize the lyrics I'm singing...

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
"Save your advice cause I won't hear"  -
I cover my ear while shaking my head "no"

"You might be right but I don't care"
I offer a gentle hand wave as if to let someone know I'm done listening to what they had to say

There's a million reasons why I should give you up...
I look away

But the heart wants what it wants...
I gaze down
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

All while moving my upper body back and forth to the beat...of course.
Because that's what every diva does.

Okay - so that's really dramatic...
and yet so embarrassingly true. Ha!!

And I've watched the video probably more than a girl would really ever need to...
I think because Selena looks so beautiful and grown up and it's in black and white - which I LOVE!

I really feel like anyone who's ever experienced heartbreak will really be able to connect to the raw emotion associated with the lyrics and the meaning behind the song. As far as I know it was written out of the pain Selena was experiencing after Justin Bieber broke her heart. Whether that's all true or not...you never know with tabloids and such...I definitely connect with her pain.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The Hearts Wants What It Wants Lyrics
You got me sippin' on somethin'
I can't compare to nothin'
I've ever known
I'm hopin' that after this fever I'll survive.

I know I'm actin' a bit crazy
Strung out. A little bit hazy.
Hand over heart I'm prayin'
that I'm gonna make it out alive.

The beds gettin' cold and you're not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I'm not alive until you call
And I'll bet the odds against it all. 
Save your advice 'cause I won't hear. 
You might be right but I don't care.
There's a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants.

You got me scattered in pieces
Shinin' like stars and screamin'
Lighting me up like Venus
But then you disappear and make me wait

And every second's like torture
heroin drip no more so
Findin' a way to let go
Baby, baby no I can't escape

The beds gettin' cold and you're not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I'm not alive until you call
And I'll bet the odds against it all. 
Save your advice cause I won't hear 
You might be right but I don't care
There's a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants.

This is a modern fairy tale
No happy ending
No wind in our sails
But I can't imagine a life without
Breathless moments breaking me down

The beds gettin' cold and you're not here
The future that we hold is so unclear
But I'm not alive until you call
And I'll bet the odds against it all.
Save your advice cause I won't hear 
You might be right but I don't care
There's a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants. 

The heart wants what it want baby...
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

So there you go.
Roll your eyes or high five me...
I'll take either one because I'm expecting mixed responses honestly.

I'd love to hear what YOU are listening to right now so be sure to leave a comment.

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I actually really hesitated posting this because this is the only Selena Gomez song I've ever purchased and I kind of feel like a teeny bopper being stuck on this song. And then...I saw a friend from High School post on Facebook, "Not that I really care but what will Selena Gomez say to herself when she is 42 about the relationship she had with Justin Beiber when she was 22? #theheartiscluelessaboutwhatitwants"  Yikes! I totally get what she was saying but I couldn't disagree more with her hashtag. As Shakespeare once said, "Love reasons without reason."  *wink*

LIFE | Ella and Elise :: Best Friends Forever

Tuesday, January 27


Ella and Elise.
Elise and Ella.
These two sweet girls have been besties since they were two years old...and now they both are six.

They typically get together on Fridays for a playdate after school - and we rotate houses every week.
The photos I'm sharing today are from the playdate they had together last week at our house.
I had just finished putting makeup on each of them because they were prepping for a "fancy tea party" in Ella's room. This was of course after they had already had a fancy "Hot Cocoa Tea Party" at the dining table using the Hot Chocolate Bar  we have set up right now. 

Anyway, next thing I know they both came walking out of my closet with some "fancy" shoes on. Fancy tea party means fancy shoes, right? I giggled to myself as I watched them both wobble their way towards me and then I had them stop them in their tracks.


I couldn't let this moment go by without snapping some quick photos with my phone.
They both of course couldn't pass up the opportunity for some shenanigans and goofy poses for the photos. I couldn't help but think this was a glimpse into future photobooth photos and selfies these two are sure to take together for High School Proms and Homecomings.

Man!! Talk about a heartstring moment!! *sigh*
And look...Ella even has the arm pose down already. *wink*


It all goes too quickly, doesn't it!?
I just want to keep'em little. We all do, don't we?

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I actually didn't even realize how long Ella and Elise have been friends until I stumbled upon a recent video of Ella. It was an interview-type video I was taking while Ella was sitting in her high chair eating a popsicle. I had asked the typical questions of "What's your name?" and "How Old Are You?" along with what she had had for dinner. Then, I asked her who her best friend was. She responded emphatically in her adorable 2 year old voice: "Leese!"

GIFT IDEA | Custom Pup Portraits + Mugs :: Kori Clark

Friday, January 23


Skippy + Maggie

Looking for a sweet + thoughtful gift idea for an upcoming birthday? Valentine's Day? Mother's Day?
I just LOVE the custom pup portraits and coffee mugs from Kori Clark Designs.
I've been friends with Kori for awhile - you may remember her as Paper and Pigtails.

She did some re-branding for her business a year or so ago and took a step in the direction of her REAL passion by focusing on her love of working with watercolor paints.

I've loved watching her business evolve and when my mom's birthday approached (back in December), I KNEW without a doubt a personalized gift from Kori would be the perfect gift for my mom this year.

You see, my mom had two Jack Russells, Skippy and Maggie. They were a match made in heaven - total opposites of each other. They had puppies together many years ago...one of which is my family's dog, Hamilton.

After Maggie became ill mid-2014, my mom eventually had to put Maggie down in the Fall. As you can imagine it was devastating for her.

I sent Kori some photos I had taken of Skippy and Maggie over the Summer...prior to my mom having to put Maggie down. Kori worked her magic and created a custom water color art print and a matching coffee mug for me to gift to my mom.


My mom became tearful when she opened her gifts...I knew she would...how could she not.
She certainly wasn't anticipating this gift and I know the art print and mug touched her heart.

I LOVE giving thoughtful gifts...and what could be more personal than creating a keepsake of someone's beloved pet? Or in this case...pets.

If you love this idea, check out Kori's website for information about ordering.
If you decide you want to stalk Kori, you can find her on social media too:
Kori Clark on Facebook
Kori Clark on Instagram

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Skippy is awfully lonely without Maggie around.
It breaks my heart. He's quite the spunky senior citizen though at the ripe ole age of 105 - in dog years, of course. We take Hamilton over to visit his "dad" whenever we visit with my mom and I know Skippy loves that.

MUSIC | New Artist :: Louisa Wendorff

Tuesday, January 20



You guys!!
Omgoodness!
I have a confession. I've been obsessed by this Blank Space/Style Taylor Swift Cover by Louisa Wendorff eversince Taylor Swift gave a shout out to it on Facebook a few weeks back. (yes...I follow Taylor Swift). *wink*

I've been loving the whole 1989 album by Taylor Swift and I love Taylor's Blank Space song + video but I was blown away by this version from Louisa Wendorff.

So, I finally took some time today to really check out Louisa Wendorff's music and other videos and I'm just loving all of the covers + mashups she has done. She's got a beautiful voice and a gift for arranging music to make it her own.

I'm totally sharing with my girls today this MashUp of Beyoncé, Colbie Caillat and Jessie J - a beautiful mix of so many powerful songs about self-image and self-esteem.

Pretty Hurts/ Try / Who You Are (BeyoncĂ©, Colbie Caillat, Jessie J) Mash-Up Cover 



She's also just released a new EP on iTunes and I just had to buy it because I love supporting upcoming artists!!

I hope you love her as much as I do.

Stay tuned for when I reveal a secret about the song, from a different artist, I've had on repeat in the car and at my desk for weeks. You might just giggle at me...or roll your eyes.

Hugs you guys!!

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I promised awhile ago to share more of what I'm listening to...
Why am I suddenly feeling a little vulnerable?
Maybe it's because music is such a personal and emotional thing for me?
Tell you what...I'm going to stop right there and quit analyzing and just continue to share. *wink*

CONFESSION: 
I have never bought an entire Taylor Swift album...and I thought I was actually going to be able to say that I've never even downloaded one of her songs until my recent purchase of Shake It Off.

BUT...after looking back at my playlist I'm surprised and didn't realize how many songs of hers I have: Ronan, Safe & Sound, Never Grow Up, Last Kiss and Breathe. Well guess what? I just went ahead and bought/downloaded the entire Taylor Swift 1989 album. Did you see what Taylor Swift did for her fans for Christmas? She's pretty amazing...I'm loving her heart.

FUN | Dreams Are Like Sprinkles Art Print + Giveaway Winner

Monday, January 19



I've got two fun things to share with you today!!
First up is this adorable "Dreams Are Like Sprinkles" Art Print I designed for The Cake Blog this month. If you love it, you can head on over to download the FREE 8x10 right now. Although it's perfect for the kitchen, I can see this charming print displayed pretty much anywhere in your home.


The second fun thing is the announcement of the winner from the "May You Live A Life You Love" giveaway that included these inspirational books + note card set by Compendium.


You can find out who the winner is by visiting the Book Club - February Pick post...
The winner's name is posted on the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the post!!
I appreciate all of the entries and positive feedback about the start of the book club!
Check out the post announcing the PNPF Book Club and how it will work if you happened to miss the post.

If you will be participating in the PNPF Book Club starting February 1st, you can grab your copy of "May You Live A Life You Love" by MH Clark on Amazon or at your local book store. I'm not sure if you can snag this one from the library or not but it's worth checking into. Although I really think this book will become a treasure you'll want to keep around your house for a long time...like as in forever. *wink*

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Is it weird for me to be excited about packaging up these lovelies?
The idea of sending off a box of inspiration to someone totally lights my fire!!
And hey...that totally has everything to do with helping me to use my One Little Word, SHINE, this year! *wink*

iNSPiRE | IG Art Print :: Add More Color

BOOK CLUB | February Pick :: May You Live A Life You Love

Tuesday, January 13


I'm really super excited to announce the very first book we'll be exploring together to kickstart the official PNPF Book Club!!

I went back and forth on which book to choose since I have a whole list of fun books I'm looking forward to diving into with you all.

In the end...choosing something from the beautiful line of Compendium books was really my only option since it's my very favorite company...hands-down!

My pick for this month is perfect too...seeing as how goals and dreams are top o' mind for all of us after ringing in the new year AND because the PNPF Book Club officially begins in the month of February - when all things are centered around love! 

Don't you agree this is such a fitting book to get us started and for us to read together during February??


May You Live a Life You Love is a sweet + simple book with an inspiring thought/quote on each page. It's a really quick read (as in 10 minutes or less) so I'm hoping you'll read through it at least several times before we have our Discussion on February 28th.

If you are confused at this point about why I would select a book for a book club that only takes 10 minutes to read than you missed the original post explaining the inspiration behind the PNPF Book Club and how it differs from your typical book clubs. Be sure to read it.

The idea behind my selection this month is to help add fuel to the fire of our "life dreams".
Whatever goals we have set for 2015...I hope this book will serve as a reminder of how important it is for each of us to be engaged in doing what we love so that we are able to embrace and share our gifts and talents in such a way that we really are living a life we love.  I intend to read carefully through this book once or twice a week during the whole month of February...taking time to think about the words on each page so that they really sink in.  I hope you will too.


Now...with that said...I'm sure you noticed the matching set of May You Live the Life You Love Boxed Note Cards in the photos too. I actually shared all of the cards with you when I posted "A Christmas Story"  a couple of weeks ago. Just in case you want to peek at the whole set.



Well...I have a little surprise for you.
I'm going to pick someone to win a sweet little package that will include a copy of the May You Live the Life You Love book along with the matching set of May You Live a Life You Love Note Cards my kind, generous friends at Compendium sent me AND....


I'm also including your own copy of the inspirational book, Shine, which was the inspiration behind my One Little Word for 2015! Are you excited?


To enter to win simply choose one OR choose all of the options listed on the Rafflecopter app below. More entries = more points = more chances to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will pick and announce a winner on Friday, January 16th so the winner will receive their February pick prior to February 1st.

UPDATE: I made an "oops!" - I failed to send out the email to my subscribers notifying them about the giveaway so I've extended the entry date to Sunday, January 18th at midnight to give them a little more time. Winner will be picked and announced on MONDAY morning!!

Good luck everyone!
I hope you are all excited to get this PNPF Book Club started with me come February.

If you decide you just want to go ahead and get the book you can order May You Live A Life You Love Book so you are ready to start reading on February 1st. (if you are able to resist the temptation and hold off diving into the pages before then).

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I've been without internet service for 5 days.
Finally got it up and running today - thank goodness but I was freaking out  REALLY bummed to not be able to post the Book Club pick on Friday last week as I had originally promised. I'm sure you all were waiting on pins and needles for the announcement so I hope you weren't too disappointed to have to wait. *grinning*  I'm convinced you are now thinking it was worth it. *wink*

SHOPPE | NEW Art Print :: The Answer is Always LOVE

Wednesday, January 7


You'll find me adding new inspirational art prints to my shoppe on a regular basis throughout 2015.
This is all part of my strategy for finding ways to help others SHINE. See my OLW for 2015.

Each new art print will include a mix of my hand-lettering + fonts.
So here's my first official new art print for 2015... "The Answer is Always LOVE"


The idea behind the quote is something I personally came to terms with recently.
No matter what the situation or struggle might be…
family issues, combative teenagers, children (or adults) with selective hearing syndrome, hurt feelings, frustration in the check-out line, the driver in front making a left hand turn around the world at a snail's pace, fear + anxietyetc.

If I step back for a minute and look at things from the perspective of "love"…
It's amazing how differently I handle or react to things.
I came to this understanding when I was frustrated about something with my middle daughter.
(at my wits end, actually). I was grasping at straws…looking for answers when it struck me with a bolt of lightning! The answer is always LOVE.

And of course love comes in many forms:
Patience, understanding, forgiveness, a hug, a smile, and even sometimes silence or rather biting your tongue.



I created several printable versions, gold, color, or black + whiteall grouped together in one pack available now in my Etsy Shoppe.




I will definitely be creating an oversized version of this for my home…
and although it's appropriate year-round…how awesome is it as Valentine's Day decor too!?

Love you guys!!!
xoxo

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I have been so touched by those of you who have reached out to me about my One Little Word selection this year. Your emails and comments have TRULY touched my heart!! I so very much enjoy when you share how this blog inspires you - it means so much to me to know that!! THANK YOU!! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to let me know!

NEW | All Things Shiny + New

Monday, January 5


It's the first real working week for me since ringing in the New Year!
I think it's probably that way for many of us.
So…it's time to get down to business….right?

Well…business for me, today, includes a breakdown on my thoughts behind how  the "One Little Word" (OLW) I've chosen for 2015 will play a huge roll in my ideas and wishes for this new year.

PLUS…I'm (1) making a fun announcement today that may also (2) include a giveaway… a triple whammy to get things rolling!! That should keep you reading…right?

So, before I go into the specifics of the "WHAT"…
let me start with the "WHY"behind my pretty little word this year…SHINE

The "Why"
Remember I told you the word found me?
First, it was in the form of a book called SHINE from Compendium.
Then, one Sunday at church, we ended the service by singing an impromptu acapella rendition of "This Little Light of Mine". Even though I didn't actually grow up singing that song…as I'm sure many of you did…I recognized it right away and sang right along to it. (clueless to the fact that it would be symbolic of my olw for 2015).

You see, I wasn't searching for my One Little Word when I received the Shine book OR sang along to the "This Little Light of Mine" song so it wasn't until a couple of weeks later that the lightbulb went off in my head. I realized my one little word had been sitting just outside my door…quietly waiting for me to open it. I'm always amazed and surprised how things like that work out.

On top of that…I also realized sooooo many of the daily inspirational quotes I created and shared over the past year on my Instagram feed were related to SHINE. So crazy and awesome!!

So I'd like to think that my 2014 word, Navigate…led me to my 2015 word…Shine!
I really believe in that stuff.

The "What"
SHINE…what does that mean exactly?
If you look up the actual definition it means a couple of different things:
1. Give out a bright light.
2. Be very talented or perform very well.
3. A quality of brightness - especially from reflected light.

That's exactly what I want my year to be about!!
1. I want to radiate
2. I want to perform well
3. I want to reflect goodness and light in my own world as well as in the world around me.

I REALLY want to SHINE this year.


And when I say "shine" I mean I want to
SHINE in my relationships.
SHINE in my work.
SHINE to inspire others.
SHINE through negativity and doubt.
SHINE through the darkness that surrounds us all in this crazy, mixed up world.
SHINE so brilliantly I push past fear, worry, anxiety, exhaustion and completely trust in His love for me and the direction He has for my life.

I want to SHINE in every aspect of my life...
Physically
Spiritually
Emotionally
Financially
Relationally

I've started a list of things/goals related to my life and my business.
After my list is completely written out…I'll SIMPLIFY it…choosing a handful of things to focus on.

So…just as my 2014 word, Navigate, moved and guided me towards SIMPLICITY + Authenticity…
SHINE will continue to LIGHT my path and keep me traveling in the same direction.


This one little word concept can be powerful stuff.

"It's about pinpointing one guiding principle and then walking with that word throughout the year." - Ali Edwards

The idea is to pick the word you need - a word that will motivate you.
You then find a visual way (or ways) to keep that word in front of you as a reminder through the year.
(an art print, a piece of jewelry, etc).
Then...of course, you find ways to incorporate that word into your life in order to grow.

I've gone as far as choosing a SONG to go with my word.
For last year's word Navigate, I chose Oceans by Hillsong.
This year…I'm choosing Elizabeth Mitchell's version of "This Little Light Of Mine" - no brainer, right?

If you REALLY want to get serious about choosing and implementing the One Little Word concept into your life, check out the One Little Word Online Workshop by Ali Edwards. She offers the workshop every year in which you'll receive monthly emails filled with content and videos that will inspire and encourage you along the way. WATCH THIS AWESOME VIDEO about Ali's story and the One Little Word Concept!!

I'm excited you guys.
I'm also excited about some fun new ideas I've got for this blog.
One of which is the announcement of the new

PEN N' PAPER FLOWERS (PNPF) BOOK CLUB!!

Those of you who don't read - don't roll your eyes just yet.
You're going to want to hear this because this is going to be a
different sort of Book Club.


You all KNOW how much I love books around here.
But I'm not sure if you've made the connection yet with the TYPES of books and the TYPE of reading I like to do.

I do books that will inspire creativity 
and books I can learn something from.


I have been wanting to start the Book Club since the end of Summer but knowing the holidays were around the corner I just didn't feel the timing was right. So I had to wait…impatiently by the way.

For me…the idea of doing the Book Club WAS NOT born out of my desire to WANT to read more or to encourage YOU all to read more. Come to think of it, it has nothing to do with reading at all. 


The book club idea came to life because it should have ALWAYS been here, honestly.
I've been sharing books that interest and inspire me for a long time here on the blog.
Now I'm just inviting you to join along with me!! Fun, right?


Remember these: What Do You Do with An Idea, She, Butter Baked Goods, Miette, Carrot Soup, With Love and Two ?

With that said…my monthly book selections will be EASY reads. These will be books I have carefully, thoughtfully and intentionally selected to inspire you...in a number of different ways for your REAL life.

You won't find any steamy novels, controversial reads, dramas or science fiction going on in this book club. You may however find yourself  in "horror" if you decide not to participate because this book club should add some "action and adventure" to your life! Ha!! I couldn't help myself!! *wink*

I'll be selecting books to inspire us in the kitchen, in our homes, and even at our desks. These books will inspire us as moms...as women. And even though I could TOTALLY pick a pretty baking book every month…the book selections will extend beyond that. 

I can't begin to tell you how much I'm going to love sharing this experience with you. I really think you are going to love it!! (maybe just as much as I do).

SO HERE'S HOW THE BOOK CLUB WILL WORK

Monthly Book Selection
The book selection for the upcoming month will be announced here on the blog, the 2nd Friday of the month prior. For instance, February's book selections will be announced on January 9th - this Friday.
This time frame should give you a couple of weeks to head to the library OR find the book on Amazon or at your favorite book store before we get started.

Monthly Book Review/Discussion
A book review/discussion will be posted here on the blog the very last day of every month.
February's Book Review will happen on Saturday, February 28th.
In each discussion I will share my views on the book and will look for feedback from you by way of you leaving a comment on the blog.

So…to recap…
The book we will be "reading" for February will be announced on January 9th.
You will get the book and start reading it on February 1st.
On February 28th we will come back here to check in and share our thoughts about the book.

Easy enough, right?
And the best part is…
This is something ANYONE can participate in at ANY time.
There are no rules…no commitments.

I'm just looking to share with you what I'm already doing…what I'm already reading…
and if you are inspired to read along with me…GREAT!! I will LOVE it!!

Email subscribers will automatically receive notification of the monthly book club selections - so if you aren't signed up yet you can SIGN UP HERE! 

Stay tuned for February's Book Club Selection announcement on Friday!
I'll be giving away a FREE copy of the book I've chosen along with a copy of the "SHINE" book
that helped inspire the choosing of my One Little Word for 2015.

P.S.
The Teresa Collins clear + gold acrylic clipboard and cute gold notebook you see in the first photos were items I recently found at my local JoAnn's. I thought they were the perfect, pretty reminders for me to SHINE??

xoxo

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I've already found myself singing my theme song around the house a couple of times.
It's bound to drive my two older girls nuts. *wink*

iNSPiRE | One Little Word 2015 + A Book :: SHINE

Thursday, January 1


That's my One Little Word for 2015SHINE!
I posted this photo on Instagram a few weeks ago before even realizing this would be my word for 2015.

I'm excited about it and I have to say…it completely found me.
I'm pretty sure I felt that way about my One Little Word for 2014 too.
BUT…"Shine" actually found it's way to me in the form of this book from Compendium…called SHINE! It literally fell into my lap! *wink*

I LOVED it as soon as I saw the cover and fell madly, deeply in love with it once I started reading through all of the inspirational quotes that fill the pages. Not only are the quotes related to "shining" or "light" or being "brilliant"…the pages themselves "sparkle" with gold and metallics.

I've attempted to photograph some of them to convey the gleam on the pages - they aren't wonderful photos but I'm pretty sure you'll get the picture...

 "She just had a presence, an energy, a sort of light coming from within her"

"To be beautiful means to be yourself." 

"It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light."

"It's a far brighter world because you're in it."

I just LOVE inspirational books like this!
They are a quick read, they're pretty enough to leave out on a coffee table to inspire those that come into your home, (and of course those that live there too),  and they make BEAUTIFUL gifts.

Find out how I intend to make 2015 a beautiful year using my One Little Word, "SHINE" as inspiration!!

If you want the book for yourself you can order Shine by M.H. Clark right now.
OR…you can hold tight and wait for me to announce a giveaway I'll be doing that will include your very own copy!! Woot! Woot!

Happy New Year everyone!!
Here's to a great year ahead…with lots of opportunities for us to SHINE!!

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I had wanted to share all of the information about my One Little Word pick in one post but truth be told, I feel like I've been trying to write this post all day now and the non-stop interruptions from my sweet family just will NOT allow for anything more than this today. 
I've learned to stop fighting against the current…I'm going with the flow. *wink*
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